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Derrick Austin

August 1, 2015


after Kara Walker’s A Subtlety, or The Marvelous Sugar Baby

Come on boy, say Sweet. Say it
swift, man-like, no soft snaking
on the S. You such a sweet boy.
Give daddy some sugar. Come
here, sit on my lap, you so sweet
to me. Let me bite your sweet ass.
Put your hand here. Your skin
so beautiful next to mine. You so
sweet, stick your pinky in my tea.
Let me hold you between my teeth
like cane, bite clean to the sweet
marrow, chew, and spit a clear arc
clean through the brown-gold heat.

DAYS OF 2014

He had told me to circle the lake.
Smell of pepper and pine resin.
Black people died or went missing
that summer, everyday it seemed,
and here was someone who wanted to find me.
We drank red wine, heavy and bitter.
Like hands of a clock, sunlight swerved across the lake;
terns mixed their shadows and bodies with the water.
When he laughed, a little foam
gathered on his incisors. He helped me into the wild grass
and slash pines when I couldn’t walk.
There is a roof one man’s body makes over another.
Pine needles on sharp grains. This is what I remember.
This is how I escaped the world. A little foam.

DERRICK AUSTIN’s first collection of poems, Trouble the Water, was selected by Mary Szybist for the 2015 A Poulin Jr Prize and is forthcoming from BOA Editions in Spring 2016. A Cave Canem fellow, he earned his MFA from the University of Michigan. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2015, Image: A Journal of Arts and Religion, New England Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, The Paris-American, Memorious, and other journals and anthologies. He is the Social Media Coordinator for The Offing.