Men’s Rights

I am a Men’s Rights Activist.
Now, I know what you’re going to say:
are their rights really in need of some activism?
Don’t men have all the rights already,
pretty much?

Well, actually,
I believe that we men could use a few activists.
Maybe we could use a whole bunch of them.
I believe there are a load of rights that we men are currently lacking.
I believe it’s time that this injustice be set right.

Now, I know what you’re going to say:
These so-called rights…
just what are these rights, exactly?

Please, from my own hard-won expertise as a man,
allow me to ‘splain.

I believe in the right of little boys who like dolls,
or daffodils,
or the color pink
to be free of the shame we are fed every day.
To be free of the coercive insistence
that we separate ourselves from the trappings of girls.
Because we are “better” than girls.
Because girls are lesser.

I believe in the right of chubby teenage boys
to be free of the shame of mean locker-room taunts:
“Girl boobs girl boobs Croghan’s got girl boobs!”
I believe in our right to be free of hatred of our own bodies –
a hatred so deep and lasting
as to keep me from taking off my shirt in public
for the next thirty years.

I believe in the right of men who love charm bracelets,
or “chick flicks”,
“girly” cocktails,
or crop tops – even pink ones –
to be free of the shame shoveled on us by men – and women.
To be free of the coercive insistence
that we separate ourselves from the trappings of women,
because we are “better” than women.
Because women are lesser.

I believe in men’s right to love cooking,
and crochet,
and collecting candles. Scented candles.
I believe in men’s right to enjoy parenting,
and pole dancing,
and feeling pretty.
I believe in men’s right to wear lipstick. Fuchsia lipstick.
I believe in men’s right to weep at that moment in the movie
when the heroine finally inhabits her true self.
I believe in men’s right to hug and touch and hold hands with other men.

Even straight men. Even cisgender men.
And absolutely queer and trans men.

I believe in men’s right to be free
of these rusted chains of patriarchy,
which burden us, and bind us, and block us off from our true selves –
just like they do to everybody else.

Yes, I am a Men’s Rights Activist, and this M R A is here to say:
It is long past time for me to get active.


scour the hills and hollows
find yourself a master

when you meet her
you will know her

she could be an ancient monk
who exudes transcendence
one who studied for decades
in the stillness of cave or cell

or she might be a 12-year-old girl
who has closely observed
the ways of snails and garter snakes
and the laws of electrical power

it does not matter
you must find her

do not sit at her feet
(that’s a cliché
and besides
you need to clearly see her hands
and her face)

sit at the table beside her
as she eats and chats
and writes and designs
let her show you how
to work out the algorithms
of spirit

(don’t shudder at that word
“spirit” is just nature unclouded
which is to say
nature full of clouds
brimming with beauty
she will teach you this
if you let your shields fall down)

be patient
learn by example
and soon you will see
how the soul engines are made

one day you will invent your own
and the master will giggle
with gratitude and delight
for you have shown her
a new and marvelous thing

don’t make the error of thinking
you are a master now
you’re merely an apt pupil

(just like her)

The Prize

Underneath the rutabagas,
Carol dug and dug.
She didn’t find a blessed thing.
She gave a little shrug.

She thought she’d seen a glimmer.
She thought she’d seen a gleam.
But the earth gave forth no secrets.
Dirt was dirt – or so it seemed.

Next morning, during breakfast dishes,
Carol glanced outside.
What she spotted through the window
made her hazel eyes grow wide.

Out beyond the berry-briars
where the rutabagas grew
shone a light bright as epiphany!
Her mission was renewed.

She ran outside, her trowel in hand –
she’d find it now, she vowed.
But when she reached the rutabaga patch,
a voice boomed loud:

“Your arrogance will fail you, dear.
The prize shall not be yours.
So take your tiny shovel,
turn around, and go indoors.”

Carol paused, astonished
at this strange, malicious cry.
Then she choked up on her trowel,
a glint of purpose in her eye.

The dirt compressed beneath her boots;
the briars made no scratch
as she stomped into the center
of her rutabaga patch.

As Carol crouched down low
and thrust her trowel in the ground,
she jumped a bit in startlement
at one indignant sound:

“A-humph!” she heard, then
“So, you think to excavate my home?”
She turned to meet the glare
of an ill-tempered garden gnome.

“The diamond that I’ve buried here
is not for you to take!”
He said, before he rushed her,
brandishing his little rake.

She started, then she stood up,
then she said to him, “OK.
Sir, I wouldn’t want to steal it.
It’s your diamond, anyway.”

The gnome stood still and blinked at her,
and tears fell from his eyes.
He said, “You’re the only human
who declined to take my prize.”

“And therefore, if you want it,
this fine gem belongs to you.”
But Carol said, “No, thank you.
Have some rutabagas, too.”

The garden gnome bowed deep,
picked up his diamond, left that place,
and he carried with him
newfound fondness for the human race.

“Hope” is (after Emily Dickinson)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That tickles at the nose –
And keeps on irritating –
Until you’ve snoze – and snoze –

And Sensibility – is lost –
And so much you’d condone –
To make this nagging, feathered thing
Leave you the eff alone –

I’ve felt it at the bleakest times –
It springs eternally!
And – never – will it GO AWAY.
It asks too much – of me.


my guilty feelings
regarding some shortfall
conditioned by the context
of unlucky life circumstances
are transformed into shame

a self-hating conviction
that in my core
in my deepest identity
i’m fundamentally broken

this is wrong
essentialism is bullshit

a bad experience
with a particular person
conditioned by the context
of an unjust society
is transformed into racism

an other-hating conviction
that all who share
an irrelevant characteristic
are fundamentally inferior

this is wrong
essentialism is bullshit

form is emptiness
emptiness is form
essentialism is bullshit

say it with me now
essentialism is bullshit

one more time
essentialism is bullshit

it really goddamn is


so get this:

jesus died

they hung his body on a tree
and then he died
(dead is dead)

but now they say
he’s resurrected

they put his body
in a grave
and then
and then

the grave was empty!

so get this:

now they say
that we
are his body

that’s crazy, right?
how are we supposed to
rub some mud
in a blind dude’s eyes
and make him see?

that’s crazy
the only thing
that i know how to do
with mud
is make bodies dirty

dead is dead
and if you think otherwise
that’s crazy

but if you want to get
your body dirty
i can help you out


arcane strings of words and symbols
shaped precisely as prescribed
by those who pioneered the craft
chock-full of raw creative vibe

forming, out of nothing, constructs
with their own reality
relating, interacting, changing
time and life, humanity

when i was a kid i wondered
how it felt when magic flowed
from the fingers of a wizard
damn, i’m glad i learned to code