3p Home Page The Threepenny Review
Winter 2014

John Brown, First Proprietor of the Winchester Mystery House, 1926

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I was planning a roller coaster—the Backity Back—
my invention. The tracks leading forward to tracks
that led back. The way thinking carries us, then whips
us. The way maybe she built this: each morning’s trip
down new stairs leading back up old stairs. Not death
but the fear that precedes—the long rickety climb, yes,
that clacking, then the quiet at the peak when we know.

Sure, I never finished building; I was waiting, you know,
for more cash—spun like cotton-candy from fear: yes,
they all wanted thrills. I sold tours of hallways to death,
slipped in cordite and ghosts. The truth’s just one trip,
and we always want more: earthquakes that whip
off whole towers like hats. You can’t tell from the tracks:
won’t know till it hits you: that ride on the Backity Back.

—Alexandra Teague

Alexandra Teague is the author of Mortal Geography (winner of the 2010 California Book Award) and The Wise and Foolish Builders. She teaches poetry at the University of Idaho and is an editor for Broadsided Press.

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