Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Saturday, December 29, 2012

word hospital

misspelled words visit
a dictionary to get
themselves corrected.


hans ostrom

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Number of Likes in the New Era

(found language)


i want to puke bc 
my friends'  lives now revolve 
around the number of likes their pictures get on facebook
 and instagram and there are only a handful left who still have souls
 so who wants to be my friend


hans ostrom 2012

I Like your URL: Compliments in the New Era

(found language)

I like your URL
 and seriously enjoy your blog
One of muh favs! :3
And your smiles amazuhn! Lol
and you are  so not rude. Lol
you're seriously love
on here,  though--
like one person says something and
10 peeps back you up(: I enjoy that.


hans ostrom 2012


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cousins of Tumblr

bumblr
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lumbrblr
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summrblur
[     ]
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hans ostrom

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Seed Thoughts



after the longest
night of the year, i begin to
think of gardening.


hans ostrom

Translation by Kenneth Rexroth

Someone told me it's Kenneth Rexroth's birthday today.

Here is link to a reading of a translation by him of a Chinese poem:

"Starting at Dawn"


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

i have seen the people

i have seen the people walking
in cities and talking to the things held up
to their ears. i have seen the people
everywhere looking down at these things
in their hands and tapping at the things
with their fingers the way raccoons
touch moonlit water.  the things sometimes
illumine the faces of the people
as if to say, “here, here is light to light
your face as you look at this thin thing and tap
with your fingers.”  sometimes i have wanted

to make love to some of the women who look down
at their the things in their hands and tap
with their fingers. it is an idle desire, a fancy.
even i do not take it seriously, i say to you.

i say to you, let the people
talk to the things held up to their ears.
let them tap with their fingers.
let them communicate the living hell
out of life and leave messages and
send texts, summon maps, download
apps, and upload lodes of info-laden
digitation. i say to you let the people
update, and let them post. if i

should be talking to you
in a cafe and briefly take a rhetorical
stand in favor of intimacy and sex
in place of the way people work with
these thin things they hold
in their hands, please ignore me.
i say to you, i am

not always so old-fashioned, out-of-step,
and creepy. i say to you, even as you may
sit across from me, yes, to ahead and
tap on that thing, hold
it up to your year, speak into it, and listen.
update and post. save and delete.
i say to you i can wait. i will think thoughts.

Hans Ostrom, 2012

Because Reality Doesn't Tire

I moved a stretched-out worm
from wet concrete to dirt. Heard
a U.S. Air Force plane scrape
the space between here and that
imaginary sky. Noticed how
people do what they can
to maintain wood and masonry
exteriors of their abodes but
eventually surrender to stains,
cracks, rot, moss, and grit.
Because reality doesn't tire
and we do, it's easier to watch TV
and recover from work than to work
on shelter's exterior all the
goddamned time. It just is.


Hans Ostrom, 2012

Gil Scott-Heron - Gun

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Best Wedding Ever? Rudy and John Got Married

I may have attended the best wedding ever yesterday. Of course, I borrow "best wedding ever" from the online lingo of the now; people often write "best. day. ever." (for example) as they tweet and post and update. And, depending upon how the marriage goes, one's own wedding is usually thought to be the best. Or maybe the wedding of one's child.

Nonetheless, this wedding was more than splendid. It happened in Tacoma, Washington, where "same-sex" marriage is now legal.  Rudy Henry and John McCluskey got married. There were about 200 people in attendance, and a friend was only half-joking when he said, "This may be the social event of the year in Tacoma."

Not that Rudy or John are local celebrities or ever sought the spotlight. It's just that a lot of people love them, and they've done a lot of good work over the years.  John, for example, has been working to help young gay and lesbian persons for decades--to keep them safe, sheltered, counseled, and supported. I met John about 10 years ago when my wife and I hosted a fund-raiser for a campaign to secure rights for gay and lesbian people in Tacoma.  The resulting law made harassing such persons or denying them housing illegal.  John is a tall, elegant man, right (I almost wrote "straight") out of the 1950s: dapper, urbane, witty.  Rudy is also a very funny, very kind, smart person, too. In Tacoma, both have been what used to be called "pillars of the community"; that's partly why so many local officials, business leaders, people who work in the not-for-profit sector, and academics were there.

But the thing is, Rudy and John have been together for 53 years.  Completely compatible, totally devoted, and loving. All "relationships" should be so blessed and resilient.  And it had to be a "relationship" for 53 years because society didn't want people like Rudy and John getting married. Go figure.

So there we were in a Methodist Church, with a pastor and the Mayor co-presiding.

Rudy has some health-problems, so he sat in his wheel-chair, with one arm bound to his chest.  He was pushed down the aisle, then up a side-ramp and around to where we could see him.  Then came John, escorted by a friend.  Eventually John sat next to Rudy, and the ceremony was on. Both wore classic black tuxedos, flowers in the lapels.

When it came time for Rudy to say, "I do," he dead-panned it, putting in mind Jack Benny.  A tilt of the head to the side, a slight raising of the eyes, the perfectly timed pause, the sigh, and then, "I do."   We all cracked up--except from John, who just smiled.  At one point during the ceremony, Rudy, like every person in the building, was overcome by the moment and wept a bit. John comforted him and kissed his head and held his hand.  When it came time for the rings, John put one on Rudy's finer--and on his own , for Rudy doesn't have the dexterity just now.

Not incidentally, the opening song, played and sung by Steve Smith, was "Oh, Happy Day."  The closing song, recorded, was "What a Lovely Way to Spend and Evening." There was to be another, final recording, but of course the equipment malfunctioned, so Steve jumped up, ran to the piano, and played & sang "We're Going to the Chapel, and We're Going to Get Married."

It's impossible to describe how much love and respect there was in that relatively small space on Tacoma Avenue, a cold rain thumping the concrete and asphalt outside.

And there was not a little grief, for one not only admires the dedication, dignity, and perseverance of Rudy and John (and others like them); one also grieves for the difficulties they have faced. And for the long wait. But it's good to remember that, for the most part, they weren't waiting.  They were living their lives, together, for 53 years.  Finally, sluggish society caught up with them.

When they came back down the aisle together, we all applauded, cheered, and wept.  As is often the case with weeping, the reasons were multiple and complicated.  We wept for their happiness.  Some may have wept because Rudy and John, without trying to do so, show us how good people can be.  We wept because of their 53-year-wait.  We wept because Rudy is frail.

Most of the things that make society good, that--in fact--make it work, were present when Rudy and John got married.  That the wedding took place shortly after the atrocity in Connecticut put this goodness in stark relief.

I am not among Rudy's and John's close friends. My wife knows them better than I do because she ahs worked with them.  But I count myself privileged merely to be their acquaintances.  So when it was my turn to say a few words to John, I said, "Congratulations, John. You're my hero. I love you."  I hugged him, and he hugged me. "I love you," I said. "I love you," he said.

How blessed we all were to observe this wedding, and "observe" was one theme of the wedding, for Rudy and John, being Christians, invited a friend to read a favorite selection of theirs from the New Testament, specifically Luke, Chapter 17, verse 20:

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you."

Rudy and John got married. Best. Wedding. Ever.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Message From Dolores



Someone named Dolores
called for you today. 
She lives in the 1940s,
asks that you visit her there.
Seems she has details
of history to share—wool
skirts, unfiltered cigarettes,
a porter on a Pullman car
who saw too much, a neighbor
who never came back
from Tule Lake.  She wants
to play records for you—
78 RPM, thick as UFOs.
She wants you to understand
what it was like for her, what
she had, chose, and refused
to do. She understands how
busy you are.  Still she’d
like to see you.  Open
one of those boxes in storage,
find a photo of or words from
Dolores.  Walk through the
page.  Dolores will be waiting,
holding a Chesterfield just so,
ready to tell you about women
and men back then.  Don’t
worry.  She can’t come back
but you can.  You have a pass
that lets you go between now
and then.  The price of the pass
is just to think about the past.
That’s all.  That’s really all
there is to it.  Ask Dolores.


--Hans Ostrom, copyright 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Machines Send Me Messages

Haute-mail could not send your message
because the server was busy
at another table. You have
unused icons; are you some kind
of Protestant? Your mailbox
is full; please apologize. Send
feedback. Rate your experience.
You are not permitted. You
are not allowed. We

are always correct, are we not?
We know where you keep
your gadgets and widgets.
The secret Gee!-mail account
is also known. And monitored.
The items you want could not
be found. Try an advanced
search: we dare you. Preview

your automatically saved links,
which is another name for sausages,
by the way. Allow footbook, zitter,
and recluse.cawm to access your
accounts? Track your order.
Experience this rating. Reboot,
restart, shut-down, and get
the fuck out of town.


--Hans Ostrom, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

"To Friends at Home," by Robert Louis Stevenson

In Dark Vegetation



In dark vegetation I couldn’t see
my body or hear thoughts.  Fevers
rotted memory.  Maggots flourished,
established a parliament.
I hung in delirium, a sack
of neural bits and pieces.  Birds in
endless green hooted and screamed.
I was transported to a desert that
cooked off confusion, revealing
basic elements of who apparently
I’d been.  My body became obvious
once more, eating dry food and
drinking wet water. I worked
in the factory of noon—my job to attach
objects to their shadows.  Memories
returned, walking like scattered
soldiers returning across sand,
descending from red rim-rock,
shedding uniforms, looking for
lovers and work. 

Hans Ostrom, 2012

"the area of pause," by Charles Bukowski

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hosting a Holiday Party



 (there are gathering you want to have, and then gatherings you more or less must have)





So: so-so society came by my abode
to socialize, leastwise that was the alleged
point of it-all. It-all included greetings,
seatings, standing, talking, offering, listening,
thanking, pleasing.   Things deeply in our minds
stayed deeply, did not venture into air or other
minds by any means.  I socialize because I
pretend it’s pleasurable and play, not
measurable and work.  Socio-lie-zing
is a good thing, if only because solitude,
my preference, needs points of reference
and departure, and departure is what society
undertook after it looked at its watch
and said, This has been but we must be,
thanks for your hospitality, see you
later, thanks again, goodbye.  Sighing,
breathing, much relieving—guide me
to my quiet lair.

Hans Ostrom, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bowl Season

Here's a partial re-post from 2007--concerning (football) bowl season, which doesn't make any sense even in the culture to which in belongs (American):

Bowls I would like to see played, to make "bowl season" more interesting:

1. The Despair Bowl, featuring the two worst teams in college football. Different faith-traditions could sponsor this bowl and offer hope to the teams and their long-suffering fans.

2. The Absurdity Bowl, in which, if a team "scores," points are subtracted, not added. So if a team scored a lot, the scoreboard would read "-58" or something like that. The defenses would attempt to let the offenses score; they would be hospitable, polite, and supportive. The offenses would be inoffensive, reticent, and shy.

3. The Don't Go To War Unless It's Absolutely Necessary Bowl, featuring teams from the military academies. Before the game, all in attendance would pray in their own fashion that the players would never have to see military action and especially not have to suffer wounds or get killed in combat, ever.

4. The Poetry Bowl, in which players from the two teams would choose their favorite poems and read them aloud to the crowd during the four timed quarters. There would be a half-time, during which the teams could change their strategies and consult different anthologies. Judges would determine which set of poems was more interesting and which team gave better readings. All the players would earn academic credits in English at their respective universities.

5. The Zen Bowl, featuring no teams, only spectators, who would file in and look at the empty field. Cheerleaders representing no teams would "cheer" silently.

6. The Interpretation Bowl. This would be an ordinary football game, but on television, you could select different commentators to describe and interpret the game. The menu would include political scientists, feminist scholars, anthropologists, game-theorists, mathematicians, physicists, psychologists, and so forth. Everyone at home would get the deeper meaning of their choice.

7. The Out Bowl. This would be a game between two teams composed of players from all teams across the nation--perhaps East and West. Players would be invited to come out as gay, but no player would be outed without his permission. One aim would be to assemble enough gay players to field two teams. Another aim would be to help the United States get over its homophobia and realize that about 10 per cent of any given group--including athletes--is gay. (Consider the appeal of gladiator-movies.) I predict that this Bowl will not occur soon.

8. The Soup Bowl. Innumerable corporate sponsors would support this Bowl lavishly, but all the profits would go to feeding the homeless, who would be able to attend the game for free (if they so desired), after a good meal, a hot shower, and a fresh change of clothes.

Lapses in Memory

So, I have this friend, he's 62, and his mother
is 90.  He takes her to her regular medical check-ups.
And so forth. At the last check-up, the nurse who
works for the doctor had the mother, 90, fill out
a form, answer questions.  One of the questions
was, "Have you experienced  lapses in memory lately?"

The mother read the question and turned to her son,
my friend, who is 62, and asked, "How would I know?"


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting Old: An Introduction

You'll admit you always had the illusion
you were almost hip, sort of with-it, and
you'll admit that you never were and that
you're now completely out of step. Bones

and muscles will ache as easily as they used
not to. To the extent you had personal enemies,
they'll either be dead now or seem
ludicrous--like you.  Hair

will have grown in places you hadn't
imagined hair could grow, as in  for example
the inside of your ears. By turns, you'll want
to cry out "Leave me alone!" and "Please

notice me!" If the young notice you,
they'll look through you. Lust won't leave
you. It will just badger you and make
you seem creepy. In fact, this is a country

for old men and women.  The problem
is simply that age doesn't earn you anything
special, and pneumonia's always
out there, waiting like a burglar,

and nobody cares what you know.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Monday, November 26, 2012

"The Mid-Day Moon," by John Banister Tabb

Of Time and the Poets

While Since was settling its accounts
with time, Then subsequented itself
right on down the line. And Because
pretended to be more influential
than it was, as Correlation made
real differences and, well, caused
a bit of buzz. Later, when Eventually,
Never, Seldom, and Once raided the place,

narrative lost face, storytellers
interrupted each other, and poets
withdrew to a corner where
not-that-much-happens, and
where plots are as tedious as
blueprints and Immediately
shouts, "Can I get an Amen?"

Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Storm Ending," by Jean Toomer

Retirement Communities Advertise (Of Course They Do)

The retirement communities, where retirements
live in groups, advertise themselves. They
feature images of people who seem vibrant
like earthquakes, active like yeast, and
damned White, if you ask me.

I'm closer to living in such a place
than I was yesterday. I guess this
is true of a lot of people. My hip
aches, so I won't have too much more
to say here (a lie) than I wish the ads weren't

so cheery: It's basically the same appeal
that's used to get American children to get
their parents to buy cubic tons of stuff made
in Asia.  Except now the kids are indirectly
urged to shelve the Old Man and Ma here,
and not there. I'd prefer ads narrated

by Charon from his ferry. "Come on down!
We're at the corner of Styx and Acheron!"
Or a riff on Bergman's white-masked Death
playing chess. "It's your move . . . into
assisted living!"  Or an actor playing
Robert Johnson singing, "Meet me
at the crossroads, baby. We'll eat
some peas and mashed potatoes."

Or how about this: "Look, it's a
dormitory for the gray, it's okay
to smoke weed, and we promise
not to bother you or make you pray.
We don't guarantee it, but you
might get laid, somehow, some way."


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom


Monday, November 19, 2012

In the Last Gangster Movie

In the last (what the the fuck took so long?) gangster movie,
the Italians and the Irish and the Russians and who the fuck
else cares kill each other.  Fat illiterate loud men in track suits
self-immolate, Martin Scorcese and Francis Ford Go Fuck
Yourself retire, and
brains exploding on walls no longer appeal:
well what a fucking surprise!

"It's just a bunch of stupid men
killing each other, and most of them
seem to be Catholics and, you know,
underachieving," observed an observer.

Roll out the fucking Brooklyn, Little Italy,
Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Dildo-ville accents.
Lay out the buffet of sociopathic practices.
And then, for fuck's sake, go away
forever and always. Badda-boom,
badda-fucking-bore.


Hans Ostrom 2012

"Autumn Scene," by Basil Dowling

Have It History's Way

Shaggy evergreens shrug and sway in a rainstorm.
Ezra Pound wasn't much for trees--Wordsworth-weary,
I suppose. Couldn't see history in or through them.
Instead he thought of rocks, layered, and of drills.
He was an American engineer. He wanted

comprehensive control of culture as if it were
acreage for the over-taking. Mineral rights.

But history's circulatory, and it's wet. It's
flexible, weird, and mysterious. Try to package
it, and you'll lose the magic. Impose upon
it, and it will flee like an Idaho mountain lion.

No, don't drill it, as if you were going
to set a charge, blast some ore.  Receive
it easy like a storm, shrug and sway and stay
surprised by it, and you will have its way with you.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weary of Movie Acting

Sometimes I get fed up
with the "great" acting
movie-actors enact.

I watch a scene,
and I think, "These
are famous people

doing something
for which they're
famous." I look

at the make-up,
the mannerisms,
the evidence

that the director
has had to suck up
to the celebrity.

I don't give even
one fuck what
the alleged

"story" is about.
I see angles, noses,
lips. I listen

to the goddamned
dubbing. I see how
the famous actor

demanded better
lighting and lots
of money

on "the back end."
They are acting up a storm.
And I am weary. 

And what do I do?
I go read a novel in
well worn paperback form.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Voting Biblical Principles

Someone encouraged me
to vote for Biblical principles
in a recent election. I didn't
see any on the ballot.

Well, now, there was
this one thing about supporting
a bond to maintain bus-routes
in this city. I know how
working people have the Devil's
own time getting to and from
work, shops, family, and clinics.

Although Jesus Christ
never rode a bus, only
a donkey, I still figured
voting to pay to keep up
the bus-routes wasn't
anti-Biblical.  Right?

The measure failed.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Monday, November 12, 2012

Today I Am Sure

Today I am sure
most of the poetry
written by William Blake
is unnecessarily complicated
and more or less
a pain in the ass.

Today I am sure
that life is the art
of delaying what is
inevitable and
accelerating
what is recalcitrant.

Today I am sure
that greed
is a disorder,
an addiction that blinds
the sufferer
and corrodes society.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Friday, November 9, 2012

Refuse to Race

Whatever happened to what happened?
I knew Chronos was quick, but now it seems
to have vroomed some more velocity.

Even the young with hard thighs, smart
lies, brassy brains, and big chests
seem prematurely nostalgic.

If you're always trying to catch up,
for God's sake and yours, stop.
Settle down in being

behind and let the future go
fuck itself--because it's going to
anyway.  This thing's a race

only if you agree to run.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Teaching

You may lead a horse to water.  The horse
may not be thirsty. Or the intuitive animal
might smell something wrong about the
water--or be spooked off it for another
reason.  The horse may also have no
particular cause to trust you. If the
horse doesn't drink this time, it may
drink later, and it will probably remember
where this trough or pond or creek is.

So don't be in a rush to give up,
declare failure (the horse's), and
congratulate yourself for doing
all you could.  Try a different way.
Look for different water.  And anyway,
people aren't horses, so there's that.


Hans Ostrom, 2012

Bill Monroe - father of bluegrass

Homage to Johnny Cash: "Johnny's Waltz," by Tim Lulofs (song by Lulofs/O...

"BoJangles Biscuit," by Marty Silverthorne

"Lack of Steadfastness," by Geoffrey Chaucer

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Economy Needs the Poor



“The economy needs the poor,” says
a wee lad  on the precipice of a bachelor
of arts in economics to me. He’s the son
of some remote dickhead CEO in France

One of the brightest students I’ve ever taught,
a Black and Latina woman from
Oakland (she likes the 49ers, I like the
Raiders, we riff on that) says, “The
political science students on campus
are the least culturally competent—
they’re not equipped for this society.”

Today, this month, November 2012,
I think, well, Whiteness will have its
way: cocaine-speed-meth capitalism, fuck-you-
we’re going to fucking war, if you’re a
thinking person, then go fuck yourself,
we will dominate you, we always have,
so suck our illiterate radioactive dicks.
 
Old, I wish to God it would be different
for the thinking young I know.  You don’t
know how much I wish that this were so.

I wish God would empower them.
And then I look at the mainstream shit
they all must countenance, and I think,
“God damn it, the demons have won.
The motherfucking super-rich have won.”


Hans Ostrom, 2012