The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Scattered Arils by Dena Rod

This selection, chosen by guest curator Sarah Clark, is from Scattered Arils by Dena Rod, released by Milk & Cake Press in 2021. 

gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA

worry is another love, to worry is to love
sweet talismans of take care / be well
not enough to guard against
metal sharpened teeth biting down
on inner cheeks, salted salivary
shame flowing down through lips.

my mother’s love is worried
cuticles, scorched forearms
forcing a plastic lid cracked open,
to peel back foil of never sour enough mast,
tanged with thick prepped herbs
that radiate love, a worried radiation full

of sweet morsels to feed syrup down
your throat, raw short nails scoring
the plane of mars, kindling flames
humming glassy-eyed, worry sheared razor-thin,
roasted fat dripping hot, burning flesh,
wiping out well-being.

my mother’s love a sun small enough
to burn me, encompassing warmth,
coppered hot and floral, mint alighting
my tongue, irradiated comfort
fleeting against bordered
creases in our eyes.

mirror the way my love is worried.
care tossed and wrapped
around my figure, refreshed
to pink and blue plump little cakes
climbing to dream ourselves
wicked, benzos bitter on our tongues.

unease dissolving sharp and metallic,
worry burned brightly away under
a chemical blank, a challenge forgotten.

Dena Rod is a queer Iranian American poet and essayist who focuses on illuminating their diasporic experiences. Described by The Bold Italic as a “verbose advocate,” they’ve been widely published in literary journals and anthologies such as The Rumpus, My Shadow is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora, and Butter Press. In 2020, they debuted the chapbook swallow a beginning and toured with RADAR Production’s Sister Spit. Scattered Arils is their first poetry collection.

Sarah Clark is a disabled non-binary Native (Nanticoke) editor, writer, and cultural consultant. They are Editor-in-Chief of beestung, Editor-in-Chief at ANMLY, Co-Editor at Bettering American Poetry, a Co-Editor of The Queer Movement Anthology, and a member of Sundress Press’s Board of Directors.


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