Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Overheard: It Changes, and It's Changing

The problem with
having everything online
is that it changes
all the time, and
it's changing.



--Hans Ostrom 2013

Found Poem: They're All Dead, Ashes

Message on my phone
when I arrived home that
I was late for the grooming
appointment for my animals.
They'll be hard to groom.
They're all dead, ashes.....



found Feb. 27 2013
hans ostrom 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Phone as Phone

Telephone.
Tele-phone.
Telephonetics.

"Telephone!" we used to shout
"Phone--for you!"
"Somebody get that phone!"

And today someone
said to me, "Are you
saying that you use
your phone as a phone?"

And I confessed, yes,
"I don't use any of the
apps."



Hans Ostrom, 2013

Edna St. Vincent Millay's birthday

Happy birthday, Ms. Millay, and thanks for the poems.

A link to a reading of "To Those Without Pity":


reading

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Chardin's 'Still Life With Fish,'"

The Next Big Thing: Interview

Writer C.E. Putnam has "tagged" me in the authorial game of "the next big thing," in which one answers questions about a project and then "tags" other writers. My self-interview appears below, and I am "tagging" Renee Simms, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Laurie Frankel, Suzanne Warren, Sandy Evans, Tamiko Nimura, and Carter Monroe.

What is the working title of the book?

Without One

Where did the idea come from for the book?


I was thinking about flesh-eating bacteria, and I wondered what would happen, socially, if there were a bacteria that destroyed men’s penises but otherwise left them physically healthy. –That is, an epidemic, like AIDS (when it first arose), with vast social and psychological implications.

What genre does your book fall under?

Social satire, based on a science-fiction premise, with lots of stuff about romance, sexuality, politics—and questions of masculinity and “manhood,” obviously.


What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?


A friend in Hollywood thinks Seth Rogan would be perfect for one role. Peter Gallagher, maybe, for another role. Emilie De Ravin, Melissa Benoist. Steve Buscemi—maybe he could direct it--since we're fantasizing here.


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Because of a bizarre new epidemic, something is happening to men: their penises are falling off.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

First draft—probably 18 months.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As always, I inspired myself. I’m a one-person crew, for better or worse. You do what you can. I also wanted to see if I could write it. I’d say I’m a poet by nature, so novels are still quite daunting to me, even though I’ve written a few.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Implications of the penis-plague, which is known as Rapid Penile Degeneration Syndrome (RAPIDS), go all the way to . . .the White House!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The book is now available on Kindle, and two agents have asked to look at it.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

It's a Curious Thing

There are some people
(I’m one) who negotiate
their membership
in the family they’re
born into. They get by.

They continue to cope
and manage as they
move through other groups—
schools and jobs,
communities. But they
never belong. They’re
not exactly loners or
outcasts. In a way,
that would be easier–
the lines sharp.

They always feel
themselves to be
provisional members,
probationary,
forever trying to figure out
the rules and codes,
always and ultimately
awkward, not matter
how “successful.” This is no

complaint, only observation.
It is the shape of the path
for some of us—that’s all.
It is a curious thing, that’s all.


Hans Ostrom, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Planet's Disease

Industrial humanity's become
a bad disease the planet suffers from.



Hans Ostrom, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

No Answer to the Ocean


It's like this, maybe: A tide comes in.


It brings things you come to believe.


There they are, objects on glassy sand.


They're what's come of all your coping.


A stone, a crab-shell, a worn piece of


wood, a string of kelp. They're no answer


to the ocean. They don't add up to a code.



You keep walking on the beach,


trying to figure things out. There's


nothing wrong with that--walking,


wondering. What are you hoping for?





Hans Ostrom

Monday, February 4, 2013

"The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sacramento Capitol Mall



Politicos stride like totalitarian colonels.
Professionals lean into conversations
about cash-flow, internal control, and impact (a verb).

Winos stand against a wall and shiver
their way out of hallucination,
their shirt-fronts soaked with the Lamb's
most inexpensive blood; bums pick through rubbish
and sleep under news; the mad testify
to streetlights and themselves.

No one runs for office anymore
except the staffs of those who ran before.
They govern each other and whisper about us.

Sunlight remains democratic.
We walk in it together
between the muddy river and the capitol.
We are lobbyist and lunatic, accountant and pickpocket,
admin-assistant, tech-person, plumber,
and Ph.D. student writing about
power-relationships.

I find myself wondering not at all
about the powerful. I focus on a trembling hand
that picks through garbage. I fork over
a few bucks to the hand's person.
who gargles the words, "God bless you."
 Somewhere there’s a photo

of that man when he was six years old
and squinting at the camera, happy in a summer
in another state.

Maybe you finally come to hate poverty
enough to pursue it as an art;
maybe a thousand left hooks in the downtown gym
finally leave your brain fizzed like pink champagne,
and you're on the street mumbling to a corner man
who isn't there. Or somebody dies, and your way

of understanding that is to let go the things
that hint of looking forward,
including the grammar of love,
and love of self, and taking tomorrow straight.

Yeah, so, I gave him a few bucks, which will
go for booze, not a sandwich, and I don’t care
because it’s not my money anymore,
and as the Capitol might whisper,
it never was. 


Copyright 2013 hans ostrom

Friday, February 1, 2013

Twice-Believing Creatures



Twice-Believing Creatures


Crickets sing the word "ceasing" electronically
in dirt and dry stalks.
A heavy black beetle turns his belly
to the cosmos, plucks with his six feet
at the needles of a darkening pine bough.
The Magician dances out of straw. He is Dusk;
he juggles the sun and the moon and the evening star.

Here and there a few are alert,
some curious, some thankful--like the deer,
weary of swishing horseflies away
from their backsides all day and hungry
after the heavy afternoon;--like the raccoon,
waddling off to make a living at the pond's edge;
--and the tireless child, the old man
who stands near his garden listening to the corn grow,
and the woman with her hands folded,
singing out loud to nobody.

They know that dusk takes today's body
and brings another after an interlude of dreaming.
They know nothing of the sort;
they are as dubious as the light at dusk.
They know the world to be as new
as the note of a gnat in the ear, as old
as the lizard's dry smirk,
a boulder's personality, darkness.


Hans Ostrom, 2013