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Frank DeRose Jan 23
My father shows definite signs of toxic masculinity.
Always with the "man up" or "toughen up"
I think he was afraid I was too sensitive.

When I was a kid, he told me it was okay to cry.

Then I guess I cried too much.
And it was no longer okay.

I learned to swallow my emotions,
Pills so big I thought I would choke.
My voice caught,
My feelings were strangled.

I learned, too, to listen and observe him more.
Yes, there was the homophobia,
There the unmistakable reek of feared emasculation,
The lines about how certain things were "effeminate,"
Including things like the way I sat,
Or wore my long hair,
In my own home, no less.

I don't think he thinks me very manly.

Never mind my compassion, loyalty, or steadfast, stubborn nature.

I've learned not to care so much what he thinks,
Though the very act of not caring hurts.
I'd like to be able to share who I am with him,
But I think he disapproves who I am,
The way I choose to live.

Never mind I am straight,
Though it would be no excuse if I were not.

Never mind I have a beard,
Though it would be no excuse if I were clean-shaven.

Never mind any of the qualities that I am,
Any of the things I am proud of,
Any of the reasons I call myself man.

To him, I am not masculine.
That knowledge sears like razor burn,
Leaves scarred tracts of pain and resentment.

Doth a man not bleed?
I suppose not.
Frank DeRose Jan 23
Fingers fly
Across frenzied
Digitized, pixelized
Screams of glass.

A wireless connection,
Tethered and coupled to the
Hub.

Invisible shackles of changing generations
Keep chain gangs huddled from afar
Shuffling along parallel mortal coils,
Always transcribed and shared--
The space grows discrete whenever they should meet

Minds meld into OneGroup in cyberspace,
And OneGroup is terrifying
A hive of electric
Like-minded
Echoing
Shouts through the void

At desks and lunch tables and in classrooms and prison cells
Mouths are shut and eyes are downcast
Pixels bloom to life and fill the torpid state.

OneGroup reigns supreme.

Here and there free minds swim between the endless threads
Evading the silken spider's web of OneGroup

Likely, though,
They are doomed.

Just as humans once reigned supreme atop the food chain,
So too,
Now,

Does OneGroup

OneGroupForever

ThereHasOnlyBeenOneGroup

ThereWillOnl­yEverBeOneGroup

OneGroup
OneGroup
OneGroup
OneGroup

OneGroup.
Frank DeRose Nov 2018
If I could name Alzheimer's,
Give him a face,
I think I would call him the Thief.

But the Thief does not come in the night;
He is not afraid of the day.

He will ruin your cherished traditions,
Your favorite pastimes.
He will spit on the spirit of your memories,
Then take them, too.

The Thief will take everything
But love and faith
The Thief cannot touch those;
They burn and overwhelm him.

The Thief will attack,
Vicious and biting.
He will lure his victim into a steady routine,
And strike if his victim strays from it.
And in the lulls, he will sap a little more
strength
A little more
vibrancy
A little more

Life.

But still, love and faith remain.
They are humanity's last defense,
Her greatest triumph.

When these are all that is left,
The Thief will depart.

He is a parasite,
But the host will be of no further use to him.

He will return the shell,
The empty house,
And he will move on.

And love and faith will remain.
Love and faith will fill the rooms.
They will bring light where there was none.
Friends and family will remember all they had before the Thief,
Lament their losses, of course, but comfort in all they shared.

The Thief wins more than he deserves,
But he does not win total victories;
Small triumphs remain--
A smile,
A laugh,
The occasional yes or no.
The flicker of light that says 'I still remember. I'm still here.'

The Thief cannot take these things.
They are provided with love,
By love,
For the beloved.

Still,
I would not wish the Thief on my own worst enemy.
I would not want to see him so wracked,
His family so torn.

Even though love wins,
The Thief takes entirely too much.

His victims forget,
And we are left to forge..
Frank DeRose Nov 2018
Hold close to your friends, your family, your loved ones.
If you've got nothing else,
You've got love,

If you've everything else, but not this,
Then you've got naught.

For love is sustenance for the soul--
And the soul needs nourishing more than the body, after all.

What is life, if not for love?

Thank you for your love.
I love you.
Frank DeRose Sep 2018
Crawl on, soldier.

Crawl in the name of liberty,
Justice for all.

March on, sister.
With your shoulders slumped and spirit downtrodden,
March for your life.

Drain the swamp, fellow sewage workers of the republic.

Flee to the ballots,
To that last bastion,
The last remaining bulwark of our republic. 

Cast your votes.

Cast them in steel and forge them in hot coals
Let your anger rage,  
Break, blow, burn,
And make us new.

Run through the dogs,
Through the fire hoses,
And tear gas. 

Cry, and salt the America of old.
Run through the deniers,
And **** sympathizers
Cast and cut them down

With your voices,
Loud and clear.

Let the peal of truth ring out,
Let freedom ring! 

Invite Langston Hughes to the table,
As company,
For he, too, is America.

Choose the ballot or the bullet,
In the words of Malcolm X
Who, too, is America.

Just as surely as #MeToo
Is American
As American as apple pie,
As American as you or I.

March to the ballots,
March for your America.

Because
Despite the words of our current senators,
And those who would question your experiences,
And deny you were *****,
Deny you were shot down,
By lawmakers and police and agents of oppression—

Despite all their yelling and bravado,
They are scared of you.

Because, you, too, are America.

So march on, brother, sister, countrywoman—
Friend.

March to the ballot.
Frank DeRose Aug 2018
I suffer from a self-inflicted affliction,
Indeed, the guilt of my benefaction
By the decree of my skin tone at birth,
At the expense of the bodies and souls of my darker brothers and sisters,
Gnaws at the rough edges of my soul.

I feel shame when I consider
The ease with which I move through the circles of society,
While others pause at every edge,
Eye their surroundings,
Look for exit points,
Gauge their safety.

And I double down on my guilt,
Knowing that it is more coping mechanism
Than it is agent of change.
“As bad as things are,
At least I feel bad that they’re bad,”
I reason.

As if that makes things better.

As if that’s oxygen in the black man’s lungs.

As if it helps him breathe.

Still, I do what I can.

I confront racism where I see it,
Voice my opposition to the systemic injustices from which I benefit.

I have made enemies,
Perhaps even of myself,
A price I’d gladly pay
Ten thousand times over, for 400 years and more.

Because it’s not about me.

Not any more.

It’s not about me.
Frank DeRose Jul 2018
Where is my home?

Is it in the bed of my parents' house,
The one I've come to know and love?
The bed, I mean,
Not the house.

Is it in my parents' house,
The one I grew up in?
The house, I mean,
Not the walls and corners and doors.

Is it in my lovers' arms,
The ones in which I rest?
Her security, I mean,
Not the lovely limbs themselves.

Is it in the company of friends,
The beers and shared times in which I take comfort?
The laughter and memories, I mean,
Not the rooms and spaces in which they occurred.

Is it anywhere at all?
Or is it everywhere?

Where does my soul itself reside?

In all of these?
Or none of them,
Somewhere else altogether?

I can't pretend I know.

But I know I call all of these my home.

I hope your homes are as lovely,
As cherished,
As secure.

I hope you feel--
Safe...

At home.
home where love friends house laughter shared
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