Spring 2009

Table of Contents - Vol. V, No. 1


Poetry     Interview     Translations     Fiction     Book Reviews

Doug Ramspeck



To begin small: the vireo and his whisper song,
 courting from the sweetgum tree.
Not the loud proclamation proclaiming the self.
Not the blustery masque of shrill notes piercing
the woods but:
leaning close and nearly speaking,
as though words
are wild fruit that sag and sag but cannot bring
themselves to fall.
To stand so near sometimes
it is a sky growing heavier and heavier
(wet air
would drown you if it knew how).
The vireo calling into the woods like a single
leaf falling from the highest sweetgum limb.
  You look up and it is
drifting toward you. You don’t believe it will ever
reach the ground.


Wood Ibis

Here they come to dance the mud
 from the shallows of the oxbow lake.
The sky is undone and shattered
 into hundreds of them. With their bald heads
and wrinkled necks they must be old men.
 Conjuring fish and frogs and water snakes,
summoning each as prophecy and occultation.

The evening his wife died he stood
 on the back porch and heard them bellowing:
what arises from the lungs is hollowness
 itself, forced air compressed as though to stone.
The white of the birds devours
 the surface of the lake: what else can it do?

In the ancient covenant the hours are churned
 as rising silt. He sees it sometimes
as a dream: the great birds lifting themselves
 back into the sky, the black wingtips
stirring the low slung clouds.


Bottomlands Inheritance

He sat on the back porch.
Chorus frogs from the cypress swamp
carried in their voices
the fetid smells of muck
congealing on the surface
of the shallow waters. Sometimes a white ibis
flew up from the black willows
and made of its wings an occultation.
His grandmother knew to grind
up pickerelweeds, epidendrums,
and damselflies to make a potion.
He knew to listen in his dreams
to the alligator snapping turtle
rising from the brackish waters,
to the moon-white mouth
of the water moccasin opening
as the first syllable. When his wife
died a piercing scream from a bobcat
lifted from beyond the black tupelos,
and in the morning a dense mist
rose from the oxbow lake
as though to smother him.
As a child he would tremble if he saw
a barred owl sitting on a possumhaw limb
in bright daylight, and he would walk
around and around the tree, hoping
the bird would swivel and swivel
its neck until it snapped. Now he sat
on the back porch and gazed out
at the provenance of Spanish moss
and duckweed. Something was watching
from the sweetgum trees. He knew
it was the owl—it always was.
And always it was eyeing him.


© Doug Ramspeck



Poetry     Interview     Translations     Fiction     Book Reviews

Website Copyright © 2009 by Loch Raven Review.

Copyright Notice and Terms of Use: This website contains copyrighted materials, including, but not limited to, text, photographs, and graphics. You may not use, copy, publish, upload, download, post to a bulletin board. or otherwise transmit, distribute, or modify any contents of this website in any way, except that you may download one copy of such contents on any single computer for your own personal non-commercial use, provided you do not alter or remove any copyright, poet, author, or artist attribution, or any other proprietary notices.