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.