Who limbo with pool cues in nameless pubs,
who swing in time with jiggle and aplomb,
who sweat and stare with a single eye
and undulate on buffets and hotel beds.
There are bellies in this world who swallow
typing tests on a dare, who lie to mothers
they barely know, who master the art
of escaping the tuck and never seem
to outpace their luck. There are bellies
in this world voted class clown, filled
with knowledge but play the jester’s role,
who master the one thing we cannot live
without. There are bellies in this world
we do not know at all, who look perfect
but there is pain, who gurgle in the night
and dream of unending appetite. There are
bellies in this world we did not know were
out of time, who whisper wild and sundry
secrets, who remind us what we’ve swallowed
is not the same universe we keep inside.
Martin Ott has published eight books of poetry and fiction, most recently LESSONS IN CAMOUFLAGE, C&R Press, 2018. His first two poetry collections won the De Novo and Sandeen Prizes. His work has appeared in more than two hundred magazines and fifteen anthologies.