“Sad Rollercoaster,” a Poem by Jared Harél

From the Collection Let Our Bodies Change the Subject

August 31, 2023  By Jared Harél

My daughter is in the kitchen, working out death.
She wants to get it: how it tastes and feels.
Her teacher talks like it’s some glittery gold sticker.
Her classmates hear rumors, launch it as a curse
when toys aren’t shared. Between bites of cantaloupe,
she considers what she knows: her friend’s grandpa lives only
in her iPad. Dr. Seuss passed, but keeps speaking
in rhyme. We go to Queens Zoo and spot the beakish skull
of a white-tailed deer tucked between rocks
in the puma’s enclosure. It’s just for show, I explain,
explaining nothing. That night and the one after,
my daughter dreams of bones—how they lift
out of her skin and try on her dresses. So silly! she laughs,
when I ask if she’s okay. Then toward the back-end
of summer, we head to Coney Island to catch
a Cyclones game. We buy popcorn and fries. A pop fly arcs
over checkerboard grass when past the warning track,
the park wall, she sees a giant wooden spine,
this brownish-red maze traced in decay. She calls it
Sad Rollercoaster, then begs to be taken home.


Excerpted from Let Our Bodies Change the Subject by Jared Harél. Copyright © 2023. Available from University of Nebraska Press.

Jared Harél
Jared Harél
Jared Harél is the author of Let Our Bodies Change the Subject, which was selected by Kwame Dawes as the winner of the Raz/Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry (U. of Nebraska Press, 2023.) He’s been awarded the ‘Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize’ from American Poetry Review, as well as the ‘William Matthews Poetry Prize’ from Asheville Poetry Review. Harél’s poems have recently appeared in such journals as 32 Poems, Beloit Poetry Journal, Electric Literature, Ploughshares, Poem-a-Day, The Southern Review and The Sun. He lives with his family in Westchester, NY.

More Story
AudioFile's Best Audiobooks of August Each month, our friends at AudioFile Magazine share a curated list of the best audiobooks for your literary listening pleasure. * AUGUST...

Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.