Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Jesus and the Condominium," by Hans Ostrom


Somewhere in the United States, someone
is trying to sell Jesus a share
in a condominium-scheme. Christ
is told He may vacation anywhere
in the world using a complicated
point-system. First He must pay
a lot of money to participate
in the point-system. Did

a counterpart to the verb, "to vacation,"
exist in Aramaic? Jesus is trying
to remember. He thinks it's a miracle
that people fall
for such scams. Christ notes

that sales-eyes are not on the sparrow,
and sales-affections lie not
with the poor. After he says

"No" the seventh time, he adds,
"I live in Heaven for free
and come here to Hell only
on business.Therefore this package
is not for me."


hans ostrom 2014



"Opinions," by Hans Ostrom

Opinions, the styrofoam peanuts
of human discourse, proliferate;
are almost weightless; annoy
so much they wither us. The more

opinions most people hear or read,
well, the more they think they
should cultivate their own. A few
respond another way. They constrain

their points of view, refuse to argue,
wait for evidence but rarely
trust it. They're just fine with
saying "I don't know." Terrifying words.

Sometimes I place the word "opinion"
next to the word "onion." It is fun
to look at them side by side. Always
I prefer "onion" to "opinion."


hans ostrom 2014



"Out Fairly Far," by Hans Ostrom


We're fairly far out now, well
past the harbor. We float on darkness,
look back to diminished city lights.
Stars gain candle-power. The sea

makes more sounds than we can
listen to. None of us knows
why we're out here, not really.
All of us fell short of

our dreams for ourselves. The
dramas of our lives are small
but exhaust us still. There is no
captain. We take turns at the helm.


hans ostrom 2014


Friday, August 8, 2014

Found Poem: "Rates"

Of course,
the closer you are to your
death-bed,
the higher
the rates will be.


Hans Ostrom 2014

Hans Ostrom's Big List of Things to Write Poetry About

(or . . . About Which to Write Poetry; or Fiction, for that matter)

1. Say, "I can't believe I've never written a poem about [         ]" and then fill in the blank as you wish.
2. Real birds, closely observed.
3. Real human gestures, closely observed.
4. Imaginary human gestures.
5. Odors, stenches, smells, aromas.
6. Your own feet.
7. Imagine the lines on one of your palms are from a map. Of what?
8. About that time when you were excluded from a group.
9. About that time you had a hand in excluding someone else from a group.
10. Guilt.
11. Joy, the real ecstatic stuff.
12. Thinking, the process off. "Watch" yourself think.
13. War, if you've been to war.
14. War, if you haven't been to war.
15. A piece of art. Any piece of art. This would be an ekphrastic poem.
16. Work. Such as a specific job you held/hold.
17. A specific place in a big city; medium-sized city; town; small town.
18. A scene as seen by someone else.  Or as experienced by someone else. Perhaps even in their spoken or interior voice.
19. Cursing, curse-words.
20. Toys. Old toys. Imaginary toys.
21. A specific plant, closely observed.  Weed, flower, vegetable, shrub.
23. Something seen through a different lens: microscope, telescope, some kind of window.
24. Dancing of some kind.
25. A quiet place in a big building.
26. A noisy place in a big building
27. Hair.
28. Fashion.
29. An ethical dilemma.
30. Money. Actual money (coins, bills, checks, virtual money). Concerns about money. Desires connected to money.
31. An imaginary room or space that you "add" to an abode you once lived in.  Let's say you lived in a one-bedroom apartment or a two-bedroom shack.  Add one room or space and write about it.
32. An unusual experience with an animal.
33. Insects. Arachnids.
34. Rain.
35. Snow.
36. Illness.
37. People in power. A person in power.
38. An engine or motor of some kind.
39. Words you like, dislike, misuse, use too much, never use.
40. Reactions, responses, free-associations connect to the number "40" or the word, "Forty."
41. Learning to do something.
42. Forgetting how to do something.
43. Cooking.
44. Eating.
45. Copulation.
46. Other people, working.
47. Other people, worshipping.
48. Bones.
49. Dreams, as in nightmares.
50. Ambition.
51. Candy.
52. Playing a musical instrument.
53. Hypocrisy--yours, preferably; or someone else's.
54. Serendipity, an example thereof in your life.
55. Make several words out of  letters from the word, "serendipity," and start a poem using those words.
56. Write a poem that is one long, well shaped sentence.
57. A list-poem.
58. A how-to poem: how to fall in love, how to cook an egg, how to listen to an old person, etc.
59. Expedience.
60. The way a politician talks.
61. Your handwriting.
62. A childhood friend.
63. A childhood imaginary friend.
64. An amphibian.
65. A reptile.
66. Some aspect of science or medicine.
67. Some aspect of technology.
68. Conversations you hate to have with yourself.
69. Weight-gain.
70. Weight-loss.
71. Something you've read.
72. An homage-poem about someone or some event.
73. Jealousy.
74. Rage.
75. Envy.
76. Gluttony.
77. Privilege.
78. Tastes--beverages and food.
79. A quality of light.
80. Education.
81. Hate.
82. Confusion.
83. Something you regard as dull: the topic of life insurance, technical manuals, advice, shit other people seem to like a lot, etc.
84. How not-special you are.
85. How special you are. You can be sarcastic, of course.
86. High school athletics.
87. High school mean-ness.
88. High school: the physical landscape of it.
89. Yourself in 5 years.
90.Cloth.
91. Metal.
92. Wood.
93. Rocks.
94. Breathing.
95. An absurd situation.
96. Poverty.
97. A law.
98. A rule.
99. Rhythm.
100. Awkwardness of any kind.
101. Mathematics.
102. Religion.
103. Philosophy. A philosophical quotation.
104. Suburbia.
105. A proportionally accurate map of the world (you might be surprised).
106. Geology.
107. Economics.
108. Plastic.
109. Underwear.
110. Violence.
111. Redemption.
112. Weather.
113. Climate.
114. A mask.
115. A road.
116. A woman.
117. A man.
118. A trans-gender person.
119. Processed food.
120. Ice.
121. What's in a bathroom.  Specifics.
122. Your skin.
123. A time-piece.
124. Something you enjoy touching.
125. A letter to someone you will never meet.
126. A text-message to God.
127. A text-message from God.
128. Your own birth--make something up.
129. Punctuation.
130. Various oils.
131. A place that "disappeared": such as a field on which people built something.
132. A creek.
133. A culvert.
134. A tunnel.
135. A small pond.
136. Tools.
137. Pretentiousness.
138. Pigs.
139. Snakes.
140. Smoking.
141. A very hot day.
142. Noses.
143. Tiny creatures, such as fleas and mites.
144. Dusk.
145. Getting up early.
146. An apology.
147. Belts, scarves, ties--accessories.
148. Listening to the radio.
149. Not listening to the radio.
150. The physical qualities of some kind of computer.
151. A town you visited precisely once.
156. Air.
157. Washing clothes.
158. Something you are good at.
159. Drums.
160. Wires.
161. Death.
162. An old movie.
163. An awful cafe.
164. A form of spirituality not your own.
165. Zeno's Paradox.
166. Something in a museum.
167. Mirages.
168. Annoyances.
169. Dizziness.
170. Working out.
171. Not working out.
172. Dependence.
173. Independence.
174. A coastline.
175. A concept you may not understand, such as relativity or the horizon.
176. Fixing something. Repairs.
177. Shoes.
178. Something hand-made.
179. Something mass-produced.
180. Advertising.
181. The language of finance and investing, as applied to something else, such as sex.
182. Breasts.
183. Genitalia.
184. Something weirdly comic.
185. The oldest person you know.
186. Guns and ammo.
187. Yoga--whether you practice it or not.
188. Feces. Like dog-shit.
189. Stairs.
190. A piece of public sculpture.
191. A recipe.
192. Video games.
193. Astronomy.
194. Astrology.
195. A chore, a task, a routine.
196. Language itself, my dear.
197. Alchemy.
198. Bullshit, figuratively.
199. Bullshit, literally.
200. Farming.
201. Ranching.
202. Commercial fishing.
203. Vegetables.
204. Hiking.
205. Mobility via wheel-chair or crutches.
206. An impairment.
207. A gift.
208. Lessons you didn't like: music lessons, swimming lessons, etc.
209. An invented lesson.
210. The concept of "zero."
211. Something you think "belongs" to you.
212. An official form of some kind.
213. Any two or more of the above in combination, such as "a gift" and "a chore."
214. Why the joker is, in fact, not wild.
215. A game.
216. Phrases like "You're welcome" or "Make yourself at home."

--Hans Ostrom, 2014

"Love Not In Demand," by Hans Ostrom