South Africa Poetry Magazine –

"Manhood" by Hugo Ndlovu


Title image shows an elephant walking across a flower meadow with white birds flying in the foreground.

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Published January 1, 2023


by Hugo Ndlovu
(Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, South Africa)

Boys don't cry, they say.
To weep is to be weak, so the tears never run down our face.
Held back and pent up with eyes swelled up, they never find an escape.
The message echoed is, don't you dare show that you're hurting
or you'll be crucified for wearing your heart on your sleeve.
Like we should be immune to what we feel.
Like to suppress is to be strong, and vulnerability is feeble.
So we shut down to sensitivity in response,
unaware that we disconnect to everything around us, as a consequence.
We safeguard our manhood every opportunity we can,
and we repress what comes naturally like we don't feel pain.
And wonder why when it comes to women, we simply cannot relate.
We paint everything feminine with this fragility that's debilitating,
as if it's some ailment that will bring us to our knees.
So we run from it and hide it deep down so that it never shows up.
The same way we hold back tears, fears of being ridiculed if they spill from our eyes,
and then we're deemed not manly enough.

Hugo Ndlovu: I am a 27-year-old Candidate Attorney with an LLB degree from the University of Johannesburg. I have a keen interest in writing and love reading too. I desire to publish books in different genres like poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

This poem is included in Poetry World #5, published in the Wax Poetry and Art Library.

Previously published in South Africa Poetry Magazine:

by Zama Madinana

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