Speculative Fictions

If this were a kitschy memoir, it’d be titled
something like When I could ollie, and it’d be
all about how skating saved my life, how it
helped me overcome prejudice and poverty,
and how I went on to get a degree from an
Ivy League school and now I’m a “social
entrepreneur” who “gives back” by encouraging
“at risk” youth to “find their voice” in skating;
and maybe it’d be a bestseller, I’d get invited on
Orpah or at least do a Ted Talk, and my next
book would be titled, And still I can ollie, the
New York Times would call me a “breath of
fresh air,” and, who knows, maybe I’d run
for Congress on a slogan like “We Still Have a
Dream”…

but I wasn’t born for all that, because my
memoir would be titled, Fuck suits! and Fuck
the police!
because I was a skater, and that
was our credo; which is to say, skating
wasn’t for us a “sport” inasmuch as a habitus,
wild and rebellious, yes, but more accurately an
embodied speculative fiction: us remaking
worlds, worlds in which we’d progressively
innovate for pleasure’s and comradery’s sake
—no methodology, only mayhem; no plot,
just extrapolations on what is possible; and,
yeah, my memoir would talk about how
painfully white that ensemble was (even in sunny
southern Florida) and how me and my homie
Alvin, as black as mother Africa, didn’t get
invited to the backyard sessions and couldn’t
afford the skate-parks; and, yeah, all our black
and brown friends clowned us for “acting white,”
but mostly I’d tell you about how we embodied
the art of the misfit; how we “liberated” all the
wood from a Walmart construction site and built
our own ramps; how we’d listen to Public Enemy
as we rolled out to downtown Tampa, skated
its streets, ticky-tacky suits aghast and police
on the chase; and mostly, I’d tell you we always
got away and we never stopped speculating
on other possible worlds.

*

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in southern Florida, Éric Morales-Franceschini is a former construction worker, US Army veteran, and community college grad who now holds a PhD from UC, Berkeley and is Assistant Professor of English and Latin American Studies at the University of Georgia. He is the author of the chapbook, Autopsy of a Fall (Newfound 2021), winner of the 2020 Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize, and the scholarly book, The Epic of Cuba Libre: the mambí, mythopoetics, and liberation (University of Virginia Press 2022).  His poetry and reviews have appeared at Moko, Acentos Review, Kweli, Witness, Bodega, Tropics of Meta, Newfound, Boston Review, and elsewhere.  

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