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Moody, Jonathan

Moody, Jonathan

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Jonathan Moody holds an MFA from the University of Pittsburgh and a BS degree in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana. Author of The Doomy Poems (Six Gallery Press, 2012) and Olympic Butter Gold (Northwestern University Press, 2015), winner of the 2014 Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize, his poetry has appeared in such publications as African American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Borderlands, Boston Review, The Common and Harvard Review Online. He lives in Fresno, Texas, with his wife and son.

DEAR 2Pac,

 

I begin with Byron & Tennyson

& watch my students bury

their heads on desks; they rest

easier than the deceased. Dear 2Pac,

it’s me against the world of Indifference.

I display your photo on the projector:

your arms tatted up; your iced-out-

diamond Death Row pendant glaring

against the black backdrop like the tunnel

of light we supposedly see before we die.

I read your work out loud. Soon,

all eyes are on me—then, on you:

the resilient rose that grew from concrete.

Dear 2Pac, this generation

that needs Ritalin & iPods to focus

holds their ears of glass against

your poems & eavesdrops. Dear 2Pac,

Daniel, the youngblood chillin’ in the back,

cracks open my copy of your book.

He admires the page the way he admires

his Cool Grey Jordans. Dear 2Pac, Daniel,

who yesterday refused to copy notes on enjambment

& end-stopped lines, hand-writes your longest

poem word-for-word. Daniel, who’s always the first

to beg if he can dip out early, begs me to kick

knowledge on where he can cop your book.

Dear 2Pac, you real cool: not ‘cause you died

soon; not ‘cause you thinned gin

with juice but ‘cause you’ve transformed

apathetic adolescents into military-

minded soldiers ready to unlock

their imaginations off Safety.

 


Paranoid

 

I’ve passed down my fear

of the police to my baby boy

who always sleeps, frozen,

with his hands in the air.

 

Corralling around dancing

clouds, Lil’ Bo Peep’s

sheep wag their badges

behind them.

 

Avery Langston’s

funky cold congestion,

probable cause

he’s trafficking crack.

 

Lil’ Bo Peep squeezes

air out of a blue bulb

& places the tip

at my son’s left nostril;

 

the air coming back

pulls out nothing

but encrypted audio files

of my kisses goodnight.

Olympic Butter Gold (Northwestern University Press, 2015)

The Doomy Poems (Six Gallery Press, 2012)

Winner, 2014 Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize

Two-time recipient of the Academy of the American Poets/Edwin O. O’Chestor Graduate Poetry Award (2004, 2007)

Nominee, Pushcart Prize