Doug Ramspeck

the midwest sheds its skin
October 20, 2021 Ramspeck Doug

the midwest sheds its skin


& leaves it clinging to a fence post
& that skin dreams it is a river current
or maybe the trickster light at sunset
that somehow seems a benediction
& that skin understands the martyrdom
of dead grass & it writes letters
in winter to the old snow
& those letters say we are undone in this
or they describe how vultures bend
their faces into roadkill
& those faces say here is my red beard
& once a letter fell into a stream & froze
& the ice said i am not alone
& sometimes the skin dreams it is
a severed possum skull with fifty teeth
left swaying from a tree limb
like a silent windchime
& it dreams of some miraculous reassembling
dreams that if we pluck those teeth
it will somehow be a lyre

Doug Ramspeck is the author of eight collections of poetry, one collection of short stories, and a novella. One recent book, Black Flowers, is published by LSU Press and was a finalist for the UNT Rilke Prize. Individual poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Slate, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, and many other literary journals. His short story “Balloon” was listed as a Distinguished Story for 2018 in The Best American Short Stories. He is a three-time recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award.