portion of the artwork for Joe Donnelly's poetry

Man vs. Box
Joe Donnelly

As I walk down 30th street,
A man with a tank top and cigar emerges from his sloped garage and throws a small box on the ground.
He looks graduated from tough guy school, summa cum laude, where they shave your head and hand you a smirk upon graduation.
On the arm facing me it’s tattooed: GYM, GOD, FAMILY
And then he stands on the box with all his 200 pounds
Of attitude,

But it doesn’t flatten.
He takes the cigar out and squints at the 11 x 13 inch square,
Stands on the edges again,
Nothing happens.
I can see his anger buzzing over his head as I get closer,
I should really cross the street,
It’s like I’m some crappy, sullen matador going after a raging bull,
Whispering, “Toro?”

Then it happens,
The man with the cigar steps down from his platform,
Goes to give the box a Cobra Kai karate kick,
But the box bobs,
Then weaves,
A gigantic leg kicks nothing but oxygen.

I see the box pop off the ground,
Its flaps tighten into fists,
And with one swoop it uppercuts his opponent,
Hitting him square in the jaw,
Like an off switch,
The cigar goes flying,
I can see space between the ground and his New Balances.

I wasn’t sure what to do,
So I just followed my instinct,
And hoisted the box above my head,
Onto my shoulders,
Much like the end of Rocky IV,
A crowd gathered and someone handed the box a microphone.

“Durin’ this fight, I seen a lot of changin’,
About how yous felt about me,
And I felt about you,
So if I can change,
And yous can change,
Maybe the whole world can change,” the box said.

Applause filled the entire street,
Trashcans lifted their lids in approval,
Neighbors opened their windows and cheered,
Someone shot off a cannon.

Then the box turned to me and said, “It’s time,” and hopped off my shoulders,
Unpacked itself and I slid it over to a pile of recycling.
Somewhere in the near distance, Nico’s “These Days” is playing,
It feels like I’m in a muppet movie directed by Wes Anderson.
The crowd disperses,
And I hear the rustling of aluminum behind me.

It’s the man with the cigar,
He’s pulling beer cans out of the trash,
And neatly packing them into a state-issued recycling receptacle.
I want to help him but I’m too busy thinking about all the times I littered,
And how I wish someone punched me in the face.


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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 53 | Spring/Summer 2019