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About this poet

Kevin Prufer is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Churches (Four Way Books, 2014), In a Beautiful Country (Four Way Books, 2011), and National Anthem (Four Way Books, 2008). He teaches at the University of Houston and lives in Houston, Texas.

There Is No Audience for Poetry

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 filled
their skulls so they felt like hell

and the boy in the trunk wouldn't listen. You'd think
it was burning hot in there, you'd think he'd be gone,
passive, but no. The boy in the trunk
banged on and on

until the noise grew godalmighty unforgivable
and they had no choice but to pull into the woods,
leave the car, try to hitch a ride with someone
quieter, someone who could

listen without interrupting. They'd had a hot day.
The road simmered to the overheated sky.
But from far away they still heard him, the boy
in the trunk, his empty cry.

From National Anthem by Kevin Prufer. Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Prufer. Used by permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.

From National Anthem by Kevin Prufer. Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Prufer. Used by permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.

Kevin Prufer

Kevin Prufer

Kevin Prufer is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Churches (Four Way Books, 2014), In a Beautiful Country (Four Way Books, 2011), and National Anthem (Four Way Books, 2008). He teaches at the University of Houston and lives in Houston, Texas.

by this poet

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
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
poem

The black Mercedes
with the Ayn Rand 
vanity plate
crashed through 
the glass bus stop
and came to rest 
among a bakery’s 
upturned tables.
In the stunned silence,  
fat pigeons descended 
to the wreckage
and pecked at 
the scattered
bread and