The Coast Starlight

Friday, October 21, 2016

Ballpark Figures


He or she has just discovered the North Pole
and, behind the back, holds a snowball,
glowering down at the world.


The amalgam.
Body, a badger's.
Face, a prisoner's.
Legs, a knight's.
One arm, a deaf person's.
The other arm, a crab's.


An angry parent
yelling at the kids,
who just want to play.


Three deer graze in a meadow.
A shot rings out.
They raise their heads.
They're on the move.

First Base:

A hometown kid.
Rarely leaves the house
but entertains a lot.


A rookery.
One bird leaves.
The others rearrange themselves.


Wildflowers on a terraced slope.
Blotches of paint.
A chorus of bees.

Third Base:

This one guards a thin white line.
An accountant.
Foul or fair. Profit or loss.

Second Base:

The bull charges.
The bullfighter whirls and leaps.


Holds dual citizenship.
Travels a lot.
Rents, doesn't own.
Not a joiner.


An evangelist.

Base Coaches:

Performance artists,
gossips, and hired applauders.

Pitching Coach:

A lachrymose intermediary.


When they arise from the basement,
it means trouble has come.
An adult forced to wear children's clothes.


An ant with vocal chords,
   a singing ant.
A book with feathers,
  a bird book.
A crocodile with goose-bumps,
  a cold croc.
A drill without bits,
  an ornamental drill.
An elephant with shoes,
 a shod god.
A farmer in bed,
  a tired farmer.
A ghost with a cold,
  a coughing ghost.
A hat on a bench,
  a lost hat.
An island with a flag,
  a patriotic island.
A jar with a label,
  a designated jar.
A knee in motion,
  a kinetic knee.
A lion with a tail,
  a regulation lion.
A map in a drawer,
  a safe map.
A nail in a cross,
  an allusive nail.
An octopus with a pocket watch,
  a promptopus.
A pear with a stem,
  a picked pear.
A quail on a rock,
  a standing quail.
A rock in an airplane,
  a flying rock.
A salmon with a suitcase,
  a traveling salmon.
A tree on fire,
  an illuminating tree.
An uncle with a nephew,
  a legit uncle.
A violin in a refrigerator,
  a chilled fiddle.
A woman with a woman,
  two women.
A xylophone in a library,
  a dangerous xylophone.
A yam in a market,
  an available yam.
A zoo with a dinosaur,
  a zoo you never knew.

hans ostrom 2016

Ego Insurance

Next time, I'll buy insurance
for my ego. Then if it should
be crushed in a ruinous affair
or cracked in aspirational failure,

the Insurer will present me
with compensation--
perhaps a cup of Swedish coffee,
a kind word, or a small award:

Totally Insignificant Person of the Week.

hans ostrom 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Note to Shelf

Note to shelf:
keep up the good books.
I like their looks,
if I do so say myself.

hans ostrom 2016

What They Took Out and Kept In

They took the tele out phone
and the roll out of rock, replacing
it with alt, which they also added
to Control + Delete so a PC or
a Mac could get back on its feet.

They done took the paper out
of news and ripped the promise
out of compromise. Yep, they kept
race in political races because
of their bad White habits.

They kept the greed in agreed.
I wish they'd take the they
out of they and replace it
with we, but I just don't see
that happening real soon.

hans ostrom 2016

Poem for Strings and Saxophone

Yes, saw those attached stretched tendons. Make 'em yowl,
make 'em bleat, make them sweet. For you know
the playing is work: how many muscles in the hands,
wrists, back, and neck? How much instant discernment
in memory, eyesight, and ear-hearing? Now

your neurotransmitters need a break, so let
a saxophone stride in wearing a gold suit,
black shirt, and Falun red tie. Yes, please,
let the horn raise the subject of a steak-think
fold of cash caught in a worn money-clip.

Bring them together now, brass
and class, robust and refined, all
intertwined.  The music ought
to be serious, funny, subtle, and crude
like something from that Satie dude.

hans ostrom 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

Transformation: Tourist

He arrived by phone
at is destination
and immediately began
slamming into local
culture.  He attached
guide books to his torso
to create armor. Soon

he settled into doing
the things he did back
home, except he was
doing them in wherever
he was which was
"a land of contrasts."

Otherwise, he bought
things, threw things
away, kept the drapes
closed, sweated a lot,
and sank into depression.
Fascinating trip.

hans ostrom 2016

Transformation: Accountant

At the accountant's, I enter
a small room stacked with numbers.
It's a math cupboard. An assistant

deducts me from this box
to escort me to an office
where the desk is as sleek

as a panther. Someone
behind it plays a sonata
on an abacus. She wears

a tailored gray suit
with a fringe of bumble bee
fur. When the music 

of calculation ends, she says,
"Repeat after me: I owe,
and I don't owe."  "I

oh, and I don't oh,"
I say, adding, "may I pay
you in dreams?"  She says no.

hans ostrom 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Transformation: Sea Creature

When I become a sea creature,
I become larger than I already am.
I am alone and wet. I breathe water
and don't drown. I talk into it,
the water, and listen to myself.

I can't see well far but can see
clearly on both sides of me.

Eat, swim, eliminate. Catch
a show of iridescent fish.

Sometimes I lie down,
moving with, against,
and inside sleep, which
is like the sea except
inside of me.

hans ostrom 2016

See also "Sea Monster"

Monday, October 3, 2016

Particular Thief

"With more data, suspected new particle vanishes." Science News, 3 September 2016, p. 13

If scientists had long suspected
the particle, why didn't they take
more precautions? They left more
data in plain sight. The particle
vanished, taking data with it.

This wasn't a case of quantum
hiding, a small physics joke,
or a Schrödinger shuffle. No.
This was theft. Obviously,

the particle thought more data
would reveal too much about
its identity. What exactly
was it trying to keep secret?
Perhaps crimes against
other particles. Maybe a particularly
unsavory past. Hard to say.

hans ostrom 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

Transformation: Boss

When I become a boss, I suffer
loss of identity.  Blood pressure up,
humility suppressed. When I delegate
and said delegatees don't follow through,
what do I do?  I do the work myself,
I will not fire, I will not plead. I
tempt myself to put up a sign that reads
"Dear Everyone: Do your fucking job.
Thanks! --The Boss." I hate
that they hate me as they must
when I'm just a boss. So I stage

a coup-de-mois, step down, get out,
and return to my back-bench, edge-
of-circle, agitating ways. My news
is old: anti-authoritarians ought not
to boss. Shame on them for making
me one, shame on me for grabbing
that seductive baton.

hans ostrom 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Grendel's Agent

My client's one of the
earliest antagonists
to show up in Western
Lit., and you're offering
scraps? How dare you
low-ball a bankable,
A-List monster! Plus,
I can get you the Mother
and B-Wulf!

hans ostrom 2016