When I get to the front
a man in red trunks
barks out commands: cross
your ankles, fold your arms,
keep your head raised,
for your friends
In third grade, hanging on
the jungle gym, we spread rumors
about the descent. We whispered
as if they were ghost stories:
David said his brother said
you come out like a veteran
crash test dummy. Keith heard
they gave hundred-dollar bills
to employees who tested it.
is a Great American Rite-of-Passage.
Damn the safety regulations
and the laws of physics, we build
what shouldn’t, but must, exist:
mine cart thrill rides, canyon tightropes,
waterslides with loop-de-loops.
I can’t pass that up, despite
the scraped elbows and contusions.
Just think of the stories, the effort
put into this contraption.
Cold water runs past my legs.
I can see the escape hatch from here.
MICHAEL MINGO is an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University, majoring in creative writing. His work has previously appeared in “The [Bergen] Record,” and he originally hails from Vernon Township, New Jersey.