Phrasis by Wendy Xu

$15.95 Fence Books

Taking as her material the phrase, rather than the sentence, Xu moves in her second collection from thought to thought in ways that often feel mysterious, practically magical, outside grammar’s expected bounds. This is a collection I find exhilarating for how it perplexes me. How did that abstraction just turn into an image? How did that image just morph into an abstraction? I gladly give these poems my heightened attention and surrender.


 from “Phrasis” (II)


Imagine a person upon whom nothing is lost,
pulling the purple cabbages up head by head, half
like devotional

Those welts blossom your skin plural, you looking
at me like nothing I need


I put down the mildest impressions of light, strict
bodied, giving you uninvaded space and how divided?

Referring to the self in thirds, he there of the bent
frame, she shaded in multiplicities of orange, red


All color is gratuitous smeared against the grain, red
fang glowing just hangs there, shakes a gaunt leaf off

After breaking particularly long period of hermitage,
you reek again of industry


I could watch you dream big from your station in
lief, mutually silence holds our friends together
in this trying, these times

In upper and lower variance my attitude was polite,
in two days sounds the house again of you


What if truly one builds an empire of doubt, waters
it and thus sensationally, blasts into newer years, a year

Your sentence riddles me darkly, flows hard, a mist
of blue inks pushed across the wider canvas


Posted by Gabrielle Bates