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2: Derrick Austin

Queer Poem-a-Day is a program from the Adult Services Department at the Library and may include adult language.

Black Docent

by Derrick Austin

………………………….after Darren Waterston’s “Filthy Lucre”

In 1877, Whistler painted The Peacock Room for a patron
he grew to hate: fights over integrity and money
inspired his harmony of blue and green.
Waterston makes this drama explicit by imagining that room
ravaged by time. These sensuous peacocks in heat—
one snatches the entrails from another’s throat.
I recognize these peacock-men.
They never know what room they’re in
even when I’m there. They don’t feel guilty
when they’re done with me.
Whistler painted The Peacock Room
140 years ago. Slavery had not been excised
from the Americas. I’ve wanted
to be hurt into gold.


Copyright © 2020 by Derrick Austin. This poem was originally published in Pleiades (Winter 2022).


About the Author

Derrick AustinDerrick Austin is the author of Tenderness (BOA Editions, 2021), winner of the 2020 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, and Trouble the Water (BOA Editions, 2016) selected by Mary Szybist for the A. Poulin Jr, Poetry Prize. His first chapbook, Black Sand, is recently out from Foundlings Press. Tenderness was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, a Golden Poppy Award, and a Northern California Book Award. He is a 2022-2023 Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholar.

Queer Poem a Day graphic

Queer Poem a Day: Lineage Edition


Queer Poem-a-Day is directed by poet and teacher Lisa Hiton and Dylan Zavagno, Adult Services Coordinator at the Deerfield Public Library. Music for this third year of our series is the AIDS Ward Scherzo by Robert Savage, performed by pianist Daniel Baer. Queer Poem-a-Day is supported by generous donations from the Friends of the Deerfield Public Library and the Deerfield Fine Arts Commission.

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