Dear 2Pac

By JONATHAN MOODY

 

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 adults into military-
minded soldiers ready to unlock
their imaginations off Safety.

 

Jonathan Moody received his MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. He’s a Cave Canem alum whose poetry has appeared in African American Review, Boston Review, Crab Orchard Review, Harvard Review, Gathering Ground, Peter Doig: No Foreign Lands, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tidal Basin Review, Xavier Review, among numerous other publications, and is forthcoming in Illya’s Honey. His second collection, Olympic Butter Gold (Northwestern University Press, 2015), won the 2014 Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize; it is forthcoming in fall of 2015. Moody, author of The Doomy Poems, teaches Dual Credit English at Pearland High School and lives in Fresno, Texas, with his wife and three-month-old son Avery Langston. 

Listen to Jonathan Moody and Sarah Smarsh read and discuss “Dear 2Pac” on our Contributors in Conversation podcast.

[Purchase your copy of Issue 08 here.]

Dear 2Pac

Related Posts

Messy desk in an office

May 2024 Poetry Feature: Pissed-Off Ars Poetica Sonnet Crown

REBECCA FOUST
Fuck you, if I want to put a bomb in my poem / I’ll put a bomb there, & in the first line. / Granted, I might want a nice reverse neutron bomb / that kills only buildings while sparing our genome / but—unglue the whole status-quo thing, / the canon can-or-can’t do? 

Leila Chatti

My Sentimental Afternoon

LEILA CHATTI
Around me, the stubborn trees. Here / I was sad and not sad, I looked up / at a caravan of clouds. Will you ever / speak to me again, beyond / my nightly resurrections? My desire / displaces, is displaced. / The sun unrolls black shadows / which halve me. I stand.

picture of dog laying on the ground, taken by bfishadow in flickr

Call and Response

TREY MOODY
My grandmother likes to tell me dogs / understand everything you say, they just can’t / say anything back. We’re eating spaghetti / while I visit from far away. My grandmother / just turned ninety-four and tells me dogs / understand everything you say. / They just can’t say anything back.