Published by: Southern Indiana Review Press
Release Date: 2014
Buy the Book: SIR Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound
Original Bodies explores the primitive mindset, the ancient brain that exists within us all. Most of us don’t believe that three crows in a black willow tree portend death or that we can read our lives in the entrails of a pickerel frog or in a hognose snakeskin found draped beside a riverbank. But we do wish that we might gain some small control over our destinies. Residing half in the real world and half in the dream world, the poems accentuate the slipperiness we often feel between the corporeal and incorporeal. Winner of the Michael Waters Poetry Prize.
“A crow’s ‘single black feather’ assumes the resonance of ‘prophecy and prayer’ as Doug Ramspeck acknowledges the elemental—rain and mud—as world enough in which to perform ‘this privilege of naming,’ what he calls ‘a languaging.’ Such simplicity belies the depths of perception that make these poems moving and memorable. If there is an old-fashioned quality to this work, it is that found in the work of James Wright and Mary Oliver, two other Ohio poets who touch us with their wise and eloquent longings.”
“With gorgeous lyricism and organic musicality, Doug Ramspeck’s Original Bodies offers poems as the call and response of birdsong, poems as conjuring of auguries and omens, poems as translations of clouds and grackles and leaves speaking in tongues. This breathtaking collection is situated within a ‘rhetoric of earth’—communing with the language of crows, the speech of rivers and thunder, of fields and rain and mud. Here, language is not so much a language but a feeling, and naming not so much a representation as it is a transformation of the ephemeral shape of longing into song. Here, like ‘birds singing out of their bodies,’ these poems sing their way out of their own bodies into something unnamable, ecstatic, and free.”
—Lee Ann Roripaugh
Crow, Moon, Crow
So here is how I remember it:
a child is a crow is a moon is a river.
Everything multiplying after midnight
as in a dream: one crow, two crows, three crows.
And from the tracks where we look down
at the scooped burrow of the river,
curled this June like a discarded snake skin,
there is a moon growing its canker
on the ridge’s shoulder. And up ahead,
in the wet woods, the smell. No garden here
but dead leaves. An augury of matted loam
clinging to boot bottoms. But not even that.
Or say we imagine pale green shoots
that might be fairy wands or spiderworts
or wingstems. Which is another way of saying
we are bound to the earth. Imagine
the sucking sounds of our boots cleaving
to the mud. For here is how I remember it:
a river is a moon is a crow is a tongue.