Volume 10 (Fall 2015)

Joel Dias-Porter


I've always loved

to say 'acetaminophen.'

Let's pretend

a wizened woman

once said

that some words

are Almighty

in the mouth,

can balance

on the tongue

like a nib of licorice.

That other words

might be dried roots chewed

for medicinal value.

Let's say one splashes

off the tongue,

a burgundy wine

soiling the white carpet of silence,

while another raises

the blood pressure

like the lid of

a troublesome box

or Swedish massages

the hard knots

of the heart.

Similar to 'acetaminophen,'

some words are

carbon steel swords

that cut and draw blood.

Your name is a pill

in a language

still under my tongue.

A yearning

like a low hum.

Old men who

hum in poker games

claim Hope is

habit forming.

A Knave of Hearts

I lick it from stained lips.

What if Hope

is a gnarled root,

that can be ground

into a powder

and sprinkled onto

certain sentences

to mask bitterness?

The chemist says

boiled into an extract,

it might alleviate

even the barking cough

of loneliness.

Sometimes my bark

is a listing boat,

other times it's a winter coat.

Your name rhymes

with acetaminophen,

a Chinese sword

slicing the tongue.

Bright syllables

spill from my mouth,

cloak me

in a crimson robe.


the pill shaped moon

is a monk


in a dark cave

of the heart,

whose tongue

lifts the weight

of your name

until light.

Joel Dias-Porter (aka DJ Renegade) was born and raised in Pittsburgh. From 1994-99, he was an Individual Finalist in the National Poetry Slam, and he was the 1998 and 99 Heads Up Haiku Slam Champion. His poems have appeared in Time Magazine,

The Washington Post, Best American Poetry 2014, POETRY, Callalloo, Ploughshares, Antioch Review, Red Brick Review, Asheville Review, Beltway Quarterly and the anthologies Breakbeat Poets, Gathering Ground, Love Poetry Out Loud, Meow: Spoken Word from the

Black Cat, Short Fuse, Role Call, Def Poetry Jam, 360 Degrees of Black Poetry, Slam (The Book), Revival: Spoken Word from Lollapallooza, Poetry Nation, Beyond the Frontier, Spoken Word Revolution, Catch a Fire, and The Black Rooster Social Inn. In 1995, He was the Furious Flower "Emerging Poet." Performances include the Today Show, "SlamNation", BET, and in "Slam." A Cave Canem Fellow, his CD of jazz and poetry is "LibationSong."

On Libations: See above.