To Be A Man

A commissioned poem for the brilliant London-based Chaps Choir.

My dear old friend, Ansuman Biswas,  suggests that “it seems to be a number of poems tussling to get out”. I think he’s right; so let’s call this a series of commissioned poems for the Chaps Choir, which I perform by glueing them together in one coagulated lump.


I look in the mirror. My deepening faultlines smile back like they knew the blueprint all along.

Whatever sword I carry before me is tempered and forged by my urge to belong.

All of us strangers to unforeseen change, and it’s hard because change is a foreigner’s land.

I look down to find hymns I didn’t know I could sing, songlines engraved in the palms of my hands.

These days my anger gnaws my insides. There’s no place to fight, roar, or beat my chest.

So I push away love and I hide beneath covers of linen caves I castigate myself in when depressed.

These days I keep my hands clasped on the tightrope between the twin towers which pull me apart;

I swing between the dark and light, and gay and straight, and black and white, and all the shades of grey which coexist within my broken heart.

These days, my psalms are carved from my passion and pain, and my every mistake;

The rhythm and cadence of rivers i’ve prayed in while swimming upstream;

from every shattered dream and hidden cost;

I pray every time a friend fades away, or leaves without saying goodbye;

for every friend that wanders through the wilderness alone, because he doesn’t know how to say he is lost.

I yearn to be married to something as wide as infinity.

I’ll worship whatever you tell me you call love.

And I’ll look for it in the gaping ocean separating you and me.

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