Major Jackson

Major Jackson

“And this is my burden. I feel beauty in everything, everywhere.”

Major Jackson
Photo: C.B. Claiborne, 2004

Major Jackson is a renowned poet, editor, and professor. By the 1994 conference, Jackson had graduated from Temple University with a degree in Accounting, but received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon in 1999. Eight years after the conference, he published his first book of poems, Leaving Saturn (2002), which won a Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. He has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including awards from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the Library of Congress. He has been in multiple volumes of the Best American Poetry series, served as Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review, and now serves as Richard Dennis Green and Gold University Distinguished Professor at the University of Vermont.

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Some Kind of Crazy

It doesn’t matter if you can’t see
Steve’s 1985 CORVETTE: Turquoise-colored,
Plush purple seats, gold-trimmed
Rims that make little stars in your eyes

As if the sun is kneeling 
At the edge of sanity. Like a Baptist
Preacher stroking the dark underside
Of God’s wet tongue, he can make you

Believe. It’s there; his scuffed wing-
Tips, ragged as a mop, shuffling
Concrete, could be ten-inch FIRESTONE
Wheels, his vocal chords fake

An eight cylinder engine that wags
Like a dog’s tail as he shifts gears. Imagine
Steve, moonstruck, cool, turning right
Onto RIDGE AVENUE, arms forming

Arcs, his hands a set of stiff C's
Overthrowing each other’s rule,
His lithe body and head snap back
Pushing a stick shift into fourth

Whizzing past UNCLE SAM’S PAWN
Only he knows his destination,
His limits. Can you see him? Imagine

Steve, moonstruck, cool, parallel
Parking between a PAGER and a PINTO—
Obviously the most hip backing up,
Head over right shoulder, one hand 

Spinning as if polishing a dream;
And there’s Tina, wanting to know
What makes a man tick, wanting
A one-way trip to the stars.

We, the faithful, never call
Him crazy, crackbrained, just a little
Touched. It’s all he ever wants:
A car, a girl, a community of believers.

Published version from Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present (2004).