“Khristian E Kay died on 5/29/2020, just days before having the chance to hold a copy of Room 117.
As an artist, and an editor, I am honored to have had the opportunity to work on this heartfelt collection.
Khristian’s passion as a public elementary school teacher in a bad neighborhood shines beautifully in Room 117.
Typically, the feature artist of the month segment is an interview with the honoree, followed by space for them to share some work. Since that is impossible this time around, I would like to share the poem of Khristian’s that stuck with me the most. If was first featured in ‘Psalms of the Alien Buddha’, and then again in Room 117.
So one more time, I present “Mo Mo”, a poem by Khristian E Kay about one of his favorite students.
Today he tells me he wants to be known as Mo Mo
Last month it was Mar Mar
Before that: Marky Mark (until I showed him
a video of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch)
Mo Mo is a ball of energy about 3 feet tall
always dancing or jumping on the desks
shuffling across the floor in his socks
He makes up raps about things I say to the rest of the class
Embellishing my words to fit his rhymes
“I gonna beat that ass if yo’ don’t have a pass
You need to have a pass / have a pass
I gonna beat yo’ ass if yo’ don’t have a pass
But I ain’t goin’ to jail for that
No ain’t goin’ to jail for that”
Mo Mo’s family sells weed, all of them,
to the locals everybody knows who’s holding
His older married sister handles the drop phones
His mom makes the deals his older brother keeps the bank
Mo Mo and his younger siblings run
interference with the police
since weed is not legal here yet
Mo Mo tells me this as he lays on my desk eating lunch
He prefers to spend his lunch time with me
telling me the benefits of an AK74 over a 47
of the Dracos hidden under the liner of the couch
The safe in his brother’s closet
The men that drink his mother’s liquor as she
makes deal after deal
The men they have to help out of their apartment
The secret passage in the basement to the barbershop next door
where Mo Mo and his siblings smuggle out bags of weed
in their book bags because boys coming out
of a barber shop with their book bags looks legit
Mo Mo tells me he keeps his nine in the wastebasket by his bed.
then bounds Spiderman-like up onto his feet at the corner of my desk
He leaps to the floor dances a shuffle singing
“got my gat gat gat / gonna rat a tat tat
Shoot all these mutherfuckin’ rats with my gat gat gat…”
I tell him to take his tray back to the lunch room he smiles
Picks it up and dances out of the door
“I’ll be right back back back with my gat gat gat…”