Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Sierra Buttes," by Hans Ostrom

The Sierra Buttes
are what Cubism
had wanted to be:
a multi-planed,
sui generis impro-
vization, a force
of nature admired
as an object d'arte.

Up were the plates
thrust in the patient
geological crash.
Then came the mother
tongue, ice, which

ultimately withdrew
(think how slowly),
leaving this grand
stone assemblage,
this blue-jazz
diorite peak
with no peak,
instead a bulbous

Every different angle
invents a new Buttes
(plurality in the
singularity of the
plural singular),
each resulting in

an entirely different
understanding of
"the Sierra Buttes."
Standing in the town
of Sierra City,
one notices that
looking up
creates in humans
uncomfortable planes
for the head and the

neck. And it is
no wonder that people
who live in
Sierra City and other
small mountain-towns
around our
geological globe
tend to
develop highly original
designs for calamity,
have crafted
grand existential comedies--
forces of life
that may never
be shaped into art.

For there is no answer
to the mountain,
there is no solution
to how the Sierra Buttes
human endeavor,
or so think humans
(this is drama
on our scale)
as they consider
the mountain the

hans ostrom 2014

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