Poet and classics scholar Michael Broder presented his work at a panel discussion on “Poetic Responses to AIDS” at AWP Chicago last week. He has kindly given me permission to reprint one of those poems below.
The Remembered One
The good die young, but sometimes
they come back, dripping with something
we can’t name or identify,
an acrid perfume, or they reach for us
like a taproot, draining
our sweet wells of oblivion
until we lie drenched in a common sweat,
our bed sheet their burial shroud, their moldering crust.
I dreamt of Marcos last night.
I thought he came to be buried,
to be done with; but no, that caramel devil,
leaving his tangerine swim trunks wet on the floor,
toweling his gorgon hair as he sits in my lap,
numbing me with the poppies
of his opiate grin and reasserting his claim:
Why should you get the house,
the husband, the PhD, while I chew on dirt
and feed succeeding generations
of night crawlers?
I can crawl the night too, you know, the night is crawling
with me, with mine, with ours—
while you pretend to walk, awake, alive.
Come with me, why don’t you, make once and for all
the descent you practiced so ably for so many years.
I know a place with many darkened corners
where you can crawl on hands and knees
like in the old days—
What’s that you called it? “the old ich-du…”
We are beautiful there, and legion.
We will keep you busy for centuries.
And think what precious memories he will have,
This is the song you have waited so long to sing, isn’t it?
Michael Broder holds an MFA from New York University and is completing a PhD in Classics from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His poems have appeared in Bloom, Court Green, and Painted Bride Quarterly, among other journals and anthologies. His essay on Sappho is included in My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them, edited by Michael Montlack and due out from the University of Wisconsin Press this spring. His book manuscript, This Life Now, is awaiting a publisher. Visit www.mbroder.com for links to online publication. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .