Shevel Kneivel
by Jim Landwehr

The ramp is prepared in the middle of a side street runway
and is neither DOT certified, nor parentally approved.
Constructed out of discarded wood, leftover bricks, and an old tire,
by a committee of unlicensed kidgineers,
it is held tight by the glue of hopes, dreams and crossed fingers.
We gather around our launch pad in pre-teen assessment.
Some kick its tire, others test its flexibility and strength.
A half-hearted inspection gave the all-clear for jumps.

I back up my sister’s pink and white Stingray
trying my best to look tough and all Evelly Knievelly.
At ramp’s end a distance judge crouches with marking stone,
ready to spot the landing just inches short of his own mark.
When the signal comes I jam on the pedals, building speed.
The ramp sounds my arrival with an unnerving ca-chunk.
I pull up the handle bars and feel the wind in my unhelmeted hair,
as I fly through the air with the greatest unease.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a picture of a frequent scene in front of our house on Portland Avenue in Minnesota. The large Huffy on the right was mine, and the Stingray that my sister Jane is sitting on is the one referenced in the poem. (I am not in the picture, which was taken in May 1973.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is based on true events, and speaks to a day when kids were left to their own devices while our mother was at a work.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jim Landwehr’s poetry collection, Written Life, was released by eLectio Publishing in March of 2015. His first book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir was published by eLectio Publishing in 2014. He has nonfiction stories published in Main Street Rag, Sundown Press, Boundary Waters Journal, and others. His poetry has been featured in Verse Wisconsin, Torrid Literature Journal, Five 2 One Magazine, Off the Coast Poetry Journal, and many others. Jim lives and works in Waukesha, Wisconsin, with his wife Donna and their two children Sarah and Ben.