imaginary lakes & the houses near them

by Timothy Otte

more than sex or money
    mostly what I want is stillness

I could give up almost anything
    —just give me an hour
every morning with a cup of coffee
    & the loons

    calling through fog
over smooth water


let the city remain where it is
    small & far off

    most days I am not myself
other days I wake & sleep
    with the sun

I’ll leave my body here
    encased in concrete
if my spirit can walk
    through the meadow
    through the reeds


more than knowledge & power
    what I want is rain felting
the surface of the lake

keep your large rooms
keep the bars & tall buildings

    give me the whole sky
& hands to hold it

I’ll drink the iron-flavored
    well water
whiskey in winter

gin in summer


this is sentimental

    so be it
        —this is sentimental


    if I had known how easy
        contentment could be
    I wouldn’t have wasted my life

in these ways

I might simply have dug a hole
    & called it home
        hollowed a dead tree

    to fill with chimes

their song coloring the edges
    of winter

    stillness is a sort of wisdom
        wisdom is knowing nothing
is ever still or still for long

Timothy Otte’s poems have appeared, or are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Fence, Sixth Finch, SAND Journal, Structo, and elsewhere. My book reviews have appeared on LitHub, the Colorado Review, and in the Poetry Project Newsletter. Timothy is from and lives in Minneapolis, where he works at Coffee House Press, but he also keeps a home on the internet: