December 20, 2007

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.

—Kevin Prufer
from National Anthem, forthcoming from Four Way Books, 2008
& Colorado Review

Posted by dwaber at 03:49 PM

December 19, 2007

Ars Poetica

I’ve written love notes all my life—
the letter I dropped from the window, stained and yellow;

the one curled into the begger’s cup.
The empire fell around me

like snow, so the citizens cringed in the streets,
their laces untied—blank-faced and strange.

I’ve written love notes and I do not know
to whom. In all directions, creased between bricks

or dropped from my fingers into gutters
so someone might find them and smile. Useless notes,

empty and vaguely
sad. I did nothing to help

while the empire limped into the park like a wounded car,
but composed while the crying shuddered

to a close and the buses stalled in the alleys.
Once, a group of hungry girls knotted on the street corner

called my name. Their hair was white
with snow, their lashes wet.

Love notes leaked from my hand as I walked past.
I have always been a gorgeous mind, light-in-the-eye

and dreaming. Always a work of art, a perfection
of limbs and hair, an arc in the marble

of my writing arm. Down and down my letters fell
while the empire closed.

—Kevin Prufer
from National Anthem, forthcoming from Four Way Books, 2008

Posted by dwaber at 02:47 PM

December 18, 2007


The bone in the ice cream, picked out, held
between the thumb and forefinger,

the startle of it, the catch in the breath,
the sick pit in the heart or stomach,

the queer blare of bone, of bloodspot
in the vanilla—the thought that this, perhaps,

is where something twittered away—


When it melts, ice cream is a thrill of rivulets,
is a sweet, pooling thing,

but the bone is blade-like
at the edges. Where did it come from?

Bird bone, finger bone, hollow as a flute
and playable, bleached and smooth to the thumb-

caress. The bone in the ice cream is terrible


and aches the teeth. How the face hurts
when the mouth bears down

on the cool, the strange, the gruesome truth
of it. What left the bone in the ice cream?

What cruel hand or wing, lopped and swirled away?
What bird? What angel? Splintered pointer,

flute that sings the sweetness away.

—Kevin Prufer
from The finger Bone (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002)

Posted by dwaber at 09:53 PM