Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"I Wonder What Your Latitude Is Tonight," by Hans Ostrom

I'm going in another direction.
But I might see you when
the Earth turns around.

The blood on my hands
(not mine by the way)
turned into foaming rainbows.

I'm now riding through the "sky":
it is so mild. And I wonder what
your latitude is tonight.

hans ostrom 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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"The Wind Sprang Up at Four O'Clock," by T.S. Eliot

"Economics," by Hans Ostrom

Why do I have to share?
You don't have to share, if
you're opposed to sharing.
Why would I want to share?
You would want to share
because you are able to do so
and because
sharing expresses the proper
of your will and your empathy.

. . .No one leads
a completely individual life.
Eventually everyone
needs someone, wants
others. There
sharing begins.. . .

hans ostrom

Monday, July 7, 2014

"Fin," by Hans Ostrom

I grew a fin.
It helps me swim.

The wife of many years
divorced me. She
thought the issue of a fin
was insurmountable.

I had to learn
to sleep on
my side or belly.
Also, clothes:
you can imagine.

I don't care.
got something.
I have a fin.

hans ostrom 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Dig," by Hans Ostrom

Look down, if you like,
on this archaeological dig:

where once someone
stood and looked
at ruins left by previous

Behind us and slightly
above will stand
someone looking down
at this old place,

decrepit in future.
Odd, this desire

to pass through
a crowded, vibrant
city of noise and
pulse, the great fracas,

so as to stand still
and gaze upon
sad stones on which
throngs lived long ago.

Blame it on Time, which makes
us chronological voyeurs.

hans ostrom 2014

"Radar Songs," by Hans Ostrom

Airline attendants walk among us,
angels of the Aisle. They draw
lines on air and attend to the lines.
They feed us nectar and encrypt

aluminum dreams. We're the departed,
scheduled to arrive at a gate
leading anywhere. Airline attendants
speak hypothetically of a

"water landing," which is more
of a problem than a seat-cushion
can solve. Fasten your seat-belts,
Believers, and fly fascinated!

Resort to destinations
and leave your baggage unclaimed. Let
it ride like an old symbol
around the dream-slow carousel,

which implies that all human activity
proves to be absurd
eventually. That is why airline
attendants will dance

around the Control Tower
tonight (whisper: tonight!),
raising a chorus
of radar songs.

hans ostrom 2014

"Love to Faults is Always Blind," by William Blake

"Julia," by Robert Herrick