Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Friday, December 27, 2013

Oh, Of Course, Yes

Oh, of course, yes sir,
I'd very much like to pay
to watch another film
about sociopathic Americans
starring Robert De Niro or
it-doesn't-matter-who. Yes,
fascinating, humorous, ha-ha,
chuckles. No, of course,
there really aren't any
other subjects for cinema
that are quite as interesting
and exciting. Yes, sir, I am
very happy with the cinema
you provide. You are a genius!
Everyone in Hollywood is a genius!


hans ostrom 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Zombie Poets

They're not the Undead.
They're the Unread.

They stagger toward you
in cafes and bars,
carrying moist notebooks,
possibly wearing berets.

(Some of them were once
famous and popular. Old
anthologies muffle their
screams like thick
asylum-walls.)

They are all over
the Internet, the Unread.
("Eloise, why does he write
'they" and not 'we'?")

So much writing, so
little reading. They occupy
the night. They read poems
outside closed libraries.

They get high, the Unread,
and they behave badly in hopes
of becoming the next Bukowski.

In your nightmare,
they smother you with thousands
of saddle-stapled chapbooks
and eat from your refrigerator.
Cue ghostly music.. . . The Unread!



hans ostrom 2013

These Things Called Years

These artificial things called "years":
how annoying. They're perceptual engines
that drive us through our lives, keep us
rushed and harried, depressed and habituated.

It all starts again on "January First,"
which we're urged to celebrate. On the
Second, we must report to work on time
or get fired, and we must start

counting the god-damned shopping-days left
til the Apocalyptic Sale. (Everything must go.)


hans ostrom 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Found Poem

You should know two things before you read this. One, the language was directed at me, and, two, there is cursing.


Christmas Found Poem


I think you
are the only
one I can
think of who
would say something
like ". . . Those
fucking Christmas
macaroons."


hans ostrom 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Just An Acre

If counting and accounting
and statistics count, oh
so to speak, then I have
by that accounting, well,
existed. There is a record
of me. Two questions: Is
there a record of you? And,
if there is, so what?

Women's bodies are
slightly and infinitely
different from
men's bodies. This
difference has fueled
many of my nights
on Earth. If you

would argue about
differentiations
of sex, of gender,
then I applaud you.

I'm just an acre
of existence that
broke off. I'm just
a congregation of
lore, learning,
laziness.



hans ostrom 2013

"San Joaquin," by William Everson

Way Past Post-Whatever

You're no frond of mine.
When I deploy an avatar,
I am no friend of me,
and yet of course I will
be online-intimate with you.

If everything were all right
off-line, online would not
be such a place of refuge.

I am not a simple man.
For I have not evolved at least
that far.I am the make-shift product
of the what-before-me-came.
I have no name.

We're out here, there isn't
any map, and our compasses
have collapsed. This all to me
is good news. I understand
why you think otherwise.

I am no friend. I am no
fiend. That said I listen.


hans ostrom 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Have Seen

I have seen the sun
and I fear the calamities.
I have seen the sun
and I seek no remedies.

I have seen the moon
and I've kissed the cool air.
I have seen the moon
and glimpsed its jeweled lair.

I have seen the stars,
mostly in books, alas.
I have seen the stars:
the avant-garde of mass.


hans ostrom 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Extra-Canonical

Some Harvard professor left a parking citation
on my bicycle. It said, "You are extra-canonical,
so get out of here." I saw a shard of
greisen (a rock of quartz and white mica)
on the ground and felt better. Just then

Donnie came buy, so I bought him a cup
of coffee and me one, too, and as we
sipped I said, "Donnie, a screen memory
is a memory a person can handle so the
person uses that to block a memory
that's too painful when called up."
Donnie said, "Hard to prove that
kind of thing, but that don't
mean it ain't real." People at

the next table were talking about
a new kind of crampon, and Donnie
said, "Where do you think they got
the name 'Tampon'?" I said I didn't
know, and then I imagined all of
reality spreading out from that
place, our conversation, and
the exact texture of the scene,
from murmur to odor to costumes
and movement, endless I say
endless physical, social, chemical,
economic, biological, and
extra-canonical transactions."It

really is all quite fascinating
in spite of its problems, isn't it?"
said Donnie. "Yes, it is," I replied.


hans ostrom 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

"1970s Spasm"

Hey, man--hey, you net-box jumper
and rainbow-thumper.
I'm seeing
albums raining down without their
covers. I mean thousands
of black albums coming on in
like swarthy, thin UFOs. ("It
just means it's unidentified,
okay? You need to fucking
lay back, man.") And I see now
the complex map of my life
is being etched by a diamond
needle, digging into undulant
vinyl, shined on by blue
lava-light. Hey, play the
other side, play the other
side, hey play--oh, okay,
cool. (It's getting cold.)
Nice tuner! I need a beer.


hans ostrom 2013

"God to Hungry Child," by Langston Hughes

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Design or Accident

That which happens, especially the bad:
is it design or accident? we ask.
Often we ask it. Many who are also human
will provide responses. You have
heard the range of answers.

Reality, that
universal beast, does not
respond, except for its
continual and infinite shrug,
which can be interpreted
as yes or no or maybe
or I don't understand the question.



hans ostrom 2013

What Exactly Do You Mean?

Divine algorithms
press against
brittle positivist
walls, disturbing
the binary peace.
God did well in math.



hans ostrom 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm Going To Need You To

I am going to need you to
give me your license and registration.
I am going to need you to
show me your hands.
I am going to need you to
get out of the car.
I am going to need you to
get down, get down!
I am going to need you to
shut up, stop talking.
I am going to need you to
what the fuck are you doing?
I am going to need you to
stop acting Not White.
I am going to need you to
give me a reason.
I am going to need you to
be ignorant of history.
I am going to need you to
die from the bullets I shoot.
I am going to need you to
die.
I am going to need you to
not be photographed.
I am going to need you to
understand I need my union rep.
I am going to need you to
accept the verdict.
I am going to need you to
not go crazy, riot, fight.
I am going to need you to
accept what's right.
I am going to need to
accept what is RIGHT.
I am going to need you.



hans ostrom 2013



Monday, December 2, 2013

"Supremacy," by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Grave-Digging

You're in the toiling moment,
grunting, swatting mosquitoes
attracted by your sweat,
separating rocks from dirt.
You're using a pick, you're
shoveling, you're measuring
for length, depth, and width.

And then you're standing in a
grave, hearing your lungs
heave for breath, wiping
your forehead with a work-shirt
sleeve. You're listening

to a bird or two in the still
cemetery. It takes effort
to get out of the dug grave.
You take a last look,
think briefly of a body
in a box, then move into

whatever's left of the flow
called day, called life,
before your consciousness
is picked from your body
and your body,
if not burnt up,
is put in a grave to mold
and to rot and to be food
for sundry creatures
in their own version of the flow.

Yes, your body,
which once dug a grave,
will go into a grave
somebody dug, probably
not by hand like you
but with machinery.



hans ostrom 2013

Sunday, December 1, 2013

At Lake Polyester

I was fly-casting aspersions

into the fetid waters

of Lake Polyester when

a squad of bankers

bum-rushed me

and knocked me about.

“Stay off our land, drifter,”

they said. I let them say

it twice more, for practice,

and then said, “This isn’t

your land, and I’m not

a drifter.” They said Oh

and ran fast to find

legal counsel. Several

women studying their

own voluptuousness

waved to me from

across the lake. Sunlight

on their curves and

globes became a

sermon, and I believed.


hans ostrom 2013