In Captivity

The receptionist alternates placing the lobby big-screen TV on different animal cams to calm the nerves of the over-caffeinated office. She got her degree in biology, spending a year in the Amazon studying how to dodge her professor’s advances. The fish cascade in a wash of colors, reminiscent of the streaks in support staff hair and the tennis shoes of executives trying to be cool. She learned to sleep with the buzz of mosquitos slipping through nets and wake before dawn in search of a secret formula called life. The pandas play on-screen in kennels with a plastic ball and the cat cam captures a kaleidoscope of deferred anger. She posts her resumes at universities but cannot live on the pay. Co-workers hatch plans to escape in the lunch room while bear claws spear fish on some distant island preserve. She is warning them, of course, that they are all in captivity from within the walls, the whimpers of lost dreams replaced by workplace espresso machines, the invisible fences surrounding the future, and the former expanses of the world captured in a cup.


Martin Ott is the author of six books of poetry and fiction, including Underdays, Sandeen Prize winner, University of Notre Dame Press, and Interrogations, Fomite Press. Website: Twitter: @ottpops Blog:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>