HELL ON WHEELS
Sitting in front of the Lofts Gallery, after the opening of the art show,
I heard the sounds of skateboards.
They reminded me of an old train, leaving the station slowly,
making the unmistakable sound of tracks
before getting into full speed ahead.
Observing from a close distance,
the alley was taken over by both kids and older riders
They resembled billboards on wheels:
Monster hats, Vans shoes and Pharmacy Board Shop T-shirts.
I walked a little closer to the action.
Some are smiling, others cruising,
the youngsters studying the movements of the seasoned riders;
they all have stress-free faces,
as if this is the most important time of their lives.
The beats from a DJ table bounce off the walls,
the cold concrete of the alley a stage to perform on.
They were aware that people watched them as if they were a different culture,
and they don’t care; they have their own language and style
and the skateboarders enjoy the freedom and friendship of their lifestyle.
As more curious people gathered to observe,
the experienced riders surfed the pavement in a crouching position,
gaining speed to perform a trick;
others rode their Maple wood boards, creating the angular momentum
as natural as breathing, while the observers’ faces lit up with joy.
The boards in the gallery were awesome to observe: they were motionless, lifeless,
the real action happening outside, at least this time,
where the riders show their art and knowledge of the principles that rule their game.
I wonder if they know they are actually using the science of motion
while riding their fancy four-wheel boards.
Through every bruise and battle scar,
after each nasty fall,
the skateboarders are the center of gravity
that keep this lifestyle alive.
(Dedicated to my friends Larissa Nickel and Amanda Johnson for their amazing job putting together Hell on Wheels.)
Edwin R. Vásquez
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