Christopher X. Shade


I take a turn on the red bike
where pines pillar the black dirt.
The woods have been cleared
by brushfire, disease and helmeted ants.

The boy on the bicycle of uncertainty
stands on the pedal to throw the brake,
and he skids. He carves, cleaving earwigs
from spindly fish-skeleton beetles
fat fungus gnats from sod webworms
worms! so many worms!
in the kickup of dirt and stones.
When his slide is sluggish
he leans back to lift the wheel.
He’s in heaven.
He hits a little hill and leaps.
He hits a hill and leaps
further out into the yawns, alone.

The thrill of the safe landing.
He expects to land safe
despite his fragility
and all that would kill him
the worn brake pads
the skipping chain a crooked frame
frayed cables and rust
and loose bolts on the stem.
How to throw the boy from the bike?
Brush diseased dust from his clothes
get him inside, wash his hands of this.    §

—from Shield the Joyous © Christopher X. Shade

0-7CHRISTOPHER X. SHADE is author of the novel The Good Mother of Marseille, and the recently released poetry collection, Shield the Joyous. His stories, poems, and book reviews have appeared widely. He is also co-founder and co-editor of Cagibi, a journal of poetry and prose at He teaches poetry and prose writing at The Writers Studio. Raised in the South, he now lives and works in New York City.

Other work

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