Monday, November 23, 2015

The Retirement of Literature

After you teach what they used to call literature
for a long time, there are some poems and books
you don't want to teach anymore, not because
of something in them or on account of
the students but because you don't want
to submit the works to any further
analysis--by anyone, especially yourself.

You want these works to enjoy
retirement, lying in the sun,
simply existing as a collection of words
and punctuation, without a career.

hans ostrom 2015

Cows, Sun Loves You

The several stomachs of a cow brew
bilious cud out of grass and grain.
Excretion follows in due time
as cows create sweet brown mortar
that dries into thick discs.

Cattle consider and consider,
all day. They earned their Ph.D.s
in Bovinity. The sun created
them. The sun loves them.

hans ostrom 2015

Surrounding You

Fresh oxygen in cool air surrounds you
as do social contracts pulling you
into roles that weary and bore you.

Don't whine, even to no one,
you tell yourself, for you've
imported voices that force

conformity and sustain shame.
To the end, you'll be maneuvered
into doing shit you don't want to do.

Some of it may be necessary,
but but not that much. Who needs
dictator when people volunteer

to push each other around? No
wonder so many drop out any way they
can, often desperately, paced suicide.

hans ostrom 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"in unjust Spring"

(with apologies to e.e.)

"in unjust Spring
after the po-
lice state had arisen (peo-
were dis-
burned in Baltimore,well
known to be
a terribly terribly racist
by the pale doom of
american history.
Baltimore is all the rage
that builds up:frus-
tration & americans rather
likesitscities to die,
he spoke, in despair and not
knowing what else to do.

hans ostrom 2015

Collage Degree

I was just blowing up a balloon when
Italy won a soccer match
and Abraham Lincoln gave a speech
concerning railroad law. Then
Chairman Meow mad a cameo appearance
on Tahitian TV to discuss Titian's
use of shadow, and naturally
an abandoned ship sank off
and on an Aleutian island.

The phone rang virtually,
and gunpowder was invented.
Milton wrote a line with
an inverted hand while
Joan of Archimedes developed
a crush on a dark-haired
Viking. Frederick Douglass
scowled, and I have no idea
what I did with the utilities bill.

hans ostrom 2015

Excellent Persons

Like butterflies in fog, excellent persons
are often overlooked. They
perform the good and the necessary,
ameliorating cruelty,
appreciating the melody of words
like ameliorate.
They won't become celebrities.
Technically, they're suckers
who relinquish advantage.
They plant perennials in Fall.
They get shit done.

hans ostrom 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hiram and Success

Hiram's tried success, and he's tried failure.
By a slim margin, he prefers failure,
maybe because success softened it.
Thing is, success attracts envy
like a wet towel growing mold.
Success needles you with its secret
knowledge of luck and inequality.
It demands repetition of you as it
sips a martini
and listens to "Is That All There Is?"

Failure's more authentic, says Hiram.
It's the experimenter's genial friend.
It's God's way of telling you to grow up.

Like a slim tick, shame tries to attach
itself to failure, but Hiram knows
nobody has to put up with that shit.
You own your failure; it's a sad chair
you built, and only you sit in it.
Yeah, then you do something else, go on
to another foolish errand
in an infinite universe.

hans ostrom 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

It Equals Done

It's been done. It's all been
done. What is "it"? That's
just it. It's all been done for so
long, there's not more it,
and people madly try to make new shit,
but what they make's been done
before, so mostly what we get
is serious over-wroughting. Too

serious. Done, done differently,
"reinvented," done the old way,
the new way, the old new way,
the new old way. Done but not
really. Undone. A refusal to do:
not-doing in a way that ends up
doing it, again. It's been

nihilistically done, ground
to powder. Done in powder.
There's nothing left to be
done. But we have to something!
Let's do it!

hans ostrom 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015

No, Chess Isn't War

Chess isn't war. It's opposite of
war. Non-violently, hands seize the medium
composing pieces, lie quietly, make
notes, or report silently on stress.

Considering chess, a mind's
distracted from plunder. Narcissism
is tucked into one corner, napping.
true, your ego might get nicked,
your imaginary status jostled.

Loss of coin? Possible, unlikely.
Otherwise, flies buzz. The worst
that can happen is that your "king,"
a figurine, must leave the checker-board
floor and stand on a table. That's it.

Chess is a minor miraculous mess
of angles invented by angels--
no, actually by thoughtful, playful
people in India and Persia. A parody
of royal courts, it's played democratically.

hans ostrom 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Chessboard

Apologies to Mr. Blake,
For heaven's sake.

Chessboard, chessboard, black and white,
In the subtle cafe light,
What Indian and Persian eyes
Fugued your fearful geometries?

hans ostrom 2015

Something It Did Not Used to Be

Especially confused by things he understands,
he finds himself in a recreated sector
of Oklahoma City called Bricktown,
which is cheek-by-jowl to Deep Deuce,
Charlie Christian's ground. Bricks

of the newly restored buildings to him
evince a muted somber red that alludes
to tragic mineral compounds
cooked hard and put up wet with mortar.

Restaurants, bars, and shops:
the holy trinity of tourism:
America, here is your culture,
kind of. He told this to nobody
but himself. And nobody
danced except in clubs, nobody
wove carpets, or improvised
sales negotiations, or read
poetry out loud. He understand
exactly why and remain puzzled.
Oh one more thing: "the martini"
had become something it did not used to be.

hans ostrom 2015

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Monday, October 12, 2015



They itch, scratch, writhe, sleep, snore. Yes,
all right, sex too. Also mites. Mites are a
problem for celebrities as they are a problem
for everyone else.


They present themselves like peacocks or rubbery statues; OR
they become sullen and withdrawn like badgers; OR both.


Celebrities didn't invent this system, in which
attention is the coin of the realm, not money,
which is, albeit important, secondary. Celebrities
are attention-capitalists who leverage attention
to acquire more attention. Pay attention!


It was the result of a mass-expulsion.


The mixture of fame, money, entitlement,
indulgence, and self-loathing sometimes
explodes like a souffle.


They are represented to us as people we imagine
ourselves being while still being ourselves,
although they know we can never be like them,
and they know why. We know why.


I asked a tombstone for an autograph.
It refused. I offered mine. It declined.


Retired from acting, Cary Grant liked to watch
TV and eat a modes meal on a TV tray at home. Greta
Garbo did not want to be alone; she wanted
to be left alone.


Society suffers from celebrity.

hans ostrom 2015