When I cry,
You can only hear the faintest exhale.
This choked, repressed expression
of my depression
of my anxiety
about more depression,
About living a life filled with exceptions and conditions on the word
You can’t put an asterisk on Love.
My whole life,
I thought I was a quiet crier.
But really I was just in a world louder than myself
telling me I had to be,
I spent a night alone in a hotel room and I finally met myself.
And I am a loud Crier.
I am a dramatic Crier.
I am a legs
spread across the bed,
Arms flailing in air,
Pillow resting on my chest
so it feels like I’m not alone,
So it feels like I am at home,
So it feels like if I call my best friend that he’ll actually pick up the phone,
So it feels like if I came to you in tears it wouldn’t feel like I’d impose,
So it feels like if I expressed honesty,
if I was the honest me,
I wouldn’t be less of a man
Don’t mistake my insecurity
for vanity.
When I look into store front windows
I am not staring at my reflection,
I am looking through it.
Knowing the facade that I carry and the weight that it bears on my chest-
And my belly
And my thighs
And my cheeks,
Noticing the flaws on the way,
Every hair out of place,
Every smile that I painted to please someone or ease their minds.
Like I can’t put myself first.
Like I can’t let this precious resource fall into the dirt and be wasted.
Because it is my black gold.
My dirty money.
My shady dealings
I can only do in the dark alleys of my depression.
God forbid you watch a man struggle
with toxic masculinity
in a world of perceptions,
Because he can’t make that sassy joke and present a feminine impression,
Because he can only be sexy when he wears a muted expression,
It’s called a smolder after all.
By definition
To smoulder is
To exist in a suppressed state,
To display repressed feelings,
To be a smouldering fire literally means to burn without expressing a flame.
So to any men out there still burning yourselves
in the burden of your toxic masculinity,
Let your rivers run dry,
And I promise you it will extinguish the flame,
And heal your burned scars.


The aim of this project is to share lived experiences of mental health via poetry. Therefore, some of the content may potentially trigger some readers. If you require mental health support or assistance, a list of free confidential 24/7 support lines can be found here. You are not alone in your journey.