Revival by Doug Ramspeck


I am listening this morning to the industry
of bullfrogs, the sermon of crows,

while gazing out the upstairs window
at the prison a half mile down the road,

the hours inside those walls, my father
used to say, not sanded down along

the edges. I remember, when he was dying,
how he told me that the only music

he’d ever truly loved was the drumbeat
of the big guns of the destroyers

in the War. Last night I dreamed
of bullbats rising into a dark sky,

of the bile of clouds above the hickories.
Here was the loneliness of grass

that would dull yellow come winter
in a corrosive wind. And as for the prisoners,

I see them milling by the fence, imagine
that the sounds of their voices are dust

swirling in a field. At night, I suspect,
they lie awake and listen to their breaths,

or dream of sunlight drifting fluted
into water, or imagine that they exist

inside the radiance of memory,
in the nerve endings of stars after dark.


DOUG RAMSPECK is the author of five poetry collections. His most recent book, Original Bodies (2014), was selected for the Michael Waters Poetry Prize and is published by Southern Indiana Review Press. Individual poems have appeared in journals that include The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and The Georgia Review.