Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Alpine Coaster” by John C. Mannone, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week’s Poet of the Week. A biography of the poet may be found in the “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” section.
John C. Mannone
In a body-molded skateboard
on rails, I prayed while ratcheted
up the mountainside, naked
to the wind with scent of smoky
mountain pine. I fidgeted
and quivered, imagined the wild
white-tailed deer and black bear
wondering what the hell
I was doing up here, me too.
At the top of the hill, a sign
said push the lever forward
to disengage the brakes. I fell
as gravity pulled. I heard it
laughing in between fervent
curses & prayers. For a moment,
I thought about jumping
into the physics of this
monstrous erector set, the forces:
rail to car, car to body, body to
heart racing faster than any coaster.
I questioned the construction
after every rattle and scrape
in the spiraling down. Whoosh
of prayers out-flying wind,
my throat now too sore
to yell anymore. In the end
when a grappling chain
arrested my fall, my heart
released to beat normal again.
And I prepared for the darkness
when I’d ride the coaster again.
Poet’s Notes: Recently my friend convinced me to ride he Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster in Pigeon Forge, TN. I’m not one who is normally a sissy when it comes to rides, but there was something ominous about this one. The feeling of vulnerability, and aloneness (passengers would ride alone or with another; the cars were separated at least by 80 feet (much more in my case because of some delays I was created). The 5-minute ratcheting to the top gave me plenty of time to build anxiety. I wanted to capture that feeling in this poem. I took advantage of numerous powerful line breaks to portray that tension. It was a great ride, so much so I did it again… at night. The lines were as long then, too (close to an hour wait).