Arnold "Poet" Jackson

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Poet, played by muMs da Schemer, is a fictional character in the HBO series Oz.

Character overview[edit]

Prisoner #96J352. Convicted February 15, 1996 - Armed robbery, attempted murder, possession of a deadly weapon. Sentence: 16 years, eligible for parole in nine. Granted early release in 1998. Returned as inmate #98J448, convicted July 20, 1998, on one count of 2nd degree murder. Sentence: 26 years, eligible for parole in 19.

Poet is a heroin addict imprisoned for armed robbery and attempted murder. He composes and recites free verse poetry and regularly practices and performs in front of other inmates. He gets paroled early with the help of Kareem Saïd and Tim McManus. His freedom is short-lived, however, as he soon kills a drug dealer who came after him to collect the money he owed. When back in prison, he becomes a full-fledged member of the Homeboy gang, often acting as the second in command to whoever is in charge.

Poet is one of the most incompetent members of the Homeboys, as he relies heavily on other gang members and inmates to solve problems. This is seen through Poet making little to no effort to sell drugs, and daring to get into fights only with backup from Kenny Wangler, Junior Pierce, or Reggie Rawls. Nevertheless, Poet remains as the gang's second in command throughout the series due to his intelligence and diplomacy.

Season 1[edit]

Poet has a limited role in this season, often reciting poems for the other prisoners during mealtimes. His poems often reflect the social problems and political decisions which adversely affect African-American men and their wider communities, as well as everyday life in prison.

Season 2[edit]

Let back into Emerald City as one of the Homeboys, Poet is enrolled in the GED program in Oz. Tim McManus, the unit manager of Em City, believes Poet is very talented and gets Muslim leader Kareem Saïd to help publish his work. He dedicates one of these poems to Kareem Said and another to the graduating classmates of his GED class while in prison. Poet does very well in the GED program, finishing at the top of the class even though he is made fun of frequently by Kenny Wangler. As a result, Poet is paroled early and sells several of his poems as a known author that are published in a book 'Unheard America'. However, Poet is still a heroin addict and spends all his profits on drugs. Drug dealers come after him to collect a debt at one of his book signings during his book promotional tour and he kills one of them in self-defense. However, since Poet was carrying a weapon without a permit and shot the dealer six times while on parole, he is in violation and sent back to Oz for murder-in-the-second-degree to serve twenty-six years.

McManus and Saïd are both disappointed and the Aryan Brotherhood congratulates Poet for messing up and getting sent back to Oz. While back inside as punishment, he must work in the morgue and is only accepted by Kenny Wangler and Junior Pierce.

Season 3[edit]

Poet is now referred to by his birth name of Arnold. Following the orders of Kenny Wangler, their attempt to murder Simon Adebisi is put on hold under orders from Mafia leader Antonio Nappa. Feeling guilty for wasting Said's efforts to have him paroled, a contrite Poet asks Said for permission to begin writing poetry again. Said gives Poet his blessing, but after Muslim Hamid Khan beats Poet's friend and fellow homeboy, Kenny Wangler, in boxing Poet publicly recites a sarcastic poem about Said's new relationship with a white woman. Because Said's behaviour has now become a public humiliation to the Muslims, he is eventually deposed and replaced by Hamid Khan.

Meanwhile, when Wangler leaves temporarily to attend his girlfriend's funeral, Adebisi makes a deal with current Italian head Chucky Pancamo to take Wangler's spot in the drug trade. With the help of the Latinos, Adebisi burns Poet and Pierce with hot soup, putting them out of commission for a few weeks. When released from the infirmary, Poet and Pierce both have white spots all over their skin since the burn wounds burned off part of their flesh and caused a temporary change in complexion. Poet jokingly remarks "I might be able to get a cab now" since his skin for the time being appears whiter.

In Unit B, they tell Wangler that Adebisi must die but they are temporarily dissuaded when they learn that Adebisi is going to get Tim McManus replaced by an African American unit manager.

Season 4 Part I[edit]

Poet, Wangler, and Pierce are transferred back into Em City after Adebisi makes a request to Warden Glynn. Inside they torment a new inmate named Guillaume Tarrant. Adebisi puts a smuggled gun under Tarrant's bed, and the young man murders Wangler, Pierce, and a C.O., before turning the gun on himself. Poet is very upset that his best friends have died and Adebisi then suggests that Poet join him to take down all the white inmates. Poet remains loyal and as a result, when an African American named Martin Querns is hired in Tim McManus' position, things look up for Adebisi and his followers; they may do whatever they wish as long as there is no violence in Em City.

Several transfers are made; mainly white and Latino inmates and guards being traded for blacks. Poet is asked to supervise Desmond Mobay, a Jamaican inmate wanting into the drug trade whom Adebisi does not trust. Poet and Supreme Allah are named trustees after the Italian and Latino inmates are transferred out of Em City. Poet becomes disgusted with what has happened in Em City under Adebisi's leadership (He is most disgusted by Adebisi's sexual behavior towards young black inmates) and secretly assists Saïd in taking him down. Homeboy member Leroy Tidd notices this and warns Adebisi, who decides to lie low until Saïd actually reveals what he is doing. Querns is fired and Adebisi dies when trying to kill Saïd, so Poet has now become the leader of the Homeboys by default.

Season 4 Part II[edit]

When a news crew comes to Oz, Poet makes statements that convince them that Oz is full of corruption. When inmate Burr Redding arrives, the older man informs Poet that he has been doing "a shit job" and convinces him to hand over leadership of the Homeboys. Unfazed, Poet willingly serves as Redding's lieutenant and sets up an attempted murder on Supreme Allah, who has been expelled from the Homeboys. Poet schedules a visit with Tug Daniels, the brother of Supreme Allah's murder victim, and smuggles a knife made from a sharpened toothbrush into the visiting room. Allah narrowly survives Tug's attack, however; Daniels is sentenced to prison for attempted murder, and Warden Leo Glynn sends Poet, protesting his innocence, into solitary confinement as punishment for assisting Daniels.

When Daniels arrives at Oz, he assists Poet and Redding in a plan to murder all the Italian and Latino inmates. However, a worried Augustus Hill tips off the authorities, the S.O.R.T. team is swiftly mobilized and the Homeboys plans are ruined, with Hill then expelled from the Homeboys. When Tug Daniels is later discovered to be conspiring with Supreme Allah against Redding, Poet pays off the guards to allow Redding to stage a kangaroo court that ends with Daniels' death. Hill approaches Poet with some information pertaining to Supreme Allah's weakness; he is allergic to eggs. In the cafeteria, they mix several eggs into Supreme's food, who then dies swiftly and painfully. Poet then tells Redding about their success, and Redding allows Hill back into the Homeboys.

Season 5[edit]

Em City is reopened and Poet is among one of the Homeboys let back in. The Italians are taken down in a side battle with the Aryans. Redding calls a truce with Enrique Morales and the Latinos and agrees to work with them. Poet does not really like the Latinos and calls them spics behind their back. In the meantime, Redding gets control of the kitchen and the Italians removed so the Homeboys are now looking better. A guide dog program for the visually impaired then comes to Oz and Poet states his dislike for dogs being around him.

A depressed Hill asks Poet and the Homeboys for some drugs. Hill accidentally snorts a lethal amount of heroin and goes into septic shock. Angry, Redding searches for the men responsible for drugging Hill and Poet is his first accusation. Poet lies, telling Burr to look at his enemies the Italians and Latinos instead of his friends among the Homeboys. Poet then uses Hill's overdose as an excuse to kill an Italian inmate as a means of drawing suspicion away from himself. With the help of Latino inmate Carmen Guerra, Poet gets Agamemnon Busmalis, a witness with no vested interest to lie about the Italians overdosing Hill. An Italian inmate named Salvatore DeSanto is falsely accused, and dies from an overdose of LSD Redding had put in his food. Hill then tells McManus that DeSanto did not give him the drugs and Poet, afraid for his life gets Busmalis to say the Latinos supplied Hill. The Latinos and Homeboys are no longer allied after the accusation is brought up and as a result, Morales now hates the black inmates.

Meanwhile, Poet is paid by prison dentist Dr. Tariq Faraj to spread the word about a gum transplant that Aryan Brotherhood inmate James Robson receives. Amused by the fact that the gums are from a black man, Poet and Ryan O'Reily humiliate Robson in the cafeteria asking him first if he wants any "Chitlins and Gravy" with his lunch, then they announce that he got a pair of "ghetto gums" from the dentist. The Brotherhood is humiliated and kicks Robson out. Desperate to get back in with the Aryans, Robson buys cocaine from Poet, using it to numb the pain as he tries to remove his gums. The cocaine is woefully inadequate as a pain killer.

As Augustus leaves the hospital and Redding is released from the solitary ward, Poet then begs Hill not to inform on him, to which Hill agrees. Hill dies during an attempt on Redding's life made by the Italians and Latinos, who have reformed their alliance.

Season 6[edit]

The Homeboys begin attacking inmates at random since Redding is too badly injured to lead them. Poet and fellow inmate Reggie Rawls, among others, are constantly robbing inmates and trying to sell drugs to get the gang back under control. Redding then tells them they are going to leave the kitchen and work as telemarketers. Poet, Rawls, and Kenaniah Maxwell, among others, are reluctant to do so. On the phones, Poet insults a woman for calling him a "spook" over the phone, and Redding fires him when he refuses to get back to work. The rest of the Homeboys follow Poet. Unknown to Poet, Redding requests that the Italians stop any drug transaction the Homeboys attempt to pull. This goes enforced as one of Poet's connections is run over 37 times by the Italians on orders of Chucky Pancamo. Poet then asks former Black Panther member Jahfree Neema to lead them who refuses, saying the Homeboys give black people a bad name. Desperate for work, they go to Zahir Arif who is running the prison printing press.

Poet and Rawls offer to help new inmate Stanley Bukowski sell marijuana, but the Italians discover this and kill Bukowski. Redding destroys the book industry and forces the Homeboys to come back and work as telemarketers. As they come back, Poet is forced to beg his way back in as a worker. Poet, however, saves the Homeboys when he develops a plan to steal credit card numbers and have his cousin sell them on the street and give the homeboys a cut.

At the end of the series he is last shown evacuating Oswald with the rest of the prison population. His survival establishes himself as the last of the original members of the Homeboys and one of the few inmates who survived the entire series run and had been in Oz prior to the beginning of the series.

Murders committed[edit]

  • Unknown dealer - Shot 6 times while on parole, then got sent back to Oz.


External links[edit]