We were the boys that no one wanted.
We were the thiefs, the bed wetters, the temper tantrums, the psychos, the stupids, the too-old-to-join-a-family boys.
We were just the “oh those boys.”
Although we never asked for it, did nothing to deserve it, we were all the boys who were born to homes or houses trying to pass as homes with people who failed at parenthood.
We never got a chance to prove that maybe we could be the boys who don’t suck at being sons and brothers and even friends.
No, before we were ever given that chance, we were the boys. Just the boys.
We were the boys who reacted violently when told we couldn’t play anymore, we needed to grow up.
We were the boys who talked twenty miles an hour, spitting in people’s faces, behind the words begging, but up front just rambling.
We were the boys who stuttered when we read and screamed if we were told to do math.
We were the boys that "could easily sneak into their daughter’s room and who knows what would happen then."
We were the boys with the broken ribs, lost left shoes, and greasy chunked hair.
We were the boys with the ripped jeans, the tired, red eyes, and the unnoticed stub toes.
We were the boys who knew about boys but knew nothing about girls, let alone a mother.
We were the boys who cried to sleep, missing our younger brothers who slept under a roof where their memories of older brothers was slowly deteriorating into forgetfulness, the thought of a loving mom and dad now filling the gap.
We were the boys who woke up in the night,
gasping for air and as we sat in our warm putrid liquid,
we rock back and forth, gripping our knees, biting our lips, chewing on finger nails, ripping at hair, counting down from 100, blinking rapidly, and not blinking at all.
It was always the same reason for waking up.
Our nightmares only became more terrifying with each night, memories from our polluted brains were being torn out and displayed as a horror movie in our heads while our eyes shut and the lights went out.
We were the boys that were given certain pills of different sizes before lights out, for various reasons such as the dreams, the biting, the spitting, the crying, the screaming, the moments we couldn’t breathe, and the moments we tried to make someone else stop breathing.
We were the boys who weren’t given the time of day to sit down and be asked “how are you doing?”
We were the boys that needed more attention, more love, than regular.
We wanted to be hugged and kissed daily, but not pitied.
We wanted to be taken to the ball game and out for a drive. We were the boys who wished for a packed lunch with a note inside saying, ‘I love you.’
We were the boys with the eyes that had seen white powder rule a person’s life, bottles shattered on walls, the broken glass used to paint skin.
We were the boys with the eyes that had seen our baby sister held carefully in loving hands, the same hands that shooed us away when we got too close.
We were the boys with the eyes that had seen our mother beaten to the ground and our father shoved and locked up in the back seat of a blinking car.
We were the boys with the eyes that searched the sky waiting for someone, anyone willing to let us look up to them as role models, looking up for approval.
We were the boys who heard spoken in our regard endlessly, “You just never know about boys who grew up that way. Could turn out just like their parents, or worse.”
We were the boys who imagined what riding a scooter to school would be like, what having a pet dog would be like, what enough friends to have a birthday party would be like.
We were the boys that were 12, 13, 14, all the way up to 17 that were expected to behave like little men, when we never got to be a child.
We were the boys who still legally belonged to no one, our last name meant nothing to us, but a glimpse of the trauma that seemed to define us.
We would always be the drug dealer’s son, the drunken man’s son, the prostitute’s son, the abuser’s son.
We would always be the older brothers who were a bad influence because we’d seen too much. Too much had passed before our little eyes making us just as dangerous as the crimes committed.
We were the boys who sat alone on Dad’s day at school, who never waved to anyone in the audience at band concerts, who ripped apart the flower made in school for mother’s day.
We were the boys that when turned 18 were no longer thought of as boys.
The boys who left a home of more boys, wondering what it is like to be a boy, to be a son, to be a brother, to be a man.
We were the boys that belonged to no one.
We were the boys that no one wanted.
And you, you ridiculous people expect us to know how to be a father and a husband and a man.