by James Ralston
(Winston Salem, NC)
Let me paint a picture for you
Close the eyes of your mind
And let your inner child
Or imagination run wild
As you read this
Here we go.
It’s a Saturday morning like any other
You’re at home watching cartoons
In your PJ'S, without a care in the world
Then your parents tell you to get dressed
As they have a surprise for you.
So you hop in the car, in what seems
Like a second.
As you drive through town,
You keep wondering what the surprise is
Then you hear it, see it, and smell it.
The place you asked your parents for weeks
You knew is was being built, but
You quickly forgot.
As you step out the car,
You hear the laughter,
See the lights, and smell
All the food of childhood.
Popcorn, cotton candy, funnel cakes.
Your friends are there, and you plan to do
Every ride together.
You hear the barkers yelling
3 balls for a dollar to win a goldfish.
You and your friends do all the rides,
Slam into each other on the bumper cars.
Get on top of the world on the ferris wheel.
Eat all the foods of childhood, then get sick
On the scrambler.
You even try your hand at the games the barkers
Are screaming about.
Then you see the big one
It has ups and downs,
Hairpin turns and loop the loops.
The roller coaster and you’re just tall enough.
You hop on and hear the click clack
Of the train going up,
Then down and the hairpin turns
And finally the loop the loop.
It was so awesome you and your friends
Just met the childhood milestone
The roller coaster and conquered it.
Big and brave, the talk of the school.
For a year you talk about it, each time
The track gets longer and
But then it just fades into
Memory and finally legend.
Then you start to hear and feel
The click clack again, you’re graduating
High school, and before you know it college.
You picked a good career and you just got
Your life is going up and up 60, 70, even
100 feet up, what next.
Then you remember what goes up
Must come down.
Your kids have a disease that
The doctors know about, but can’t
Cure, and the treatment may not work.
Your spouse the same thing, and you don’t
Know how much time you have left
At this point you have taken so many
Downward spirals, drops, hairpin turns
And even had your life completely
You scream for it to stop.
Then a man who looks like
Every carnie you’ve seen before, calls your name
Tells you he has a way for you to
Get off this roller coaster,
But it costs your death cause the stop
Button is suicide.
Another man comes to you and
Calls you by name, he has long hair
And a beard and you haven’t seen him before.
He says he can fix the broken pieces, because he’s
A carpenter, that he can change your story
Because he’s an author and he wrote yours.
That he can give you twice what was taken from
You because he’s a king.
But he has holes in his hands and feet,
And he wears sandals.
He says you just have to trust in
Open your eyes, how was that?
You or someone you know is facing
That roller coaster,
The carnie is the devil
Trying to kill them.
The one with holes in his hands
Is Jesus Christ trying to save their souls.
What are you going to do,
What are they going to do?
You have to let them know,
This message this poem,
For their life may depend on it.