Poems · Poemvember-November 2017

“What Makes a Man, a Man?”

Poem 25 in the ProCrasstheNation Poemvember Poetry Project might be my biggest challenge to date. I’ve though deeply on this subject, and I appreciate the suggestion from my good friend Noah. It’s rather difficult to capture a succinct or clever answer when considering what makes a man, a man. In recent times, the bill has come due on a lot of shitty inappropriate behavior that has gone on for far too long. Navigating, listening, learning, acting, setting examples are all new found activities to even the best of us.

I would never suggest a bullet point list of what makes a man a man, but in my own experience, I have a working idea of what makes a man a man. It is constantly changing, evolving, and adapting to the life we are faced with. Each man experiences life differently, and I believe that there are many roads to the same destination.

“Joy Before the Storm” © C.P. Hickey 2017


“What Makes a Man, a Man?”

you start to really wonder what makes a man a man the minute your son is born.

things you never thought of pop into your head.

you are continually faced with considering actions you take, and how they will shape that person.

this is a grace filled and humbling experience.

all the noise that surrounds you, tries to divert you from true north.

there are no secrets or silver bullets.

a work in progress.

a watershed moment in your development, and theirs.

accountability like never before.

consequences that not only affect your life, their life, but also the lives of others.

the golden rules are good, but more is needed.

manners are good, but more is needed.

a lot has to be undone, in order to give your son a shot at not falling into society’s current mold.

these early impressions will serve him in the years to come and contribute to how he “man”ifests upon the world.

sometimes all those lessons and values converge into a particular point at a particular place and time, a moment.

last week was that moment…


after a busy day, my son had hockey practice.

it was a light day as many people left to travel for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

we still went, because following through on commitments is important.

he got out on the ice, and it wasn’t working.

there were less people so there were less line changes and more ice time.

he became tired, and couldn’t perform at the level he enjoys.

he skated over to me, with a look of concern, on the verge of tears.

encountering hardship, and not wanting to deal with it my son, opted to stop for the day.

I told him that he might feel bad about not finishing, that it’s important to finish something you start.

he went back out on the ice, and fell continually.

each time he looked to me the face grew more upset.

it was a long 45 minutes.

when the buzzer went off, he skated off the ice and came to me.

I kneeled down and took my crying son into my arms and just held him.

I told him it was okay.

what makes a man, a man?


allowing him to feel safe in not doing well, and in shifting perspective to understand that winning is not the purpose of participating, but in seeing something through to its end.

the sweetest hug, for a sweet, sweet, boy, that will one day be a man.

a man that I will be proud to call my son.

hoping that he too will show his sons, that there is strength in feeling and allowing room for that, even within the societal constructs that penalize such displays.


A man is what you make of yourself, and what you contribute to in the making of other men.