The Groom Stripped Bare By His Bachelors

There were little blue flowers
that rang when you touched them
, he said,

and tasted like honey.
Then he stopped talking. Palm
fronds and eucalyptus. Grasses

rising, thickening as we walked—enough
for the wind to play with, enough to hide in.

Off the path, an island of trees,

men fucking some half-loved
boy in a black jockstrap braced against a tree—

seeing them before he did, I held my arm out
and he didn’t flinch so much as heel
like a hunting dog so graceful in its sport yet delicate.

Half-loved? Who came up with that?

Waves on black sand.

I said, It’s not far.



Click here to read Derrick Austin on the origin of the poem.


This poem is from Pangyrus’s poetry collection, What Tells You Ripeness: Black Poets on Nature, Edited by Nikki Wallschlaeger (available in our store).

Image: by Sixteen Miles Out, licensed under CC 2.0.

Derrick Austin:
Three years ago, shortly after moving to the Bay Area, I went to Black Sands Beach near Marin. As a Florida poet, I’m always writing about the sea and shore, but I had never encountered a coastal landscape like that before: imposing, severe, and rocky. That landscape inspired a series of poems set in an imaginary port city with a black sand beach (most of which are collected in my chapbook, Black Sand). I worked on the initial drafts of this poem in spring 2020. It’s a cerebral poem about desire, an erotic encounter experienced by someone who mostly lives in their head. The title is inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even.”

Derrick Austin
Latest posts by Derrick Austin (see all)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.