Derrick Austin

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Derrick Austin

Ode on Symone’s Do-Rag

            RuPaul’s Drag Race, season 13
When Symone hits the runway in a do-rag

longer than God’s, bluer than the second day
when He made the sky,

it’s like having colchester oysters and a clawfoot tub
and peace of mind and an unbreakable
champagne coupe.

Like two drops of Florida water.
Two drops of Florida water on my wrists.

For the first time in months I cry from happiness.

If I lean into the happiness
burning my eyes—what if I feel the fantasy?

I am lip syncing to “Then He Kissed Me.” I am a life
without worry. I’m flying over the ocean to get free.
I’m yards of blue satin.

The Port City

The woman next door invites me over
to split a peach galette. She lives in a state of eccentric decay
with four green parakeets. Palo Santo smolders on a tin dish.
You are overly formal and regimented like a topiary, she says,
flipping a second tarot card.
(I drank gin this morning to quiet a stubborn hurt.)
I tell her I’ve been teaching myself to use an old camera.
Unsatisfied with a diary’s rigorous privacy,
desperate for a new medium, I’ve photographed skulking foxes
and seagulls flinging hermit crabs at stones.
Because light bleeds into the plastic box
unexpected colors can appear when the film is developed.
My pictures still feel distant and inert.
Later, in my spartan room, I project a nature documentary.
In the ocean’s darkest zone, animals
look ethereal, extraterrestrial, or spectral,
their jelly bodies shaped by unfathomable pressure.
I am so unused to loving. I don’t flinch from the cold
when you warm your hands under my shirt.

Derrick Austin reads “Ode on Symone’s Do-Rag”

Derrick Austin reads “The Port City”

Derrick Austin is the author of Tenderness (BOA Editions, 2021) and Trouble the Water (BOA Editions, 2016). His first chapbook, Black Sand, is recently out from Foundlings Press.