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.
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.
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
funky cold congestion,
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