“Atlas” by Alfred Johnson III

by Alfred Johnson III

Sacrifice so much in order to protect my masculinity
It takes precedence over my humanity…

My sanity tilts on its axis
The weight of the world robs me of my balance
A man that is deeply saddened
I have found a brother in the shamed titan Atlas

Appearances are getting harder to maintain
The sun of my smile, it's light I’m trying to sustain
Ignoring the fact my spirit is writhing in pain
Being in this skin drives me insane
Because M-A- N is how I spell my name

Men we hide our scars
Does it enable us to fly towards the stars?
Does denial afford the lavish homes and expensive cars?

A woman’s heart I’m expected to take heed
Consider the many mouths I have to feed
Curse these chains of responsibility
Depriving me of a good night’s sleep
The lack of attention given to what I need
Perfectly justifying my reason to cheat

Journeying down life’s road can be rough
Walking these miles, I fear my legs may not be enough
No one cares to give an encouraging hug
Understanding, no one opposes the lack thereof
Exposing the myth of unconditional love

By default, I was chosen to be the head
Often I cry to be weak instead
Must be able to provide the best
In order to keep my family fed

A man must cast aside his fears
In the dark where he cries silent tears
Lived a life of quiet desperation for many years

Praying for a river of security to flow through
The job I desperately have to hold onto
Or I’d be dishonoring one of our significant core values

Hear yet another voice in need down the hall
Like a doctor I’m always on call
How can I leap these buildings that are unbelievably tall?

He is comprised of two halves, the physical and emotional
That a man’s heart beats is inconceivable
A man’s power is perceived inexhaustible
His tattoo reads “Emotionally Unavailable”

Some of my peers are afraid to feel similarly
A profound weakness is an ounce of sensitivity
Lack of emotional intelligence, a common disability
Frowned upon is this kind of familiarity

Oversee a home that is immensely tense
I’m assigned to be its first line of defense
A hidden gun affords me the best offense

The sickening secrets that I keep
Especially from the woman lying next to me
She demands complete emotional honesty
It’s still no guarantee she won’t leave
The price I might pay for not wanting to appear weak

The reason for the breakup falls on my shoulders
Evident as I get older
My love grows unapologetically colder
Devote all my strength to lifting this boulder

Difficult, running on this treadmill
Seems I’m constantly traveling uphill
Women disregard a man whose cup is not completely filled
Worthy if his overflow extends to the paying of her bills

Of this rope I am starting to lose my grip
Hide the marks from my lover’s whip
Cannot let my worry of inadequacy escape from my lips

Worn down by expectations
The charisma missing to lead a nation
Meaningless sex is how he channels mounting frustration
Leaving in his wake, a path of devastation

Being overworked threatens to send me to the grave
A generous salary whips me into a compliant slave
A punishment God felt necessary because Adam disobeyed

I am not granted permission to hurt
The greater good must always come first
Unexpressed grief forms an enormous earth

Deadly when a man’s pride forces his hand
A woman can say she’s not a fan
How dare she proclaim I’m not a man?
A woman doesn’t the ability to understand
What a man goes through to profess he can

Feel like an awkward creature
Those quiet moments I treasure
Nothing seems to alleviate the pressure
Considered a failure by society’s standard of measure

My aura cannot reflect a light that’s unusual
My guard has to remain impenetrable
My lack of intimacy labels me a homosexual

Where was the fire of ignorance started?
That a man cannot be among the brokenhearted

Sacrifice so much to protect my masculinity
It takes precedence over my humanity…
Now a man that is deeply saddened
I have a found a brother in the cursed titan Atlas


Artist: Alfred Johnson III

Genre: Poetry

Bio: A young black Jacksonville native that is relentlessly creative and loves to display the power of the pen in his hand!

Piece: Atlas

Piece Description: Inspired by cursed titan Atlas, it is a piece of the inner struggle I face being a man in society.