Monday, November 20, 2017


A bed surrounds itself,
just to be sure. A bookshelf
raises questions and sells them
at the Saturday market. There
are wishes stored in cobblestones.
I have a list. Certain colors
made promises to lightning.
They lied.  Hence thunder.
This is how we talk in Knowwhere.

hans ostrom

The economic reason why tax cuts for the rich are so stupid

Catfish and Koi

There are always women
swimming in the sea somewhere.
To me this is a comforting thought.
Thoughts that comfort us move
into and out of our thinking
calmly, like catfish or koi.
It isn't necessary to catch them.
It is preferable not to.

hans ostrom 2017

Salted Desert

Desolation amidst abundance:
the United States,
permanently warped by white
supremacy, mad with virulent
greed and perverse religion,
addicted to violence, proud
of ignorance. The salted
desert of its soul grows vast.

hans ostrom 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bartok and Stars

"The ways of life are infinite and mysterious."  --Georgio Scerbanenco, Traitors to All, translated by Howard Curtis

In spite of my playing, the piano
produced a simple minuet by Bartok,
which made me think of walking
cautiously across a frozen pond.

An empty coffee cup was sitting
on the bookshelf.  Cool ceramic.
Out there, and "up," night.
And stars, which we think of

as a permanent installation,
not a chaotic map of explosions
or freckles on an infinite face.
I dream recurrently about new

stars, close and bright,
flowing past in a sky-parade
as I look up from a meadow
in mountains and watch,

thrilled and terrified. I almost
forget to breathe. Someone I can't see
says, "Words are stars. I've
told you that before."

hans ostrom 2017

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Sound-Track Goes with the Screen

They moved me to a different office
again. Nothing personal, although
they must admit I've been an unyielding
piece of grit (I said grit) in the academic
machine. Sometimes a crow

comes to the ledge outside the small
wood-framed window, three brick
stories up. Crows always know
where I am. This one looks like
a private investigator.

The office doesn't have a door.
I put up a three-panel screen
instead.  Film noir. It suggests
I can tell fortunes during office hours.
The other people up here aren't

in my department; rather, I'm
not in theirs.  What is my department?
In this tepid exile, I seem to thrive.
I prepare for class, read, write poems,
eat bananas, look online for art,

music, Oakland Raiders updates,
and arcane information. Lately
I've been listening to the wind's
long moans in the duct system.
The sound track goes with the screen.

hans ostrom 2017

every year another live show

black branch, red
leaves. brown leaves,
green branch. white
branch, gold leaves.
mottled leaves; brown branch.

and an array of variations,
deciduous improvisations.

and dancing down the street,
with ice-shoes on her feet,
comes the woman who
calls herself Winter.

hans ostrom 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


The Etruscans employed fulguriators--
interpreters of lightning strikes.
Jagged, sizzling bolts wrought phrases,
injected warnings, illumined portents,
and brought the heat.  And may I say,
what a great job: Critic of Lightning.
It fuses meteorology, magic, entertainment,
theology, and serious scholarship.

There had to have been fulguriator
conferences, with newsletters (on
baked tablets) with articles like
"Towards a Theory of Lighting
Semantics," "The Neglected Importance
of Thunder," and "'Don't Sit Under
a Tree': Common Mistakes in
Fulguriation." My own

insights into lightning have been
wanting, focused on risk of wildfire,
fear of electrocution, and thoughts
of B-Horror movies. I know
I can do better, like the Etruscans.

hans ostrom 2017