Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Our Conversation So Far

Are they than closer appear
may mirror in objects? Seated
while belt seat fasten your
under vest life!

Refrigerated keep. Sale
individual for labeled not
unit this, all right?

Tough song, fly
along, boogety, boogety.

You count my blessings
if that's what interests you.
I don't think blessings
belong in a ledger.

Yes, there is at least
one mirror in every
object humans perceive.

Experience online
exclusive an to redirect
we as wait please. Please.

There are no objects
in mirrors. Mirrors
are objects.


hans ostrom 2016

Friday, January 22, 2016

If Riven

Mary Christ
cross criss

Joseph cross
rises boss

early daze
Christ bright

Jesus common
strums some

romans romans
romans romans

occupied rocks
goats flock

sun sun
sun sun

no details
know details

the hole
whole thing

the holes
whole blood

thing blood
thing well

no not
bread no

push back
pay back

you'll pay
back pay

push back
react shun

done it
done sun

son done
it done

Christ whoa
woe Jesus

yes mystery
mystery no

lore lore
lore lore

gospel true
blue truth

anyway anyway
rising rising

risen and
if then

and when
if riven

riven risen
end there



hans ostrom 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Alice Axe

Action hero Alice Axe
drops explosives down
the rabbit hole and obliterates
imagination. Her carved,

starved body glistens
and flexes for the camera
set-ups. Acting is
manufacturing. She's

on a mission. Certain
accounts depend on her.
The box-office weekend
slouches this way.

Know you are supposed
to believe phantoms
want to invade the nation.
Huh? Yes, oh yes.

Wonderland had it
coming. That is
from the movie, Alice
Axe has been celebritized.


hans ostrom 2016

Sistern Chapel

iron steel
steal, irony

please court
short pleas

angel angel
math moth

no pattern
known patter

sistern chapel
water sister

pleasure tongue
sung leisure

incense friend
ginseng end


hans ostrom 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Regrets

Lots of people tell me
they have no regrets
about anything, they don't
believe in regrets. Because
they're people, I suspect
they're lying. So what?

Then there are those who
urge other people never
to have regrets, as if regrets
were bunions and not
potential signals of a
conscience. These people
aren't lying. They're tyrants
of one sphere or another.


hans ostrom 2016

Use Your Head

I spend all day hauling my head around,
sometimes setting it down on a pillow.
My head's attached to my body (should
go without saying?). Even if it weren't

I'd bring it along because that's where
I most like to be. I've often gone into
my head, mostly for fun, not to mention
narcissism, but also to get way

from the world, which is inexplicable
and excessive, and from people,
who are--well, you know. We'll never
know whether I would have gotten

along better with an evolved
version of Neanderthals.


hans ostrom 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This Facility

Unintended consequences follow
and then lead. Inconsequential
tendons don't exist, although the
import of those meat-strings comes
clear often only after snap or pull.
I'm not proud of the way my mind

works. It stumbles around
like an optimist in a dark cemetery,
where names on stones change
themselves but change back
before anyone notices. Also

graveyards seem the least
likely place to see or hear
a ghost because if you have
freedom of movement, why
wouldn't you get out of there,
haunt elsewhere, and see
the sights? In conclusion,

the staff is threatening
to take away my privileges,
as if my haunted mind were
powerful; and as if I weren't
the owner-operator of
this facility.


hans ostrom 2016

Night Train in Fog

You hear the fractured racket of the beast,
its engine, horn, and steel on steel. The total
sound is one of the heaviest you'll know.
Fog's turned the invisible train into
a backstage cataclysm. Imagination

rises like an exhausted porter. A Black
stoker sings early versions of "Casey Jones."
Jackie Gleason offers Sherlock Holmes
a highball. John Henry stirs a kettle
of beans for hungry hobos. Dr. Zhivago

and Lara get it on joyfully in a sleeper,
and Agatha Christie shows Hitchcock
a few card tricks, but he can't concentrate
because a platinum blond just entered
the dining car. Butch and Sundance

ride disguised as old Methodist women.
Johnny Cash and Leadbelly sing
a train song, and Rain in the Face
(the engineer) leans on the horn hard.
It ain't no whistle.


hans ostrom 2016

Captured Pawns and Pieces

They're relieved to get off work early.
Two pawns have a threesome with a rook.
The other rook smokes weed. A knight
gets drunk with a bishop, a medieval
tradition. Soon the queen shows up,
sweating, the sleeves of her robe
rolled up. "We're horribly mis-managed.
Let's unionize," she says. No one listens.


hans ostrom 2016

Unhappy Teriyaki

Perhaps I shouldn't have eaten at
the "Unhappy Teriyaki." For the sauce
was morose, the service glum. Clientele:
numb. It was as if we all were extras

in a black-and-white film, waiting
for the star to come in out of the
fake rain playing a humorless,
wandering anti-hero. Short handsome

zero. Even if it wasn't as if that,
I tell you only the rice looked upbeat.
Songs of lamentation emerged
from the kitchen. A percussion-section

warms up in my orchestra pit.


hans ostrom 2015


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Photo from Dallas 1963

There's that lesser known photo from Dallas,
1963. Johnson, crowned by a cowboy hat,
almost smothers the foreground. He's
come down the steps of Air Force One
and hit the tarmac bellowing, bellicose.
Citizen Canine. The camera seized

his right arm as it rose in salute
to Texans, so it seems like a fascist
salute. Kennedy, bad back and all,
is several steps above him but
upstaged. Johnson has put his boot
on the throat of protocol. The President has
reached across his body to grab

Johnson's shoulder and hold him
back. It's hopeless.  Johnson and time
have become mad bulls. Kennedy's
sad face suggests surrender. Between
the men, Mrs. Kennedy seems to sink
beneath the surface of something.

The immensity of the suited males
becomes grotesque and arid--
menacing, but not like the slobbering
dogs of Birmingham. Mrs. Kennedy
looks politely terrified, glassy-eyed,
impaired by celebrity, sick to death
of the spectacle of power. In its own
way, the photograph is obscene.


hans ostrom 2016

Poetry Mountain

Mountains of poems, peaks
like Killimanjaro and Rainier.
To one of them a poet
brought a poem. "Here you go,"
she said. (She'd hiked to the top.)
A poetry-mountain attendant
said, "Thanks! Without poets,
there would be no poetry mountains."

He tossed the poem on the heap
and took a smoke-break.
Something then to do with
poetry-mountain physics
kicked in.  An avalanche.

The poet rode it all the way
down, where parts of the poetry
wreckage clotted cafes, open
mic venues, and other spaces.
Several famous poets awoke
to wads of words in their
mouths. They coughed and got
fussy like babies. The search

is still on for many missing
critics, last seen disappearing
under the crust of the mass.
The poet, she posted
an adequate apology online.


hans ostrom 2016

Under the Horizon

Thinking today of how like all workers
the Old Man got body-tired of and bored
with labor about the same time, like me
today chopping at a vegetable garden's
frozen mud in January.  Your mind

lets your body make your mind
think, "This shit is getting old."
You feel like you think the sun
looks when it seems to drop
below the top of shadowed hills:
ready for bed. Of course there's more
work waiting under the horizon.


hans ostrom 2016

Friday, January 1, 2016

Artist's Statement

Using the combined skills
of impatience, lassitude, imprecision,
obsession, genius, dullness, impracticality,
and distraction, I am able

to craft these wobbly, pathetic
structures, and to paint colors
and shapes that dislike each other.
These artifacts are fluent in me.

They're dear, embarrassing,
and perfect. They embody
the ideal of the mongrel
Get what I'm saying?

If not, I recommend the cafe
next door. If so, you'll stay
in this gallery for hours, meet
someone, and fall in love.


hans ostrom 2016