Queen's Quarterly

Queen's Quarterly
Queen's Quarterly

At the Waterfront

Phillip Shabazz

Language is a saint suffering thorns
the way a vessel hardens the river between our toes.
When the water of language softens my eyes
to transform the word into flesh, fireworks
explode a holiday sky into scarlet and silver.
And we bump shoulders at the riverfront.
Lean over the rail to view the tallest
floating fountain in the world,
its red and green lines visible on our face.
How I’ve seen, like a magician,
the wet footsteps of a saint walk
on the backs of countless waves as
sailboats moor for the night, bound
to wooden posts at the boardwalk.
When the river falls on a halo, her sparkle,
a fire-spot fading in the pore of air,
only a true believer can engage
her soot-beaten house of light.
Walk with her on the deepest end of water
seen as memory. Walk her bloated bridge.
It’s July Fourth. Our thrill seeking kicks off
a celebration under a jackpot moon. I am open
to the river where words began ...

* poem, in its entirety, is available in the printed version of the current issue.


Phillip Shabazz is the author of three poetry collections and a novel in verse. His poetry has been included in the anthologies Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont: A Guidebook and Home Is Where: An Anthology of African-American Poetry from the Carolinas. His work has appeared recently in the journals Across the Margin, Fine Lines, the Galway Review, the Hamilton Stone Review, HamLit, K’in, Mason Street Review, and Sky Island Journal.