Martin Ott

Dinosaur Gardens

Every family’s story is the same in departure. We visited every summer, a pilgrimage to primordial creatures fashioned from lumber, concrete, and obsession. Dinosaur teeth were stained the color of ketchup. Jesus cupped a globe of the world aloft near the bookstore at the entrance. Why did we stick our heads in the mouths of extinct animals for photos? The buzz of mosquitoes drove us past reptiles holding court in tiny clearings, to cavemen and cavewomen locked in combat. Everything seemingly co-existed in this place. Even when wrapped in a giant python. We could sense the looming extinction of our family. The tour ended at a brontosaurus with stairs leading up into the belly. I was the only one who talked to everyone. There was an altar for the Greatest Heart, an oil painting of Jesus. Was it a testimony to his belief or to my belief in fantastical things? Until my mother died. Over the years, I would tell my children tales of brontosaurus that never actually existed. Jesus became smaller as I grew bigger. There is a story that remains untold.


The Wave Whisperer

She started by studying the ripples in her martini, measuring the displacement of olives and cucumber slices. She became proficient in the spatters of vinaigrette on spinach leaves and the drizzle of oil on pasta shells. The rain and wind are like huevos divorciadas on the plate, the quivering of solid land, the verge of future snowflakes learning to dance. The mouth is a laboratory for eddies of saliva, the mystery of drowning in another. The ocean can only be solved by not directly peering into the tide. Waves splash up in a language she professes to understand, the one she’d lost in a boat to explain metaphorical and categorical loss. The moisture swirling even in air or final breaths. The whispers of what it is to survive the sloshing within.


Martin Ott’s most recent book is Spectrum, C&R Press, 2016. He is the author of seven books and won the De Novo and Sandeen prizes for his first two poetry collections. His work has appeared in more than two hundred magazines and a dozen anthologies.
Twitter: @ottpops

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