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About this poet

William Brewer was born and raised in West Virginia. He is the author of I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017), winner of the National Poetry Series. He is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and lives in Oakland, California.

West Virginia

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.

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

William Brewer

William Brewer

William Brewer is the author of I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017).

by this poet

poem
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,
poem
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
poem
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