Green Hills Literary Lantern

Swamp Aubade


There are days when he envies

the alligator snapping turtle

half buried in the mud 

at the lake bottom. 

What is invisible lifts itself as mist

from the cypress swamp.

And because the body

is a prophet, he skins the kingsnake

then fries the meat with cornbread cubes.

Sometimes he imagines early morning

as what flees the night

then squints into the sun with tired eyes.

He thinks of the story he heard as a child

of a man who drowned at first light

while swimming home

from his lover’s bed.  The lake claimed him.

The lake anointed him in mire.

And after that everything was still.

There was nothing left to long for.

Though sunlight seeping through the water

burned his skin.


Doug Ramspeck’s poetry collection, Black Tupelo Country, was awarded the 2007 John Ciardi Prize for Poetry and is published by BkMk Press (University of Missouri-Kansas City).  Several hundred of his poems have appeared in journals that included West Branch, Connecticut Review, Hayden’s Ferry, Confrontation Magazine, Rattle, and Nimrod.  He directs the Writing Center and teaches creative writing and composition at The Ohio State University at Lima.  He lives in Lima with his wife, Beth, and their daughter, Lee.