I’ve got nothing
to be ashamed of in the
manhood department
if you know what I mean, he said,
grabbing flesh
his jeans.

We were gathered round a
cooking meat
we hadn’t beaten to death,
and the talk had turned to
so the man
had turned to size.

I was watching him,
eye to eye,
so I saw his move,
and its perfect execution.
I wondered if he saw
in us what he hoped to see
in us. If his practices
had made perfect.
I hadn’t seen enough.

Of course it was met with
and some banter about
but then the talk turned to
and the measure of a man:

his love for his family,
his love for his wife,
his prayer life,
his temptations,
his resistance of temptations,
his provision,
his love for the god who had
created him.

And then one man named a grief
and another named his vice.
One man said a prayer for consolation.
One man phoned his wife.
They became all brotherhood and solidarity.

I made campfire tea and
thought about my shame
and wondered if I’d ever name it
in such a place:
all yearning and all
burning fire.

We pitched tents
and unpacked bags,
pissed beer and tea
into flowing streams.

Later, to the sounds of
sleep and men’s dreams,
I sat by the fire
and stoked the heat.



Poet, theologian and group worker, PÁDRAIG Ó TUAMA has worked with groups in Ireland, Britain, the US and Australia. With interests in storytelling, groupwork, theology and conflict, Pádraig lectures, leads retreats and writes both poetry and prose. (@duanalla)