Thursday, July 19, 2018

This Is Not Just to Say

A plum's uninhibited purple
epidermis entertains a faint
silver mist, you noticed.

Even as you chomped
through the fruit
to eat what you expected,

your abstracted mind
nibbled on a
nebula of thought.


hans ostrom 2018

("This Is Just to Say," William Carlos Williams)

Haiku Flu

too sad, haiku, you
have the flu & your
fevered syllables shiver



hans ostrom 2018

Peckish Muse

Should Muse want to munch,
pre-lunch, on a haiku,
fix a syllable-snack


hans ostrom 2018

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

I Thought Broth

I'm trying to understand
why I'm writing about broth.
Was it your idea?

I thought broth, and then--
here I am, wrangling
words about it.

Both is good, right?
It's basic and pays
due respect to water.

The word itself, Broth--
excellent. Could even
represent a Nordic figure--

Broth, son of Erik the
Ambivalent. You know,
I think I'll leave it there,

bring this broth boat
back to port beside a warm
and salty sea.


hans ostrom 2018

Good News: You're Out of Touch

Because now it's all connected,
because now it's all infected
with connectivity, parasiting itself,
surveilling every person, place, and thing, you

don't feel connected, nor do you
especially want to. Your data's connected
very well indeed, not you. There
goes human culture, rocketing

off, and you're staying behind
in your material here, although you fake
living virtually very well. You feel
solitary but not sad. It's a relief

to be not interested in what it's all
coming to, whatever it's coming to,
and who would know, given the fact
and farce that human culture hurtles

with indifference to consequences.
It's virtually like standing in an empty town,
which the residents abandoned. Your
data's off partying with them. Sometimes

it reports back. The town, an existential
cocoon, does this thing that no one and
no thing does anymore. It leaves you
alone. Not heavenly, but nice.


hans ostrom 2018

Betty's Version of Time

Every death shatters time. For instance,
Betty, 92 years old, died, eased (we tell
ourselves) out on a morphine drip. Her
consciousness housed a vast museum

of time with complex installations composed
of fantastic materials perception had gathered
and memory had refined into alloys. There
were fabrics women of intimacies, light,

fear, houseplants, brooms, secret beliefs,
desires, cooking, laughing, parenting, and
itching. Neuro-video loops played on angled
surfaces. Betty's sense of Betty

powered the place, a generator deep
in the basement. It all collapsed in an instant
just after 3:00 p.m. one day. Betty's magnificent
version of time, gone.


hans ostrom 2018

Sunday, July 1, 2018

What Would Bukowski Write?

I wonder what Bukowski would be writing
now. More Bukowski poems, of course.
Rooted in his life, some stuff made up,
who cares, and then, in a line anywhere
in the poem, a statement strikes like a snake.
You get an insight not offered up as one.
It tears into you. His poems usually ignore

the wider world beyond San Pedro
and other Hank haunts, as if the world,
because it was so stupid and mean,
wasn't worth his time, and it isn't,
and it's getting worse. Maybe he would

have said something about Trump, though--
how low down, dirty, and mean he is.
A pimp. A psychopath--the kind that kicks
a sleeping drunk on The Row to show off
to his friends, other rich boys. Kick and laugh.
The kind that deserves to end up
on the losing side of a brawl one night,
knocked out, beaten, bloody, and down,
nobody gleeful about it but lots of people
feeling like it was an exorcism.


hans ostrom 2018

Recovering Vikings

Me and my friends rowed and sailed
from Scandinavia to Newfoundland
(your names for these places) without
a proper compass, adequate outerwear,
good hygiene, enough jokes, and
sufficient nutrition. We fought off
parasites, boils, and madness. This
happened in the 10th century or so--
your system of time. We're still trying
to recover. At an undisclosed location.


hans ostrom 2018

Of Time and the Chickering

I like to give jazz standards
a good bruising on the old Chickering
parlor grand piano, which long ago
was rescued from the Buckhorn Lodge,
a bar in the High Sierra where whiskey
had been sloshed on some of the hammers.
Good times. I really can count
beats and measures, honest. But

I get distracted. I dawdle or rush,
freeze or trip. My fingers suddenly
turn into bear paws, then shrink
again back to size. Much depends
upon the weather, the atmospheric
pressure, the presence or absence
of crows in the area.  Anything
Ellington can mesmerize me,
and I start thinking about how
in the harlem he ever came up
with that chord or phrase. Sometimes

I just look into the deep brown
varnish of the Chickering, or stare
at the decal, Johnson Piano Company,
Portland, Oregon, and I wonder
what the route was from Boston
to Portland to Sierra City and finally
for a while, Tacoma, where the piano
had earned a restoration, where
it sat beside Cher's white piano,
which had also entered rehab.

I salve the blond
nicks with linseed oil
and always throw away
the rag. A tuner comes in
regularly, praises the tone,
rich and seasoned, whiskey-
tempered, long suffering
with regard to my drifts
into alternate space-time keyboards.


hans ostrom 2018

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Sound of a Person Inferred

The sound of air moving, of moving
air. The sound, moving through air,
of air. The sounds of other things,
other sounds, impromptu syncopation--

a glass against marble; a door,
a bird, silverware and silverware,
a plate against wood, none of these
seen, only heard, a person inferred.

The dopplerized squall of a passing car.
A lid going back on a jar.


hans ostrom 2018


Everything Had Its Say Today

Everything  had its say today.
Behind their branches, fir trees murmured.
Cars, as always, couldn't shut up, their
speeches dull and linear. Beams and joists
and pipes chatted, whined, and groaned
in buildings. Lots of complaining.

I kept waiting for rocks to talk.
They will one day. It takes them eons
to formulate a thought.

The sky speaks sign language,
except when lightning strikes.
Then comes that unmistakable
laughter of delighted air.

Also, sounds of screaming
and crying seemed to spring
from cages America locks children
in on borders, in jails. Yes,
weirdly, even steel and depravity
had their say today.


hans ostrom 2018

Jim Crow Never Left

In America White Supremacy's
the deepest state of all. Jim Crow
never left. He became Chief Justice.
He became President and Senate,
infiltrated police departments
and border patrols. His spores

live in millions, who demand
(and get) a nation in which only
they are people. Jim Crow always
demands and gets. His sulphorous
spirit rides in white sheets through
people's stupidity-soaked rage.

Only people who think they're white
can get rid of White Supremacy,
and they never do. They can't live
without it. It forms the core
of their religions, schools,
and neighborhoods. So

Jim Crow never left,
stays obese by feasting
on America's depraved soul.
He's driving the segregated
train back toward 1920
and off a cliff.


hans ostrom 2018

Pick and Shovel

Dig with a shovel, dig with a pen:
Heaney's formulation. This

morning I dug a shallow trench,
recalled my Old Man, Alec,
who taught me how to use a pick
and shovel right. The crucial
nuances. (I've never seen

a Hollywood movie in which
the digging and digger weren't
unintentionally ludicrous. Usually it
starts with the genre of shovel itself.)

Alec had dug everything from
blasted quartz gold ore to river
gravel mixing concrete, from
sewer-lines to stone-wall footings.
Also graves. Often he used a long steel bar
to make a boulder twice his
weight dance aside. In another

life, without a war, he would have
been a mining engineer or geologist.
He appreciated High Sierra rock
and soil. He never got frustrated
with them. Instead he stayed steady,
befriended leverage, let the tools
work. Piles of rock, piles
of dirt.  Soon the task melted.

Labor isn't poetry, but it has
a rhythm, rides repetition,
requires alert attention. By

the time finished the trench
today, old jeans and a paint-stained
shirt had siphoned pools of sweat,
and I as satisfied again with
the father I had had.


hans ostrom 2018