Xandria Phillips


I half-wake in sudor, queer vernacular forgotten in the sinew of sleep.
Wetted by a man whose saunter turns

                                                                            my breed diaphanous,

I fasten myself to his shared anatomies while he ascribes me
to the shades of children we’d make.

                                                                            Sex, my choice

harness for affection, I falter before unreining curiosity.
Trans time and space,

                                                                            I follow the russet roads inside

myself, Accra lanced into my neural system still. My intra-continent sweats
through shirts, and drinks stout,

                                                                            though it tastes of displacement.

I still have a penchant for what misconstrued me, to live among kin in exclusion.
Awake, I don’t conflate touch with knowledge,

                                                                            so my projected selves approach

the helm as nimbus parts me. Their mission is simple.
I buck their tether

                                                                            They tighten its hold.

Never have i ever

            dated a Black person – my father, 2019

never knowing
            the sun’s blue genus

lipped along the back
as the light of a new day

            presses infinitesimal color
into the both of you

there is for me no other
way to tether love

between this vessel
            and the luminous spools

I cast against my ocean’s skin
at the hull of me latent lyrics

            at the helm an onyx compass
-wielding child

villageless in all their wanting

Xandria Phillips is a is a poet, educator, visual artist, and the author of the chapbook Reasons For Smoking, which won the 2016 Seattle Review chapbook contest judged by Claudia Rankine. Xandria’s debut poetry collection, HULL will be published this fall through Nightboat Books. They are the poetry editor at Honeysuckle Press and the curator of Love Letters to Spooks, a literary space for Black people. Their poetry is featured and forthcoming in Virginia Quarterly Review, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, and elsewhere.