James J. Siegel

James J. Siegel
James J. Siegel is an Ohio poet now living in San Francisco. He is the director of GuyWriters, an arts organization that celebrates the literary work of gay men in the San Francisco Bay Area. His poems have appeared in The Fourth River, Toledo Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Blueline, and Paper Street.

Chippewa Lake

Everything will end
   like the Big Dipper coaster
at Chippewa Lake.

It is not easy
   to imagine the midway
sleeping through summer

or the Tom Sawyer
   steam engine beached on the shore
dead as an old carp.

But these things happen.
   Factories close, families move,
gears sigh one last time.

The Starlight Ballroom
   is now a pile of steel bones
from last year's arson.

And the Tumble Bug
   tucked away in Kiddie Land
has toppled over

from the weight of time,
   from teenagers sneaking in
to climb on her arms.

I know how this looks—
   these mechanical corpses
left for cruel deaths.

But the land will bring
   a kind and gentle passing
that comes with the spring.

The season creeps in
   with tight vines for the turnstiles,
the chain link fences.

It fills the empty
   spaces of the Ferris wheel
with thick birch branches,

coaxes the dogwoods
   to crane their necks through the slats
of the coaster's track.

All will surrender
   like the delicate remains
of a white-tailed deer

left to decompose
   with the wild violets that bloom
from the soft ribcage.

See how the lift hill
   of the Big Dipper rises
like a slender spine

reaching for the limbs
   of blue ash, for the embrace
of the day's last light.