Saturday, June 3, 2023

Where You're Coming From

You can go only
from where you are,
the where being your
heavy body, as light
as it might be, a
neural factory you
take with you on the road,
any way whatever. You know

you're more than body,
but it is where you are,
your starting point
and final destination.

You must start from there,
and the end could come
anywhere but will be with
your body there with you,
of you. This is the paradox,

the dilemma, which inspires
dreams--and impulses
to create: points and routes
of escape, of play, of another way.

hans ostrom 2023


Vertebrae, keys of spinal
melody. Oh how we twist
and crunch them, reckless
in our lives, driven by the stress
of play and work, the herky
jerky movements of our time
here in space. Neck

to lower back, brain to bum,
the line that used to run
parallel to ground but then
uprighted itself to perpendicular
in an evolutionary wood,
shadows dappling light.

Dicey discs, gambler's risks
tossed on motion's gaming table,
connectors than enable.

hans ostrom 2023

Friday, June 2, 2023

Addicted to Blue

Once he was addicted to blue.
Life was ocean, lakes, and I-miss-you.
Three chords of dissonance & the color
of mountains furthest back
in a landscape view. Then

came green, as in the great
conifer forests of the Western Hemisphere.
As in lettuce and spinach and lush,
long poems. As in American football
fields where he left too many hours,
too much salty sweat. As in gardens he

planted, doted on, weeded, watched
and watched. And the car, sometimes
filled with women's perfume
and voluptuous presence. Camaro,
the petrol beast was called, silver-green,
and in one of those black bucket-seats,
a wild, witchy woman with green eyes
once sat. Once sat and smiled. And was.

Then wasn't. Dead. And every so often,
blue, he thinks I-miss-you, addicted to blue.

hans ostrom 2023

Thursday, June 1, 2023

The Sanity of a Nap Amidst Mint

Oh, almost overheated
in humid sunshine, I
sit down to pull up wicked
grass out of an emerald bed
of mint. I feel like a

Gulliver washed up on a
perfumed isle. What a plant
is mint! As tough as port rope.
As cool as 1950s jazz.

I regret not cooking with it
more. Turkey, Arabia, and Iran
treat it with proper respect.

Shirt soaked in salted sweat,
I want to lie down to nap
on this bed of mint, sedated
by the extravagant odor. Such
plain desires keep me sane.

hans ostrom 2023

Hugging on a Bed

Just two people holding
each other on a bed
for some minutes in eternity.

It's an ancient, common,
immediate act--warm.
Only vaguely do we bring

specific memories of
our long time together.
We're prone and holding

one another's fated
bodies, that's all,
that's plenty. We're

not here to work out
problems. Or to achieve.
We're here to hold.

To hold on. To feel good.
And rest! To let our minds
float as if on slow,

salty harbor water.
Here to step briefly
away from pressuring

time & to shape
a space in which
we know we fit.
Not that long ago,
few humans lived here.
What noise there was
came mainly from creatures,
water, wind through trees.

Now I walk out of
a building called a
supermarket, my feet
padding on concrete.

The habitat's composed
of cars and buildings.
Lots of wires. Spaces
strangled by paving.

Fluff from a cottonwood
tree flies like snow. Crows
strut and lecture. A

mated pair of geese
fly low over the store,
honking hilariously.
I really don't know
what to make of
anything anymore.

hans ostrom 2023

For the Number 11

Sympathies to you, eleven,
the first echo-number, two
flagpoles, a football or rugby
goal. After the glamorous run

from one to ten, the system
needed a dutiful number,
and you stepped in. No good
numeral deed goes unpunished:

Peter Bungus, 16th century,
charged you with being evil.
Other cultures did as well.
So human: to ignore evil
that exists so as to invent
the sight of it elsewhere.

Eleven, may you
and seven seek a long
vacation, far away from
superstition, 18 days on
a beach or next to an alpine
lake. Two poles, a rope,
and canvas: a simple tent
for a simple number and friend.

hans ostrom 2023

Train Work at Night

Night--& trains in the switching yard
moan and sigh. Sometimes steel
on steel squeals. Shuffling
of heavy shapes, a tired herd of
pachyderms. A lullaby of
old industry and titanic
monopolists. Maybe some kids
are spray-painting plump
coded graffiti on boxcar sides.

hans ostrom

Good Cover

Palest green spider, color
of vichyssois, a droplet of fog
with 8 legs: it was under one
of my garden shoes outside.

Kicked out of its room,
it walked a while in that
hovering, syncopated way,
always amazing.

I put the shoe on and wished
the spider well, hoped it would
reach dirt and plants--good

hans ostrom

Deion Sanders recalls being stiff-armed by Bo Jackson

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

To Have Been: Old Letters

To keep old letters,
or to throw them away?--
much more difficult
than Hamlet's question.

Letters from my mother
in her neat handwriting--
to me when I taught
in Germany. Letters

from former girlfriends--
& "girlfriend" now seems
as antique as ink missives
crawling along mail routes.

I hate to destroy someone's
writing. I see the people
sitting at a desk or a table,
taking time to shape sentences,

to somehow slip news
and feeling into scrawl....
sealing the envelope....
attaching stamps....

Words, preserved--
a pickling of thought.
Eventually we all have to
wreck evidence of our lives:

To have been, or not to have been.

hans ostrom 2023

Saturday, May 27, 2023

A Pixel in the Picture

Trying to be enough
in others' eyes, you got used
at working at life too hard--
performing. By

accident you discovered
that it's better
all around just to do
your part--

whatever that is. Those
tasks. Cook, tidy up, listen,
work, care, remain rational.
Just doing, not

performing. A pixel
in the picture
of the common good.
One day someone

said she was impressed
with your kindness. She
may have added "sweetness."
You were surprised.

A bit grateful.
But not tempted
at all to start doing

hans ostrom 2023