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Published: Mon Jul 1 2013
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Meditation and Form

A bird is flying
into the open mouth of evening

while our thoughts
crawl on their low bellies.

Even leaves are tongues.
Then a moon rises

inside this skull
of sky, the way a snake

can’t decide
if it is paper skin

or living form.
And if the moon claims

the world as its first thought,
as the primitive heart

I saw yesterday dangling
like a fist

from a tomato plant,
then the black water

of our bodies spreads
across the field

after so much rain,
full with thunderstorms

of temper and bad spirits.
Then a hoot owl’s voice

presses through screen
mesh when I awake empty

to this bed. Surely our moon
is a wagon stalled

in a great prairie sea.
Surely it rolled out

from a thousand acres
of ribs and flesh,

to pause its ghostly heart
between beats.

Doug 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 Slate, AGNI, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, The Georgia 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. (updated 5/2013)

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