Paper Soldier

Best Served With: Ocean by Odunsi the Engine & Nonso Amadi


Image result for bottle up emotions


I am a strong, independent man,

Who fires cannons and lovely arms,

Gunpowder caresses my nostrils,

Saluting metal skin along the way–


I remember my first tour,

It started late 2011,

In the back of a festive peach quadrangle,

With a bully and a need to “be a man”,

It was the first time my fists developed lips,

Every word nurtured blood-basked letters,

Every sentence had a bone-cracking full stop,


In the barracks

Between the suffering dust awoken from his sleep

by nuclear emotion,

and the deafening crackle of violence as it riddles

the mind with holes,

Lays a man of few words.

You know the type; strong but silent,

Piercing brown eyes that shy short of singular,

Mud-like muscles; fluid but firm,

An Immovable mountain, permanent as death–



It ended late 2011,

With a bloody nose,

A punch to the throat,

And a great big bottle of anger,


I am a strong, independent man,

Through my life, I always have a plan,

My world is perfectly circular,

In it, I am God and as I so wish,

It is perfect not circular,

Because a circle starts and ends in the same place,

It is the holy example of uniform,

But perfect and uniform are curious strangers,


I understand the troubles of the fairer sex,

And to show my support, I try my best,

I laugh, joke, talk and even cry with them,

But if you stare at my tears hard enough,

You’ll see a giggling choir of biased men,

Who then hail in hilarious harmony that:


“The difference is clear

The difference is key,

Durham and champagne,

Is not enough to breathe,

Sneak between my sympathy,

I’m sure you’ll see:

I only choose to hurt because

Nobody hugged me.”


To my peers, I do not hate

Their pain, I do reciprocate

Loose clothing the best bait

She really wants to get laid

Wear that skirt, let me chase

Hold you down, have a taste

Struggle not, touch your fate

In public, this game I play

In private, I choose to rape.


I am a strong.



I will never depend on a woman,

I will never be vulnerable,

Never even learn to love,

Because emotions are the grandchild of weakness,


I am a man of few words,

So, I would rather drink and start a fight,

Than tell you that I hate it when we fight,

Would rather run to gamble and play,

Than tell you that I wish you would stay,

Would rather hurt the first person I see,

Than show you how much you hurt me,

See I am a man of few words,

And I have to play the part,

So, I would rather sit and not speak,

Than let you listen to the cries of my broken heart.


I am usually a strong, independent man,

But I lose all my pain, walls and plans,

When I let you lend me a hand,

Honestly, I don’t know who I am


Elano’s Notes

Coming from an African home, I realize the faults and frailties of traditional masculinity. There is a need to act like a “man” and think like a man. It creates narcissistic, emotionally stunted men. Men who cannot hold partners down. Men who cannot fully trust or show love half as much as they say it. Broken men whose response to traumatizing experiences is to shove them under the carpet. Men who face adversity, problems and challenges with their pride and ego instead of their brains. I have never understood the adage that “men don’t cry” that I was told growing up. Men cry– I’ve seen it. Just like women do. their tears are just as salty, their faces get just as wet, snot comes out sometimes just the same.

I am not less of a man because I can tell a woman, child or whomever that they hurt my feelings. I am not a child because I can be vulnerable. It should be that simple, really.


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