I put flip flops on in the dark this morning only to realize a few hours later than they don’t match.
It’s been one of those days.
The ones where you wish you were better…
Wish you were more…
Wish you had all the answers but keep coming up short.

It’s already dark outside.
My spirit is wasted.
I dropped my bag by the door. I should probably hang that shit up but the couch is calling my name and my ass answered back with a “just a sec”
Ambling up the stairs I tripped over a plastic pony. Thank God that shit wasn’t a Lego.

“Hey J, is that you?”
My love called out for me from the kitchen.
“Something came for you in the mail today.
I left it on the table.”

“Yeah, it’s me,” I mumble.

Mail makes me nervous.
Please don’t be a bill. Please don’t be a bill. Please don’t be a bill.
The smell of dinner cooking invades my face and I breathe deep.
Thank God I’m home.
Long ass day

A manila envelope is lying proudly at my spot at our scratched dinner table.
Well, that doesn’t look like a bill.
I rip open the envelope and a copy of “A Love Song, A Death Rattle, A Battle Cry” by Guante slides out.
I forgot I ordered that. Thank you previous me. I needed this today.

I crap out on the sofa while the love of my life cooks something that smells distinctly like bacon.
This in itself is proof that the universe loves my tired ass.
The book is bigger than I thought. I expected a small chapbook like so many others hanging out on my bookshelf. It weighs heavy in my hands. The words inside are heavier too, I think.
The thoughts and poems and lyrics weighing down the pages and in the same breathe, taking flight.

“Ten responses to the phrase ‘Man Up’

  1. Fuck you.
  2. If you want to question my masculinity, like a schoolyard circle of curses, 

like a sword fight with light saber erections, save your breath.

Because contrary to what you may believe, not every problem can be solved by ‘growing a pair’. 

You cannot arm wrestle your way out of chemical depression. 

The CEO of the company that just laid you off does not care how much you bench. 

And I promise, there is no lite beer in the universe full bodied enough to make you love yourself.”


My son is ten. He’s brilliant and funny and compassionate.
He is growing up in this culture. I am scared shitless.

The words hit me and sink into the spaces of the examples of masculinity on television and the kind of person I long for him to be. I’m also so damn tired. Bone-deep, spirit-weary tired. It’s just a fucking Tuesday.  Patriarchal bullshit seeping from this culture we inhabit makes me fear for what we will become. For a man to stand and say, actually, “go fuck yourself in the face. I refuse to buy in.” helps me breath just a little bit more.  This poem makes room for the discussion we all need. Before we were all just rubbing elbows in a male-dominated circle jerk towards dominance.

I keep flipping pages; no longer half lidded and zoned the hell out.
I pause on the piece “The Plan”


“… and when the townspeople grab their torches and pitchforks, afraid that we are driving down property values with this thing that we are building, demanding to see it, we won’t show them anything. 

They’ll be too curious to even throw a stone.

So swing that hammer. 

We’ll turn the music up and our hands will move like hummingbirds, every splinter melting into our fingertips, 

every hold bored an opening for us to spill through, 

every new level up a new layer in. 

We were born with dirty faces and steel-toed spirits so swing that hammer; 

climb the scaffolding with me, and when we take sandwich breaks we’ll look down on this inadequate city and spit…”

“Put the book down. It’s time to eat.”

I plunk the book down on the coffee table; reluctantly walking away.
It’ll be there when I am ready again. That is the glorious thing about life on pages and in print.

Thank the universe for writers who, in the quest for saving themselves through words, save pieces of me too. I whisper the phrase, “We were born with dirty faces and steel-toed spirits so swing that hammer,” under my breath. It feels right. The words belong here. Here in this house built on good intentions and elbow grease.  My house.

“Did you say something babe?” My fiancé stands staring at me like I’m being a weirdo again.
I lift the book and flash the cover to him. “I am pretty sure my face just rocked off.”
He laughs at me and shakes his head.  Yup. I’m totally being a weirdo again.
He wouldn’t have me any other way.

You can find Guante online at www.Guante.info. You can see him in action on the Youtubes by clicking here.  And for crap sakes, buy the damn book already. You can find it in print here and streaming here.

Jerusha Gray

Jerusha Gray is insatiably curious. This curiosity, coupled with a brain that never shuts up, drives her to paint and draw, read prodigiously, make music, write, and sing in grocery stores.


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