Plague of Interpreters

Long after I have left

this room, I am still somewhere.

If not here, there.

If not there, where?


Later I see A.

on the street corner.

After his ribectomy.

He is bitter,

winces, and holds

his side with his hand.


Some blame perception

on this whole host of ills.

Deep down, though, I know

these synapses are always gossiping

about this or that.

What if or what not. 


Some suspect that this empty

husk of heart

is to blame. Poor A. again

pointing a finger

at one girl

and her appetites.


As though this stray cat

slurping milk from a dish

by this chain-link fence

is a metaphor

for the lost life.


A friend of mine who is getting

married phoned late

at night to say he can’t imagine

waking up beside her

every day for fifty years.


We interpret this

as the mystery of doubt.

In the meanwhile the cat rubs

against my leg then disappears

amid the garbage cans.


While the sun appears fatalistic

above the bridge.

I see all of this as understood.

The drum beat of longing

in the chest.

The largeness of the hours.


We are allowed to imagine it —

even while we know

it isn’t true.

Doug Ramspeck’s poetry collection, Black Tupelo Country, was selected for the 2007 John Ciardi Prize for Poetry and is published by BkMk Press (University of Missouri-Kansas City, U.S.). A new book, Possum Nocturne, is due out in 2010 by NorthShore Press. His poems have appeared in journals including EPOCH, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Third Coast and Northwest Review. He was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for 2009. He directs the Writing Center and teaches creative writing at The Ohio State University at Lima, U.S.