Featured Artwork: Steven Chapman
It starts when you’re seven.
When you scrape your elbow horsin’ around,
when you lose a game playing sports,
or when someone hurts your feelings.
When those father figures tell you to suck it up
if you shed a tear.
They tell you to be tough.
They tell you that men don’t cry.
And they inadvertently tell you that men don’t feel.
It continues when you’re fourteen.
When your body and mind are going through changes,
when you are the most insecure with yourself,
and you’re trying to prove your masculinity to your boys.
You can’t let them catch you slippin’.
You can’t let them see you emotional.
You can’t let them think you’re soft.
You can’t let them think you’re a bitch.
So you continue the ways
you were taught as a youngin’.
You don’t let yourself feel correctly,
and you continue to keep it all in.
It climaxes when you’re twenty-one.
when all those years of emotional neglect lead to this,
when you feel so intensely that it can’t be ignored,
and these feelings aren’t joyous,
You’re suffering from depression
but you can’t even comprehend,
all you know is that it doesn’t feel good.
You contemplate looking for help.
You contemplate telling a friend.
But then you remember what’s been the norm up to this point,
and you tell yourself niggas don’t go to therapy.
So instead of surrendering,
and letting someone help you ascend out of the abyss–
you drown your sorrows with some hen and a spliff,
repeating this step until the numbness
allows you to not feel anymore,
and you tell yourself I’m gon’ be aight.