Kevin Prufer’s How He Loved Them sets love in a fraught, paradoxical world where bombs explode, fields burn, and armies advance. With clear, compassionate eyes, Prufer finds powerful intimacy between fathers and sons, soldiers and civilians, the living and the (sometimes un)dead.
“Love Poem” from How He Loved Them:
It’s cold by the highway and I love your steel mills,
how the smokestacks choke the sky with love,
how they wrap their arms around me, oh, America, I love
your lines of trucks—they beat the pavement like hearts full of love
where we hold hands like lovers and stroll among airplanes,
where we linger by hangars, our bodies smoked with love,
then I love you as the bomb loves its timer, as the helmet loves the head,
so when it finally snows, you’re the obliterating shrapnel that I love,
you’re the falling burning leaves, the great flag on fire, shower of sparks,
you’re the green mist the planes emit over the sleeping city
one night not long from now just before dawn—a thin green ice
encasing the buildings, and, America, I’m half drunk and improvising,
I’ve walked your frozen highways in snowfall, in ashfall,
I’ve got you inside me, I’m breathing your tinted air.
“…Poetry at full boil, poured with deliberate abandon.”—David Orr, The New York Times, “Ten Favorite Poetry Books of the Year”
“Kevin Prufer is one of the most vital poets of his generation, saying important things about our culture in fearless, eloquent ways.”—David Walker, Field: Contemporary Poetry & Poetics
“Among the best poets in the USA…. “—The Notre Dame Review
“Prufer considers the complex relationship between beauty and violence in his remarkable seventh collection of poetry, tracing the barely perceptible ways that industrial modernity ‘gilds us until we glitter.’…” Read the full review.
“Yes, I believe your confession of love for the world—’I’ve got you inside me, I’m breathing your tinted air,’ But I don’t believe the box of notes you admit carrying in your pocket can be described by you as a simple record of the times. In truth, the poems delineate a passion for the world in eloquent and profound ways, vividly understandable when conveyed to the reader. How we admire them!” —Julie Suk
“…Prufer writes with deceptive calmness. No other poet in the U.S. so effectively employs unembellished language in the service of wildly inventive renderings as he does, and How He Loved Them, his seventh collection, is a confessional, hallucinatory warning about the future we are constructing….”