Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ill-Equipped by Technology

Technology has ill-equipped us.
When are we ever not behind
its trends? The nature

of capital requires us either
to be behind or to believe
we are behind or both.

The next invented, mass-
produced, and marketed
things wait in tiresome,

predictable ambush.
Place: a box canyon
of forced choices.

Think of specific
gadgets and gizmos
you don't own--

which
you will soon purchase,
by choice.

Consider whether
this new bought thing will
really improve your life.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Nothing Personal, Just Business

When they say,
It's nothing personal--it's just
business, it's personal,
for the lie itself concerns
personality, the intimacy
of betrayal. When they say
it's just business, they mean
the opposite. They mean business

is all--it governs. Have you
known a time when business
didn't govern? When they say
these things, keep
your distance from them,
from these people who are like
dogs on chains, the chain
being business and personal.

Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Love Song," by A.R. Ammons

Warm-Up Exercise for Poets: Adjective/Noun/ABC

Just a warm-up exercise.  You'll infer the "rules" from this example immediately.

Adept Zebra
Burnt Yams
Chrome Xylophone
Dry Wall
Elegant Veranda
Flexible Udders
Good Times
Hot Salsa
International Rutabaga
Jeweled Quilt
Knowing Purveyor
Lone Osprey
Murderous Narcotic
Narcoleptic Man
Obsolete Language
Prescient Knight
Questionable Jester
Restless Intern
Surly Handler
Tainted Garnish
Unique Fragrance
Venerable Epic
Wistful Dog
Xenophobic Cleric
Young Barista
Zealous Attitude.

Found Poem: Sign Beside Freeway

GRINDING AND
PAVING
NIGHTS


--Hans Ostrom

Found Poem: Four Signs Nailed to an Urban Fir Tree

MOVING &
*
CHEAP SMOKES AND BEER
*
NEED A CONTRACTOR?
*
PEST CONTROL
*

--Hans Ostrom

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Carter Monroe on Jack Spicer

Here is a link to a post by Carter Monroe on the 9th Street Laboratories blog.  Monroe, as you may know, is a poet, novelist, publisher, and music-expert hailing from North Carolina.  I sometimes refer to him as the sage of N.C., in fact.

Spicer was one of the troubled geniuses of the Beat Movement in San Francisco, pushing the limits of poetry and counter-cultural thought as much as he could and influencing a range of writers, including Robert Duncan. In my view, Spicer also anticipated much of what LANGUAGE poetry has attempted to do.

In the post, Monroe notes Spicer's influence on his own work and places his reading of Spicer in a biographical and cultural context in the 1970s.  The post includes excerpts from Monroe's "Spicer Series" of poems--great work.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lines for a Brief Meditation

Just breathe.
Thank you.
Fo sho.
Fuck off.
No way.
You bet.
Who knows?
Bite me.
What next?
Why? Sigh.
Sigh why.
Now, then.
Right on.
Let's roll.
Hell, no.
Heck, yeah.
Be cool.
Say what?
Damn straight.
All y'all.
Love, love.
Now, now.
How, now?
When, then?
Not now.
Do this.
Bye bye.
Farewell.
Just breathe.
[Repeat, as needed.]

Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

In City Lights Books, 21st Century

In City Lights Books, 21st century, one young
cashier, trans-gendered, wears a gold silk turban.
There are tattooed Asian characters on each
finger. It is a regal performance of difference
and what's hip. A sign reads,

"Abandon despair, all ye who enter here."
Cute--and isn't that more or less Disney's
message, too?  The old Beat bookstore's
a wee profit-center now--"like a library,
where books are sold," but not lended
or given away.  Debit, credit, cash.

Truth is, there was as much counter-cultural
spirit in a Willie Mays basket-catch, a Navajo
steel-worker's shift, a Chinese laundry-worker's
laughter, and a Mexican's quick apple-picking
fingers as in On the Road or Howl. 

Ferlinghetti's an entrepreneur,
Jack and Allen earned canonical turf,
berets off to them, well done.

In the U.S., youth and capital absorb all cultural
revolutions that can be commodified. Which
ones can't be commodified? The turbaned
cashier asks her co-worker, "Will you try
to keep this job part-time, or just take the
higher paying one?" The latter says,
"Receipt with you or in the bag?"

The best minds of any generation are
widely dispersed, hard to identify,
impossible for any one to claim, and
often not known until much later.

Some minds in bodies pass by the
bookstore in sunlight. The space once
occupied by Jazz at Pearl's is up for lease,
estate commercial, estate real.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Don't Write About That

Don't write about that just
because you saw it and saw it
as you. Write about this, the folly
of a human trajectory as it's
superimposed on the universe,
which is a large, ongoing explosion.

Someone will say something
about concrete images, show-don't-
tell, that sort of stuff.  People
never weary of it. To you
it will sound like the sound
of a handsaw going through pine.

You'll pretend to listen but wonder
not why someone is talking but
why someone is talking to you.
Write about this.

Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Fans of Soccer, Fans of Football

To fans of soccer ("football"), American
football ("football") looks like a muddle
of armored giants that periodically
organizes itself, bursts into chaos,
then settles into entropy again. The
field is marked in rows, an accountant's
worksheet, so business-like, so American.

To fans of American football, soccer
looks like a picnic of ants, a tedioous
lesson in futility (hours of no goals). The
field's an expansive meadow ready
for a housing development. There's much
activity and arguing but little productivity,
so European.

To many people, sport means too much,
as do most human activities. We indulge
in seriousness, especially, oh yes
especially where play is concerned.
So European, so American.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Her Cool Naked Breasts

Her cool naked breasts:
so lovely to kiss. And
to suck. And her response
to that, subtle moans, a
word, and something like
laughter in her throat.

Then comes a kind
of gentle tumble into
the physical, mental
rest of it, the rest of
it, such riches of the
instants in which
two lives overlap.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

At a Restaurant Alone

Sometimes, when
you go to a restaurant
alone, the person
who greets you says,
"Will there be just
one, then?" You don't
know why the future
tense is used. And
you feel as if you've
committed an error.

Maybe, you think,
you should say,
"No, let me go back
out the door and grab
someone so there will
be two," or "No,
there's another person
inside me, trying to
get out," or "No,
set a place for each
of my three
imaginary friends,
in which case there
will be four, then."

Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

May I Clarinet Your Thighs?

"The formation of substitution and contamination in speech-mistakes is, therefore, the beginning of that work of condensation which we find taking a most active part in the construction of a dream."  --Sigmund Freud, Psychopathology of Everyday Life


May I clarinet your thighs
and explicate your savanna? If
you charm it to be desirable,
I should like to alluviate down
on the excellence established
between your doric expenditures.

Listen: Let me emigrate with you
on blue and mahogany. Let us
forest the open-air museum of our
deft velvet, our fragrant fur
and slick, moist rubrics.

Oh, my dearest pungent storm,
please tell me how you'd like your
candelabra ordained in ecstasy!


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Descriptors

bookworm, voluptuary, clodhopper,
fool, lummox, clown, dark horse,
horse's ass, sleeper, empath, recluse,
gadfly, hick, draught-horse, coward,
knot-head, stalwart, naif, hustler,
rabble, contrarian, soft-touch,
laborer, pedant, poet, scavenger,
hack, scholar, idealist, vagabond,
hayseed, addict, loser, winner, dunce,
nobody, cast-off, straggler, pussy-hound,
scribbler, true-blue, oaf, lover, dabbler,
sensualist, mystic, literalist, plodder,
plodder. Plodder.

Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Stuck in a Blues Song

I'm going down to the river. I'm
stuck in a blues song. Going down
to the train yard. Stuck in a blues
song. Going down the road, down
to a reckoning. Been stuck in a blues
song so long. Gonna get

evicted from an empty place, convicted
of a crime I did not do, and conscripted
to work in just an awful damn job, oh
yes. Going to go down to the juke joint,

where the blades flash and I lose my
cash, stuck in a blues song. Yeah, my
baby's long gone and I'm stuck, no luck,
yeah; yeah, stuck in a blues song.


Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Entertainment

...The lovely and tainted Matilda,
ladies and rattlesnakes! Please
fire a round of a pause for Matilda!

Next up for your mooing pleasure
is the Present. Watch as two trillion
compressed images hammer your
optic nerve. Staggering is a normal

response. The bleeding will stop.
For paranoia lasting more than four
hours, call a fish, make a wish,
and give yourself an encore. You've
been a terrific audience!

Copyright 2012 Hans Ostrom

Desired Things

They're looking in a window
at things to buy. They
couldn't say why
they want the things,
except the items seem
fantastic. The light is such
that one of the people sees
in reflection the ghostly image
of a person who lives
on the street and works
full time at persisting. The
eyes of the buyer hover
on the image of this other
and then adjust to ignore
that light, that image, and
to see through glass again
at the desired things.

Copyright Hans Ostrom 2012

"This Journey," by Nazim Hikmet

"Babylon," by Siegried Sassoon