Doug Ramspeck, "Old Men Weeding Their Gardens"




The mud on their hands is as old as smoke.

There must have been a fire 


that formed the rising ash of moon.

As boys they dreamed of conflagrations.


They watched out windows

where flames undressed the trees.


It is always nakedness they wanted,

always the darkness of the loam.


The weeds cling to earth the way

years seem exiled now inside their chests.


They are tugging with their fingers,

kneeling, as though each stack of discarded


weeds becomes a conjuring.



Doug Ramspeck’s most recent collection, Original Bodies, was selected for the Michael Waters Poetry Prize and is forthcoming by Southern Indiana Review Press. Two earlier books also received awards: Mechanical Fireflies (Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize), and Black Tupelo Country (John Ciardi Prize). Individual poems have appeared in journals that include Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Slate, 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.