Saturday, January 5, 2019

At the End of an Old Year in Pacifica

    (New Year's Eve, 2018, Pacifica)

As the people
in the loud house
toast something
or other, a dog
stands among them,
eager to find
actionable meaning
in a human sound
or gesture. The
people know what
many words and gestures
mean, and this creates
a burden the dog
will never know.
All gathered are
mammals on the edge of
a coast. In its way
that is something to toast.

hans ostrom 2019


Pavement is silence.
Rain is noise. Air's
a mystery filled
with solutions.
Trees, an anguish;
factories, a
disappointment. I
have heard the music
that results from
your playing. It is
less interesting than
you are, but I don't
blame it.

hans ostrom 2019

Unhappy Meal

The soup is thin
and dejected. I console
it while ladling.
The bread is dry, as
rigid as a hateful pastor.
I introduce the bread
top the soup and it
softens. The wine's eyes
are bright with tears.
It missed vineyard
sunshine. I sip it gently.

This is sustenance. I am
grateful for it but
cannot deny it
is a meal in mourning.
Therefore I finish
and leap up, kind of.
I flee in search of
rich desserts or a
witty woman in a red
dress or both.

hans ostrom 2019

Thursday, December 20, 2018

American Product

The nihilionnaire American
president swells like a boil
full of white-supremacist pus.
His central capacity
is rage, which no amount
of hatred and greed
can dilute. He is an American
product, promoted and sold
and deadly.

hans ostrom 2018


Pavement is silence
and rain is noise.
Air is a mystery
filled with solutions.
Trees are anguish;
factories, disappointment.
I've heard the music
that results from your playing.
It is less interesting than
you, and who can blame it?

hans ostrom 2018

Unhappy Meal

The soup is thin
and dejected. I console it
while spooning it up.

The bread is dry
and rigid like an
angry pastor.

I introduce it
to the soup,
baptizing it,

and it softens.
The wine's eyes
are bright with tears.

It misses sunshine.
I sip it gently.
This food is sustenance,

I must not complain.
But I cannot deny
that this meal

is in mourning. So
I leap up, kind of.
I flee in search

of a rich dessert
or a witty woman in
a red dress, or both.

hans ostrom 2018

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Winter Work

I got used to working most Decembers.
Shoveling snow. Washing pots.
Pounding nails as a carpenter's laborer
between semesters. Once we framed a house,
in sparkling sub-zero weather, High Sierra.
It was oddly exhilarating, though after one shift
I slept so deeply before supper, I
woke up stupefied thinking it was morning.

Then came decades of reading
final essays written by exhausted
college students. Ritual academic
labor, not hard work but grinding still.

This year I'll stumble around
in garden beds, grabbing dead
soggy stalks and seizing final
weeds. Not labor but gesture
of toil, enough to pump cold,
rinsed air into old lungs
and get me feeling sympathetic
to all the people who have
to work shit jobs in the cold
just to get by.

hans ostrom 2018

Loyalty and Sincere Is Me: A Spam Poem

(found poem)

i'm Rose a
single lady positive thinking,
good heart and kindness,
easy going and playful
person, Honest,
loyalty and sincere is Me,
I hate lie and cheat, looking
for nice person for
friendship Take
care Rose.

hans ostrom 2018

Spring in November

November day, Pacific Northwest--
and Spring came back. It sobbed
thunderstorms, slammed sunlight
into steel clouds, lobbed lightning,
and lit up the sky at dusk like Magritte.

From dark roadways and dim ground,
we may have smiled. Hard to tell
in the Age of the Grimace. Anyway,
Spring knocked a lamp over as it stumbled
back into seasonal order. Across
a muddy field, December
stared like a weary wolf.

hans ostrom 2018

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Rack of Seasons

What a rack of seasons
that was. In January
I fell backward into snow
and was almost buried. Noise
left the world. Someone
pulled me up and tossed
me into Summer, where I
heard a rattlesnake,
broke boulders with
a sledgehammer for minimal
wage, and drank cheap wine,

which tipped me over onto
Spring, where I caught a cold,
grew anxious, and hoarded
books, which opened up
into October, where stacked
the last haul of firewood--
dry oak from dead trees.
Acorns pebbled the ground
and the North Wind
began to say No.

hans ostrom 2018

Music of Our Days

Behind the high green
muscular hedge (laurel),
a tall black Doberman
holds his howl mournfully.

He hears the red sound
of sirens. It hurts and disturbs
him. Self-soothing, he howls
again but at the end

of this extended note, he
moves the moan up
a half-note. The sound
is unexpected, artistic.

He is called Caesar, this
tall sad dog. Praise him.

hans ostrom 2018

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Matter with Matter

It rolls on. It
rolls over itself as it
rolls through itself.

How could our relationship
to it--matter--be anything
but terrifying?

Terror may be
the original spark
of myth, ideology,

religion: To explain
elaborately so
as to defend ourselves.

Christ, you think
(if you think Christ),
I'm already dead. 

hans ostrom 2018

The Sea Has Its Say

Seas always have their say.
Winds and rivers, too.
They're preparing new things
to tell us, even as
we think we've heard it all.

hans ostrom 2018