Jake Root

by Jon Stone

Sure as I’m dying, I need it. Bring

them nuggets of zingiber, fire-packed rhizomes

to mash into candy or jam between pillows,

ward off hag-rodeo. Bring that curio

brings me luck, most outrageous medicine,

puts charge in me, want for that juiciest medicine.

Let me gnaw it and gob in the westerly

(right up my back as I’m making the dead run).

Mix it with nutmeg and ground John the Conqueror

so that I might have the upper hand. Bake its

pulp in a bread to gag dapper gamblers

like Death. It’s the best bet – ask Dr. Bronner

or Dioscorides. Get me that jake root,

that stick of mouth-gelignite, brute tongue-number,

that flashover powder, that head unblocker,

that knothole of daggers, that good thrumming petrol,

that woodknuckle jumplead, that sting-in-a-knock,

fresh from the citadels, fresh from the spade,

or not fresh – vintaged in mother’s cupboards,

stowed in a clay jar, fossilised, strung on

a necklace worn by a princess or priestess

fresh from a grave at the foot of the Andes

or fresh from a boat from the faraway islands

or dangle it still strung from her gleaming neck,

or have her chew it to glistening, hating me.

Whole or in pieces, tenderised, tampered with,

stuck on a blade, in a bowl – but I need it

now and I need it now and I need the

tubers, the fist of them, blunt fat fingers

damned with the furious ting, with the ointment,

the crystals, the dust and the bundle of nodules

fermented or dashed in a cake or concoction.

Bring me it, that I might go tooled up,

my last breath searing the eyes of the footman,

splinter and spice in my trinket teeth.