The Roller Coaster



A humped and jagged junkyard site,

it drips moonlight—this mountain

of snapped planks and torn metal tracks.

Half of a crusted chain, its giant links

wrenched apart, hangs like intestines

draping the charred entrance sign.

Once called The Spirit of Flight

the green paint of its cars graced

with bald eagles and biplanes—

now it lies, a pile of scraped pipes,

peeling in the acid breeze

of a nearby factory, whose hissing

smokestacks billow a yellow gray dust.

Time must fell every thrill and structure.

A mangled rattle of rust and fracture,

razed beside an oil-slicked river

whose caked face sludges with trash and dross,

the whole heap creaks, then groans

as a gust shakes its buckled frame.

The skeletal rails erode

like the shell of a creature collapsed.

Its disconnected cars, that once

carried terrified and wide-eyed riders,

lay scattered like a cracked

spine through empty lots of shattered

metal bones: motors, TV’s, fridges,

steel beams of road bridges, billboards,

hubcaps, bulldozers, blackened iron

husks of truck chassis, shopping carts,

tires, chunks of pavement.

What will remain when this world ends?

When the top wobbles and turns on its rim,

tossing clock cogs, sprockets, coils, spokes, cranks, bolts;

the blueprints dust and all the palaces ash.

Beaten engine, every screen blank,

the whole globe’s axis bent.

Imagine that night. Blackout, each of us lost

in our huddled ruins, scared of the wind.

–Robert Fanning, from The Seed Thieves (Marick Press, 2006)


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