This is one of the first poems I remember writing. I remember reading a copy of a men’s fitness magazine (we’re talking probably 20 years ago) and thinking about how beauty standards for women have been something discussed for quite some time and (it felt at that time) that beauty standards for men were never discussed or explored. Fast forward into the future and I think this poem holds more truth than it did when I wrote it. I think standards for men have definitely come into their own, and I think there’s also a lot of other discussions that could and are being slowly had about men and the pressures of masculinity. There have been some incredibly fascinating subjects to come out on the topic, even over the course of this year. The poem briefly touches on it in subtly ways, but it sort of goes into the idea of gender and how we’re assigned this construct at birth. I think at the time it was really interesting to notice how standards applied to women were now being applied to men and asking the question, ‘are they harmful to men, but are they helpful to anyone?” As I paged through the article, I wrote this poem. It’s amazing that twenty years later, a lot of these questions still hold no answer.
The Men’s Room
The average male weight at birth is 7lbs 4 oz,
Which is the average male weight at cremation.
The average man thinks he’s going to die at 81,
While the odds are, slim to none, he’ll kick the bucket
(the male’s favorite euphemism for dying)
By a lightening bolt, but it does happen.
If this information bothers you, tread lightly,
Go try on a new pair of khakis,
Keep pretending that six pack’s coming.
Keep toning down outfits.
A dark shirt with dark pants de-emphasizes
Your waistline. For the two percent
Of men who long to be taxidermists
Upon biting it, keep this mind,
You wouldn’t want to have lived your whole life
Only to hang on the wall having people
Comment on your faltering physique.
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust,
And you thought it was all bullshit. Time
Is muscle, it’s true. We are
Always being toned. This month
We’re working a resistance to death.
Next month: “The Ultimate Fitness Challenge,”
“Sex Secrets Only She Knows,” and
a lot more models that truly are
the obituaries of real men.