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Friday, March 10, 2006


by Martin Ott

We give them food. They give
us oil. We give them a bomb
that rattles teeth from a city
away. They give us white flags
that hide revolvers. We give
them dolphins that can detect
mines three miles through murky
waters. They give us sandstorms
that are like the wrath of God.
We give them families banding
together in cities lit by candles,
listening out of shattered
windows for the desert wolf.
They give us families divided
with placards on two street
corners, traffic halted, life
filled with horns, sirens.
We give. They give more.
There is so much giving
in war, it makes you
tired from the giving.

A Russian linguist and military interrogator during the Cold War, Martin Ott currently works as a writer and editor in Los Angeles. He has published stories in over a dozen magazines and has optioned three screenplays. A finalist for the Bluestem Poetry Award, the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry and the Carnegie Mellon University Press (Open Reading), Ott’s poetry appears in over fifty magazines and anthologies. His chapbook Misery Loves was published by Red Dancefloor Press.