I saw the best riders of my generation destroyed

by darkness, biting cold, insomnia,

dragging themselves through the wintry streets at dawn

looking for a caffeinated fix,

beanie-headed sliders burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who bundled and Kevlar-coated and wide-eyed and silent rode

chairs alone in the supernatural darkness of

ice-capped hills floating across the tops of kickers

contemplating hip-hop,

who bared their lives to day jobs and poverty and

saw their paychecks transform into gas for

road trips to come,

who passed through tram houses with radiant cool eyes

visualizing midnight turns at speed

among the scholars of shred,

who were expelled from the resorts for crazy &

and publishing new ideas on the windows of the

skull,

who missed their ride down the hill, didn’t panic and opted to jib the night fandango on the rails

by the resort ticket window,

who lounge in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their P-tex over wastebaskets and listening to Black Sabbath,

who got busted on a contest day in Aspen

for ducking a rope that nobody saw,

who ate Taco Bell in pickups or drank Red Bull in

parking lots, malnutrition, or purgatoried their

torsos night after night

with dreams, with coffee, with ice-soaked boots, with night passes

and Power Bars,

who rode all night in the submarine light of the Squaw pipe grabbing roast beef, and reeking of stale beer, hiked

the half tube until numb,

who disappeared into the darkness of the nine o’clock hour

leaving behind nothing but a track shadowed by the moon

with crystals sparkling,

who reappeared on the streets of Salt Lake City sliding handrails with friends and video cameras and soda pop, dodging indiscriminate headlights at school parking lots,

who hiked with legs tired the ridge with moonlight carefully listening to dogs perhaps wolves croon

in the not so distant

who came home in the afternoon only to find a ham sandwich

and dry clothes and returned to ride into the cold,

who followed friends into the black of the trees and navigated by voices not altogether their own,

Who was and is the night rider—the one who lurks in darkness

while others are tucked neatly in the beds safe at home.