Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Gun in the Sky

There's a big gun in the sky
hanging over the nation.

If the nation runs,
the gun will shoot it.
If the nation doesn't run,
the gun will shoot it.

The nation hasn't been
in this situation before.

It has only heard about such
an awful thing--and scoffed at it.

Now the nation is scared. Shaking.
Pleading. Panicked.

There's a big gun in the sky
pointed down at the nation.

The gun doesn't see the nation
as human. It sees it
as an awful thing. The gun
doesn't have a conscience.

After the gun shoots the nation
and the nation starts to die,
the gun will make a joke.


hans ostrom 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mind the Mind

Mind moves from manzanita
to overpopulation to
the Dreyfus Case to
accident of birth to
the poetry of Wang Wei
to heartburn to itch to
American's death-cult of racism.

Parts of mind watch other parts.
They correspond. They feud.

Why mind, why this mind, why
this mind works this way,
why questions?

are questions mind has,
moves toward, around, with.

Oh, manzanita, whispers mind,
ah accident of birth, and ohhhhhhhh,
America


hans ostrom 2015



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chicken-Killing Algorithm

1. Hear a father say, "The chickens aren't producing."
2. Surmise.
3. Look not forward to killing chickens.
4. Enter the chicken house.
5. Take a hen out of the chicken house.
6. Repeat 5.
7. Watch a father with a hatchet decapitate a chicken.
8. Watch headless chickens stride boldly, spurting blood from open necks.
9. Recoil mentally.
10. Dip chicken carcasses in hot water.
11. Inhale overwhelming wet-feather smell.
12. Pick feathers out of carcasses.
13. Become discouraged and bored.
11. Look at trees and sky.
12. Hear a father's curse-filled exhortations.
13. Surmise.
14. Continue picking feathers from carcasses until all carcasses are bald.
15. Think in terms of escape.
16. Look forward to escape.
17. Escape.


hans ostrom 2015






Quiet Whiteness



(Walter Scott, South Carolina, and uncounted others)


If you've ever asked yourself
what we did to deserve these
depraved politicians of ours,
you may have considered
genocide of the indigenous
people, slavery, Northern investment
in slavery, Jim Crow, Northern
acceptance of Jim Crow, lynching,
child labor, eugenics,
imperial lust, monopolies,
Chinese expulsion, Japanese
internment, anti-Semitism,
McCarthyism, the blasting
air, land, water, and people.
We've done everything to deserve
the depraved, you might have thought
in a moment of clarity, or
in a moment of despair (same
difference?)

White supremacy remains robust,
is the truth. Remains robust
because of quiet whiteness:
the indifference, the privileged
numbness, of whites who know
better but cast out the knowledge
because it asks too much.
The smug passivity
of whites who won't educate
themselves. The endless string
of lame excuses, casuistry,
and weaselly rationales.

Quite whiteness likes these
politicians. Otherwise,
they would be intolerable
in 2015. So much would be
intolerable, including
quiet whiteness itself.

If you've ever asked yourself
when the white choruses will
stand up and sing, stand up and
shout, get up and make damn sure
the depravity's demolished,
maybe in a moment of clear
despair the word
(printed in white against
a black background) "NEVER,"
came to mind.


hans ostrom 2015



Monday, April 6, 2015

The Old Cloud Con

A "magician" came to town.
He explained what information was--
different, he said, from our tools,
animals, and plants. He asked

where we dept our information.
The usual places, we said:
Boxes, pockets, minds.
Oh, he said, give it to me,

and for a fee, I'll keep it
in a cloud for you!
In a cloud? we asked.
Yes, in a cloud, he said,

but for a fee! We then
kept the "magician" under
guard for a while after
that exchange because

he was so obviously a
scoundrel. Soon we let
him go, unharmed.
We gave him information

about where to travel
from here and
options for
a new career.


hans ostrom 2015


Kettle of Ma & Pa

Mother, gather. Father,
proffer. Mother, other.
Father, farther. Mother,
smother. Father, wrather.


Mother, feather. Father,
weather. Mother, mystery.
Father, factory. Mother,
whisper woe, Mother

know oh no. Father,
falter slow, Father
go gone. Ma, Pa,
dead, dust, as they

must, as we too must
just so very soon. And
yes, yes, the moon here
from the first, round & round.


hans ostrom 2015


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Trinity in Your Hands

Believers, bow your heads.
Worship your phone. It is all things.
Its icons bind you
to the holy trinity
of Telecommunications, Infotainment,
and Consumption.

Accept the liturgy of apps,
the dogma of fake urgency.

Believers, tap your loving phone
with humble thumbs and fingers.
Stream and text. Forward and purchase.
Your phone will go with you
where you go, amen.


hans ostrom 2015




Pavlovian Sympony

In the Pavlovian Symphony in E minor,
cello, piano, tuba, clarinet, and howls
from the conductor evoke many dogs
barking.

Then the conductor takes the baton
in his teeth and runs with it
among audience members,
who pet him. Before

the third movement begins,
he is leashed by the first-chair
violinist and led back
to his marked spot.

Implicitly, the Pavlovian
Symphony urges listeners
to respond to their conditioning,
scratch themselves, chafe
against their finery,
and slobber joyously.

Bravo, brava, bravissimo!

hans ostrom 2015


Monday, March 30, 2015

Looking for Stephen Crane

"I want to know where
Stephen Crane is!" shouted
a man in the desert, which
was not obliged to reply.

"Get back in the car!" cried
a woman from a black,
courageous Buick
on a highway a few
paces away from the man.



hans ostrom 2015



Friday, March 27, 2015

"Thought Infrastructure"


They talk about the Thought Police.
But you need a Thought Fire Department,
too. Spray water on the rage. Use
a special foam for hateful thoughts.

Yeah, you need a Thought Court, too,
so one thought can sue another;
and, you know, some thoughts need
to spend some time locked up.

A Thought Sewage System to get rid
of bullshit thoughts. Thought Parks
and Recreation. And so on. You really
need to invest in your Thought Infrastructure.


hans ostrom 2015