Night at the Roller Palace

AWP had nothing on the latest Improbable Places Poetry Tour, held Wednesday night at the Roller Palace. Now, I thought the tattoo parlor and swimming pool were inspired choices for past tour stops, but I have been dreaming about reading poetry at this venue for months! Imagine, skating and poetry? Go figure. Had to be the best Improbable EVER!

Host Colleen Michaels

Poet Margaret Young.

Of the 15 poets who read, about half wore skates to the microphone, which was set up near the DJ stand. Believe me, nothing is more treacherous than having to cross over a power chord taped to the floor. Wish I had taken photos of the readers on skates and people skating, but taking photos on wheels is a challenge in itself.

I'm guessing at least 100 people came out for this reading. Maybe it was the poetry, or maybe it was the desire to rekindle that love of skating. Whatever the reason, most of us were out on the floor after the reading during all-skate time. Admittedly, it was fun watching the college students try to stay upright while my son and I glided by without a care in the world. Add songs like "Another One Bites the Dust" (Queen), "Private Eyes"(Hall and Oates), and "Xanadu" (Olivia Newton-John), and you've got my childhood wrapped up in a nutshell.

Here's my very new poem written for the occasion. Still a work in progress.

Night at the Roller Palace

After the birthday crowds thin out,
after the Hokey Pokey and Chicken Dance,
after the parents have towed their shaky kids
like cabooses on trains ready to decouple
and the pint-sized skate kids have circled the rink
like a gang of meerkats spun out into a 10-car pileup
I turn sideways and angle by as “Another One Bites the Dust”
thumps hard over our heads. I give a finger point to the DJ stand
because, in my mind, we are soldiers in the march against time,
grooving to the retro beat while the disco ball shines
cut crystal against rainbow walls.
I glide like Mercury or Apollo Ono
without ice or skin suit, in low rider jeans
that hug my body like I hug corners,
pass them all on the smoothed-out parquet floor,
worn down by time and rhythm. The trick is
to make it look effortless, remind them that
your quickness is a kind of love. You are the spark
between wood and wheel. And when your cranky kids
hang out by the wall waiting for you to come out of the oval,
holding those eight wheels by their brown leather tongues
ready to go, you give them a wave and keep circling,
Just one more song, mommy says. Remind them
this is your “me” time. It’s all skate.
You’ve got your whole self in.
That’s what it’s all about.


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