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Derrick L. Austin

Years: 2014, 2015


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. 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 and tweets at @ParadiseLaust.



All night you pace between our bed and another

room in the house, fetching glasses of water

when you mean shots of gin. The candle

doesn’t catch your naked body—a leg, the cut

of stubble—only the shadow of its leaving,

the whole of you uncontainable like the moon,

its kissable face and its darker chambers.


Mary offers her mangled son, a matchmaker,

from the dollar-store votive by the bed.

(Other nights John the Baptist rolls his eyes at me.)

You’re the one who stayed, or

at least never left. You stay because of hard rain,

or dead magnolia on the drive; or is it custom

for the wounded to care for the wounded?


Where are you? I need a solitary room

with you in it. Wall me in. Lie down on me.


(Originally appeared in Tidal Basin Review)