A Jazz Requiem for the Male of the Species


What you have offered me is bleak
And white
And sterile
And cold.
Marked only by the black scars of industry,
Slavery and greed.
What is offered now to me, the male of the species?

What have you presented to me
As my options,
As my life?
What lie have you believed
And passed on to me
As my possibility?

What have you led me,
A small child and trusting
To believe was my highest hope
And dignity?

What have you denied me in the way of acceptance
And community?
What bleak and barren, white sky, raped mountains and
choking factory phallus,
What hopeless and hollow aspiration is mine to bear
Because I am man?

Is a man worth no more than his labor?
Is a man worth no more than his sweat?
Is a man worth no more than his blood?

My father’s boots lie discarded and work-worn
as his black-lung’d body.
My grandfather’s boots lie caked with dried blood and the
soil of distant lands he lacked the education to know of
before he went there,
Sent on the big gray and grim coffin afloat,
Draped in the American flag.
And his father before him
And his before him.

What will you now offer me as a man?
Am I not worth more than the blood and happiness I will shed
in battle?
For promised liberty then withheld?
For fake freedom and rumors of democracy?
Or more likely for those who withhold
From we who fight
The spoils of empire?
For the black oily secret
Best left buried
That now flows uninhibited
Into the warm gulf of Mother’s sweet emotion?
What will you offer a man like me?
A man who is willing to celebrate you,
A man who is more like you than you care to believe?

The fateful waiter
Stands at my table
With offers of callousness
And of putrid meat
When all I desire is Love.

What now have you afforded me,
A man born of a woman
And the injury done her by another man
Damaged, himself by same lack of understanding,
Of choices?
Real. Choices.

Why must you hate me because you’ve been hurt?
I am hurt, too!
Why must you hate me because of my

Look at me, I beg you
Are you certain I am the monster you fear?
I share your desire of a man’s body!
I share your hunger for peace,
And I am more like you than you think.
I am more like you than you think.

Does that spoil your worldview?
I cannot,
Will not

Why because of some hateful heritage committed by those who
preceded me, male and female
Have you have robbed me of my greatest hope
And all the beauty of my unfulfilled potential?

Dragged from the warmth, comfort and anxiety of my mother’s
I am thrust into an existence for which I am ill prepared.
The human male is alive outside the womb but seconds
Before the first blow comes,
And then the lifetime sentence,
“It’s a boy, it’s a boy, it’s a boy!”
I am thrust into a world of bright lights, frightening
noises, antiseptic aggravation and isopropyl expectation.
(Even as I speak these words you withdraw from me any
willingness you might have had to adore me, to welcome and
to listen.)
I did not hurt you.
I will not hurt you.
And I do not regret being a man.

In diapers at tender age I am confused to see the compassion
my sisters are afforded whenever they fall.
Not to wish them deprived as I am but to partake in that
delicious form of love myself.
“Boys don’t cry. Boys don’t cry.”
I cry.
To look with longing at pretty things
And sensitive colorful and comfortable
And soft
And warm
And happy.
(The acknowledgement of male oppression does not diminish
the acknowledgement of female oppression. It seeks to end

So may I
But for this one time
Speak of the atrocity visited upon me
And upon my brothers
Without offending,
Without drawing fire?

On the white hash-marked and numbered field we are
encouraged to “play,”
To compete
To win
To “vanquish the enemy,”
Poorly disguised versions of myself
On neat facsimiles of future battlefields
In preparation for war.

How long has it been true
That the greatest to which a man can aspire
Is to die in war?

In the somewhat happier tune
A man is worth his ability to work,
To bring home the bacon,
(Even if I do keep kosher and vegan,
And love the beast
And love to run naked with the beast
In the woods beside him
Rather than to kill him.)

I am no killer.

Is this the life you offer me,
To squelch my Divinity?
And dare I say it, my
Take it then if you like,
If those are your terms
Give my body to the worms.

The greatest offense
A boy can do
Is to be considered “like a woman.”
How then can you act surprised
When we do
What we do?

I went to war.
I put on the uniform
And went to do
What you told me would make me loved by you.
I stopped myself from loving (or tried)
I stopped my nurturing nature (or tried)
I sought to see the Iraqis as my enemies
As separate from me
But I could not.

My Native blood was too strong.
My compassionate heart too wise,
To believe anything
Other than the Truth.

I am like a woman, too,
If only in secret.

If crying for those who suffer,
Is being like a woman, let me be womanly.
Or more likely let me be like a man,
A man as he should be,
A man as Creation intended him to be.

My nature is to be an ally to womankind.
My nature is to champion her.
My nature is to lift her up when she falls
And walk beside her.
How many times in my life have I been met by contempt of a
woman because she made dreadful assumptions about me?
When she could not see my two-spirited spirit,
When she mistook my form for my intention?

Yes, I have heard you.
Yes, my heart breaks with your suffering,
And yes, I too have been destroyed by the same sick system
Of sexism and misogyny,
Cruelty and ignorance.
Please Mother, welcome me home.

Take back the mask
My face is destroyed by it.
I have sacrificed my soul on the altar of American
Please Mother, welcome me home.

I have watched horrified
As men became boys,
Rattled and ruined
When the game
Became real
And the cost of defeat multiplied.
Please Mother, welcome us home.
Please Sister, welcome us home.

A speck to your eye
In the white blistered sky
Far above the ruins of my iniquity
And the rabble of industry
And the shame of slavery
And the life that you offered me,
I reach for That which created me,
Please Mother, welcome me home.


This is a Web Extra for the feature Armed with Knowledge

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