Martin Ott
Learning The Tango


The heart is a muscle, a mantra,
an ideal, an excuse. Its life is

as short as the universe: contracting
expanding, exploding, filled with joy.

The thump-thump of the heart
has been credited with many things:

the blues/rock beat, binary code,
knock-knock jokes, two people

playing each other like drums
to the rhythm of moon and sun.

The heart beats faster when we climb
a stairmaster, make love, smoke

cigarettes, inject needle drugs, have
nightmares, watch the person we love

enter our lives. An elephant’s heart
beats more slowly, a field mouse faster,

each a grain of sand, a universe. Time
means everything and nothing to the heart.

For example, an artificial heart could be
programmed to sing karaoke, perform

ventriloquist acts with the brain, send
a river of blood to the groin. Perhaps this

already occurs and we just don’t know
the truth of the heart, the truth of another

person, the truth of the universe pulsing
to an indescribable beat, life, death, we.