Five Reasons to Read: sugar in the tank, by jayy dodd
// review by Xandria Phillips //

jayy dodd: writer, editor, homeboy, and WT contributor released his first chapbook, sugar in the tank (Pizza Pi Press, 2016). dodd’s poems are (Black, queer) literary sustenance. They leave me full and scraping the bowl for one last honeyed, lyrical stanza. These poems conjure intimate and woozy encounters in public places. dodd doesn’t jam queer longing and hurt into religion, but rather envelops that which is holy in an ever-present queer lineage. The finger brushes of boys and men dwell among these lines, evoking sweet burdens, love letters, a troubling paternal presence, and “hymns crashing on the flesh.”









1. jayy dodd may just have written sugar in the tank with you in mind. Yes, you.

& if a yung Black queer is reading this, all of this is for you. all of it.

Some lines address us directly – our indulgences, our negotiations, our fragmentations.

Kissing spliffs before familiar tongues.
These are our bodies.


When our words are bodies are transactions, we change small talk
into drunken whispers and hands on the small of backs.


2. The contentious chemical relationship between sugar and your gas tank is a romantic urban legend. Sand or soil could just as easily kill you or your lover’s engine, but dodd prefers a sweet kind of retaliation. dodd is concerned with who is on the receiving end of caramelized revenge, and who spoons sugar from the bowl to the tank.

                            Who         is
 worthy of locusts and wild honey?

dodd demands retribution in the way of a brunch beverage ordered before the last call of the night.

          Buy me a mimosa and allow my face a bitter,
plastered shape.

dodd stills moments that at their marrow demonstrate the sacred backlash and tenderness that bodies, both Black and queer know as gospel.


3. Georgina Arroyo’s energetic illustrations gather celebratory and ominous particles. Call them crowds of areolas; sugar granules rushing their next victim; palm trees releasing fist-fulls of spore semen.


4. dodd’s remix of Langston Hughes’ poem “I, Too” begins with a bay for recognition from America’s sidepiece.

I, too, fuck America

after writing him
love letters from
prison cells, healing
the wounds from my
wrists and ankles
and cock.

America personified mutates from an incarcerated man’s lover, to the cross and the nails that pin limbs to it, to an uppity Black boy with a short memory. You won’t be able to help but suckle, more so than read lines lasciviously bloated on sore throats and cracked lips.

Fellating his trauma with
bantu lipped memory
pressing untied tongue
inside his cheek.


5. dodd’s poems enjoy themselves, shucking any ego they may have been dressed in, in order to laugh and flirt without shame. “Sip” closes with an unexpected paring, welcoming Severity and Gaiety to crawl under the covers of the same bed.

Grinding your body, boy, like espresso beans
yet your expression seems so cool – excuse
my mocha flavored drool.


dodd’s poetry tasks its readers to beekeeping without veil or gloves; casts plagues of rapture and harvests woes in abundance. For those both Black and queer, honey flows over injury while tongues in the mouths of our aggressors await sweet collision. We, too, fuck America with lights low enough for our skin to obscure into shadow. We, too, dress to stunt on him – America, his private parties and exclusive lounges. We, too, kiss spliffs outside these parties we were not granted entry, reveling in the way duality rests even between our thumb and index finger. We, too, are “often caught hollering” from the margins. We know these poems. They have been with us since “before we knew the danger in our bodies.”



Check out jayy's poems here, here, and here.

You can purchase sugar in the tank here.