Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Sunday, November 21, 2010

When You Are Naked

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When You Are Naked

When you're naked, I feel like celebrating,
except when you are ill and I take care of you.
When you are naked, I feel like celebrating,
and I want to take my clothes off, too.

When you're naked, you sometimes
don't want to be bothered by adoration,
curiosity, or lust, as when you step out
of the shower before getting ready
to go to work.  I respect your wishes
then, but I celebrate in secret still.
Restraint is not negation.

When you are naked, sometimes
sirens go off in my head, and the red
lights of police cars whirl, and the cars
lead a motorcade of my desires to
a high-level meeting downtown, where
my libido and I will hold serious talks.

When you are naked and starting
to get dressed, I like to watch how
you assemble the ensemble on
your body. It is you and your body
dressing your body. I watch your
hands dress your body. I watch
your body.

When I am naked, and you look
at me, I feel like an old battleship
that's drifted into a harbor after
many an abrasive voyage, and
you're waiting there to get me
into dry-dock and make repairs.
You're wearing a red beret, and
I'm a battered thing with a cheerful
captain on the bridge.

When you are naked and lying
in bed, I sometimes like to sniff
you--slowly--like a cat, not
manically like a dog.  I like to
sample the odors and aromas.
Like then to stop and lick
your navel, to hear you giggle.
Of such small moments, the good
of a good life is largely composed.


Copyright 2010 Hans Ostrom

"Oh Lady Moon," by Christina Rossetti

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NSFW In San Francisco: Library Vixen

I've been intrigued lately by the several endeavors of a digital librarian in San Francisco who goes by the nom-de-blog, Library Vixen.  In addition to being a librarian and doing graduate work in information sciences, she is a photographer, writer, poet, blogger, and student of culture. 

Warning: Not Safe For Work.  I only recently ran across this term (I hear Obama's the President, too!) and immediately thought about people who work at nuclear power plants and missile silos, and in fireworks factories, or in mines--or on BP oil rigs.  They'll show you Not Safe For Work.

At any rate, one of LV's blogs--the one called Library Vixen, as it happens--is a sex blog, so read no further if you're likely to be put off for any reason.  The LV refers to the subject matter variously as sex, smut, porn.  What makes it different from other sites? I'm glad you asked. The LV deliberately blurs lines between autobiography and fiction, erotica and porn, art and reportage, private and public, love and desire, making art and living life.  And/or works with existing blurs. I like the project(s) she's undertaken, including this blog; she also photographs "fugitive art" in San Francisco, and she writes about cutting-edge library stuff.  She's smart.

One thing many feminists on the Left and many moralists (I didn't say moralizers) on the Right seem to agree on is that all porn is bad, although I guess first they agree that all porn is porn.  Yes, there's an exploitative, industrialized aspect to much if not most mass-produced porn, but that's not the LV's project.  Moreover, the boundaries of what's acceptable do shift even if they don't and shouldn't disappear altogether.  Remember that Joyce's Ulysses was once labeled "obscene."   I just happen to have gone to a Picasso exhibit today (they're renovating the museum in Paris, so they took the show on the road), and his art was once called junk, etc.

I do concede that it's easier for me to keep an open mind because I seem to have been born with one. For example, I liked "The Missouri Breaks," and when I told a chum that in graduate school, he looked at me as if I'd just thrown up on his lapel. (I hadn't, by the way.)  My tastes are so broad in music, I reckon they've ceased to be tastes.  If you suffer similarly you might like parts, some, or all of the LV's blog; or not. No worries.....

.....I like to write sonnets about the darnedest things--good for me, bad for the form (arguably).  So I wrote one for the LV but not about her, so do remember that the "LV" in the poem is not the real LV--heavens, don't blame my poem on her.   The poem is sadly far too tame for the LV, alas. Not to mention alack.

Sonnet For the Library Vixen


You always knew she kept more than the keys
To information. And you sensed the cool
And stern affect and skirts beyond the knees
Hid sexuality. Of course, only a fool
Would underestimate this vixen's power--
The holdings and the indices, the hair
Unpinned, a tryst after the aching hour
Of closing time, commingling truth and dare.
Imagine this: she keeps the glasses on
But nothing else. She shushes you, and then
Instructs you how to do the search--keyword:
Libido. Once--and then again--
Insatiable. Oh, no--it's not absurd.
Librarian-as-vixen: perfect sense.
Sheer force of smarts and lust: it is immense.


Copyright 2010 Hans Ostrom

Monday, November 15, 2010

"dreaming," by Charles Bukowski

Re-Posting "Fresh Poem for Anyone"

I thought it might be a good time to re-post "Fresh Poem for Anyone." As my late mother used to say to me, "And don't ask me why."

Fresh Poem For Anyone

by Hans Ostrom

Here's a fresh poem for you. It snaps
crisply like a cold carrot just pulled
out of hard ground. It shocks like the time
the politician simply told the truth. It
loves like a woman sailing on a voyage
of her beauty. It's awkward and generous--
a large barn of a poem. It's a knock-kneed,
unsophisticated singer a crowd stayed
late to hear. It's a scar left by a dog's tooth,
the stench of a rattlesnake-den, a
satisfaction long denied, a time after
weeping, the thing you've known for sure
all along, and the words you were hoping
to hear. It explodes right here
into the poem you need to write, to read,
and to remember. Take it. It's fresh
and it's yours and it's free. It belongs to
you now. Start writing it, keep going, and hold on.

Copyright 2007 Hans Ostrom

Sunday, November 14, 2010

And So You Live Your Life

And So You Live Your Life

And so you live your life, fulfill some plans,
Are changed by accidents of whim or fate,
And wake one day, let's say, with toes in sands,
And--still hypothesis--it has grown late--
Late in the day, not early in your life.
In fact you tell yourself this day, "I'm old."
Should you stop striving, surrender strife?
That is the question that pops up as cold
Now comes into the picture of the day.
What more is there to do that can be done?
Are you a spectator who's in the way?
A body simply blocking light from sun?
Precisely how to live the rest of it
Is what you ask, unsettled where you sit.


Copyright 2010 Hans Ostrom

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"L'Art," by Frederick Feirstein

Stephen Fry Sonnet

In The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within and elsewhere, British actor, director, and writer Stephen Fry has argued for the enduring power of conventional poetic forms and has claimed that free-verse has led to laziness. It's hard to argue against either point, although I might just add that conventional forms can lead to laziness, too, perhaps of a different kind; for instance, there's something "automatic" about Wordsworth's later sonnets. Anyway, I thought I should write a sonnet with Stephen Fry's name all over it, and perhaps in so doing I'll even support my claim that conventional forms may elicit laziness, too, although I think frivolity is the more prominent quality.


Stephen Fry Sonnet


Hans Ostrom


I've heard it said that Mr. Stephen Fry
Would like more formal poems to be made.
I'm happy to oblige; moreover, I,
As you are witness to, have not delayed,
Have lept into this sonnet form with zest,
Alluding-to, as sonnets do, the glib,
Bright, talented tall man, the best
Portrayer of both Jeeves and Wilde. A squib?
Well, I suppose you could call this poem that.
But there's no rule that says one can't write fast
And pounce upon a formal poem: iambic cat.
Well, as you know, the couplet's what comes last.
Let cups be raised, then, to one Stephen Fry,
Who likes his poems in form and has said why.


I note that I cheated, in a way, by asking the reader to pronounce "poems" in two syllables in line 2 but only in one syllable ("pomes") in line 14. Sonneteers are such cheaters. And makers of terrible puns: note "Let cups" in line 13--couplets/Let cups--oh, the horror, made worse by my being pleased.