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What If?

The cold and empty place
where you found solace
would no longer exist.
The complexity of communicating
in relationships would become
a seamless as saying hello.
Still unperfected but equipped.

What if you were allowed to
become a man instead of
being forced to be one?
Growing up before you’ve
outgrown your shoes.
Replacing them for
ones a few sizes too big.
—making it difficult to walk.

A hero would emerge to fight
the monster underneath the bed.
The boogey man disguised as
tropes, stereotypes, and
microaggressions is the real threat.

Your thirst for knowledge
would be quenched.
Your inquisitiveness wouldn’t
be met with an inquisition.

Equipping yourself with more
[information] than you were given
becomes the priority.
Bettering yourself would
be the way you viewed
walking into manhood.

Instead of being dropped off
on its doorstep without knowing
if your knocks would be answered.
Or if your eyes and ears
would be ready for
what’s on the other side,
if you turn the knob.

Any conversation with
opposing views would
be considered discourse.
Your emotions behind
any topic would be seen
as a passion for
what you believe in,
not anger toward the world.

A world that allows you to
introduce yourself after
you’ve been able to decide
who you are.

A decision you were only
able to make because you
were allowed to become a man,
not forced to be one.

This poem is a new edition to my upcoming book, Pain Is Not Our Only Paintbrush.

🎧New podcast episode! Painting Pictures with Words (with Ink Jess).

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