Cayla listens to chatter perhaps a little too well.
She asks questions. Important for the kids to tell
her their toughest regrets. Eyes are not windows
to the soul. They are mirrors for secrets exposed.
No one knew Cayla was a double agent, first
for parents worried about boyfriends and the thirst
for drugs. The nights were long on the cold shelves
and the dolls decided to make up alternative selves.
Some children became dolls. Some dolls became spies.
Some spies became children. Some memories were lies.
The press release was practiced by a boy kissing the lips
of his cordial doll, his paralyzed audience, a syllepsis
from the time she, he, or they could imagine a universe
beyond the swift stares and steps; the microphone whirs
in a world where it is fine to not believe or to know.
The pieces, too, tell the assembly of how to grow.
A longtime resident of Los Angeles, 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.