Questions About the Ride

Photo by Stas Knop on
At first glance, a roller coaster is something like a passenger train. It consists of a series of connected cars that move on tracks. But unlike a passenger train, a roller coaster has no engine or power source of its own.
~ Wikipedia

At the station, my lap-bar hasn’t budged
in years. Tell me, who decides what ride we get
on? Surely, there’s an omniscient carnie-god, a teenaged
pimply, pot-smoking manager in charge
of destiny. There ought to be a sign, some form of measure:
Pint-sized minds not allowed.

These empty seats will fill
quickly but does every
departure have a terminal? Why
are so many people still in line?
As the chain-lift creaks
and jolts, I always worry it will break
free and I will backslide. Down
below, I see a tatooed

young man turning in a wallet
at the Lost and Found, I see
two young lovers kiss behind the Pronto Pup stand,
there’s an old man and a young child throwing
plastic rings onto glass bottles
and I am wondering if that man is that kid’s grandpa
or some weirdo pedophile;

I want to yell at them all,
Be careful or Don’t waste your life.
But there’s not much time
for reason. Once we get up to the top
it’s all about gravity and

Jesus, that first drop is
a doozy as passengers fall
off, go bolting through the air
like puppies. The rest of us are laughing
because it’s inappropriate, but some
are depressed, they’re tired of pissing
in their pants. Me, I’m holding on,

trying to capture the energy of propulsion
as the car shudders and shakes
and it’s such a thrill when I am
swallowing the wind or is the wind
swallowing me?

Oops, there went another one
after that loop de loop, my new best
friend just went flying into orbit.
See you later my friend. Well, maybe.

It’s almost over and it just started;
before the hiss and squeal, before my head
snaps forward and then backwards
against the padded backrest,

I must go
into the dark tunnel where I squeeze my eyes tight
and see the interconnection: neuronal galaxies,
brain streamers, lines of color. I pluck creativity
from the cosmos and then comes the flash:

We are all brilliant, stellar, intergalactic beams of confused
light. Among the laughter, the screams, the tears and the heart-
ache, we are the lost throws, the stolen kisses; we are
the wandering lovers smelling of fried food. This life
is more than a simple, cheap good time, but just in case
before we’re used up, like the trash left behind,

we better cash in our tickets for love, for luck—for both.

From, Questions About The Ride, Mainstreet Rag Publishing, 2019 

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