Poetry by Lynn Otto

Otto

Read More: A Brief Interview with Lynn Otto

Yoked
for Paul

How is a yoke borne? The ox and the ox—
the farmer taps the one, and it walks, so both walk—
the farmer taps the other, and it turns, so both turn—
they can’t turn away from each other.

A husband and wife feel their marriage chafe.
Always the other. Often not what they’d rather:
the room too hot and too cold,
the calendar cluttered, the accounts

scrutinized, insufficient. Each body grows old.
In the distance, other possible selves,
places they might have gone if.
Behind the oxen, the earth

opens and turns, like fresh sheets turned back on the bed.
They face only the hard ground ahead,
yet they feel the resistance give.
Imagine a crop there, thriving in perfect weather—

it might or might not turn out like that—
there are countless kinds of disaster.
And the wife and the husband can turn away from each other—
this yoke is not a wooden thing—

or they can turn toward each other, and cling,
as they do some nights when they’re not too tired,
to the solace of familiar skin.
Your eyes, she might say again, are like Picasso eyes

when we’re this close. Overlapping
almond shapes, one slightly over the other.
And he might again say, You are a strange thing,
and stay there, his forehead touching hers.

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Dry Dock

After the shakes were over he built ships
in the best of the empty bottles.

She didn’t mind the first few. Admiring
people said how did he ever.

She’d say with a chopstick and a very long tweezer.
But the growing fleet

went nowhere. Masts and rigging like bird bones
but safe in there.

The sails wouldn’t really billow
even if she uncorked a bottle and blew in it.

Next-to-invisible
dots of glue held everything. She thought […]


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The Douglas Fir Leans Toward the House and I Pretend It Doesn’t

For who can see
a heart turning?

The angle of the jaw. […]


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Access this and all our bi-weekly publications (and submit for free).

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Lynn Otto is a freelance copy editor and webinar instructor. Recent and forthcoming publications include poems in Compose, Driftwood Press, Eyedrum Periodically, Hartskill Review, and Raleigh Review. She holds an MFA from Portland State University and calls Oregon home.

Read More: A Brief Interview with Lynn Otto