A celebration of Persian voices and talent

trials by Dena Rod



by Dena Rod
“what’s the severity of this loss / other than a magnitude / of learning potential?”

by Dena Rod

“you know each new medicine trails
our dead behind it like wedding cans

you can hear them now can’t you?”

from On PrEP or on Prayer [“when i say pre-exposure prophylaxis”]
by sam sax

i hear the cans


what do we learn from the dead?

our doctors before they were doctors
crept into graveyards at night
unearthed bodies to dissect
and slice into unclaimed flesh
lesson planned by autopsy

every day we’re learning from our dead:
if they are still infectious with rigor mortis?
can they share their organs with the living?

walk a test tube, a genotype split
with a second strain that couldn’t kill alone
but rather intubated complicity down a larynx
as systems shut down / no reset
button to power back on.

a sharp prevalence of the question:
cause of death: natural or accident?
what’s the severity of this loss
other than a magnitude
of learning potential?

is the lesson to never take
that lash falling on your cheek,
the heat of freshly brewed tea
against a sore lip for granted?

we can’t look in the rearview mirror
leaning into every new day
leaving trails of salt as cans
drag through.

we hear the cans.

trials was featured by the San Francisco Public Library on August 28, 2020 for its Poem of the Day series curated by San Francisco Poet Laureate Emerita Kim Shuck.

FEATURED IMAGE BY the National Cancer Institute via UNSPLASH


Dena Rod

Described by The Bold Italic as a “verbose advocate,” Dena Rod is a queer Iranian American poet and essayist who focuses on illuminating their diasporic experiences. Their first poetry collection, Scattered Arils, is forthcoming from Milk & Cake Press in May 2021. You can find more of their work at denarod.com.