Friday, January 23, 2015

"How You Represent Yourselves"

...And here they had thought all along
that what they must not try to represent
was God. No images of God!
they told each other in many
languages, from many faiths
and points of earthly view.

It turns out that God
(named differently by different
faiths) later told them
in a Godly language, Go ahead
and try to image me. I can
be God right in front of you
all day long, and night, and you'll
never no not ever image me

And God added, for God can
and will add, I have seen
what you produce, all that crap,
and what bothers me is how
you represent yourselves.
Yourselves you do not represent
imaginatively. And you never
no not ever seem to weary
of killing each other,
mechanically, habitually,
routinely. Killing is
a representation, apparently,
of what and whom you aspire to me.

God suggested, You must ask
yourselves what is wrong
with you; ask continually.
Do not ask me. Represent yourselves
more imaginatively.

hans ostrom 2015

Friday, January 16, 2015


To be seen
was to be judged.
To be heard
was to be judged.
To be silent
was to be judged--

judged for seeming
to withdraw from judging.
Thus silence seemed preferable.

To try to perform any task
was to be judged.
To prefer not to try
was to be judged and
to be forced
to try, then judged.

To conform was to be judged.
Not to conform, the same.

Every so often in this climate
thick with judgment, one
of the judges might throw
some praise your way, grudgingly,
as if it were a bone to a dog.

To read was to be judged but not
effectively, for they knew not what
exactly to judge you for, quite.

Thus reading became a pleasurable,
soft fortress. To write

was to have the written judged.
Worth the risk.

Just to be and to try to fill out
your personhood was to be judged.

They taught you how to judge
yourself: oppression, swallowed
and digested.

The energy they spent on judging
and you spent reacting to and evading
judgment: incalcuable; to be judged
a misappropriation.

hans ostrom 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Every Flutist"

Every flutist
owns a cloud
and keeps it tethered
to a chair
with an invisible
strand of hair.

Every flutist
hides a whisper
in the basement
of a melody
and a sigh
in the cambrium
of a tree.

Every flutist
a prescription
on the air
with a certain
enigmatic flair.

Hans Ostrom 2015

"Bookstore on Maui"

If you'd prefer to paw
through and gaze at used books
when you're on Maui, drive
or cycle past the smoke-stacks
of the sugar-plant between
cane-fields. On a wire

above a frail, dignified
wooden church, a night heron
in daylight may be studying
the water in the irrigation ditch.

Further on down the road,
in an old house belonging to
the Maui Friends of the Library,
you'll meet a modest, musty
buffet of books, 25 cents
a piece. Yes, there was a
church, without a steeple,
and here are the books.
Where are the people?

They're working, of course.
That sugar-factory, e.g.
Others are on beaches
and in bars, in shops and
cars. They're in the swelling,
lengthening anacondominiums,
eaters of capital, another
invasive species. And

people are also home in studio
apartments and tired bungalows,
recovering from double-shifts
in which, in some capacity,
they served touristic whims.

The books are on vacation,
away from the people. The shelves
are a residential hotel for words.
You stop by to say hello.

Hans Ostrom 2015

"Recent Storms"

The man in Maui said the recent storms
had ripped away sand and shortened beaches.
We were looking at one of the beaches.
It was narrow all right.

In what's called the distance, a humpback
whale lifted itself up, curved, went
back under, flipping its tail
in so doing: a thick, black Y.

Not incidentally at all,
a minah bird hopped onto grass
carrying a dead dragon fly.
The bird swallowed it,

taking the bulbous head first.
It stretched tall to get it all
down the pipe and expressed
liquid defecation in a quick

Latinate stream onto green.
We live inside a multitude
of dynamic systems, the man
said. He was homeless, and two

security-guards eyed him, us. That
we do, sir, I said. And
I gave him a fiver for his
journey, and everything changes form.

Hans Ostrom 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"Eagle Musings"

That eagle likes to sit on wood,
seize it with his bladed fists.
Rotting meat's preferable to him;
it takes less tearing, saves wear

on his old yellow beak. His
eyesight's fine. He likes to read
the waters and the fields,
great stories in which food moves.

When snow comes there's not much to do
but remember and, occasionally, shriek.

hans ostrom 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

"His Locomotive"

His locomotive was powered by
Yeah, his locomotive was powered by
He hauled that erratic freight across
a mighty muddy plain.

hans ostrom 2015

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Poet's Musings: Happy New Year From Emily and Elvis

Poet's Musings: Happy New Year From Emily and Elvis: Karl Shapiro published an essay called "The Career of the Poem." I haven't read it in ages, but I recall that, in part, it c...

from Auden's "New Year Letter"

A brief selection read aloud from W.H. Auden's long poem, "New Year Letter" (1940):