portion of the artwork for M Ross Henry's poetry

M Ross Henry

A way in or a way out, his hand
on the one-gallon can

                                              its red paint

                cut clear through by a white
                lightning bolt with tooth-sharp edges

                                              its surface tinged

                with his father’s fingerprints.

The can says keep out of reach
of children, but he’s barely

                                seventeen and that leather jacket,

                                              a pack of reds,
                his hair grown longer than his sister’s.

A way in or a way up, he loosens
the smooth plastic cap,

                                              breathes vapors like oxygen,

                only slower.

The sky doesn’t get you high,

                at least not like this. He’s flying,
                                                               no feeling in either foot.

Soon he’ll glide
over the wooden fence
                                he helped his father build

                and be done with this place.

A way in or a way down,
he fumbles to close the cap,

                                              slip the can onto a low shelf.

                His mind is a vapor that pulses.

Now he’s as quiet as the broken lawn mower,
as corroded and nearly as idle.

For a few heavy seconds,

                                              the world waits

to be rolled back out, a clean

                                bright-green AstroTurf

on which the game of manhood can be played.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 45 | Spring 2015