Little boys cry.
Tears storm down their cheeks
and wet their tiny T-shirts.
They cry at the sting of pavement- scraped skin.
Left alone, they cry tears of fear of abandonment.
and homesick tears at summer camp.
They cry their eyes puffy and red.
They cry so hard---their—breath—comes—in gasps.
And their mothers,
and young aunts
They cry on the playground,
in the car,
and at the grocery store in front of strangers.
They cry at the dinner table
and—they—fight—the –sobs—and ---try to –catch—their breath.
they cry for comfort,
until their grandmothers die,
their aunts marry,
their mothers tell them:
Big boys don’t cry.
Then they hide their tears,
run to their room,
lock themselves in the bathroom,
until the eyes clear,
the redness dissipates,
and the tears put there by the age-spotted hand of natural selection
to communicate discomfort,
to reveal humanity ,
to bond the tribe
The brain’s orders to the lacrimal glands
mustering only a fake John Wayne mist,
produced to keep girlfriends from leaving.
But the young women only look away,
Big boys don’t cry.
They just become Thoreau’s men of quiet desperation:
No tears of pain
No tears of sorrow
No tears of humiliation
No tears of disappointment
Stuck in solitary confinement
Not even tears of loneliness.
And without that cleansing saline
the soul’s wounds do not heal,
and the tears come out like heart-attacks,
as the deflection of withdrawal
the pulling away of alienation
the clenched hand of rage
the fist of violence.
And no one comforts a silent, violent Frankenstein.
at age 72
found his tears again,
at his ex-sister-in-law’s funeral,
crying with his ex-brother-in-law,
tears plopping out of his drought-stricken eyes
as heavily as a summer rain on a dusty field.
Sixty years of grief bursting out.
The salty fluid pouring out of his eyes, his nose, his mouth,
irrigating the close-cropped cemetery lawn.
I’ve held that moment for two decades now,
Guarding its secret.
Dreading its message.
My own eyes as a dry as a sage brush hillside on a too-hot August afternoon,
waiting for the thundershower.