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Why We Believe Obvious Untruths
My father once filmed a stop-action scene
of presents filling up under the tree, proof
that Santa Claus was invisible but real.
I stuck to my guns before I was given guns,
even before I became a teenage interrogator,
learning Russian from defectors, practicing
techniques to find the weak point in others
and exploit how the truth was malleable.
Our loved ones begin the parade with obvious
half-lies on how we look or that everything
will be fine when we don’t know if the future
holds mud pie or devil’s cake. We are told we
will be able to lift ourselves by our bootstraps,
one of the reasons why my parents kicked me
out and I joined the Army, too young to know
that belief is the paralyzing absence of fear,
dangerous in the way waving your hand over
a flame might change the annals of history.
Ideas are news. Ideas are insane. Ideas are art.
Inside us, inside the earth. Whistles in the dark.
We sprinkle secret desires into tales whipped
into batter, baked, and served to oohs and aahs;
taste the concoctions that make us purse our lips
from a disastrous recipe now mistaken for a kiss.
How to Recognize an Alien Spaceship
If the universe is a fidget spinner,
then we are all looking for God,
the one hidden in skin wrapping,
the orbit of opposites, the bang.
Sometimes a cigar is just a spaceship.
Sometimes it is just an asteroid.
We look at distant figures with mistrust.
Dim light. Feral stars. The otherness.
We do not understand the solar wind,
the whisper of a stranger in a language
beyond our reach, the void in reverse.
It may be too late to reveal aliens
in human forms, multiple moons.
This lesson plan has been shot to hell
by a reluctance to ask for assistance,
a map that we can unroll together.
Let’s play connect the dots and link lines
to constellations where love trumps doom.
‘They Will Be Met with Fire and Fury like the World Has Never Seen’
This is a love poem to the apocalypse.
I’ve flirted with you in so many ways,
for so many blinks of a radioactive clock
which I mistook for winks or nervousness.
Only one of us needs to an incandescent
angel scorching the sky while I hold out
my arms, hold out hope, hold my bowels.
This kind of infatuation is deadly, tomes
and verse, created and consumed. Poised
for when worn boots tap dance on ash.
The nightlight is an ember perhaps left
to the imagination of a child, the spark.
Pages were flipped to this poor flicker,
my heart clacking like a bicycle in traffic,
the countless disasters I practiced
on my way to an ending I will
not consummate for fear of success.
A pen poises over the page, ink drains.
Words enough cannot keep fire at bay.
-From Fake News Poems, BlazeVOX, 2019.
Bio: MARTIN OTT has published nine books of poetry and fiction. His first two poetry collections won the De Novo and Sandeen Prizes. His work has appeared in more than two hundred magazines and twenty anthologies. A former US Army interrogator and longtime resident of Los Angeles, Ott works as a communications professional and develops for TV and film in between other writing projects.