Aaron Landsman

Wonder Wheel

Who we were on Coney Island 
in the summer of ‘93: 
You screamed when the car 
ran forward on its rails
toward the impending 
ocean. The pimpled teen 
with his hand on the gears 
suspended us, hinged. 
I laughed at you. I’m sorry 
the world has become
uglier since then, and we 
with it. That couple
of desperate, lurching kids, 
nescient, riven and hopeful – 
we still meet them. We rent
rooms in this old, bare city. 
I listen to you breathe 
when I can’t sleep. 
Your steady murmur 
through the night gives me 
such comfort. The wheel 
should be a signal to us, 
off balance in our press 
and shriek. I came home 
then with a welt from 
the Tilt-a-Whirl, and you lay
on me, belly to belly, looked
at my eyes. I didn’t know 
better than bruises.
You saw a father figure 
for a child neither of us 
knew we wanted yet. 
He’s sleeping now and 

you’re awake again, another day. 
How our bodies drop and slow. 
How we glimpse each other
in the rising light and immanent 
waves. How we hold these kids 
aloft in the possible sun. 

Aaron Landsman writes, makes performances and other events. His writing has been or is coming soon in Public SeminarMudfishHobart, and Theater Magazine. He got a Guggenheim in Theater in 2017. He's working on a book about the performance of democracy called No One Is Qualified. He teaches part-time at Princeton. @thinaar (gram and twit).