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