jayy dodd

I have a habit of becoming antagonistic to things that scare me. As a child I was immensely scared to die, the adolescence brought new negations of health, & life’s value became liminal. I am living now & that all I have to say about that. This work is the expository sunrise on the conceit of «Zumbi», the title & unlisted character of the collection. This collection is an experiment in re-animation. A scene set in the body of the performative Black space, dare I call it a stage, here I fashion it on the page, all this a gesture toward the anxiety of being seen. The characters, each fully (dis)embodied, are gender-neutral, until manifested by the reader. Because gender is your problem not mine, or Black peoples’s. Here, The Nigga-Siblings, (a triplet-like kin-squad of brilliant & honest Black minds) plan their own fates while Blxk (a host, or haunting, audience-addressing figure) sets up their set for the production. {i worry how much death lives in / parallel to / views my body & i want to imagine beyond the literal space to a fantastic time}

Zumbi Act I Scene I:

[scene: A’nigga, Dis’nigga, & Dat’nigga sit in a row comfortable, cozy even, facing the audience. They are lit from the front as if illuminated by the audience. They are already in conversation, though inaudible to the audience.] 

            (now audible) 

DAT’NIGGA: i mean real talk, i ain’t even scared of death like that no more. 
like you know how many niggas die every day? like ain’t one of us dying all that 

DIS’NIGGA: right, but like you can’t go out no kinda way. you gotta go out 
the right way—

DAT’NIGGA: what? there’s a right way for niggas to die now? 

A’NIGGA: well, ain’t no right way, but we ain’t gotta be scared of it. 

DAT’NIGGA: see, that’s what i’m saying here. niggas gonna go out 
all kinds of side ways so i’m not scared of how it happens to me. 

A’NIGGA: how y’all wanna go out? 

            (As Dat’nigga begins to speak Blxk enters stage left 
            crossing in front of A’nigga, Dis’nigga, & Dat’nigga. 
            Only A’nigga notices Blxk.)

DAT’NIGGA: nigga, i wanna go out with a fight. i wanna hollering & live. 
nigga, i wanna go out dancing till my joints becoming chalk-dust, with my hands 
calloused from clapping, my throat swollen from singing every song i know & then some. 

            (Blxk is so far oblivious to the scene already
            in progress, from stage right, they pull out a white obelisk & begins inspecting it.)

DIS’NIGGA: well, i wanna go quietly. want my eyes to simmer, my heart hum
a more docile lyric, for life to have laid me down gently by the shore, each tide, 
holding me deeper, i want my body to return to the water. 

            (A’nigga has completely missed Dat’nigga & Dis’niggas fantasies.
            A’nigga completely taken by Blxk)

DAT’NIGGA: yo, you being your-self again. returning to your own mind
instead of letting niggas know where you are. 

DIS’NIGGA: how you wanna go? 

            (A’nigga distracted.) 

A’NIGGA: what? 

            (Dat’nigga is clearly annoyed at A’nigga’s spacey-ness, Dis’nigga inarguably more curious.
            Neither Dat’nigga nor Dis’nigga can see Blxk.) 

DIS’NIGGA: how do you wanna go? wanna die alone? 
with friends? how do you want to be remembered? 

            (Blxk finally notices A’nigga fixated & begins to silently engage their gaze, 
            exploring the white obelisk with a new kind of intention, a seduction of sorts.
            A’nigga realizes Blxk is aware & immediately tries to re-enter the conversation.)

A’NIGGA: ain’t there anything else worse than death?  

DAT’NIGGA: what? ain’t no-thing worse than death—

DIS’NIGGA: you still ain’t said how you wanna die? 

A’NIGGA: but there are worse things, right? 
like what if you die but you ain’t go no-where? 

            (Dis’nigga + Dat’nigga look skeptically at A’nigga. 
            Blxk stops inspecting the monolith & listens to A’nigga). 

A’NIGGA: like what if your soul gets stuck here, like you die 
but you can’t leave the earth? like you really get caught? 

DAT’NIGGA: nigga, what? when you die you dead. 
over, done. 

            (A’Nigga looks to see if Blxk is still watching). 

A’NIGGA: right but like say when you die & you don’t go no-where? 
what if after death you still here just floating ‘round ghost of yourself. 
or better yet what if you came back better than before? your spirit caught, 
but your body free? 

            (Dat’nigga +Dis’nigga look almost hopeful.) 

DAT’NIGGA: damn, i mean i don’t mind coming back a moth or some shit, 
but you ain’t gonna catch me out here chasing after niggas when i’m gone. 

DIS’NIGGA: yeah, ain’t even too fond of graveyards now. 

            (Blxk laughs & rolls the white obelisk off-stage right, then proceeds to pass
            downstage, exiting stage left. A’nigga notices Blxk’s whole path.) 

A’NIGGA: i’m just saying, i believe there are worse things that simply dying.

DIS’NIGGA: but do you really believe in ghosts? 

            (Off-stage Blxk’s laugh is echoed. Dat’nigga &Dis’nigga jump. 
            A’nigga looks directly at the audience & smiles.)  


jayy dodd is a blxk trans femme from los angeles, california– now based on the internet. they are a literary & performance artist. their work has appeared / will appear in Broadly, The Establishment, EntropyLitHubBOAAT Press, Duende, & Poetry Foundation, among others. they’re the author of Mannish Tongues (Platypus Press, 2017) & The Black Condition ft. Narcissus (Siren Song / CCM Press, 2018). they are a Pushcart Prize nominee, co-editor of Bettering American Poetry. their work has been featured in Teen Vogue & Entropy. they are also a volunteer gender-terrorist & artificial intellectual. find them talking trash online or taking a selfie.

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