Black Tar River

By Doug Ramspeck

This moon is dusting our skin again
                                            as otherworldly powder.
And the sound the river makes
is of a world cracked open and its blood
                                      flowing past us as dark tar.
Yesterday we snaked from the tile
that runs along the side the house a great clump
of wet loam
                that caused our basement to be flooded.
And in that wet earth we found a dead
rat snake curled as the ouroboros.
                            And since it is believed that the road up
and the road down are one and the same,
          I am remembering that white ash
that grew hollow at its bottom last summer
by the house, and the sorrow with which
                                      we finally brought it down.
And if tonight this moon appears as endless
bone or salt in the night sky,
              and if the river still pulses from the vein,
once the great limbs of that white ash
would impale the moon
                            so hold it steady in the sky.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 12. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Doug Ramspeck’s poetry collection, Black Tupelo Country, was selected for the 2007 John Ciardi Prize for Poetry and published by BkMk Press (University of Missouri-Kansas City). He directs the Writing Center and teaches creative writing and composition at The Ohio State University at Lima.

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