Vox Populi

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Fred Shaw: To the Fuckhead Who Stole My Bike

Thirsty after another day’s last class ends,
I step into the dry heat
of a yellowing Indian summer,
only to find an empty space
where I left my bike,

letting the sin of theft turn disbelief
into blame, my eyes, a pointer wagging
all over the ripped and torn
of Wood Street, the chuffers

cheap weed making the block reek,
while the slap-boxers connect
with their combos, and that stringy dude
in a PornHub hoodie runs game
on another pinch-faced bus-stop girl.

Later, the cops show you to me—
bulky and Bucco-capped, your slick-black
tracksuit making you both shadow
and blind spot on their secure

feed of your work, where all that’s needed
is seven seconds to spring
those spare notes from another
clipped lock, and what comes after,
is you atop my pedals, palming sweat

around the grips, dry-mouthed
and gunning with the bebop of another
coaster at its last dip, the valves
of your heart opening
and closing without fail until you could be

the desperation which began
with a Diamond Back snatched
from an open garage that summer
I turned twelve, granting me
a season of scuttling along

behind a flock of rolling
friends, jealous
of the smell of rubber
folded into the insistence
of all those freewheels clicking.

Copyright 2023 Fred Shaw

Fred Shaw is a poet and teacher, as well as the book review editor for Pittsburgh Quarterly. His poetry collections include Scraping Away (CavanKerry, 2020).

Kerdia Roland

2 comments on “Fred Shaw: To the Fuckhead Who Stole My Bike

  1. Sean Sexton
    March 14, 2023

    When I was in school in Gainesville, FL, I bought the ugliest bike—flat black, so threadbare I called it Giacometti—after my ten-speed was stolen. $18 I paid for Giacometti. I never locked it, almost in spite, it was so ugly, but its one gear carried me where I needed to go and I came to love the bike. You know what happened next don’t you…


    • Vox Populi
      March 14, 2023

      Thanks, Sean. Every bicycle I’ve ever owned has been stolen.



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