• To Sleep

    Derrick Austin

    Winter 2024

    Give him back already.

    Sharing a small bed, he’s still too far from me

    dallying in your ancient City of Dreams

    where cats miyav and dogs hav hav in streets paved with lapis

    and there’s no smog or penitentiaries

    and queer men can marry.

    Night was our ally:

    safely walking arm in arm

    after throwing ass in the discotheque.

    You’re doing the most.

    My arm’s numb.

    Soon the muezzin will cry his second call.

    Vans sweep the neighborhood

    before the runoff election,

    blaring conservative campaign slogans.

    Give us some time before he has to work.

    I want to lick his armpits all day long.

    Or keep him

    like this, a statue of Endymion

    whose bearded profile I wish I had the skill to draw—

    he talks too slick for his own good.

    When we argue

    (he loves to argue) I’m a child again withering before my father.

    Derrick Austin is the author of Tenderness (BOA Editions 2021), winner of the 2020 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, and Trouble the Water (BOA Editions 2016).

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