Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Are We We? Oui

How are you enjoying the Pre-Apocalypse?
Other species through no fault of their
own get clocked by asteroids or Ice Ages.

We're just self-destructive. And we
think we have the right--don't we?--
to blow up everything. Wreck it.

Including the future. Who are we?
Are we we? Is there time. Is there time?


hans ostrom 2016

Caught Playing With Words

Are you playing with your words again?
Stop playing with your words! Put them down.
Oh, my God, they're all over your face, in
your hair,on the floor, the walls.

And stop laughing! It isn't funny.
You're much too old to be playing
with your words. You're never going
to amount to anything. What do you

mean what do I mean by "anything"?
People can amount to things!
But only if they stop playing
with their words at an early age.



hans ostrom 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016

Poets

One orders French wine and quizzes me about
who (what poets) I know and what I've read.
He's not quite insufferable.  He seems to think
he's hot shit. I start to get bored.

Another one sings a verse of a bluegrass song
on voice-mail--in tune, on pitch, with a
Carolina accent.  And another

edits a prestigious anthology which a
prestigious scholar skewers in a review,
and I don't care because their prestige
seems like a well preserved automobile
from 1936. Plus with the Internet,

anthologies don't matter, and
prestige is a penny stock.

Millions of others are just starting,
farting around with words.  It's a fine
thing to try to imagine: millions of poets
writing, clotting in cafes, tapping
on screens, falling asleep after
a swing-shift, wondering why White
people are so crazy, trying to get
another poet in bed.

Me: never prestigious, my obscurity
well seasoned, robust, full bodied.
The fascination with poetry stays
fresh.  The uncertainty about poetry's
place in society enlarges.

Anyway, it's one word. After another.


hans ostrom 2016

Language Charged With Meaning

Ezra Pound wanted to charge language
with meaning.  A misdemeanor, surely.

Who could testify against language?
They'd have to use language to try

and thereby make themselves
accessories after the testimony.

I say exonerate language from meaning.
Or convict but pardon it.  Commute

a few of its sentences. I mean, really.


hans ostrom 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Novel and Poem

(ars poetica)

A novel is a thousand lovely cacti.
A poem is a shot of tequila.
Novel is the breathing of a marathon-runner.
Poem is the intake of breath felt when a woman
invites you to be nude with her.
Novel is a wheat field. Poem
is a vegetable patch.

A novel is a city.
A poem is hearing music or seeing
art or going broke or having sex or
falling in love or hating work or fearing
or being all alone or getting acclaim or
arrested in that city.

Novel is a search for spices.
Poem is cardamom.

A novel is a battle.
A poem is dog-tags hanging
on a war memorial.

Novel is someone you know well.
Poem is a strange stranger.


hans ostrom 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bible and Rifle

I saw a man
wrestling his Bible.
I saw a man
clutching his rifle.

It was one man.
One and the same.
And all confused
by hate and shame.


hans ostrom 2016

Quest Ionnaire

What is your gun rights?
Why is movie stars?
Who is bombing sites?
How is luxury cars?

When is bigots?
Who is frackings
How is forgets?
Where is hackings?

Why is hedge-funds?
What is gun rites?
Who is bombing raids?
When is megabytes?

How is racists?
Why is time-shares?
What is billionaires?
Who is malwares?

Consciousness

Consciousness floats in virtual air
like a weightless golden pear
the body imagines with its blood.

Consciousness is absolutely
absurd, partly because it
can reason. Not least of all,

intuition forms an illuminating
shadow. In closing, let us
pray, and let us note

that prayer is one way consciousness
expresses its hope that it's not
talking only to itself.


hans ostrom 2016

Patented New Sonnet Form

Pablo Parabola patented the ten-line
sonnet for a sleeker look, increased
speed, and tighter handling. Interviewed
at his apartment in the Pommes de Plume
hotel, Parabola said, "We;ll be in full

production before Fall." Critics
say he and his investors have grossly
overestimated the market for ten-line
sonnets, leaving aside the question of
demand for sonnets globally.


hans ostrom 2016

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Medusa's Morning

One morning Medusa put her hair up all
in snakes. What do you think? she asked
her lover. Looks great! he said. You didn't
even look! she said. I did so, said he,
and it looks terrific. At the same time,

your hair looks hungry, and what people
forget is that snakes stink.  He got out
of bed and asked Medusa what she thought
of the red hawk he'd attached to his groin.

She said, You're scaring my hair.

hans ostrom 2016