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William Brewer
Dear Mr. So-and-So with my blood on his clothes,
the Internet says a dollop of my spit
will take the stain right out.
 
I’m generous like that—I give myself away
to erase any sign that I was here.
What’s more brutal:
 
A never-ending dial tone
chewing the receptors in your brain,
or waking up in an alley with a busted face,
 
teeth red and penny-sweet, the rain
coming down clear as gin?
Wherever you are
 
with your stamp bag of winter,
your entire universe boiling
in the breast of a spoon,
 
floating in a hole in the air
in the middle of a room,
I wish I felt it in me to wish you well.
 
When goodwill tells me to be tender,
I have a trick: what I’m incapable of feeling,
I imagine as a place—
 
this throbbing in my brain
is now the sound of your rowing toward
what I pray is, if not home, then mercy.
 

From I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by William Brewer. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.

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William Brewer
Do you hear that? All the things
I meant to do are burnt spoons
 
hanging rom the porch like chimes,
Do you have some wind? Just a hit
 
and was the grass always this vocal?
A hit and the blades start sharpening
 
in the sun. I wear a belt
because my pants don’t fit.
 
My pants don’t fit because I wear
the belt. I can tell you how it tastes.
 
Tannin. Heaven. Is it May already?
As onetime owner of my own
 
private spring, I can say
it’s overrated. Remember? Someone
 
found me in a coffee shop bathroom
after I’d overdone it
 
and carried me like a feed sack
to the curb. As they brought me back,
 
they said, the poppies on my arms
bruised red petals.
 
They said, He’s your savior.
But let’s not get carried away.
 
Let’s stop comparing everything
to wings. Have you ever even felt
 
like you’re going to not die
forever? It’s terrifying.
 

From I Know Your Kind: Poems by William Brewer. Copyright © by William Brewer. Reprinted by permission of the author.

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William Brewer
Always this warm moment when I forgot which part of me
I blamed. Never mind the pills kicking in, their spell
that showers the waiting room, once full of shame,
in a soft rain of sparks that pity sometimes is,
how it mends the past like a welder seams metal,
and isn’t that why we’re all here, addicts
and arthritics—we close our eyes completely
but the edges only blur—and though the door’s the same,
somehow the exit, like the worst wounds, is greater
than the entrance was. I throw it open for all to see
how daylight, so tall, has imagination. It has heart. It loves.
 

From I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by William Brewer. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.

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William Brewer
Only in the slow braid of a dream
can you study want and need, their
patience, their cruelty. Amid the thin
trunks of their campfires’ smoke,
I watched the hours shed
their polished armor, clean and
sheathe their blades, water their
stallions, refuse to leave the shore.
Always a shore, overcast, a sun
that offers me to climb inside its mouth,
and therefore cannot be trusted.
You’re asking to be taken apart
without the help of time, in the face
of its broken promise to keep
forward. I thought to give myself
to the dogs, but they only gnawed 
my thighs. With the waves’ jade
coaxing, I heaved my every organ
through my mouth, then cut a mouth,
at last, in my abdomen and prayed
for there to be something more divine
than the body, and still something
more divine than that, for a torrent
of white flies to fly out of me,
anything, make me in the image
of the bullet. I begged, release me
from myself and I will end a life.
 

From I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by William Brewer. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.

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William Brewer
Fall kingdom conquered first by bedlam,
then bedlam’s hunger—hush—heavy
in the air between the hills that crash
like waves into each other. What is a hive
without its queen? Thirst can rule, so can want.
A crown of needles, a gown of clouds she parts.
Bees in the streets below, their tongues
like hands reaching to the sky for an offering.
This is what want does, this and the raindrops
becoming pills in their throats, spurring wings,
all that fluttering the hum of a false heaven.
And who, through that, can hear a few wings
folding under the weight of death? It is too late.
Like timber, like anthracite, death is a natural resource.
The colony glows. The colony does its work.
 

From I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by William Brewer. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.