A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

Martin Ott

is a former U.S. Army interrogator; now he works as a writer and editor in Los Angeles and still finds himself asking a lot of questions.

He has published stories in over a dozen magazines and has optioned three screenplays.

His poetry has appeared in over fifty magazines and anthologies, including The Adirondack Review, Stone Table Review, The Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Xconnect. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his manuscript Magician’s Heaven has been a finalist or semi-finalist for a half dozen different poetry prizes. His chapbook Misery Loves was published by Red Dancefloor Press.

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Whale Holes and Belly Buttons

My neighbor vacuumed his lawn,
a tattoo of a dragon on his forearm,

a tea-towel tied to his waist,
begonias shimmying at the blow-hole.

He vacuumed to clean dew drops
from the rye stalks and petal camisoles.

He vacuumed full-skirted lavender
and snails retreating into shells.

He vacuumed rose hips when hungry
and grass backs when his loneliness

drew him into the darkness for a smoke
to stare at his wife’s yellow garden.

He vacuumed because she told him
she’d return the day he regained control

but there was nothing he could do
to eradicate the swear words and car

exhaust, let alone her fearful sobs
that he would one day suck her whole.

He vacuumed chestnut husks in roof gutters
and nursery rhymes over the hedgerows,

imagining the children that might have been,
the hexagon light in his cigarette end.

One day he disappeared and it was
rumored that he vacuumed himself.