If Being a Man Allowed for Emotion

Junious Ward

…it would be like hearing the grass grow
or the squirrel’s heartbeat, and we should die of that roar
which is the other side of silence.
—George Eliot

My mourning is quiet, stealthy like the pausebefore bad news. An inherited trait near as I cantell. All the men in my line are instinctually stoic &hidden—brackish bodies, damned at the gates.My last uncle just passed away, also of cancer,and with my brother Tyrone I discuss this too as inheritance—annual X-rays to hunt what would prey on us.Memories surface of fishing tripsand nickel poker, except my grief has substitutedhis face for Tyrone's and dad's for mine.What am I if not mane,if not king,        if not crown & control& grass-shadow eyes hidden?My son's first time sinking a hook in ocean waterwas with him just a few months ago and we splita can of High Life and hovered over the entrailsof a sausage sandwich and laughedat everything and he was the last of his brothersand the closest thing to seeing dad again—I breathedeep and slow like a big cat when blood is in the airor ground, drop the phone on the bathroom floor,slide down the wall against the shower doorlike an avalanche crashing down a glass mountain,head cupped in open palms & become a prayerbuilt on bad knees, become swingingjaw—unhinged, become throttle & throat &roar,                    remembering my pride.

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Junious Ward is a poet living in Charlotte, NC and the author of Sing Me A Lesser Wound (Bull City Press). Junious has attended and/or received support from: Breadloaf Writers Conference, Callaloo, The Frost Place and The Watering Hole. His poems have appeared or are upcoming in Four Way Review, Crab Fat Magazine, Lackadaisy Literary Magazine, and Diode Poetry Journal among others.

Durham, North Carolina

At times rhapsodic, at times elegaic, Junious Ward’s Sing Me a Lesser Wound parses Southern masculinity and interrogates the concept of home as a place we have to leave—and sometimes spend the rest of our lives looking for.

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