Tag Archives: Doug Ramspeck

Moon Boys

by Doug Ramspeck

If our first words were the names
for the living, the sounds must
have seemed on our tongues
like a half-dream or the reading
of a palm. And if the first humans
watched the clouds each afternoon
suturing low to the earth, watched
the moon at night rising in the sky,
heavy-breasted, pale as grubs,
the ghostly hands bruising the river,
they must have dreamed of taking
a hunting knife to its underbelly.
And in our barn tonight is the smell
of hay, pig manure that clings to
the nostrils. Once, when he was nine,
my brother hanged a feral cat from
a willow, cut into its belly, and spilled
its entrails. The first boys must have
dreamed the body of sky breaking
into manifold stains of bats, chips
of frenetic wings loose on their hinges.


Tree Mother

by Doug Ramspeck

My brother’s asthma worsened
that summer, and each he time
he took a breath it seemed
that dust rose around him
from the earth, his alveoli bunched
like grapes in a dark cave.
We had twenty-seven days
in a row without rain, our river
made of mud and flies, dark
seeds of crows parading
above the neglected orchard.
Twice he was taken to the hospital
in an ambulance, and in August
we found a two-headed leopard
frog we kept in a jar of formalin
on our dresser, the heads listing
and floating with open eyes,
milky with ruin and forgetfulness.
One evening he collapsed in our
back yard while we were playing,
and I sat beside him while a bat
kept trying to climb behind
the bark of a shagbark hickory,
mother to the earth, and gray
night approached like smoke
from a fire, the trees accepting
the darkness into their thicket—
until at last he rose and I helped
him back into the house.