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Poem-A-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 350,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication by King Features.

After You Have Vanished

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 29, 2016.
About this Poem 

“I’ve become interested in the many ways, in poetry, that exterior landscapes can be made to respond to interior ones. My next book, How He Loved Them, is about that—the way a complex feeling (here, love) can occupy a version of our shared history and physical surroundings.”
—Kevin Prufer

After You Have Vanished

Kevin Prufer

The little red jewel in the bottom of your wineglass
is so lovely I cannot rinse it out,

so I go into the cool and grassy air to smoke. 
Which is your warmly lit house

past which no soldiers march to take the country back?
When you reached across the table to touch my hand

is not attainable. I cannot recapture it.

And no gunners lean on their artillery at the city’s edge,
looking our direction,

having shot the sky full of bright holes. 

The light bleeds from them
and it always will. 

Long ago, they captured our city
and now they are our neighbors,

going about their business like they were
one of us.

Soon, like you, they will be asleep,
having washed the dishes and turned out the kitchen lights.

When I inhale, smoke occupies me. 
When I exhale—

By morning the wine in the bottom of your glass
will have clotted.

I’m sorry I called it a jewel.
It is not the soldiers who have shot me full of holes.

It is not light that pours out.
Love did this.

I was filled with wine.
Now I am drained of it. 

Copyright © 2016 by Kevin Prufer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 29, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Kevin Prufer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 29, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

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