I’m Not a Man

I’m not a man, I can’t earn a living, buy new things for my family. I have acne and a small peter.

I’m not a man. I don’t like football, boxing and cars.
I like to express my feeling. I even like to put an arm
around my friend’s shoulder.

I’m not a man. I won’t play the role assigned to me- the role created by Madison Avenue, Playboy, Hollywood and Oliver Cromwell, Television does not dictate my behavior.

I’m not a man. Once when I shot a squirrel I swore that I would never kill again. I gave up meat. The sight of blood makes me sick. I like flowers.

I’m not a man. I went to prison resisting the draft. I do not fight when real men beat me up and call me queer. I dislike violence.

I’m not a man. I have never raped a woman. I don’t hate blacks. I do not get emotional when the flag is waved. I do not think I should love America or leave it. I think I should laugh at it.

I’m not a man. I have never had the clap.

I’m not a man. Playboy is not my favorite magazine.

I’m not a man. I cry when I’m unhappy.

I’m not a man. I do not feel superior to women

I’m not a man. I don’t wear a jockstrap.

I’m not a man. I write poetry.

I’m not a man. I meditate on peace and love.

I’m not a man. I don’t want to destroy you

San Francisco, 1972

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11 Replies to “I’m Not a Man”

  1. This is a wonderful poem, and I use it for English classes in high school. The last line is particularly powerful, with the surprising direct inclusion of the reader. I imagine the poet looking down while he is reading, and then catching my eye, holding my gaze at the very last moment, burning my cheeks with his rightous quiet anger. I feel the shame every time I read it. It is perhaps Norse’s finest poems, and I have read many of them.

  2. I chose this poem for an Oral Interpretation class at my University. Harold Norse. His words have spoken volumes to me, until I read this poem I felt very alone in this world. Thank you Mr. Norse.

  3. I had an inspiring morning reading this memorial site for Harold. I wish he could have seen the small revival of his era, which I think is coming.

  4. Mr. Norse was everything I wanted to be. He will live on in the poets of today and tomorrow the same as Whitman and Ginsberg, and it is with those Saints, Saint Walt and Saint Allen, he now takes his place in forever.

    Thank you, Saint Harold. For existing.

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