Trigger Warning. Caution: This poem tends to glorify being a man.
Laugh as a Young Man Laughs
Laugh as a young man laughs.
Laugh hearty, laugh out loud,
Laugh at facing a day’s hard work,
Laugh at the wobble in your knees
Hauling hundred pound sacks of “taters”
Balanced across your shoulders.
Laugh and lug the loads up the ramp,
In the back of the big Mac Truck trailer.
Laugh at how damn hot it is gets,
At the sweat dripping off your forehead,
Running in your eyes and stings like hell,
Laugh at the damn forecast cause it’s only going to get hotter.
Laugh like a man laughs
As he strips the rotten shingles,
Splashes the black tar, shoots the nails
Into the new shakes on the old roof.
Laugh at the beer headache from the night before,
Laugh at needing to piss real bad,
Laugh at the cussing from the young wife
For flirting with a buddy’s girlfriend.
Tune up the News, laugh at the stupidity
Of pundits, presidents, prime ministers
And the local councilman
Who sells used cars during the day.
Laugh as they scheme to steal your wages
And spend your Money
At night meetings in empty chambers.
Laugh cause you know they’re all thieves,
Every one of them.
Laugh in your soul at how good to feel
Your muscles strain and push and pull
And dig and wedge, and turn and wrench
Until some mighty thing you’ve decided to move, moves.
Sling a sledge, chop an ax down hard,
Split the wood, explode the bark.
Feel the cool sweat return,
Rivulets down the back, over the belly,
The way it does when you work hard,
Gets the poison out,
Toughens the sinews, bulges up the arms
Bulks up the shoulders.
Breathe in the dirt and dust swirling
From your hits, stomps, kicks, and slams.
Could get you hurt? Yeah! And hell, if it does, laugh,
Got to do the work, so the hell with it.
Grit your teeth, smile, and “gett’er done” anyway.
Brag, yell, say what you think. Don’t whisper,
Don’t’ chant, don’t hum nonsensical crap.
Be sure of everything, exclaim your beliefs to everyone,
Whoop it up, Shout out, In their face,
Laugh at the soft, weak, snotty effete professors of profanity
Who’ve never thumped a shovel in the ground
Turned over the dark earth, never crumbled clods in their hands
And who fear the offense of being a man.
Laugh as they shrink, and if they move to fight, club them back down
Sneer at their bowing and scrapping.
Laugh at their cringe, at their sniveling.
Know, by God, you are not wrong.
Laugh and go ahead, go forward,
It’s a job to do and, by God, it feels good to have a strong heart
Beating in a rhythm, a cadence in time with strong legs and arms
And the will to build,
Then tear up, then shatter,
Then erect it back up and then
Tear it right down again.
Don the pads and take the field
Tackle a runner and slam him to the ground,
Laugh when he moans and utters “good hit.”
Break up a double play and spike the shortstop,
Go on the court and Dunk the ball. Hard!
Make the backboard shake, your defender cower,
Humiliated, mad as hell at you.
Laugh at the fear in his eyes when you drive toward him again.
Jump in a muscle car, a combustion engine!
Blow blue smoke in the atmosphere. Break the speed limit.
Hit the pedal, press it all the way down, peg the tach,
Go fast. Push a “vette into a curve too fast and
Pedal down! Accelerate out.
Ski head long down the high hills,
Those way beyond your skill.
Walk out on the edge of the cliff
And feel the danger of falling and laugh,
Show off and do a funny dance
Almost fall over and down the canyon laughing,
Launch on the ocean when its roiling.
Turn the sail boat sideways into the wind,
Race the storm to shore
Dare it to catch you, swamp you.
Walk down the avenue in the storm.
Out yell the thunder. Light a smelly cigar,
Lift your face heavenward
And dare the lighting.
Shoot a shotgun. Feel the boom,
The shock, the force, the power,
And laugh at the splitting target.
And fire it again while your ears still ring.
Howl and joke with the whores
Standing on the corner.
Laugh cause your wit can never match theirs,
Laugh cause they know how stupid men really are.
Jump in the middle of drunken brawl,
Sock somebody in the jaw, sucker punch some dickhead,
Then buy them a drink and grab a hunk of beefsteak or ice pack
For the black eye he gave you right back.
And, Man, listen, if they come for us. Go to war. Fight the bastards.
Kill the sons’a’bitches with a knife, a gun, a grenade,
Blow them up with a shell from a tank.
Laugh over their bodies, kick them in the side of the head.
Laugh as you ship home
Laugh as you care for the widow and orphan
Because it’s hard, sacrifice is hard,
Duty is hard.
But you owe it to your brother
As he owes it to you.
And while you’re at it, Kick the bum off your sidewalk.
Laugh at his drunken curses
As he rolls around in the gutter,
Getting his filthy blanket soaked.
Then buy him a steak dinner
With mashed potatoes, with all the fixings
And, yes, a beer and laugh at his sorry tale
Cause they are all sorry tales.
Drive a cement truck, its big belly spinning.
Keep it going and turning so the cement
Don’t cure, then pour a foundation,
And carve your initials in the wet pavement.
Shift the transmission
On the big Caterpillar,
Ram it into gear,
Will it up the mountain road
So you can dig out the old road,
Haul it away and scrape level the ground for a new road.
Feel the strength in your shoulders and chest
As you wrestle a bridge in place,
Span it over the gorge, build it to last a hundred years.
Laugh at the hundred years.
Step heavy and loud into the forest. Leave the camera.
Fell the redwood tree, chop it down,
Strap it to the long bed truck
And drive it to the mill.
Strip the bark, plane it through the giant saws.
Laugh when you tell how you cut off your forefinger
Right up to the knuckle because the damn board jumped
When it bounced off a knot in the wood.
Roughhouse with the dog.
Get him fired up and fighting.
Snarling and growling,
See if you can make him bite.
And laugh at his barking at you
Because he can’t out rough you.
And when you get tired, lay down,
Sprawl across the clean sheets
In your dirty sweaty clothes
And take your pulse and laugh
At the life beating, pumping under your wrist,
Deep in your chest, echoing across the canyons and gullies
Of your town, your nation, your region
In the laugher of other young men
Of every kind, on every other side of the planet,
In every time and every place.
Laugh it up with the young guys.