Dead leaves, discarded tags for prices.

Cheap tricks played by the wind

beating up petals, slips on clotheslines.

...Skybound, little book of the trash tree.

Catalpa leaves, describing love.

The mimosa's dopey pink halos. And mercy for

the tree of heaven - its haters - it thinks its name is fuck.

Electric pulse, some tires, broken mirror of asphalt.

The human art of busting things up, discarding everything.

A plot of wild carrot: cheap white crowns, starched doilies.

Pigweed & witchgrass is never undone. Commonest things.

No cryptid finds a forever home.                                                                                -Stef Russell

"wrong turn on the way home from troy

{a slightly less epic poem}

at these prices, I am still skeptical

...applied liberally, I am still cheap

if I am beating you at scrabble

am I still bound to buy you dinner?

“love on a barroom floor,” Socrates said,

“is still more dignified than mercy from thieves”

but what does he know? that guy will fuck

anything with some semblance of a pulse

I don’t always human so well;

like Nietzsche, I start to lose the plot

and come undone like Odysseus,

hitting up goddesses all the way home                                                            -David Tomaloff

The following unattributed Otisi are how this whole thing got started many years ago. Follow them backwards in time.

‎240 Days

Whip it to the top
my pin-up girl

For the dirt crowds
in and the best joke

Is not told but

To be both Cadmus
and Bellerophon

I drop my goggles
with a note tied there

Only for you
my Andromeda

The start of the

Is heroic
is a fucking bomb

And if I cry


whip, pin-up, joke, told, Cadmus, drop, note, only, start, alphabet, heroic, if, forgive

go ahead, ply the whip, i won't move any faster

than a pin-up

i am my own joke and buttress, flying

and when it's all done and told,

not even Cadmus could understand,

since he chose to drop phonics like acid

i'd make a note of it -

if only i weren't such a slob

don't start on me again.

i can't recreate the bleeding alphabet

and i don't want to be heroic, besides

even if i could, it would take too much energy.

forgive me, i even gross myself out.

ply, success, private, understand, acid, make, slob, again, bleeding, want, energy, gross

i like how you ply,

even plow, and with success,

these private stabs, askance attentions;

how you're no longer afraid that someone might understand

that you are generous, that your babyfaced acid grace

can make something.

you pry the slob free so he floats

but will you do it again?

hardly anyone is really bleeding these days.

their want is a drape,

plain energy crisscrossing without combining,

gross and logical as our own.

like, plow, askance, afraid, babyfaced, something, floats, will, days, drape, combining, logical

i like to hear me cry

it proves the plow is still held in steady hands,

not running the rows askance.

i don't mind being afraid

because that babyfaced innocence quickens the core

like something sharp with purpose all its own

only the cream floats to the top

but when will i settle?

when my days come home to roost?

when my skin is a fabric draped over my bones,

the lines on my face combining into the most revealing of harvests?

nothing logical is ever said in a decent argument with self.


Like a corpse before the flies,

mountainous range stands before compassionate plow

boulders askance, the straddling attitudes

of shrubbery unafraid.

Those babyfaced brown hills

of untilled innocence

yearn for fresh furrows,

to feel something.

Wet stones dispatch

a redolent come hither

that floats and simmers.

Will your wind sing

the song of the furrow?

Days drape clouds

on the shoulders of bluffs.

Light and life combining

a swirling fertile stew.

With expectant thrust

our logical plow

unearths a blazing iron heart.

corpse, straddling, shrubbery, fertile, blazing, range, simmers, thrust, fresh, shoulders, iron, with

you're no


i see you

there, straddling

life and wanting

the waking.

peering through the

shrubbery and

leering at

the fertile promise

of living,

your eyes

blazing with the


there's no limit

to the range or

the keening need

to go on breathing

that simmers

under your



not in my


to thrust you

into it.

i am fresh


of trust,

there's no

room on my


between your

heart of iron

and mine of


who could

carry us?

we'll have to

make do

with we.

see, waking, promise, keening, frostbitten, not, power, trust, room, stone, carry, we

see here now

the waking

is slower

these days

don't forget

your promise

to keep

don't go

keening for

what's broken

what we had

is only


and with warmth

we'll thaw

the freezer burned

taste will

not be


no matter how


the power

i trust you


to throw you

i won't turn

my back

on you

in the room

but i'll toss

you like a stone

that i have

carried so long

in my pocket

we eat slowly

the things

we are ashamed of

here, i'll, slower, keep, warmth, ashamed, taste, toss, only, go, pocket, eat

Oh here I am, do you see me?

I will make a sudden shift, I'll try who cares.

I could take slower steps so stop asking.

It isn't enough to keep voices ambivalent,

or the warmth of bodies forbidden.

I am ashamed I lured men to their depth,

that I agreed to taste their innocence,

stop laughing and toss me your keys.

I swear it is profane only don't ask why.

You shouldn't go just yet,

if you look in your pocket

you may eat my secret.

see, shift, asking, ambivalent, bodies, lured, agreed, stop, why, yet, look, secret

I see

You shift lightly

Asking why always.

Ambivalent is at least bivalent.

Bodies like ours

are lured.

It is agreed

that we might stop

but why?



into the secret.


crimes, violent, wires, feet, firth, rhythm, alone, throne, thing, pinkness, part, saying

crimes of my own perpetration against

the violent crush of loving all that i hold

using fraying bits of copper wire to bind it all to me,

while i dance on feet calloused and narrow

along a desolate stretch of firth.

i keep the rhythm

with my hands alone,

beating time to a lonely procession to the throne,

that thing i hurt and where i try to sit.

too big for my britches, the pinkness too bright.

but i may yet part the waters of all the rubbish.

i'm not deluded or cocky, i'm just saying...

using, crush, bind, narrow, desolate, keep, hands, beating, procession, hurt, britches, cocky

Using the dark window

the crush that happens when ice

is seen, is made to bind

the hand to the hand, a narrow animal

math, a desolate bright

boundary to keep on

beating against the procession

against the hurt repetitions

Your britches are too big

for this, your cocky bland vacancy

window, happens, made, hand, bright, math, repetitions, bland, vacancy, boundary, against, animal

i see thru the window of your old soul

what happens when they get that close?

you weren't made for making connections

your hand wasn't made to hold

isn't it bright, and isn't it lucky

that no one here can do the math

they fail to see your murderous repetitions

and you keep so bland

but there is no vacancy behind your eyes

i will cross the boundary of your stare, though

i've got nothing against being afraid

or coming unglued and wild, like an animal


o, expose, flames, martyrs, throne, pink, feet, poured, may, fickle, contained, beauty

O, your nice pink butthole, a gondolier in thigh-highs,

you expose the naked want wending its live wire

from calyx to malphigian pyramid, from youth in flames

to holy martyrs wearing their enormous hurt

you carry the throne of sorrow on your back

those pink feet poured into roseate blocks

of statues feet and hammered free, the roseate

crystals shining in the rock the earth once poured

may comes with its whores flowers and its crown

the fickle bureaucrats weave annually from concentration

camp paperwork with no name contained in its numbering

happiness is bollocks. there is beauty in suffering.

love, verbiage, bone, sing, working, magic, gone, ideas, dead, cake, squatting, passage

Love in its jungle home

observes the grazing verbiage

through a lattice work of bone.

To Thee I sing, tiny neighborhood

where love lives hunting words, working

itself into a magic spasm

where I have gone to forget you

and your collectable ideas.

Because I am dead enough

for cake to displace me

squatting in the crater that was my name

offering you safe passage.

presence, imposed, seekers, must, illusion, go, long, ideas, scurry, third, blocking, passage

why should we love what is without presence?

imposed verbiage, nothing seen or felt or heard.

seekers, turn away from this dry bone called poem.

why must there be so much trying? just sing.

that you are working is an illusion,

your real present is blank, here we go magic

and long gone already. backwards.

why are you so afraid of ideas?

the dead don’t scurry. your obfuscation

is a third tier cake ball roundly

squatting, blocking

the passage


with only a bit of practice

i too, could develop the art of subterfuge

draping the dim light of deceit around me like a cape,

a covering for the naked truth beneath

if i truly wanted, i could bend a word

strangling it until only a small "pop" escaped with its dying breath

i could hold the last breath of that word in my fist

and rend a gaping hole in the meaning

for what have i to fear from a dead language?

if i stretched out my hand, i could pluck the eye

from the vestibule of society

and offer it up to the world, as a gift

practice, subterfuge, light, naked, word, pop, hold, gaping, fear, eye, vestibule, world

known or not, practice is always present in our own presence,

despite the self-subterfuge imposed on this truth.

if seekers of the light we are,

stripped naked we must be,

to see the word as the illusion it is,

and then make it go POP!!

Yet we hold... for so long,

to ideas with gaping holes,

that let fear scurry

into our third eye,

blocking this vestibule that is

our only passage to see the real world....

amorphous, mask, fuel, varicose, breath, crystalline, water, chain, truth, slight, jar, dissolves

Otis Vs. Keats

o, amorphous love

i expose you, a mask!

you are fuel to the flames

burning those martyrs heaped upon the pyre of your altar.

varicose and tentacled, you watch from your throne,

breathing hot pink breath to befuddle and daze.

crystalline understanding is confused at your feet;

stupidity poured over the head like water.

Strong men may be bound by a chain, or by Love.

Fickle, impermanent, sans truth - all true!

But only slight. Only in part, for there is bliss in your madness.

Would that You could be contained in a jar

to be used when youthful beauty dissolves.

glass, skin, harrowing, fingers, burden, shattered, swells, dragging, told, crunch, growth, pillar

Bits of glass collected, amorphous, brittle, muted over sea time,

baked and stinging sweat skin of a mask

jagged, harrowing cliffs between the tides fuel a nagging quest

splayed varicose fingers rummage in the sand,

breath releases an old burden

of a shattered recollection crystalline in the fading light

sea water swells around slender ankles

dragging seaweed, a crazy kind of ball and chain

not so difficult if truth be told

a slight twisting crunch before the leap

of faith and growth in a jar

out on the rim of dusk a ghost of a pillar dissolves

exquisite, taking, lovingly, sea, lads, pillar, sweat, grindstone, most, salt, sold, noses

the requisite taking

the crush and crunch

of each layer giving

and taking the burden of shattered glass time

lovingly sea-swept

lads dragging fingers through

salty sea swells

I stand as a pillar of sweat

a grindstone for growth to be most

the salt on my skin to be sold

my harrowing lads

with noses at lengths

foretelling the truths to be told

schadenfreude, caligula, archipelago, gulag, heads, together, ruefully, looks, otis, charm, lost, snuffing

A friendship offering from a hopeful xx otis:

To the dark and vainglorious days of democracy!

schadenfreude most requisite

for Caligula's prosperity

in the taking of land and sea, archipelago and plain

the Gulag, too, lovingly represses, its long arms reaching

Come on lads, heads down, mediocrity awaits!

join together, noses to grindstones

neither ruefully nor with sadness

for a pillar of sweat and salt, will be the man with backward looks.

our comrade Otis leads the way,

and charm is neither sold or spared

in the snuffing of individuality

rest, awhile, simple, accomplishment, forever, idiot, nemesis, schadenfreude, stupidly, sense, past, together

Otis looks ruefully out over the earth

Give it a rest, death merchants. It's not exactly funny, with the stuff

of our conjuring snuffing us, think awhile,

just about out now, that something as simple

as love, not some fancy accomplishment

just being as smart as we are, seems to evade us forever.

Somebody's being an idiot, maybe it's me

or The State, who's the same guy ultimately. Hey Nemesis!

Hey boss! Hey Caligula! Get over yourself! Drop the schadenfreude

routine. The life she is short, and stocky. Living stupidly,

for all its' folky charm, has lost its' charm. There's no sense

in this narrow animal calculus, as if anybody could ever get together in the gulag archipelago we've made of our heads.

tuff, whimpering, gallumphing, past, lonely, idiot, pocketing, glass, schadenfreude, singing, abyss, choice

So otis can rest for awhile;

can stop whimpering for awhile;

can perhaps even enjoy a simple sense of vast gallumphing accomplishment for awhile and leave the past once and forever; see otis now refusing to be lonely

or an idiot



the nemesis is schadenfreude

stupidly singing

in the abyss;

choice is irrelevant, we are here together.

once, guy, sick, parade, television, landlord, moonbeam, success, anatomy, kicking, real, pilgrim

There was a lot of stuff here once.

Now the stuff turns its back. Now, for a guy,

there is the whispering wind. There is a sick

gallumphing together of the present and past, like a parade

passing itself. It is for you to bear the lonely television

of your life and its idiot singing; the absentee landlord

that is the soul pocketing a moonbeam to use

against you later. In case of success

break glass. Friend, there's always anatomy. Around here

schadenfreude's a popular choice. Kicking them, also,

is one way to make things feel real. Another

is to be a pilgrim in each one's abyss.

beating, fed, night, flourished, food, jugular, rustle, justify, called, conquest, indiscreetly, smoke

What a beating that poem gave me.
Fed me to my wishes.

Night, you look a lot smaller on television.
Still, I flourished, suddenly, then I didn’t. Beware of food.
The skinny one is my co pilot, La Flaca, phantom landlord, white palm where the stars succumb. I was to be the jugular
in some drowned anatomy. I thought, "Why not?" I am I think because of the rustle hunting me.

I cannot justify or can but won`t. Oh parking lot, be fair. I`m your only pilgrim. Called by your consoling flatness to collapse. Conquest la de da. Indiscreetly kicking up dust, as if we were real. Go ahead Poem, smoke me. I`m home.

poem, me, wishes, look, television, landlord, stars, succumb, anatomy, kicking, real, pilgrim

once there was a poem.

ok, so it was just me and some other guy,
quietly making wishes like sick kids on television

while we waited for the parade to start. look,

there were a lot of parades back then, on television

and within. now, the landlord of the night shimmies

down from stars, wrapped in a moonbeam,

only to succumb to your dumb success.

you were born like that, with anatomy,

kicking at the rented night,

a real


impalpable, phantom, smoke, foreign, see, thinking, penumbras, emotional, box, dust, live, extinct

Impalpable as

phantom's breath

You sit and smoke

those foreign cigarillos

And I see the cops aint

got nothing on your way of thinking

Tied as it is to penumbras

happily lacking emotional goo

It seems a box

was left in the dust of an attic

And that's where the goo will live

until the moon blinks extinct

getting, toil, family, crisscrossing, shrinks, cliff, devotion, combine, soft, enough, visit, several


OK Otis, I'm now getting a rough translation

from your swollen esophagus: Toil-

et rings need teepee, avoid family

movie night (like crisscrossing the interstate

drunk), my (your) shrink’s mind…

a receptacle for feminine products.

Cliff dive naked into a pond of vaseline.

Endless devotion to hand salve, or

the magical combination of sweat and spit.

Soft erections are useful: look at your (my)

face. Ok, great, thanks Otis. I think that’s enough.

Anything else? Visiting hours are almost up:

I (you) still have several moves on the dance floor

that would kill small children.


Impalpable ways you have of getting

behind the night, phantom toil

going on with this impossible family

crisscrossing smoke changes addresses

in foreign cities. My name shrinks

and so does yours. I see the cliff

its house sits on, thinking. A sort of devotion

you combine with useless penumbras.

So you get all emotional, soft as a box

of dust. You've had about enough.

Visit the extinct in their boxes of dust,

live out their several penumbras.

over, falling, weep, mysterious, sheer, coveting, splinter, country, limping, crutch, heritage, vanish

there is no getting over

all the toil and falling we’ve done

as a family that doesn’t weep

about mysterious crisscrossing wires,

that shrinks from the sheer cliff

of coveting and devotion

which combine to form a splinter in the memory,

a country in soft focus, where there is never enough

time for the limping who come to visit

with their one crutch or several.

must this be my heritage then,

to vanish?

Afghanistan, syphilis, face, chimneys, echo, exhaust, man, dark, alley, city, shot, rage

Get over it Afghanistan

what about syphilis?

Or this face full of falling stars

I weep for? Mysterious chimneys

keeping their secrets from me from sheer meanness?
And this echo

where I keep meeting you cloaked in the exhaust

that haunts stuff and man?

A splinter coveting it's dark for want

of country?And the alley where people

go to vanish but never leave? Limping city

your crutch got shot out from under you. Now

you have no heritage but rage.

promised, broken, motherfucker, down, worse, bullet, mute, shrunken, burn, hurts, sun, cinder

He promised to bring back small red chilies from Afghanistan.

Instead, his face was broken without rage. He brang back

Syphilis and didn’t know it: “Motherfucker”

Is how she ended every thought of him. Staring down

the alleyway, from the apartment, was worse after nightfall.

Thoughts like bullet shells: fallen, buried, forgotten,

dug up again and shot with a mute blast.

Every night the shrunken sounds of the big city

landed without echo in the alley. The slow burn off:

exhaust into haze. The stiff hurt in the suit

of the man who entered the alley before the sun,

who left in the dark, before the cinders of chimneys.

heads, wild, wasteland, severed, predatory, rain, smoldering, sun, fear, breakfast, Indian, grass

barrel of shrunken heads, more fun than

wild a little canned still

Faith only in the wasteland where nothing`s promised

and everything`s severed

predatory night in your palm you can hear the ocean in it

or rain on cinders that are never extinguished

smoldering bullet

of sun of love this life

has broken me down this fear

eats my breakfast

worse than indian burn this motherfucker hurts

be mute in mute grass in grass

sunrise, ripe, discussed, taxidermist, planet, once, predatory, melted, glazed, finally, those, flavor

You Won't Understand The Night

As sunrises have burned down our open heads for years,

nothing shapely, ripe as blazing wild flowers,

has come from the night. We have discussed pilgrimages

to wastelands, come back with severed heads for the taxidermist.

Seen the planet rotate from the inside, an axis of dissolving sand

and heat (eventually glass statues with delicate arms in protest). Once

maybe, the predatory urge to eat oneself has lived long into the day.

Or the melted gaze of a wild Indian dying in the tall grass

glazed our own souls with fear, like rain that appears without falling.

But what wild claw, or hanging ape did you take finally, with words

To the breakfast table. Those torn out buildings remain smoldering,

ready to fall with the sun into themselves. Their foundation of ash

you will taste again. But the flavor, you won’t understand the night.

should, times, island, bathing, under, told, law, beyond, sugarpie, fixed, own, catch

We should have baked the sunrise into those cupcakes,

The times were ripe, and our eyes were hungry mouthes.

Instead we discussed inert philosophies and circled our island,

We spoke of the taxidermist then saw him bathing

Out under the red planet closest to the moon.

What was truth once told dropped all its feathers

And flightless freedom pierced us with its predatory law.

Beyond our obsession we each melted alone in some lies,

glazed sugarpie, ever so glazed.

Then finally comes a time of reckoning, fixed to these broken arms.

What those holding hands in the confectionary discovered on their own:

How the catch the sunset for flavor in their cupcakes.

eye, cookies, ocean, themselves, milk, morals, waves, on, christ, vision, spilled, mine

Your eye would never look the other way or shut like a good eye should.

So you saw me gorging on too many cookies too many times.

an ocean of them, and me the island.

They were bathing themselves

in the milk lapping my shores and you next to me under parasol~you with your big dry eye and morals. You told me a story, once. And called it law. Waves of your words

rolling relentlessly on in my mind and beyond.

You're such a christ, Sugarpie.

You with the fixed big eye and tall tale vision

of your own spilled heart blood.

I catch it in my chalice and drink it as mine.

frame, bigger, phosphorescents, cliffside, flour, diamond, milked, brother, criss-crossed, everything, jacked, bolted

Otis Says:

The frame of the eye

is bigger than vision: Ocean!

Too often waves phosphoresce

themselves to the cliffside.

The flour that spilled

on the floor is forgettable: Cookies!

With diamonds for eyes

shove a hand through the fridge for the milk.

Brother of mine

criss-crossed with vice

or christ: Morals!

We are here together through everything.

Jacked up by

or bolted down.

wonder, mascot, difficult, wind, legs, glomming, natural, love, sightless, tidy, vice, valley

I wondered at the clover that made up the perimeter’d picture frame. For so long I had bought into being a mascot to the bigger limmerickers. It was a slow dab at my phosphorescents that made my sole transition less difficult. A sharp wind whisped the clover to cliffside memories and my legs went through the frame, one, then the other. And I lifted the frame to my mid-section, it glomming at the starch and flour sacks tied to my waist, like satchels. Ah! The natural agreeableness of the clover navigated its diamond form to accommodate these necessary fats. I felt it synchronize and the love milked, casked, and mammaried through my pulsing brain like ocean on sand. Sightless clover, make your way, Make Your Way Brother. A tidy memory of my billie-goat doing a hoof’d jig in the morning criss-crossed my headspace. Into vice went the clover and everything was understood. I jacked the frame thru and up, over my head, ungrasped – it bolted like a lunar module into the valley below.

terrible, angel, molt, beetles, wings, dark, vanished, masks, laundromat, flightless, lament, augury

a terrible wonder pervades us now.

our mascot is the angel. in this game

(which is the most difficult), a winner must molt

his or her wings like beetles in heat, must wind ‘round with wings and legs in a kind of dark glomming

until he or she is vanished (vani-shed)

into natural masks and ancient night.

another (easier) game is called ‘love in a laundromat.’

it is flightless, sightless, lame,

and ends with a tidy lament

about augury and vice, sung down in the valley.

boulevard, plague, bleating, friends, hard, haircuts, soiled, disown, oranges, clump, living, practice

Otis Listens to the Lament of the Augury

It is on that terrible boulevard that the cold angel will begin to molt. A plague of shiny beetles, shells of cockroaches bleating out of the wings into the dark.

Friends, when an angel leaves its light for the mouths

of the flightless, and begins its walk into hard earth,

small things, like your last haircut, will be forgotten,

your soiled suit will have vanished from the laundromat. You will be tempted to disown the masks

you hang in the hallways of your daily routine.

Look for oranges to ripen suddenly and out of season,

people's thoughts becoming trees, the tops resembling clumps of cloud and sky.

This will be your living lesson:

to practice falling upwards and for no reason.

asshole, enough, inside, swarmed, toxic, decimation, passe, still-life, poets, mess, critical, fool

christmas on a boulevard of assholes, a plague

of them, which is to say: enough.

go inside a cafe to escape their bleating,

and swarm there with your new toxic friends

who are calling for the decimation of boulevards

under passe haircuts, above soiled hearts

they would rather disown.

on the wall hangs a still-life of oranges and fish.

this clump of poets

will make a gorgeous mess out of anything.

making something out of anything is of critical importance, fool, you who have been living too long without practice.

Gallery of Distinguished Otises

Otis Nebula started out as a writing prompt among a group of writers. This page showcases some of those early experiments. When asked to define the prompt, one of its originators recently said:

“The idea for the Otis prompt appeared suddenly. It came from where ideas come from. Nothing happened. I'm glad. It's very relaxing. One thing I like about the prompt is it pries me away from words I may have fetishized. The lines grow out of the words and it's not so personal or moody. There's always the person haunting the process, standing at the crossroads, but that person is a stranger, and letting the words lead de-centers the person so I can recognize them. The language goes on talking to itself through the words without me making many or any self conscious choices. I think working with this prompt has changed how I understand writing a lot, made it more about process, and less personal. It's like half automatic writing. And that's a really interesting zone, half acting and half acted upon, without a compulsion to distinguish. And I like the social possibilities of the prompt. To me, that's how emergence works, limitless mutuality. It helps destroy the poem as an alienated and alienating fetishized commodity, and restores some of its open social potential.”

Here are the rules:

1) One writer gives twelve “seed” words to another writer.

2) This writer writes twelve lines, each line incorporating one seed word. Normally this takes the form of poetry, but it could also be prose. 

3) The words are used in the order in which they are given.

4) Only one word is used per line.

5) The word may appear anywhere in the line but the form of the word cannot be altered. 

6) When the otis is complete, the writer selects twelve new seed words from their otis and gives them to the next Otis. (Once the process is underway both the piece and person writing it are referred to as “Otis.” It just happens.)