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About this poet

Kevin Prufer was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1969. He received a BA from Wesleyan University and MFA degrees from Hollins University and Washington University in St. Louis.

He is the author of several poetry collections, including How He Loved Them (Four Way Books, 2018), Churches (Four Way Books, 2014), and Strange Wood (Louisiana State University Press, 1998). He has also edited several volumes of poetry, including Into English: Poems, Translations, Commentaries (Graywolf Press, 2017) with Martha Collins.

Of his work, Marie Howe writes, “Kevin Prufer has courage and compassion. And he places words so beautiful and accurate and terrifying along a line you can’t help but read to the end….”

Prufer has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation. He is a professor in the creative writing program at the University of Houston, and cocurator of The Unsung Masters Series, a book series that brings work by long-forgotten writers to new readers. He lives in Houston, Texas.


Selected Bibliography

How He Loved Them (Four Way Books, 2018)
Churches (Four Way Books, 2014)
In a Beautiful Country (Four Way Books, 2011)
National Anthem (Four Way Books, 2008)
Fallen from a Chariot (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2005)
The Finger Bone (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002)
Strange Wood (Louisiana State University Press, 1998)

In a Beautiful Country

A good way to fall in love
is to turn off the headlights
and drive very fast down dark roads.

Another way to fall in love
is to say they are only mints
and swallow them with a strong drink.

Then it is autumn in the body.
Your hands are cold.
Then it is winter and we are still at war.

The gold-haired girl is singing into your ear
about how we live in a beautiful country.
Snow sifts from the clouds

into your drink. It doesn't matter about the war.
A good way to fall in love
is to close up the garage and turn the engine on,

then down you'll fall through lovely mists
as a body might fall early one morning
from a high window into love. Love,

the broken glass. Love, the scissors
and the water basin. A good way to fall
is with a rope to catch you.

A good way is with something to drink
to help you march forward.
The gold-haired girl says, Don't worry

about the armies, says, We live in a time
full of love. You're thinking about this too much.
Slow down. Nothing bad will happen.

Copyright © 2011 by Kevin Prufer. Reprinted from In a Beautiful Country with the permission of Four Way Books.

Copyright © 2011 by Kevin Prufer. Reprinted from In a Beautiful Country with the permission of Four Way Books.

Kevin Prufer

Kevin Prufer

Kevin Prufer is the author of six books of poetry, most recently How He Loved Them (Four Way Books, 2018) and Churches (Four Way Books, 2014). He teaches at the University of Houston and lives in Houston, Texas.

by this poet

poem
I love the crown molding and the white granite countertops.

And look, dear! Stainless steel appliances! Don’t you love them?  

It’s such a perfect apartment, and, in every room, a coffered ceiling.     

And don’t you love the pink twin sinks, like porcelain scallops?

And listen to the faucets, 

like the rush
2
poem

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

2
poem
They wanted him to stop kicking like that—
it made their eyes corkscrew, drilled the sun in the sky
so light dumped out like blood from a leak.
The boy in the trunk wouldn't die.

They drove and drove, and he dented the trunk's tight lid,
called their names, then pounded the wheel wells
with a tire iron. The sun