Double Talk by Martin Ott


My sister does not talk to me. Her daughter does not talk to her. My mom did not talk to me for six months before being diagnosed with cancer. The wind does not talk to the trees, not even in our most romantic verses. The trees can talk about history in ways we can barely conceive. Birds talk in the boughs, warning us of footsteps we cannot see. I did not talk the talk in the Army even though I trained to roll men like cigarette butts and flick them into the breeze. Our leaders talked the language of green, handing out money and following up with boots on the scene. My dad never talks about his time tapping phones in the Philippines. The talk that never happens is from fear and fatigue. The talks we have with children and nations are similar, filled with portents and warnings, danger and seeds. Not all talk is the same. The talk that convinces us that anger justifies rolling out the red carpet. The talk I have with my children about how breathing fire kills. The talk about the talk we ignored that one war.


A veteran and long-time resident of Los Angeles, Martin Ott is the author of eight books, including a poetry book and novel forthcoming on C&R Press. He has won the De Novo and Sandeen book prizes for his first two poetry collections. His work has appeared in more than two hundred magazines and a dozen anthologies.