Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Elegy for Richard Hugo

Elegy for Richard Hugo


You said to wait ten years before
trying to write an elegy about someone
who just died. I waited more than three times
that. No doubt it's not enough.

So, something here about a lake's face
changing--ripple, riffle, wrinkle; you
said never use semicolons. (I’m kidding
a kidder.) "Be glad to fish
with you sometime," you wrote in

in the one letter to me, "but I warn you,
I'm strictly a bait fisherman.” If that
were on Twitter now, I'd favorite (a verb, sir)
it and tweet back, No worries. You
haven't missed much. Let's say

a man sits on a rock. He's connected
to a lake, call it Saw Lake, by a fishing
line. He's not really waiting for anything.
He’s drinking beer. A hit, a strike, would be fine,
a rousing thing. Just over the ridge
doesn't lie a town. That's why

nobody's heard of it. I will say
women and men who work at the factory
there return from a women's softball
game, someone won, who cares. Now
everybody will wash their hair, their bodies,
put on clean jeans, heave on the nice
boots, and go out and dance and drink
and kiss and hug and fight. The

man on the rock has seen the rusted
iron roofs of just that town. He
wonders if he should call them rooves.
The lake tugs him away from words

but not for long. "There you go," he says.

Hans Ostrom copyright 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Commercials: adjectives packaged
as nouns, petty crimes committed
against ears and eyes, sometimes
full-on felony assaults paid for
by deepest vaults.

The White Supremacist cable
not-news shows raise volume
high, highest for commercials,
concussing brains to soften them up
for propaganda. Don't buy. Don't buy.

hans ostrom 2016

You Haven't Earned a Prize

When you're White, and you learn
things and as they say get your
consciousness raised enough
by the jack called the-way-things-are-
and-have-always-been, you end up
losing friends and not really wanting
to hang around many White folks
much because disgust and rage
are exhausting.

If your view gets raised a little more,
you won't feel sorry for yourself,
you'll understand, why Black folks
really don't want to hang around you,
whether it's personal or not.

It's not like you're awareness
is anything more than the minimal
thing to achieve, and it's not like
you've somehow earned the prize
of their company.  Solitude

and isolation, boo-hoo, tough shit.
Your modest discomfort doesn't
even register on the scale of pain
to which the colonies and the United States
dedicated and still dedicate themselves.
You've probably heard the saying:
Many White people fear a race war;
most Black people, like their forebears,
continue to try to survive in one.

hans ostrom 2016

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Adam's Song

I'm eating dried figs,
am very depressed.
I'm totally naked but
feel like I'm dressed.

There's no one to compare
Eve to. She's nice.
Today I named some little
creatures "mice."

Sometimes my body changes
when I see Eve.
When she touches the change
I never want to leave.

I have this feeling something
bad will happen soon.
I don't know why.
I asked the moon.

The moon talks to me in ways
the sun will not.
The moon is very cool and
the color of my snot.

The moon said, "Things happen,
things change.
And God may disarrange what
God arranged."

I am Adam. This is
my own weird song.
If you're passing through
Eden, sing along.

hans ostrom 2016

I Was Asked to Pass This Along

Poetry's using language
in unofficial ways, including
re-purposing official language.

Sometimes poetry bosses
and poetics conglomerates
make their poetry way official.

They try, anyway. When this
happens, it should signal to poets
to write otherwise. Poetry

is otherwise. It's an attitude
toward language and authority
as much as anything else.

Anyway, someone asked me
to pass these notes along. To
whom? Not sure. Goodbye.

hans ostrom 2016

New Day 3.0

Reset the day. Use the control panel
Or download a new day. Run as
administrator. Scan for viruses--
narcissism, bigotry, willful ignorance.
You can probably get a free night
with any day you download.
Check your memory. Can it handle
a new day? Having problems with
the day software? Eh, we don't
handle that. Try contacting other users.

hans ostrom 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Castle

I built you a castle, using a castle kit. I
staffed it with people who'd worked
in a castle before, castlexperts.

I lived there a while to see what it
was like. The staff were rude. The
British use the plural "were" with "staff."

Anyway, I let the staff go, which is
castle-speak for firing them. I live
alone in the castle now.

I like doing so rather excessively.
I couldn't bear to live in it with
someone else, even you.

So I'm going to move out
and give you the castle. Americans
use "gift" as a verb. Life is a process.

hans ostrom 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

Four Questions About the Future

How sophisticated does any
creature's mind have to be
to conceive of Future? Was
there an evolutionary ad-
vantage to imagining Future
and oneself in it? When
they were hiding from God
in the brush after complications
arose, how did Eve and Adam
discuss Future? What are you
going to do tomorrow?

hans ostrom 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Lot's wife, unnamed in the Bible,
at long last unsalted, has her say:

"I looked back. It's a human
response, a habit not without
practical merit I got salted
because of some arbitrary,
impractical order, and
without naming me they
named a stone pillar after me.

I'm a mother. You don't think
I knew we had to leave the city?
Who do you think got the kids
ready and packed? Not Lot.

For Christ's sake (thinking
prospectively), let's have less
drama, catastrophe, and
excessive, gratuitous extortion
and a lot more common sense.

You need to salt a fleeing woman
to get your goddamned point
across.  What was your point?
Yeah, I know what the write-up
says. I'm talking about for real.
Admit it. You over-reacted."

hans ostrom 2016

Park and Fly

At the place with the sign that read
"PARK AND FLY" people were parking
their cars, getting out, and flying.

A lot of them roosted in trees
nearby. Up there they tore through
their baggage and briefcases,

grabbing paper, pencils, and wires
I guess to build nests with. Some
people perched on roofs

and huddled shoulder to shoulder,
cheeping or cooing. I think they
just wanted to get away from their

jobs kids pets companions husbands
wives partners televisions poverty
depression phones & asexual routines.

Anyway it was quite a thing, and it
made for an awful commute,
selfish of them really.

hans ostrom 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

Nutritious, Too

It was a little bistro, as I recall, located
somewhere between Sierra City, California,
and Istanbul. "Tabula Rasa" was the name.
Minimalist dining. Never to be found using
GPS. Somehow they block the signal.

Minimalist dining. No decorations.
Simple wooden tables. Two kinds of soup,
one kind of bread, olive oil. One type
of salad, one entree. No specials.
Water and/or vodka. Table white, table red.

Servers wore white aprons and did
not reveal their names.  They opened
the conversation with philosophical
questions, such as, "Is language
a medium of deception?" (I think
I answered, "It depends." )

Ten different desserts, three ports,
several brandies and scotches.
Absinthe. It kind of sneaks up on you,
a place like that. Impressions are made
on your senses. Things about a bistro
of this nature catch in memory's webbing.

Yeah, and after the kitchen closed,
the dancers came out. The lighting
changed.  Tables disappeared. Short
surrealist films appeared on the walls.
I think of it now as a transformative
dining experience.

hans ostrom 2016