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Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Moonflower Offering and Other Poems – Phillip Shabazz

Dec 31, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Moonflower Offering

After dusk, you see me open, look at me bloom
on a lattice amid the bougainvillea and jasmine
grounded in pots, before dawn, the frills of a garden.
The days I’m closed, you help me grow,
cherish my charm, florescent wreath framed white
with mulberry silk eyelashes, crème de la crème
blossoms staying as long as my nectar stays in bliss.
You choose me, and I give myself to you,
though we only connect for a moment. What better way
to show thanks than to make this offering. What better
gesture to make than to uphold this juncture in our hands,
and fill the roaming eye up with the side of us that’s blameless.
Tonight as you watch me flowering among the seedpods
and stems, you think of your sister carried from the morgue
to the funeral home, her flowers near the casket, and black scarfs,
then you head to bed following her burial, and the flowers
disappear into your eyes, their off light, her absence.
How lovely by nature a flower lives on, even when
shadows eclipse a face. For the flower I am,
weighs in on darkness, climbing to the moon, a comer-by-night
appearing in the silence, I couldn’t hold back
after your sister spoke to you for the last time
the way I hoard this wee hour vanishing
into the surge of sunrise.

__

Exiled From The Sun

Here goes the blitz of a blizzard
at the eye torn by the windchill.
Sleet slams into the evergreen
and deer meat in the buzzard’s mouth.
Here goes the frozen tree trying to warm
the egg, frostbite, hysteria. Not
the blind spot, but the stranded.
Icebox and icehouse, the morning
crunch of car crashes.
Here goes the gray seconds
in snowdrifts scarred by soot,
hills humbled by the javelin of icicles.
Here goes the scavenger at peak season
hunting carrion at the hour end of a minute,
the stranded on foot. A drop
in temperature exiled from the sun.
Here goes the February coldcock
of Carolina, cancellations, slowdowns,
the slow circulation
unauthorized by a buzzard
in the loneliness, a slow-moving
highway of the stranded. No bread. No soup.
Here goes a red freeze pop stuck on a tire
as if the skid marks want to be unsung
among the cast away with others
trapped in the street where the buzzard lowers
his head, his beak a yellow fork
to pick apart the remains of a swollen belly,
the fat and skin trembling inside the body
of another body. No one to talk to
except the slick spots. No one to take in
except the stranded wrapped in a blanket
to deflate the snow, throw off the madness
naked beyond disgrace or fall
to the artic earth, a wing robbed of feather.
Here goes the footsteps of the stranded.
Doldrums of no interest
trigger howls and screeches
which trigger silence.
Here goes the winter mountain
dimmed dull as the last embrace.
Here goes the buzzard,
snapped electric wire, frozen pipe
from an ongoing power outage
to an outrage.
Here goes the last smile on a hard face,
the stranded inside the buzzard.
No mouth to open.
No one to speak for the dead.

__

Gratitude

Soul-eyed goodness. We give thanks for laughs and talk at our
dinner table. The forks between our fingers over broiled Salmon
wild-caught from Alaska. Greens in our salad, butter cauliflower,
and lime brushed avocado on our plates. No clumped February frost

but bowls of vanilla ice cream. Temples of smile, we sing for pleasure
while our eyes shine warmth when we sit on the couch by the fireplace
and a barred owl hoots its airy vowel mating call through trees,
wind-bent giants. How those wild horses on the beach in Corolla

nod to us from their mysterious gazes, their eyes, tolerance
of the sea. Our lodge at a noisy Manteo inn, let us relish the Atlantic
inlet heathers, thistles, peace lilies en masse. Such moments rainbow
our memories. Sail us into the future. Songs to silence. Names to fate.

Nights to moonflower. We delight at the rose finches
visiting the birdfeeder to feast without our consent. Fauna paw prints,
flora assemblages land summer in our lap—summum bonum.
We don’t know where to go without green-lit hills and trees.

Please excuse our leaving the house to wade into the world,
thinking only of our trip while concrete faces frown from the road
and gray through shadows, defy the daylight the way the serpent
of ancient myth in Egypt, Apophis, shut the door,

closed the curtain to block out the sun and stars, ships in the sky
roaming adornment, genesis, raison d’être. Pardon us. We are slow,
half awake, too old to jump in a fight to a drumbeat diminished
by scratched money. We could spend a lifetime stuck

at our own roadblocks. But we move toward a book. The pages
turn for us. Black-lettered poem or prose pressed into light.

Spill out, spell out things to go with our matter of taste.
This is how we summon nondogmatic spirit. Wipe sweat off

the forehead. Let the white cloth yield to Beatitudes. Blessings
we have seen yield to Amen. Inch into Hallelujah. Yield the go-ahead
beyond Sweet Daddy Grace, Father Divine, their Decalogue to decode,
their stain-glass icons glistening the Cross. Christ, angel, a tear-streaked

face, Mary, mother of holy monuments. We stand amazed,
lifted by songs, by so many harmonies of verse and voice we come from,
even the violets dance purple over the painted pots. We celebrate
the countryside and the coast washed by the water of summer

rainfall outside our window, where a snowy egret perches like a puff
of cloud on the wooden bridge at Oak Island. And how on our stroll
past the pink mansion in Black Mountain we can hear whispers
from the pink house, or the house whispering pink into the Pisgah air,

and the parkway leading us to the childhood home of Nina Simone
whose blues bless our walk up to her front porch where
the three-room clapboard cabin sags like a nest without a bird.
We could complain, but give thanks to the feathered-hair shaman

we love but have not met at her outlook in Appalachia,
to engage the rattle and medicine bundle she’d place on our belly,
a crystal to induce us into a trance on a floor outside of time.
Cut the cord to separate what we touch and what we do not touch—

a trance to remove any off-course water from our water
without cloth or theology, how earth heals earth, and fire cooks
up elixirs from sap: see, see rider, see what you have done
to dissolve our despair and let us take part in the endless journey.

__

Phillip Shabazz is the author of three poetry collections, and a novel in verse. His poetry has been included in the anthology Crossing the Rift: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 & Its Aftermath. Some previous publication credits in journals include, Fine Lines, Galway Review, Mason Street, Queens Quarterly, Thimble, and K’in.

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