Two poems by Phillip Shabazz

Beyond Gravity


When stars fly as planned, I am not the bluest flame

driven into the gutter glass of August. I stomach

the bruised side of a capsized moon in this night camp.

Your sea air salts my eye watching a moonchild

half adrift in the sewer grilled street. For I would rather rest

his head on my shoulder, as if dreaming, and akin to my father,


than strain the gut to hold the hellhole weight of his ruin

by a stranger willing to settle for the gun and cross a line.

Beyond gravity, I say our history collapses into hunger: Icarus’s

counterpart and shout heard from the cars. No wonder words

rise from the written signs with painted symbols of this march.

How marvelous to be musical instead of plywood boarded


on doors, on windows against the bricks, batons, rocks,

and bear the florescence dense in the eyes of a stray dog.

Like a phantom, I ramble straightaway into a pause shadowed

between stalled traffic. Your breath climbs the brute, my back,

picks up the wind’s burn, snatch, and snap at a lonely lip.

What to do? Whose job is this? To doubt you, I am pointless.


In the magic of another city I wouldn’t think of taking a nosedive

to speed up my pulse to breathe. Here, the same threshold.

Here, the same mile too long, an army of firearms pointing

at the profile, a burden on my back: This Is A Peaceful Protest.

Here, the roadblock and heat holds our seamless wishes

filling the nocturnal noise. Faint fog wanders up the wall of police


on standby, and my tangled pores purple from traffic groans.

In such airborne gas, who could stave off the sting on our tongues,

or the wet smoke, a chemtrail swept into our mouths?

Some of us flop from fatigue. Others put up a façade to lift