Two Poems by Martin Ott

Ghost Stand

Two eagles nest in a bleached stand
of dead pines, preserved in brine
from the earthquake that dropped
their roots thirty feet into ocean.

Tidewater glaciers ripple onto ice
fields that yawn hundreds of miles,
the crackle of ice plummeting
like thunder, like eggs breaking.

If one egg were to be destroyed
in the shell, the couple might try
again. Across the channel, a stone
fort points six inch guns down

to repel the Japanese. In Seward,
tsunami signs point up the mountain,
the town crisped from when oil tanks
poured a river of flames from giant

waves, the next earthquake inevitable,
the next war unbearably close,
the ice fields weeping into dusk,
two eagles living among the ghosts.

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.

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…

Read the full bio