Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"The News from Inside"

Inside me, still,
lurks the baby who could walk
but chose not to
(wanting instead to stand up,
hands grasping the rail
of what they called a play-pen)
and to watch. It seems

I was born wary
and passively resistant.
And that's who I stayed.
In the 17th month, I walked
because, having watched them,
I noted that they
seemed to want me to walk.

Inside me, I don't
contain multitudes,
and Walt Whitman can
go fuck himself. Inside me
there's the DNA of a woman
living in Africa
160,000 years ago:
it's inside you, too.

And then inside there there's
a few people who worked like dogs
but not as hard as slaves. Maybe
a failed preacher, certainly
a Skid Row drunk, and possibly
the funniest patient in what
they called a mental ward.

Inside me, I think it's
population: 12. Or so.
But no apostles. In there,

an old non-descript tree
finally gives up, accepts
a lightning-smash, explodes,
and falls. Deer, squirrels,
owls, a cougar, a bear,
and maybe some hiker with
a bandana tied around
dirty hair mark
the arboreal collapse,
but, god damn it,
there's never a Zen monk
around when you need one.
And Walt Whitman
can go fuck himself.

Inside me, there's
a startling, a chronic
mild terror--maybe because
at month 15 or so,
I learned from informed
intuition that very little
in this life-thing makes sense.


hans ostrom 2015


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