National Poetry Month Day 3: Xandria Phillips







We try to dye the dream black, so we can get some peace and quiet.

The car plummets our bodies to decay. Mother takes my arms off easily,

and I feel relieved of their responsibility. Because the world went as planned,

the beasts we caged now live among us. Ever the dreamer, I never meant

to spend my entire life as a rigid form toiling at perfection. Snakes tether

themselves to me so that we may writhe together. We feel along the walls,

soft as stomach lining for exits. We find none. Only our palimpsests etched

into the membrane long before we came. We are a rankle of bodies churning

with shared blood. We cried ‘save me,’ and ‘burn this place to the ground,’

in unison, beating our own hides to sunset. Mother wrecks the car to end

the end, and upon impact we find ourselves rifling through the gold detritus

lining the walls of our afterlife. I say ‘sing so I can find you,’ but she’s screaming

at dying’s vagrancy. It’s too loud for us to hear the ancestors cry in reverse,

streams running back up their cheeks. If they had the frequency to tap our thoughts,

they’d know us, the muted, reciting, teach us to die before the water becomes blood.

Teach us before we are born.


Photograph of Xandria Phillips by Chekwube Danladi.

Xandria Phillips is a poet and visual artist from rural Ohio. Xandria has received fellowships from Oberlin College, Cave Canem, Callaloo, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, where they are the First Wave Poetry Fellow. Their poetry has been featured in American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Poets.Org, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Their first book, HULL, was published by Nightboat Books in 2019. More from this author →