Bin Ramke's latest collection takes on familial connections and the passing of loved ones. The poems in Aerial are divided into two sections, "Clouded" and "Cloudless." This work is indeed concerned with both the physical characteristics and the spiritual realm of the sky, which creates a landscape for these intimate, yet rigorous, poems. In "Literacy: Blinding Birds" Ramke writes

sunset orange a slight

engagement and then gone
the vapors and birds mix eloquent
ganglia and molecules and photons
as if several communities

made a language a languor of flight
they do seem, clouds disgorging birds
into light and air, they do seem not
of my world but only of themselves

Ultimately, the sky also serves to represent the boundless enormity of death. Mary Jo Bang writes that the poems in Aerial are “beautiful, disquieting, deeply felt, and ultimately tragic—since Ramke, and all his stand-in speakers, keep reaching obsessively for knowledge about something they know is ultimately unfathomable."

This book review originally appeared in American Poets.