Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Nuts and Washers

I would tell you what
I'm thinking about but I can't.
Except perhaps in pieces--
debris arriving on shore,
nothing about how the flow
brought it. Here's a piece:
"You can use a nut as a
washer but not a washer as a nut."
I thought something similar
to this (the shape of language
is not the exact shape of thought)
while the thought factory roared
in the background.

It seems much easier to invent
what I'm thinking or give
approximations, tailor them
to conventions of discourse,
and keep moving through life,
remaining aloof from quests,
prophecy, and other forms of
certainty. What do you think?


hans ostrom 2018

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Off Your Coast

It looks like I'm just off your coast,
cold in a boat. A night sea's no fun.
A buoy bobs like a clown's head.
Let me into your harbor, please,

not because I imagine I love you
but because I'm cold and you
are warm. Simple as that.
Your lighthouse seems delighted

to see me. I'm turning my back
on it now and rowing. I don't
know if you'll be on the beach.
I know how I'll fee if you are.



hans ostrom 2018

Remember: It's About Adaptability

A gull with a fish in its mouth
flies low. A steller's jay cackles
maniacally as it dives toward a
task. Comes a couple of woos
like wind through a hole in a wall:
a dove. Crows shift their feet
on a street corner as if considering
a labor strike, a starling
gossips at the top of a pole,
and a hummingbird, tough
as a boot, not cute, pierces
awareness. All of this within
an hour's time. Birds seem
to own this place, mortgage
free, indefinitely. They're better
at Earth-living than we.


hans ostrom 2018

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Train Station, Milano

Because you're exhausted,
not to mention privileged,
you rest in Milano's main station
and let it be a buffering space
between you and America's
grotesqueries. You wonder if
anyone uses the word grotesqueries
anymore. Prob'ly not. You can't deny
the passport in your pocket.

You prefer the station cafe,
which pigeons frequent. They
thrust their monocled eyes
into the mix, use crumbs
as dice, and gamble away
their past with glee. Their
conversations distill many
throated percolations. Same
goes for the people.

Words from many human
languages try the air. Your
wish not to hear American
English is granted. People
in the station are happy
to see each other, their
laughter isn't cruel, and
no one's belligerent. It
seems miraculous.



hans ostrom 2018

Saxophone Sunset

(Ben Webster, "That's All")


Plump notes, tenor sax. Ripe
peaches, warm fuzz exteriorily
wry. Now

things must move uptown.
Phrases must front style.

Though even among neon
and hard traffic & hard lives
they do not lose
their memory of sunset.

Sweet, tart, sad, not bitter,
that's all.



hans ostrom 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Take Him In

Madame, take him in.
He's like an old dog.
Give him some water,
scratch behind his ears
(so to speak), and he'll be
loyally enamored,
or is already. You could
probably use the company.

He doesn't talk much,
and he'll listen all night.
After you fall asleep,
he'll read, or daydream
at the wrong hour.

Later, give him some food
or ask him to bring you some.
Give him something
to bark at on your behalf.
Call him whatever
you like when you
invite him to leave.
Names are as common
as fleas, and he didn't
name himself & so has
no investment in the thing.

You don't have to keep him--
around or otherwise. Merely
take him in, madame.



hans ostrom 2018

Leopard Slug

Why hadn't you seen that kind of slug
before?  Limus Maximus. Irresponsible
of you, really. Nutmeg
speckles on a pond-gray body that looks like
a liquid bean pod. Of course
there were the pale, knobbed antennae
for listening to quick
tunes on a slug radio.

Across an expanse of concrete
moved the mollusk, not a crawl
but patient glide. You didn't have
all day to watch it and anyway
too much slug observation
creates a strange pathetic mood.


hans ostrom 2018

Opera Operative

An operative at an opera
ogles the audience,
lets singing sluice her
professional suspicion.

The operative serves
no cause, only fulfills
assignments, and laughs
at the news.

The opera is a tragedy
apparently--like civilization,
thinks the operative, who
has seen what needed

to be seen, so that the mission
may now blossom like an aria.



hans ostrom 2018

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Jury Duty


We passed through voi dir,
my dear, were made peers
of a rococo realm, with its
perched presider and purchased
persuaders.  We nodded at passing
evidence, became a dozen guilty
buzzards asked to shadow
a creature offered on an altar
called The People. We heard

arguments open and close
like shutters banging in the wind.
In a room, our opinions
accumulated like snow.  In that
drift was buried our decision,
which we seized.  The facts had
whispered to us, “He is guilty.”
We listened to them and repeated
what they said.  The defendant

bowed his head.  Shadows
of our doubt followed us outside,
where, greasy-winged, we joined
The People leading perfectly
legal lives.


hans ostrom 2014/2018



Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Eve's Note to Adam

Thank you for the box
of twigs. How did you come to think
to save them? And the pebbles, too.
Pebbles and twigs, apples
and figs, ah what a summer it was
even though we got evicted.



hans ostrom 2018

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Mouse of Contrition

The mouse of contrition
withdraws to its nest.
I am sorry, I am sorry, says
the mouse. For what, I can't
remember, but I do apologize. 

Wise, the mouse enjoys sleep
more than guilt, and so
in the warm embrace of old
newsprint chewed, it dozes
but doesn't stop the quivering
of its nose, which is agnostic.


hans ostrom 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Lizard and Person

A lizard springs out of always and scurries
perpendicular to level across a hot face
of tan granite. Stops. Stares at a person
who stares back with perception larded
with knowledge, free association,
and mind's always frenzied business.

The lizard focuses, grins thinly, sprints
into a crack between boulders, and settles
into shadow to digest a fly. The person's
mind is beset by why.


hans ostrom 2018

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Swatting the Rumor

A rumor made the rounds,
gliding slowly like a fat skurzing
fly. Before peaking, my attention
got briefly piqued. I lost interest
and swatted down the rumor.
After wiggling its dirty legs,
it died on its back.


hans ostrom 2018