He wakes up
and notices nothing unusual.
He wanders downstairs in skimpy pjs, switches on the radio
The breakfast show, a witty host and her regulation male sidekick-
the butt of the jokes.
The news is going, that abducted boy found dead, sexually abused, throttled
A woman helping with inquiries
Bored of the chatter he turns it off
Eats his cereal before the telly, a music channel
Women in baggy jeans singing about how nice men look
in clubs, dancing topless around holes.
He unconsciously scrutinises the semi-clad men that surround her
Winding their perfect bodies in sync to the beat, hip rolling
Looks down at his own belly, thinks, I'll skip lunch.
In the shower he shampoos his long hair,
Fretting about baldness
this constant battle with his body.
He shaves his legs, his armpits, his belly
Scans his chest and thighs for regrowth
wonders when he should next visit the salon.
He shaves his jaw.
He dresses uncomfortably
Can't buy anything without some kind of floral design
or sexy message. Can't buy anything that doesn't cling to his biceps
expressing his weakness
or stretch embarrassingly round his abdomen.
He leaves for work
Sees the witness appeal board on the street, hardly registers
A man sexually assaulted and beaten last night-
What was he doing out alone, anyway?
Probably a prostitute, he thinks.
He waits at the crossing for the green woman,
A group of builders whistle at him
'Get your cock out for the girls!'
He puts his head down and hurries on
Past posters of submissively-posed, naked men
Advertising everything from cars
His office is a woman's world
They resent his penetration of the glass ceiling
Some idiot has sellotaped a roll of condoms to his desk
He nods, rolls his eyes
The women around him laugh, call names
Watch his legs openly as they swing beneath his knee-length skirt.
He tells himself- at least it's not the penis expander
in the coffee mug.
He heads for the toilet. (There's only two stalls and two urinals
for men, in the whole building.)
He has to queue.
There's no real friendly smiles
All the males here are in competition
He calls Gareth at lunch time
Gareth's home with the baby
Struggling, living on benefits
Since his babymama left him.
She said she couldn't handle another son
Had two already, couldn't provide
for another boy, she wanted a daughter.
She'd said they should have had a scan to determine the gender
She could have had it aborted
She can't be doing with another son
Can't be doing.
Gareth only recounted this story once
Said the words were like a slap in the face,
Like a kick to the loins.
He tells Gareth how he's skipping lunch,
They go to a club in the evening
Gareth leaves the kids with his dad
Paul's there, fretting that his new girlfriend
Only wants him for his body (she never calls,
never takes him out anywhere nice).
The three of them dance, working their hips
Their tight sequinned clothing catching the light
Their bodies glittering
Women dance easily around them in jeans and t shirts,
Having fun, not too bothered
about being attractive.
Every so often a hand will slide down Paul's tight abdomen
Towards his crotch
and he'll push them away, and say
'I have a girlfriend'.
He's obviously bothered by the creeping predation
Terrified of an erection, public humiliation
Still the other two can't help but feel slightly jealous of the attention.
They go to the toilet in pairs, safety in numbers
leaving one person behind to make sure no one spikes their drinks.
Gareth gives his number out
(against his better judgement)
and spends the cab ride home fretting about it.
Back home, he removes his tight, uncomfortable, brightly coloured
underwear with a sigh of relief
gets into his fitted pyjamas
and crawls into bed.