• Michael Broder
  • Child’s Play

How easily then I counterfeited,

traced convincing paths

back to imaginary treasure,

when as a child,

on blank and yellowed pages

torn from the fronts of musty books—

toasted brown in spots over a candle,

burned around the edges,

all to feign age and neglect—

I inked imaginary land masses,

rimmed with jagged shores

and headlong harbors,

charted the surest routes

of navigation and overland passage

with a wending line of dashes

leading to the spot marked X.

How stubbornly now the page remains blank,

the treasure lost.

  • Michael Broder
  • Conquistador

You surrender; we make military love.

To win this privilege, I put myself in your thrall.

Walk me up and down the beach,

praise me when I fetch—

Shells, pretty stones, beached glass, driftwood.

You lap my shores and smooth the rough edges.

I hold you down, come at you from above—

You are the coral reef, fragile and defenseless below.

But you win, you win, you win—

In the end, I take only as much as you give.

  • Michael Broder
  • Dear Billy

I followed your instructions,

made new beginnings,

typed the words out on strips of paper,

cut them into little pieces

so as to rearrange them like a puzzle

or furniture in a room that does not exist.

And all the time you knew—

there was no paradelle.