Doug Ramspeck: "Fourteen Omens in Nine Days"



These grackles at dusk are telling a story of dark fire.
Then days pass and wraiths of sunlight ash the heart-ripe

hours, each breath a priest, the weeks as dim and constricted
as a pupil. Or a light rain drifts down, the odor of damp weeds,

the grackles now at first light a neurological firestorm.
Or we watch the solitary magnolia beside the garden, thorns

of brambles and dark dirt, or watch my father on the porch,
smoking, the ash on his cigarette lengthening but not yet falling.

He knows to enter a room inside himself, close the door
and turn off the lights, to sit in the dark with his bourbon-colored

thoughts—until all we see is this vigil he keeps with himself,
the blue cigarette smoke almost too weary to lift into air.


Doug Ramspeck is the author of four poetry collections. His most recent book, Mechanical Fireflies (2011), was selected for the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize. His first book, Black Tupelo Country (2008), received the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry and is published by BkMk Press (University of Missouri-Kansas City). His work also has appeared in journals that include Kenyon Review, Slate, Southern Review, Georgia Review, AGNI, and Alaska Quarterly Review. He is a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. Ramspeck directs the Writing Center and teaches creative writing at The Ohio State University at Lima.