Doug Ramspeck: "History of Solitude"




If a field is a tree is a crow is a moon is a shadow,

the hours hang low-slung, thin as a rib.


We are given over to the skeletal: grackles darting,

burned barns, traceries of inconsolable smoke.


And when the dogwoods tremble in elemental

wind, when the lexicon of night is loam is grass


is moonless lake, we accept the origins

of far away. Like a hammer like a bone like ash.


We dream of a mother rocking her stillborn

child until the child cries back into the world, dream


that the messenger is fragment is cold kiln is snow

shape covering whatever we recognize.


What was present once in a great fire is smoke

drifting across septic gray morning where we are


openmouthed with waiting, where a shadow

is a  moon is a crow is a tree is a field.



Doug Ramspeck's poetry collection, Mechanical Fireflies (2011), was selected for the 2010 Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize. His first book, Black Tupelo Country (2008), received the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry and was published by BkMk Press (University of Missouri-Kansas City). His poems have been appeared widely in journals such as Kenyon Review, Slate, AGNI, Southern Review, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, and Alaska Quarterly Review. Ramspeck has been awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. He directs the Writing Center and teaches creative writing at The Ohio State University at Lima.