The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: you stupid slut by nat raum


This selection, chosen by guest editor Jillian Fantin, is from you stupid slut by nat raum, released by Dreamy Boy Book Club in 2022.

i, medusa

after Ada Limon

what lurks behind
my irises, beyond the seablue
whose likeness i haven’t seen
since the beaches of barbados?
even then, going on eleven,
i ignored red-ringed warnings
on trees and picked manzanillas
de la muerte2 to launch into the sea
like softballs. believing it to be
sunburn, i was unfettered at first
by scaly swaths of peeling rashy skin
until they still nipped at my face well
after nightfall, slathered with thick
green aloe.

and i still don’t learn from my
mistakes; my instinct is still to throw
stones for practice, for the day
i need to kiss someone back harder
than my lips would let me. i cultivate
a steely stare, practice tossing pebbles,
then slabs of mica—about the size
of those that once left welts on my shins
as i swung out over my parents’ backyard
stream and my best friend skipped rocks
underneath me. i grew so at home
with stones thrown i’ve leaned into
chips in bone and a body numbed
limb by limb. that chill helps me harden,
after all, when i’m nineteen in a stranger’s bed
with only a gaze that slices and the bite of my
wit. with no snakes but the one i’ve trained
in my beast-belly, the lone asp that waits
until they can’t take it anymore to unleash
a venom not unlike a milkwhite sap, stinging
and seeping into cheeks cracked and pink
as a lesser antilles sunset.

2 Spanish colloquialism for manchineel fruit, a poisonous fruit from the tropical flowering plant of the same name


nat raum (b. 1996) is a disabled artist, writer, and genderless disaster from Baltimore, MD. They have a BFA in photography from Maryland Institute College of Art and are a current MFA candidate at the University of Baltimore. They are also the editor-in-chief of fifth wheel press and the author of you stupid slut, the abyss is staring back, random access memory, and several chapbooks and photography publications.

Jillian A. Fantin is a writer with roots in the American South and north central England. They are a 2023 Sundress Publications Editorial Intern, a 2021 Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Poet Fellow, and a 2020 Jefferson County Memorial Project Research Fellow. With writer Joy Wilkoff, they co-founded and edit RENESME LITERARY. Jillian’s debut chapbook, A Playdough Symposium, will be released this coming summer from Ghost City Press, and more of their writing appears in American Journal of Poetry, Homology Lit, Tilted House, Spectra Poets, Barrelhouse, and poetry.onl, among others.

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