The boys
were told not to wear flowers
behind their ear.
Such gentle things
belonged on the bottom of boots,
pressed into the soil
never to see light.

Because they were men.
That they were blokes
or one of the boys.

Voices kept telling them to “man up”,
don’t be a pussy”,
conditioning them to believe
what had given them life
was a hindrance,
that it did not deserve reverence.

A mother’s touch is only good for babies; men,
men shake hands and stand tall,
pat on the back, bumping of shoulders.
Because a mother’s
touch is only good for babies –
push leads to shove and blood
feeds fist
like sun feeds flower.

Without, it withers.
So does a baby that doesn’t
know of a mothers touch.

Learning of brotherly embrace
from each other, the fatherless few
these bands of brothers gather, run wild,
chasing the idea of being better men,
but away from ghosts, husks
that little boys fill with movie depictions,
of first shave lessons and footy throws.

Repressed tears salt the soul,
twist the view of survival
any affection, the prick of thorns,
allows weeds
to choke out petals.

But salt can be staved off,
remedied with surfing late night trains
or waves of asphalt on burning rubber,
laughter and hollers fills the gaps between breaths.

Nothing is hidden under a sky
lit by stars and bonfire.
Soaked in cheap goon, little boys empty
themselves, extract tears
under weakened exteriors.

Between sobs
they swallow smoky air.
Empty of salt
something blooms.