Beginner’s Astrology for Anarchist Jurisdictions in a Pandemic; 17 Days (Piano & a Microphone 1983); Sisyphus Says Relax; Nine Twenty-Nine Twenty-Twenty; & My Face in a Jar by the Door


Beginner’s Astrology for Anarchist
Jurisdictions in a Pandemic

They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them.
                                                                                 —Deuteronomy 32:28


The stars are further away. The flicker we see from them 
been. The pin drops above the city are drones. 
From my driveway in North, I see at least three 
each night. I have to count them each night. 
Most nights, they are accompanied by surveillance 
planes. I watch military aircraft change shifts in the sky 
above my house. I celebrated my first birthday 
in quarantine & I don’t remember anything that happened. 
The moon cycles around the militant specks
over the skyline. There have been riots blocks away. 
Brutalists escalate dissent of brutality with brutalism. 
The Mayor of Portland bans teargas after bombing 
a neighborhood & wildfire smoke covers the metropolitan.
I just stopped checking the Air Quality Index every day. 
The Mayor of Portland bans the use of teargas 
& the Sheriffs & State officers refuse to help local police. 
The local police wanted to take over the war crimes. 
The smoke has cleared for now & we can see stars again. 
I tattooed myself in The Star on my thigh. Upgraded my mask. 
My Saturn is returning. At the end of every month, I have to see
which frequency this sadness is playing on. The hormone cocktail
tunes in its own sense. Is it the rain, drenching? Is it grief, 
again? A shade of its own gift. This tender hit different. 
The night says come hither, but the block stays viral. 
I miss the streets but the armed & unmarked maneuver
malicious in plain sight. I understand the use of the North Star. 
For a while, I could see her from my bed. 



17 Days (Piano & a Microphone 1983) 


The second time this Sunday—alone—Prince is invoked 
during a chess match, I spectate dejected. The main drag:

the first timed he’s named, I pull The Lovers card 
& my head is underwater, embarrassed. I wish

 every song that played when I came home late meant something 
special. Hear me counting the seventeens on my bicep,

on my thigh, on my décolletage. A wall separates us. 
Two Hundred & Forty-three miles separate us. I worry 

my mouth separates. I worry my heart demands suffocation 
from the rain to feel filled. I hate my selfish breaths. 

                 Is that my echo? Give me the straighter one. 

I regret receiving any love personally. I still want everything, 
now without resentment. Some people follow the Charts 

religiously, but from an artistic standpoint, 
mass metrics are murder. Can I offer a massage 

in a non-flirtatious way? Who am I kidding? My favorite role 
to play is my lover’s pain reliever. I am exposed by an angel 

behind a wall & it means nothing. I am adored by a devil
two hundred & forty-three miles away. I almost forget 

what it felt like to be fawned over. I forgot coffee can be made 
for me in the morning. We fit in the same shoes & doorways. 

I fit in the hand in the passenger seat. Proximity is a fetish— 
I am no longer shy about it. A lust of brushed shoulders 

or inexplicable distance. Attention is the aforementioned vice. 
I’ve only quit drinking. I still need help finding the can opener 

right in front of me. On the Red Planet, I’m a fried catfish 
melting in the mouth of my imaginary lover. 

                 Can you turn the lights down? 

In this recurring dream, I wake in a loft far from here 
with whoever now fills the role of the warm body 

bound to mine. The lover changes with Venus’s retrograde. 
I romance under her detriment. Turn the voice down.



Sisyphus Says Relax 

For Princxss Tournament


My daughter asks how to pronounce deconstruction. 
I teach her a dialect of weight. 

How can I tell my children not everything hurts? 

The truth is I have woken up many a morning 
emptier than the night before & still heavy. 

I’ll say my labor tumbles & decomposes 
to the root & detritus that made me. 

If this is the hill I am to die on, 
at least it’ll be higher ground. 




Nine Twenty-Nine Twenty-Twenty 


the last thing I read before bed is the pandemic has one million confirmed kills. 
& I know better than to believe that number & how am I to sleep? I ask, again,
to all the evil tucked tight in one-thousand-count-thread sheets & I want to burn 
down Jeff Bezos’s estate for not delivering the toilet paper overnight as I asked
& they say a million people died because that’s how many they can quantify by the virus. 
But gun sales have spiked & everyone is more clinically depressed 
& the physiology of it all remains a secondhand horror story. What if 
there are no death songs in this nation’s songbook? Inmates at Riker’s Island 
have been preparing mass graves since March & the outbreaks in prison 
are not a profitable news story. We lost a generation to prison. 
We are losing a generation to screens. Surfaces were overestimated. 
What’s contagious is airborne. All our ballots are diseased & filled with ideations. 



My Face in a Jar by the Door


My nephew calls & tells me he wants me & his mother to heal. 
My mercury sits in her sun & we sleep in the same time zone. 
Aretha Franklin is Eleanor Rigby here, or “This Girl Is in Love with You,” 
so I only listen to the chorus of lonely people. I tell my eldest daughter 
she’s my heir. We been matrilineal & I tell her all the lines. 
Everybody gotta listen to her. I finally teach myself smoke rings. 
I’m tired of being asked to carry white flags. Wedding rice. 
Don’t you see they are covered in blood? Categorical hazard 
without warning. How other places know better about our air particulates. 
I’m not alone in being scared, but it scares me who is & isn’t scared now. 
The words: intersection, daily, litter, protest, & enough. Remember when a white man 
almost ran me over to show me his BlackLivesMatter face mask. 
I got solicited on the street by a city worker with a wife. He waits weeks to text 
& again I’m expected to carry some tedious load. Never met a man who didn’t 
make me feel like confessing. I don’t want my tombstone to sayy’all got me fucked up
but it might.


jayy dodd, also known as Lady Tournament, was born in Los Angeles and is now based in Portland, Oregon. Her professional literary career includes positions at The Offing, Winter Tangerine, and others, with features in the Los Angeles Times, Poetry, Oprah Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Willamette Weekly, the New York Public Library, and several anthologies. The author of The Black Condition ft. Narcissus (Nightboat Books, 2019) and Mannish Tongues (Platypus Press, 2017), dodd has been a Lambda Literary Fellow, the recipient of a Precipice Fund grant through the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, and the mother of Tournament Haus, a boutique ballroom house in Portland’s Kiki ballroom scene.