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Joël Díaz

Abren los pasos

my grandmother has buried
a country in her left knee her capsule
holds an atlas that will disintegrate at death
        teach me how to pluck
                lavender   root lily   &   purple hibiscus
from the garden and lay
them at the foot of the madonna

the praise and besiege of pressing
your lips against an elder’s foot
and extract the wisdom of its crossroads

teach me how to evade language /how to use my tongue as razor against the night sky and split
enter the realms/ how to use an octave only the spirits can hear

                                                         abren los pasos

Joël Díaz is a writer and educator based in the Bronx. His work has been featured in The Feminist Wire, Interviewing the Caribbean, and Africana Heritage. He has been awarded fellowships from Callaloo (2017) and The Watering Hole (2016). He recently completed a curatorial residency with the Segue Foundation where he co-produced and co-hosted an 8-week reading series. He received his B.A. in American Studies and Juvenile Justice from Wheelock College, and his M.A. in Educational Leadership: Politics and Advocacy from New York University. You can follow him on Instagram @vividcaptions or


See full list of 2018 Emerging Poets Fellows