Doug Ramspeck

Old Men and Their Sorrows
by Doug Ramspeck

The old men are sitting on
their back porches, watching

Isaac Babel’s stern-looking goose
flying above the lake. Soon it will

be twilight, the parasitic stars
gathering in the night sky, darkness

heavy-breasted with its blossoming.
The men imagine the wet earth

undressed forever, as though
all dreams are liquid.

They imagine their bodies
sleeping inside the widened pupil

of an eye, the summer sun
tattooing forgetfulness, the nude

clouds lumbering past. Here is
the watery grave, the pulse

a small piston in the wrist.
The geese lift themselves

above the great hulls of day,
like orchestrated longing,

the last sunlight hemorrhaging
amid the trees. The old men

have a map of green veins
traversing the backs

of their hands, and the warm
railing of the porch looks out

on a calligraphy of leaf shadow.
All is regret, they know,

the goose with its impenetrable
cry bruising the ribs, a magi

of slow flight, the mythic
mercy of letting go.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 4.

Doug RamspeckDoug Ramspeck is the author of four poetry collections, the most recent of which, Mechanical Fireflies (2011), won the Barrow Street Press Book Prize. His first book, Black Tupelo Country (2009), was awarded the John Ciardi Prize. His poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Slate, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. In 2009 he received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. He directs the Writing Center and teaches creative writing at The Ohio State University at Lima.

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