Two Poems

Poetry / Xandria Phillips

:: Sativa Song ::

          for Brannon Rockwell-Charland

                    it’s me, bitch

bud not being
          and loud as hell
                                             when I move 

                    you move

like a whale 
          and the fire 
                                             savaging its belly

                    the spark lifting 

the locust off 
          its haunches 
                                             that’s what I be

                    dark as detritus  

covered in rainbow
          street toxin 
                                             and oil slick 

                    I’m so woke 

I ain’t never sleep 
          and I don’t need
                                             a hook

                    for this shit

I’ve got too many
          thoughts to share
                                             on the continuity

                    of this sitcom 

played in most cases 
          for its high-fructose 
                                             background jeers

                    I’ve got thoughts

on Congress   
          wood grains
                                             and quicksand 

                    that I want to plant

in your kneecaps 
          I’m digging a well
                                             with a shovel made

                    from your hunger

to house the swell 
          where blood inflates 
                                             with pulse 


in grids of pleasure 
          I snap the reigns 
                                             on your temples 

                    it’s time to go

I have this boat 
          it’s so lovely 
                                             and mystic and 

                    just everything 

you’d want 
          in a vessel

                                             and blessed as

                    the elevated 

the boat always 
          leaks and sinks  
                                             and strands us 


too blue to re-access 
          with memory 

                                             once we’ve left

:: Two-Headed Slake ::

You take the tongue I speak      and make me beg it back 
                                                         into my head. Without language, 
          I’m a man stranded and walking 
                                                     barefoot. No nuance. A goat 
bleating its way home 	         in the dark. I labor sound, 
                                                       a braying siren sans time 
          signature. You lather your 
                                                       hands post-theft, and I
translate beasted litany: 	        They’re building a podium 
                                                       to disclose my animalia 
          from. Wooing valleys 
                                                      where my names lived, 
waxed, and fermented 	        their sigil into the sunken 
                                                      earth. In me they built you 
          a home with a porch swing 
                                                      out back. You colonist, 
carry me over my threshold. 	Run up the stairs and run 
                                                      back down. Be thorough.
          Before the windows distill
                                                      to fog-licked pelt, turn on 
every single light in this 	       good damned house. 

From the writer

:: Account ::

These forms speak to the parts of myself that need to nest and arrange in order to make sense of environments. Tedious expeditions, more beleaguered than loved by craft, these poems are small, formerly uncharted artifacts about myself. I am someone who wrote from within academic institutions for many formative years. Living outside academia, I now see the ways I was pressured by internal and external variables to be contrary or at constant odds with subjects in my work. At its marrow my poetry existed to disavow because my relevance was constantly questioned. These poems speak to a recentering of value: the risk that I court every time I open the door. I am curious about my stakes in love and pleasure, and how the outside world can so swiftly intrude upon intimacy. I have much to learn from being perceptive about what thrives uninvited at my interior.


Xandria Phillips is a poet based in Chicago. She is the author of Hull (Nightboat Books, 2019) and Reasons For Smoking, which won the 2016 Seattle Review chapbook contest judged by Claudia Rankine. Find her work online at The Offing, The Journal, Nashville Review, Ninth Letter, Scalawag, and The Shallow Ends. For more, visit