Rumpus Original Poetry: Three Poems by Matt Broaddus






Castle. Moat. Swarms
disperse across the hillside. The country.

From inside, the brain views slides.
Pillagers. Rapists. From the outside,

there is no single
fairytale. The census taker, inviolable.

The census taker, holy official,
lost in the hills with the hillpeople.

And unarmed. And smiling. Dentists,
when they are bored, put extra teeth on

things. Call them crenellations.
And the neighbors want to talk. Quietly,

diplomats cough in empty rooms
while workers burn down the cowboy factory.



I inherited a balcony—
black sky, ocean wind—
pushing deformation to the edges
of the self I am sometimes, cannot be
but when hailed, what hailed.
The intelligences on the air & in my pocket
construct the same city, the same indistinct desert
my unassured steps take me through,
caravan wreck of ages.
People stare with their compass
faces asking the same question.
It is important to be from somewhere.
I inherited a balcony, a nowhere sky and wind.
From the north they arrive.
From the south they arrive.
From the east they arrive.
Never from the west.
The west, I gather,
exists as a kind of receptacle
for those citizens wanting
to dream up others to arrest.
I and the self I am sometimes
perform calculations.
We are still working it out.
Something, perhaps, to do with metals.
Gold floating downriver,
gold compassing the globe
in ever-widening circles
held as orbs in sovereign hands.
If we make enough bronze heads
will they believe we are human?
What is so good about being human?
When the ram comes down from the sky
who will outrun the lightning?


Love your coffee or else!

When the ox ripens
I kiss the ox.
My horns I put on
two boats going in opposite directions.
This is my secret. The vital bread
is finite. No one believes me. In Sacramento
they take a tooth. They extract
time, the roots wrapping around the jawbone
they quarter. I will not open
an account. I will be sucked by mosquitos.
All day I maneuver treasure
in and out of port. From the catbird seat
and fully licensed. I wait.
The vital bread I store
in my ass. I am aware of my ass
in the shed I make schemes in.
When I leave work,
which is infinite,
before I am melted,
I draw my face in the public restrooms.
Have you seen this man?
I break into city hall. It’s easy.
All the offices buried under dust.
I close my eyes.
The ox climbs into bed with me
for a good night’s sleep
so I can work hard tomorrow
for a good night’s sleep.


Photograph of Matt Broadus by Kodi Saylor.

Matt Broaddus is the author of the chapbook Space Station (Letter [r] Press, 2018). His second chapbook, Two Bolts, will be published by Ugly Duckling Presse in December 2021. His poetry has also appeared in The Offing, Foundry, and [PANK]. He has received fellowships and residencies from Cave Canem, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Millay Colony for the Arts, and Community of Writers. He is also associate poetry editor for Okay Donkey Press. He lives in Englewood, Colorado and works at a public library. More from this author →