Derold Sligh Poems




My God Brother, My God


If he looks like a quack

or quacks like a duck,


then the dog in him must be dug

deep down inside. My god


father’s name was Doug.

He had two sons who were thugs,


standing on the block

selling you know what, quacked


like ducks when the pigs sniffed around.

My god


brother’s nickname was Chicago.

He shot a man or two


or took the rap is the truth.

Then he really killed


once behind bars. Who can blame him

when cornered? The courts can.


He wouldn’t rat even though

they wanted him to quack,


yes sing like a bird.

He didn’t look like a duck


and he didn’t peep,

my god brother, my God.





At Jungno-Sam-Ga Station


Want to grow poor with you.

Sit in front of storefronts with you.

Could walk to the well each day

and fill empty vessels.

To be at the minimum level of income with you.

Impossible to achieve an adequate standard of living.

A dollar and eight cents between us.


Let's draw attention with our poverty,

draw their pity, disgust and indifference.

Want you to sleep

on my shoulder on the trolley.

Want to wear the same cardigan and corduroys every day.

Go umbrella-less in a Spring snow, collect cans,

rummage, busk, pick, starve,

be emaciated with you.

My poverty seems inevitable these days,

thus if I must be poor,

let me be poor while holding your calloused palm.


Bones in a wedding dress!

Bare bones in a wedding dress!

By the time we make it

to the alter, we'll be bare bones.

At the reception, we'll shake

our femurs to R. Kelly,

our hips to "Celebrate Good Times."

And that night as you disrobe

leaving nothing left but bare bones,

we might get our tendons tangled,

pelvic against pelvic

sending SOS to whom it may concern.

Kissing your breast plate,

sucking your spinal fluid—

our silhouettes look like Japanese characters.

Yes our bare bones brushstroke,

make the perfect calligraphy.


To share a baby-blue blanket with you.

To make paper hats from newspaper with you.

To catch snowflakes on our tongues

and eyelashes. To be as light as a paper bag

wafting in the air. To be poor.





Derold Sligh received an MFA from San Diego State University. His collection of poems titled, American Still Life, was published in 2010 by Pudding House Press. He has taught creative writing workshops for San Diego State University, Gear Up and King/Chavez/Parks and was also a guest poet at the Theodore Roethke Memorial where he ran a workshop for African American fathers and sons.





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