The following otises were triggered by this prompt.

OTIS A (one letter at a time)

Built up like a stalk two legs
of a tottering manifesto
she fleeced her anger like a sheep
got to the Portuguese sibilance
of it slipped on black ice
vulgar omissions
the pasted thick prose of her
life purpled lists and fingers
knots to cut the circulation
she envied the fresh cut grass
a flitting murder scene how
the flamingo blushed without thinking

- Peter Cole Friedman


The person with no head,

who avoids all toe guillotines,

is a bivalve of love

of the V for Victory kind,

who spurns inscrutabilia,

videos of the 1953 Coronation,

life as an empty glass,

countries with no boats

and all V for Happy Valley signs,

may, one bright day, outrun the grumpy dingo

find love between even a snake-rope

and a rope-snake.

- Seth Crook

OTIS C (Using one word from every other line of Otis A and every alternating line of Otis B)

Dandelion head

waving on your stalk,

as fleeting as love

fleeced by time.

Love spurns manacles

easily slipped on

when empty of emotion.

Hearts pasted on the wind

signs of egress

knots untied

snake-rope escaped

flitting, a ghost.

- Margo Roby

CLASSIC OTIS THREAD (the bolded words below the otis were selected from said otis for the next otis to work from):

it goes how it goes

tottering toes under foot

hooded sun by hands (we could just make it out)

a final gesture

before falling to black

omissions come rushing

bars/nights/juniper bush/sunrise

her fingers under chin/the smile

and hum with open lips (we could just make it out)

redly welcoming him hum

slapped into the new

but nothing was allowed.

- James W. Moore

how, toes, sun, gesture, before, come, juniper, fingers, hum, welcoming, into, allowed

How the fisherman

loved her toes

warmed by the sun.

They seemed a gesture

from before,

when, come kiss,

come juniper,

their fingers touched,

when all was a hum,

a casual welcoming


into what was allowed.

- Seth Crook

fisher,  toes,  by,  seemed,  from,  kiss,  juniper,  their,  hen,  casual,  in,  what

A fisher netted in his own

shadow tiptoes across the water

not by miracle

but loneliness (it once seemed)

threads from undone

waves fraying the broken

ends of kisses

the salted scent of juniper

their spoken-ness eroded

hen’s quiet blur of egg she was

so casual laid out like the sky

he could only talk in tides in changing

moons in what was soon to be a lie

- Peter Cole Friedman

netted, across, not, once, undone, waves, salted, spoken, she, like, talk, moons

They netted stars

across the midnight skies

not in their hearts.

Once caught, netted

and undone by starlight

tidal waves of love

were salted away

never spoken of again

until she, waxing

like a seed pod,

agreed to talk

of moons.

- Margo Roby

stars, midnight, their, caught ,by, tidal, away, again, waxing, seed, agreed, of

Do they carry anything besides stars

in those bags of midnight?

Their eyes and thighs

caught up in Saturn’s rings,

by lamplight they travel

the tidal, star strewn highway,

away from anything resembling home,

asking the same questions again

and again, moon bellies waxing,

seed gathered and spread

over what they agree is either sky

or a river of blood.

- Reiser Perkins

anything, bags, thighs, rings, travel, strewn, home, questions, moon, gathered, sky, blood

This morning, I’d do just about anything

to unpack these bags. You could trap me

Wrestlemania-style between your thighs,

get Bill at the pawnshop to give back the rings

or swear you’ll stop this “business travel” shit.

Yet unimpeded I scoop up strewn pieces

of this single family home into my coffers,

shedding unanswered questions at the door.

The moon is a ghost against Snuggle-box blue.

My friend, we are not gathered here today.

I schlep my life’s half out beneath the clear sky,

your blood the only thing racing after me.

- Jenni B. Baker

about, unpack,  Wrestlemania, get, swear, pieces, single, unanswered, snuggle, today, beneath, racing

She, going on about Gorilla Monsoon.

Me, thinking I’d unpack, yet watching the sun slide

vanishing down the blinds. Wrestlemania on full—


volume, I swear, not a tatter

of peace,

not a single

unanswered hyperbolic roar. "He, a giant,

wrestled bears." I snuggle the smirking stuffed one

she put to sleep earlier today.

The sun now gone beneath the driveway,

she, racing across the kitchen for a spoon.

- Beth Ayer

monsoon, slide, full, rumble, tatter, peace, not, giant, stuffed, earlier, gone, kitchen

After a monsoon of a day

she slides into home,

a place full of words

and him, waiting to rumble

on about the tatter of their days

-- no peace and quiet,

not a ray of light

until the giant martini

with three stuffed olives

which he prepared earlier.

For now, tension is gone

from the kitchen of her soul.

- Margo Roby

day, into, full, waiting, about, and, light, until, three, prepared, tension, from

walking in dim late day light, a far off

looped beat, a slurry step into a wet street

full of cigarette butts, receipts and shoelaces

waiting for a street sweep or a feckless kid

about to add to a partial collection of discarderabilia

and memories touched perhaps by him, by

by lips light and fingers worn, the middle one

flipped until no more flippings were flipped

i counted three in front of that sign.

we were not are not prepared and

whatshouldhavebeen basks in content tension,

its precise digits keeping me from ever breathing right again.

(for chuck)

- James W. Moore

dim, slurry, butts, sweep, partial, touched, worn, no, front, are, basks, digits

Dim mirror

Slurry of blue

Sky and ocean

Your head butts out

Sweep of lullaby wind

Partial escape


Eyelids worn blinking

“No” as an act of generosity


His arms are:

Love basks sunless

No digits to count on

- Peter Cole Friedman

mirror, blue, and, out, lullaby, escape, touched, blinking, as, facing, are, sunless

Asleep in my rear-view mirror,

you hide your blue. Ten hours

and one joint gone, we barrel

out into the starry tarred night,

a one-sixty horsepower lullaby

your only escape. Beyond lashes,

the decision that touched your days

goes blinking into the back window

as a disappearing city. You,

facing unbarred futures, doze

away the miles as though you are

holding tight to sunless days.

- Jenni B. Baker

asleep, ten, joint, tarred, horsepower, beyond, decision, goes, disappearing, unbarred, away, tight

you do this thing when you’re asleep

not yet REM (around ten) you appear disturbed

rolling, curling uncurling, (I think your joints ache)

murmuring tarred (I think you mean tired),

tossing and all your resting horsepower sinks

you’re out beyond

every decision you've ever lost in the wash or

hummed until it goes dim or

planted in the backyard, disappearing

in the unbarred space behind your twitching

eyes, away, away like miles without feet

holding tight the pillow that erased your weight

- Beth Ayer


asleep you’re simple and iridescent bold

joined at ten by Chupacabra, blessed at eleven

holding court with the joint committee.

I saw you laughed and about tarred

out of town, gunning horsepower passing

rapidly out beyond the flicker, your

decision a wicked companion, nose up and

off it goes, your Pegasus flitting heavily

in the shine, a disappearing decree unleashed

far below, a sliding message just unbarred

wilderness peeling away from you,

you gripping tight the wheel of life.

- Beth Ayer

thing, appear, curling, mean, sinks, out, lost, dim, planted, space, without, weight

The thing about life, you see,

is that it will appear, day after day

whether you feel like curling up in a corner

or mean-spiritedly want to grab

hold of that which sinks in your soul

and have it out, once and for all

before all is lost to day after day after...

and life becomes a dim shadow

you, ambushed, planted in front

of a space you had avoided, a pit

without a ladder, no rope, no helping

hand to help you bear the weight.

- Margo Roby

life, after, corner, grab, your, once, all, shadow, ambushed, of, rope, bear

The devil’s life,

after retirement,

living in a corner of Ohio

where the older ladies grab

your staunch satanic bum,

was once so sweet n fun.

All day he frisked,

tumbled with his shadow,

ambushed doughnuts

made of tasty sun fed plum.

Until he swung upon a rope

into a lost and hungry bear. O hi! O done.

- Seth Crook

devil, retire, oh, where, staunch, fun, frisked, tumbled, doughnuts, tasty, he, lost

Dearest Devil,

Do you remember how we’d retire

to the lilac bush? Oh, the shade

like frosting, like feathers where

we’d lay our heads, far from my staunch home.

What fun we had so close to the ground.

Frisked by starlight,


into doughnuts.

You nibbled grasses, called it tasty.

“He is a goat,” I said about you,

my voice lost in the futureless night.

- Reiser Perkins

dearest, remember, lilac, feathers, home, ground, starlight, tumbled, into, nibbled, about, futureless

Dearest silence comes a moment before

nightfall. Do you remember the soft songs

we sang with lilac tongues,

feathers glancing our throats?

Sobbing all the way home,

the ground hid traces of us,

muffled starlight in stones.

We tumbled like gambled chips down

those roads into rouletted futures .

So long had I nibbled at the edges of your

shadow that I forgot about the light.

It’s not a balloon. We can’t set free what’s futureless.

- Peter Cole Friedman

silence, nightfall, sang, glancing, all, traces, stones, gambled, roads, edges, forgot, balloon

You and your practical silence,

Descending like lazy summer nightfall,

Dampening the jealous notes we sang,

Glancing at the nearby courtyard parties.

All the stupid things people do,

Traces remaining like ash on the morning wind,

Let you with no sins throw those particular stones,

While I gambled on a heart’s restless desire,

Chasing wistful thoughts down mottled roads,

Trying to play between the lines, the blurred edges

That time forgot, as we madly scramble,

Awake and alarmed, for that last balloon out of here.

- Gary Glauber

practical, descending, jealous, stupid, morning, particular, restless, wistful, mottled, madly, awake, out

you, ever practical, asked my advice--meanwhile

the moon was shedding sorcery, descending

dangerously into a jealous pool reflecting only

your infinite skin, my stupid sweater hanging like a spirit

lugged to the confessional. Too heavy for a dewy morning,

and this particular morning gleamed off the stars,

restless as the june bug against your window.

your hair hanging in wistful clumps

your cheeks mottled and mantled

and my chest thrashing madly

all for the senses so awake and the lark

out singing and the colors carelessly rising.

- Beth Ayer

ever, shedding, dangerously, infinite, heavy, stars, window, hair, cheeks, chest, senses, singing

your feet are ever click clicking on sidewalks

fingers flicking their opposite fingers, shedding skin,

a dangerously thin bread crumb trail back home

if you should need it. infinite, you’d like to say,

but that word hits heavy, and the universe and time,

waves, stars and pi argue something altogether more endable:

a boy breathing clouds on his rain-sheeted window,

her hair stuck to tape on the back of that picture,

her hands on your cheeks as her face pushes close and you smell her.

the finite cozies to your chest, slows your breath,

brings the city in focus, clicking time, fingers raw, but senses

singing loud (so loud) in your now and your here. and so loud.

- James W. Moore

click, opposite, bread, need, hits, pi, clouds, tape, close, your, time, here


Cicadas click a hymn, calling

their opposites to immortality.

Flitting away the breadth of days

in basic need, they bang about,

all misses and hits holy.


It hides under everything like pi,

this life, swarming up in clouds,

raining ticker tape bodies down.


Come close, young brooder:

I want to tangle in your hair

for a time, end our season

singing hosanna for hereafter.

- Jenni B. Baker

calling, their, away, bang, all, hides, life, ticker, brooder, tangle, our, singing

They are calling the lots.

Fanning themselves with their bills.

Giving away our love

in the bang of a gavel.

All this


his life

Stopping the ticker on his chain.

The brooder of machinations

that tangled

our kin. Souls in the same room

singing Dixie one last time.

- Winston Plowes

Take all the things that we like lots,

fanning creative flames from deep within.

Our passion translated into passionate plots:

the tangled webs of which we find ourselves in.

This is our signature, our emotional mark,

what one hides, what one might reveal…

His or her illuminating fear of the dark,

a chain of events that may not even be real.

Of cravings, of appetites, of urges undefended,

Of all that we want and what’s more, what’s desired,

The kith and the kin and all those we’ve befriended,

The ones that in time know us as madly inspired.

  1. -Gary Glauber

like, creative, passionate, tangled, signature, reveal, Illuminating, events, appetites, want, befriended, time.

To like life, she acknowledges its lack

of creative originality, its historical samenesses.

Her passionate belief in life's universalities

tangles her tongue when she tries to speak them,

is her signature as she moves through her life.

She believes all things reveal themselves

in the past, illuminating a never-ending cycle

of tradition and events, doomed to forever whet

an appetite for change that never happens,

to want newness in a world forever old.

Once befriended, history is quantitative,

time another window overlooking life.

  1. -Margo Roby

lack, historical, in, speak, through, believes, past, whet, never, newness, once, window

Do not imagine it's for a lack of trying

to gain some sort of historical

perspective in those who have gone

before, those whose poetic voices speak

through our voices. It is not without

confidence and truth she believes

in all that is, and that was, in the past.

And it is these ones that keenly whet her

for more, for an excellence suspected, never

ending, and a diamond newness to the work

about to begin, once again...

A shuttered window thrown open to tomorrow.

- S.E. Ingraham

imagine, gain, perspective, voices, it, truth, all, these, excellence, ending, work, tomorrow

imagine you are the boulder. i imagine.

i gain weight just listening, waiting

tympanic membrane resisting perspective

too loud the voices, too unformed raw wrong

it is a nightmare, really.

it is a truth, probably. it is

all of these things adding up to all

of these like one and two and more

a solid brick wall we call excellence

i call abstinence, an ending, curtain (the Ewoks sing,

but it’s back to work for the Stormtroopers, who hold their heads

and wish there was no such things as tomorrow or tomorrow or tomorrow)

- James W. Moore


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