PoetryIssue 04 | April 2009

Two Poems by Martin Ott

Human Pyramid

In Barcelona’s San Jaime Square,
human pyramids teeter skyward
in the Fiesta de La Mercé
for the patron saint of castlers.
Raised above cheering balconies,
children skitter to the apex
lighter than parents, than air.
But how did it all begin?
One man treads upon another
as though in a burning nightclub
or a skyscraper without moorings.
He feels a hand cradling him
aloft, presses down his heels,
feels the crunching of bone.
When our species climbed on two
legs, the third dimension burned
a desire to look down our noses,
the penthouse view ingrained.
The Tower of Babel collapsed
in a human daisy chain,
our tongues bereft, our memories
lost. When two people mount
one another, when boys peer
under the skirts of cheerleaders,
when angelic models flutter above
our dreams on impossibly long
legs, we do not look at what
is buried below. I hold my son
Leo aloft in the prince’s pose
to see his kingdom unfold
at a child’s parade, a falcon’s view
of his father’s balding head.
A mountain of flesh proceeds
us all from father to son.
He looks at his wiggling toes
and babbles as I toss him.
Already he understands
how we will rise and fall.

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About the author

Born into a gold mining family in Alaska, Martin Ott has traveled the world speaking a number of languages, all of which have been helpful in his work as a Russian linguist, a military interrogator and now as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. His fiction and poetry have appeared in over fifty magazines and anthologies, and he has optioned three screenplays. Visit him here.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok