Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Time Is Money, Which

Time is money, which is
speech, which is free,
except when it's policed,
or when it's bought
by corporations, which
are people, who are "human
resources," which brings
to mind property: a pile
of coal to be shoveled
into time, which is
a kind of abyss on wheels.


Hans Ostrom, 2012

the real artists

the real artists deliver
the newspapers that carry the lies.
they assemble mother-boards,
sports shoes, clothes, and purses.

the real art is the art
of re-assembling the world
every day.

the real artists go where
they're ordered to go when
they put on the uniform, whatever
uniform it is.

the real artists, they
change old people's diapers,
teach five-year-olds to read,
serve eggs to smirking
college students, empty
professors' trash cans,
sweep the floors

of art galleries, change
light-bulbs in auditoriums,
breast-feed, cook, clean,
get groceries, carry water,
look after grandchildren.

the real artists manage
crews, staff shifts, order
raw material, stack lumber,
run bureaus, process forms,
maintain websites, take
complaints, withstand
verbal abuse.

they mix cocktails, dance nude,
look for food in dumpsters,
rant from the caverns
of mental illness.

they protect children.
they haul freight.
they haul people.
they wash clothes.
they pick up bodies
lying on highways.
they wash corpses.

they mourn the dead,
help the maimed recover,
grieve with the bereaved.

the real artists know how
to add and subtract.
they walk or stand til
their legs and backs ache.
they show up on time and
kill vermin. they plant crops
and then wait, watching
the pale blue ceramic
sky of drought.


Hans Ostrom, 2012

I Don't Keep a Diary

I don't keep a diary. My diary keeps me.

It writes, "The silly bastard did what
he always does today.  What a bore.
I hate being his diary."

I tried to maintain my diary,
but my diary said, "Get your
fucking hands off me."

You know, that's fine with me.
I either did or didn't do
that thing, whatever it was,
on February 16th that year.


Hans Ostrom, 2012

Poets and the Crow

The young poets and I sit
outside on grass under solemn fir trees.
Before we talk about another poem,
we discuss crows, which
are numerous around here.

A crow shows up.
We're talking about crows
as she's being one. That's
the way it is with these birds.
She finds something edible

in grass. She pincers it  with
the beak. Drops it. Now uses
head and beak to hammer it.
She eats the pieces, swallowing
them whole, mouth lifted

in a V.  I refuse to allude
to Ted Hughes or Poe
or to say anything about poetry
because the students

are looking at the crow.
The crow is being a crow!
The crow is being a crow.
I still don't know what she ate.


Hans Ostrom, 2012

Asshole-ishness: Overheard

He: I'm sick of their asshole-ishness.
She: Me, too. But Leona's different than Karl.
He: Yeah, Leona has a reason to be an asshole,
but Karl--he's just an asshole.
She: That's right.

Friday, September 28, 2012

bus ride

drone, smells, chatter. blurs
drone, smells. chatter. drone,
revery, comfort, pain, fear,
drone. blurs, noise, pain.
fatigue, noise, noise. chatter,
noise, fatigue. smells, smells,
smile. glance, fatigue, noise.
glance, glance, fear. pain,
smells, drone. drone, drone.
stop sudden noise. drone,
weary, glance. smells.
stop, up, smells, glance,
out. noise. fatigue.


Hans Ostrom, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Sonnet Is a Puzzle in a Box

The sonnet is a puzzle in a box
That sits there on the shelf of poetry.
Of course the form has taken many knocks,
In part because of its ubiquity.

Indeed, as here, one writes about the form
When writing in it: ah, meta-verse,
It seems, became a while back the norm.
Some think it makes the sonnet even worse.

The sonnet lends itself to poise and pace,
And yet one feels quite rushed to make a point:
Iambic sprint, three quatrains in a race.
The last two lines, however, own the joint.

Well, here we are. This is the thirteenth line.
This sonnet says its feeling mighty fine.


Hans Ostrom, 2012

Such a Lovely Education

When she walks into a room,
she shines the shadows away.
When she walks into a room,
she shows hips how to sway.

When looks into your eyes,
she pulls them into hers.
When she looks into yours eyes,
the love-lust motor whirs.

When she talks, talks low to you,
warm honey comes to mind.
When she talks, talks low to you,
You feel your heart unbind.

The walk, the words, the look
construct this fascination.
The walk, the words, the look:
Such a lovely education.


Hans Ostrom, copyright 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Category: Vulvas (a found poem)





Category: Vulvas. Note:  This
category should be empty. Any
content should be recategorized.
This tag should be used

on existing categories
that are likely to be used by others,
even though the “real”
category is elsewhere.


 Hans Ostrom, 2012

found on wikipedia


 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Frustration Station


At Frustration Station, crates
of bad karma get off-loaded,
vats of bile sit in storage, and
tickets turn to paste.  Conductors
have called a halt. Engineers
weep, and tunnels belch hot wind.
Departures and arrivals melt
into one immobile blob.  Turnstiles
turn into empty gun-barrels aimed
at one another. Vermin gnaw
wires of  ambition.  Only the fiddler
playing for oily coins is happy.
These faces, these faces, these
faces twist toward scream.  


Hans Ostrom, 2012

"A Chromatic Passing-Note," by Kingsley Amis

The Commonplace Sage

The sage on the mountain's a commonplace
sage. He's suspicious of gurus. He invites
you to spend only what you have, buy
no more than you need.  The commonplace

sage tells poets they're only as good
as their latest poem. A laurel's just
a shrub. The sage says if you want
to argue politics, debate yourself.

Sage suggests you re-familiarize
yourself with arithmetic, popular
music, and the software known
as Crap Detector 2.0.  Thinks

you might want to find the good
sense you misplaced when you
were a big deal there for a while.
This common sage sings a tune

or two, and wow: here comes a
herd of memories across a neon
pasture, and the needed card
floats up on the river, and

Frank Zappa clowns around in
heaven with Steve Allen's toupé.


Hans Ostrom, 2012

People Who Go Fishing

We sit. We stand. We walk
and wade and float and wait.
We work with things
from a diminutive realm:

string, bits of cloth, feathers,
miniature coins and jewelry,
lead pearls, worms, tiny eggs,
eyelets, small wheels, thin sticks.

Like psychologists, geologists,
and those obsessed with Hell,
we're obsessed with a submerged
dominion, about which we invent
myths, toward which we harbor
resentments, and into which
we cast gleaming desires.
We are deceivers of water-creatures.
We are lords of the sky-world.

We do not travel water to get somewhere.
To us, Odysseus was an abject fool.
Our world is lyric, not epic.  Ahab
was a reckless tourist. Jonah was bait.
And yes, we know whales aren't fish,
so be quiet.  Ssshhh! Did you hear that?
Did you feel that? We live for small
signs of animated resistance, for
the life on the line.  No, it is not
time to go. There is plenty of light left.


Hans Ostrom, 2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hiram Goes to Cafe Fear

(another in a series of "Hiram" poems)



Hiram Goes To Café Fear


Hiram thinks, “Here I am sitting inside
my shirt, shoes, and trousers, on a chair
at a table in a café.  I am afraid
of dying.  Also of nothing.  I tell
a waitress what I want for lunch.
She brings it.  I eat it, holding off
fear for a while.  I don’t know
who or why I am.  I am aware
of sitting, afraid, inside my clothes
and body.  This is me, I think. 
So this is me and this my fear.”


Hans Ostrom, 2012


Spiders' Migration

(re-posting a seasonal poem)


Spiders' Migration



Northern Hemisphere, September: spiders
come inside.  They slip through seams
to here, where summer seems to them
to spend the winter.  Their digits tap out
code on hardwood floors.  They rappel
from ceilings on out-spooled filaments
of mucous, measuring the place.  Sometimes
they stay just still.  Paused.  Poised.

It’s not as if spiders wait for us
to watch them, or even as if they
wait.  Rather, octavian motion
is so easy, syncopated, and several
that stillness surely exhilarates spiders
just arriving from the Northern Hemisphere.
It’s time for us to enter equal days and
equal nights, to pluck the filament between
fear of and fascination with spiders
moving in.


Hans Ostrom, 2012