Sleeping with Straight Boys 

You looked like you could walk on water:
long-haired, selfless, and lacking wit.
You looked like a boy who couldn’t remember

if he was Catholic or not, as you fingered
the last of the weed, rolled, and lit.
You looked like you could walk on water,

knew other tricks. The Good Book opens with our 
Father and Mother and that fruit they bit.
You looked like a boy who couldn’t remember

the plot. I showed you how Adam asked her
with an apricot, told you to bite to the pit.
You looked. You could: walk on water,

finesse my zipper, cause fig and vine to wither,
inspire me to speak in tongues. Straight?
You looked like a boy who couldn’t remember.

I kissed you twice. Your chin dripped sugar.
You say it was impossible, say I’m talking shit.
You looked like you could walk on water.
You looked like a boy who couldn’t. Remember?

Song and Figure

What it was before, sex—a morning song or wind
through the live oak—I can’t quite describe, now
it is a river barreling through: clear, changeable
rush of it, but more

                                        the falling away at its margins,
the worn banks and stones.


You're in a bad way, says a friend, escaping the heat.
(Once, a bridle in his mouth, he let me lick sugar
from his navel; but only once,

                                                          and many years ago.)


The sky snaps open like a pearl fan. Whirr of gray-pink blossoms in rain.
Drunk before noon, playing the wounded, old queen,
I sing “Another Sad Love Song” again and again.


And the rain’s gone, the ground swallowed its ink.
Now light pours into the field, a wine glass,
which cannot be exhausted, cannot be emptied, only filled.


What will you turn to next? Do you know?

A boy, some flowers, the sea’s mad scene—

And if it’s the mirror? And if it’s so wrong?

Dorian Corey

“The Drag Queen Had a Mummy In Her Closet”
—New York Magazine, 1995

I shot him, but everyone deserves a house
                to remembered in. I locked him in
my trunk. Al dente fingers tangled in my gowns,
                he sleeps in rhinestones, sable stoles,
a crown. He tried to rob me. Read the magazines.
                Mother in my mother’s house at eight,

I diapered my half-brother, tested milk,
                A warm, white bracelet on my wrist.
I dropped my name years later, and, reborn,
                mothered myself and many more; you see,
without a house to keep us, we are dead.
                Read the news or listen and you’d know.

A girl I knew, femme realness to a T,
                Evangelista on a magazine,
Venus Xtravaganza turned it out. God knows
                the bitch was fierce. She wanted love
and cash, of course, and she followed johns
                and purred inside their limousines.

Room service found her stuffed under the bed.
                A man strangled Venus after sex.
We try so hard, we old dolls, to shelter all these kids,
                tossed off like day-old papers. I'm sick
of sequin veils, mourning gowns. I'm sick
                of vacant brownstones, these dark homes.

Derrick Austin is the author of Trouble the Water (BOA Editions, Spring 2016), selected by Mary Szybist for the 2015 A Poulin Jr Prize. 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, Nimrod, Puerto Del Sol, and elsewhere. He is the Social Media Coordinator for The Offing.