Dear New Dad

Dear New Dad,

Your fear is welcome
here is a place where
you can lay it down

just for these few lines

that pain you feel in your chest
is a new kind of love
it is here to open you

there is no way
to resist it reframe it divert it avoid it
stop
don’t run
remember

let it transform you
and shine
magnified through the tears
in your eyes

let it penetrate
and unsettle in you
all that needs
to be shaken awake

to free it more
to burn away
what is dry and ready to go

let it unfold you
in those places where
you are creased and hidden
a seed splitting
in dark soil

let it reveal
in you
something unseen
a latent magic
made for this time

let it set the table
with community
gathering
within and without
green sprouts
and manna
to sustain you

you have a bounty
within you
let this love
bring the feast

Dear New Dad

there is fear
laid aside
just there

but this love
can hold it
let it

©2022 Boysen Hodgson

Congratulations to Brandon, Christine, and Bindi Rose Clift — born November 7, 2022.

a Gift Received and Offer

a Gift Received and Offered

In about 3 weeks I will be on staff for a ManKind Project men’s weekend for the first time since 2013. I stopped staffing shortly before my wife and I became adoptive parents. Now … the kids are older and more regularly stable, and our family can handle separation and transition with more ease.

This will be the 12th time I’ve had this opportunity and responsibility. And it’s a serious responsibility. Hundreds of hours of effort by dozens of men across New England.

It was 2004 when I attended this training. It’s changed some since then. It keeps changing. And what continues to amaze me is that I can still feel and remember that weekend in April 2004 in my whole body. The feeling of aliveness, exhaustion, and connection.

I’m sitting with excitement, serious intention, and a healthy dose of fear. There will be men there, like me, who have been hiding out, disconnected, suffering, alone. There will be men there, like me, who are looking for more meaning, passion, and purpose in their lives. There will be men there, like me, who have believed they’ve found all the answers in the books they’ve read and the podcasts they’ve listened to and the accomplishments they’ve recorded. I honor that work.

And I also know what it’s like to be in a living breathing sacred space with men. It’s not only about our physical bodies. Our bodies come in a range of different configurations of parts and hormones, genes and neurons. It’s not only about our socialization. Our socialization looks all kinds of ways. It’s not only about the shared experiences and identities. I know men who have experiences that I can’t even imagine, and identities radically different than mine.

We hold an intention to learn through adventure and experience together what each of us has struggled to learn on our own. And somehow it works. Somehow a kind of magic is created.

I didn’t know that other men felt as I did. Now I believe that every man I meet shares some of the shadows and gold that I carry within. I didn’t know that there are men who can be trusted to hold the grief, anger, regret, shame, and fear of other men … along with joy, gratitude, tranquility, and wonder! Now I know because I have seen it and created space for it.

I didn’t know that there is a way of being with men that is supportive and purpose-filled … that builds each man up and helps him see more clearly the goodness, power, and responsibility he is gifted with in this life.

I didn’t know the joy of connecting and getting to know men so very different than me, and yet the same. Each man’s journey is unique. And that is part of the gift.

We can lessen the burden we carry and we can lessen the harm we inflict. We can forgive and find mercy. We can love better and communicate more fully. We can empower the best in one another, through our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits.

Doing this has made possible the best things in my life — my relationships with my wife and my children.

That’s why I’ll give a significant amount of time to make this happen. That’s why I’ll be there and assist the men coming as participants.

It was a gift that other men created for me, without ever having met me.

How about you? Is this a gift you would like to receive?

https://newengland.mkpusa.org

haunted house

maybe there is nothing new
that can be said
about a haunted house

all men
have one

maybe it’s not the house
but the man

spirits
in spite of best efforts
stick around

maybe it’s worth noting
that when the haunted
thing arrives
unbidden

mostly it wants nothing
but to be noticed

a man
will burn down the block
to not occupy space
with the spirit

when he
did not call it

and so it stretches
up into the smoke
and spreads itself out
pervasive

in every soft fingertip
of ashes
maybe it’s quieter
for a moment or two

in the blackened field
of the razed neighborhood
momentary
relief

then the sirens

what a man
refuses to see
will grow

it’s not the house
it’s worth noting
it’s quieter

when
he turns
and looks at it
the spirit

the thing haunting him

and grieves
and acknowledges
head bowed

usually
a soft rain can wash
the streaks
of ashes

from his face

5/12/2022

Dear rural white boy

I remember
when I was ten
or eleven

being in my room
not mine really
I shared with two of my brothers

there were three mattresses
on the floor
and two battered dressers
and a closet

it was on the second floor
up the narrow steep stairs

the ceilings were
low on either side
sloped under the roof
covered in ancient wall paper

crooked farm house

anyway,
I remember

crying
wailing

I want to die
I want to die
I want to die

and thudding my head
against the glass

I think my Mom
had told me
we were moving

again

I don’t remember
motivations
were plentiful

the window looked out
over the front yard
there were maple trees

shading the whole front lawn
150 years old
planted when the house was new

I do remember
the glass in that window
there were ripples
in the surface

I didn’t know then
glass is still a liquid
even if it feels solid
slowly, so slowly
it changes

I didn’t hit it
hard enough to break it

I’m 51 now
and the maple tree in our yard
is 7 years old

After reading ‘Kids Who Die’

What is the ‘Something’ that I should be doing? I see thousands of miles in every direction without moving or turning my head. There’s clear water in the Maldives. Bali is beautiful. And the graduates look stunning. Schooled. I see into the end game with every new tab opened and paragraph half read. I feel lost to follow-up and get back to and circle around to close the loops left open left and right and right. Now. There’s a massive die-off of farmed schools of salmon in New Zealand.

2000 tons of fresh fish in landfills. The soils of the Midwest are dying like school children, neglected and over-processed, largely ignored but for the corn-syrup saccharine platitudes, soy-bean snake-oil salesmen selling long-passed American dreams, and the amber waves of grain-fed cattle off-gassing in my timeline. You see the price of gas? Shocking. Elon heads to the bank to purchase free speech. Another break in Antarctic sheets.

It’s 105 degrees in Spain and 5 people I know are planning to walk the camino de Santiago this year. Insta wandering, I’m wondering. Is that doing something? Scientists in places far from here are screaming but their end is near sandwich boards cannot get attention over the din of separation. Division accusations multiply from god-fearing people peddling terror of transgender athletes ruining the gospel. It’s competitive sports cut down to what’s in your shorts. He and She and They and Them. All God! Damn! It doesn’t matter when winning and losing are both offensive to everything dying defenseless this minute.

Horrified Gene Roddenberry is sitting with Langston Hughes and the two of them can’t stop weeping. For the kids who die, uniforms red, exploring this strange new world. Malcolm and Moses are fighting again and nothing MLK can say will get them to let up and let their people go peacefully. Shop hopping Gandhi is looking for one thing home spun but the spinning wheels are running on an algorithm and all that’s woven is a narrative of numbing. Us. We keep saying … we need to do something. But the Edmund Pettus bridge is built to nowhere and we are all in bad trouble.

Thoughts and prayers. Future despair denied. More children just died. I pray for the families of the dead. We are all covid-coughing and sputtering our way to the grave. I pray that a new epic zombie limited series set in the near future will take me away. Thy will be done with one to the head. And post apocalypse say us all. The fight for Life for a monthly subscription. Church of the streaming service where all worshippers are welcome. The sons are here. The fathers are gone and we are surrounded by ghosts.

There are a baker’s dozen places to buy a gun within minutes of where I sit. Still. Around here in this every town rounds are easy to come buy. Stop by and see what’s new in recreational fun target shooting machinery of mass safety self-delusion. 2A rights, right? Hell yes! We the people say. Open late Friday. Get ready for the long weekend. Yes we can. A baker’s dozen, 13. Thirteenth amendment long overdue. Be proud and see red, white, and blue, clearly these rights to life and liberty are not for you. You already knew. The kids who die.

But what should I do?

5/28/2022
by Boysen Hodgson

The New Macho

He cleans up after himself.
He cleans up the planet.
He is a role model for young men.
He is rigorously honest and fiercely optimistic.

He holds himself accountable.
He knows what he feels.
He knows how to cry and he lets it go.
He knows how to rage without hurting others.
He knows how to fear and how to keep moving.
He seeks self-mastery.

He’s let go of childish shame.
He feels guilty when he’s done something wrong.
He is kind to men, kind to women, kind to children.
He teaches others how to be kind.
He says he’s sorry.

He stopped blaming women or his parents or men for his pain years ago.
He stopped letting his defenses ruin his relationships.
He stopped letting his penis run his life.
He has enough self respect to tell the truth.
He creates intimacy and trust with his actions.
He has men that he trusts and that he turns to for support.
He knows how to roll with it.
He knows how to make it happen.
He is disciplined when he needs to be.
He is flexible when he needs to be.
He knows how to listen from the core of his being.

He’s not afraid to get dirty.
He’s ready to confront his own limitations.
He has high expectations for himself and for those he connects with.
He looks for ways to serve others.
He knows he is an individual.
He knows that we are all one.
He knows he is an animal and a part of nature.
He knows his spirit and his connection to something greater.

He knows future generations are watching his actions.
He builds communities where people are respected and valued.
He takes responsibility for himself.
In times of need, he will be his brother’s keeper.

He knows his higher purpose.
He loves with fierceness.
He laughs with abandon, because he gets the joke.

This is a picture of mature masculine, of healthy masculinity — it is one redefinition of masculinity for the 21st century. By no means is this list complete. You are welcome to come and add your gifts to this community. www.mkp.org

©2010 Boysen Hodgson. All rights reserved.
Used with permission by the ManKind Project.

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