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Knowing better

Illustration by Dan Ionut Popescu/Shutterstock

In some past a person of learning and poetry believed
migrating birds spent winter on the moon…
Aristotle argued they sleep under mud of marshes
and the big ones gave rides to the little.

Nocturnal migrants inspire a desire to know
the arts of the bird and the pleasures of the fishes.

Our cities are invaded by: our shadows,
our pets, our intentions, our errors, our children;
our cities identical to selves, our pastures
are the shadows of our cities. The history contained
in this language contrary, contrite
response to the damage we do and did and will again.

We do destroy ourselves daily
and dream it away every night
to watch such shadow-birds fly moonward;

the land is the land, and home.
The water is water, and home.
The light is the light is the light
and is home to itself.

When he presented Bin Ramke with DU’s John Evans Professorship at Convocation in September, Provost Gregg Kvistad described Ramke as “elegantly modest.”

“Bin’s entire being is against fluff and bombast,” Kvistad said.

Indeed, the DU English professor and poet looked like he might rather be anywhere else, and as the audience and awardees mingled after the ceremony, Ramke ducked out a side door.

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Quick sparrows over the snow
a lone a long voice a calling
and the particles of longing
design and time click on

ward as it as if an element
al desire clicks onward as if

but things to do are not done
a light dragged unwilling against
the hooked night encroaching
dispersed-no those

are sparrows passing, not
hours, not ours, birds grow
symbolic only if you let them.
Quit quickly, inside to warm,
imagine the arts, imagine the pleasures.

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