Home > Posts > Week-Long Elegy for Biggie

Week-Long Elegy for Biggie

by Jay Ward



was the worst day, the enormity of your body

sprawled across the charts, everyone hears

and scrambles for pall bearers strong enough to carry

legacy. Now you live.



sanctified you in all white like the dancers

in the Mo’ Money video, ignored those mad

‘cause you flagrant, ‘cause you partied, parted,

sang your words like homegoing.



marries your death to his; the big payback?

The phone tapped basement? Split the mourning

down East/West. Coast down Lafayette, long way home after

work, every radio station cobbling make-shift anthologies

from dust, it also being too brief.



we thirsty for champagne to sip instead of malt liquor,  aim

to buy a shiny suit ‘stead of a long white tee. If we can’t believe

in you, we’ll believe in ourselves until the next you, or never,

we’ll sip & shine & recognize an offering of fat made to smoke.



black and ugly

as, all of us, ever

indebted, allowing

us to be seen the way

you seen yourself, definitely black and definitely

ugly in the best way; trendy, Gucci down to the socks,

a skin everyone wants to drape over their own

at least once while posing in the mirror or the classroom

or the street. Skin, not hide – understand? Not hide.


Saturday is a riot or a party good enough to rattle

the walls and get lost pressed against the body in

front of you. In a few days, Brooklyn will parade you

through a sea of RIP posters and blank-faced b-boys,

curl-topped devotees staring from brownstones,

but tonight we pass you along the tips of our pulsing palms.

Wave’em side to side. Give your girl the eye.

Player please.



I fade, like a rumor, all sound to the back

while dad questions all the cuss words

he thinks he hears. No, that’s not what he said.

It is what he said. But I’m determined my parents

will get this work today, on the way to church and back.

There are many ways to save

a born sinner.



Jay Ward is a poet and teaching artist from Charlotte, NC. There is an honest and raw energy released to the audience when his page meets the stage; a story aching to be heard, a salve searching for hearts. Jay is currently ranked 14th in the world for slam poetry and Charlotte’s 2016 Poet of the Year.