“Blueprints” and other poems

Matt Broaddus


Homework Assignment

assigned by Nicanor Parra 1

I would prefer to die ahead of you

but your decrepitude’s legendary.

My stolen boat I paddle out to sea

with rod and tackle—the tools of the trade—

but the monsters don’t approve my transcript

so piquant waves expel me like a sneeze.

I drink your coffee, I steal your girlfriend.

In the Carpathians I give you up

to the vampires nesting on their skewers.

Once I was willing to hear your drivel

but when you call, the spring leaves putrefy.

The government wants to give you a star

and I cannot abide that. Your pie stinks!

I would prefer that you be first to die.

1 For the full instructions to this assignment, see Nicano Parra’s antipoem “Algo por el estilo” antitranslated as “Something like that” in the collection Antipoems: How to Look Better and Feel Great, antitranslated by Liz Werner, New Directions, 2004, pp. 51-55.


Do you have a plan?

I have a plan.

Are there wings in it?

There are wings in it.

The Sangre de Cristos shrug their shoulders.

Now gold. Now black.

The Sangre de Cristos tilt and the lab tilts too.

Out falls the shepherd, the crone, the sleeping prince.

Do you have the lucky stone?

I have the lucky stone.

Do you know the sign to make with it?

I know the sign to make with it.

Loving succulently

—with fork and knife—

tarmac’s vatic curves,

these lines will be difficult to straighten

when the lab tilts

like the Sangre de Cristos’ teeth,

but I do it, I make the sign.

The world gets another day.


Have you lost wax?

I’ve lost wax.

Have you hollowed stone?

I’ve hollowed stone.

There are voices there, you know,

saints and rams and cave dwellers,

the trash of centuries I collect

in a corner with a dustpan

I trip over, spilling everything together.

My candle the angels gave me flickers.

Visitors walk through me, a door

to thin air. I will creak, I will tussle

lightly the tour guide’s impertinent hair.

I’ve lost wax I can’t get back.

No one seems to notice.

That’ll be $24.95.

I sneeze in the gift shop.

You must never sneeze.

They’ll sweep you up,

they’ll spackle over you.

They’ll say I was a giant

come down from the hills

with my pack of wolves

to eat the moon.

Hey, that doesn’t sound half bad

even if it’s only half true.

Matt Broaddus is the author of the chapbook Two Bolts (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021) as well as the chapbook Space Station (Letter [R] Press, 2018). His poetry has been published in Fence, The Rumpus, Black Warrior Review, and PANK. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation as well as support for his writing from Millay Arts and Community of Writers. He lives in Colorado.

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