Monday, April 27, 2015

The Great Photon River

I wonder about the number of electrons
in me. I know you wonder the same
about the number in you. I wonder about
their origin. And I wonder about photons:
fiat photons. Sometimes, ego

forgets to block out all transmissions
from the broader spectrum,
in which instants
you may glimpse,
I can too,

the scene that shows it's all,
including here and us, one river
of light flowing around
and through black-hole boulders
and dark-matter mountains.

hans ostrom 2015

Note to Hart Crane

"For unless poetry can absorb the machine...then poetry has failed of its full contemporary function."

--Hart Crane

As I started typing this wad of words, sir,
I received a note from "my" machine:
Your html cannot be accepted.

Afraid or not, I am
sure the machine has absorbed us.
Ever adaptable (I type this
as if I mean it), we write
from and about the technological
innards, but we be the absorbee.

Rather than building bridges,
the culture seems merely
to have outsmarted itself
in ways even a good advertising
man like yourself couldn't
have seen coming. It produces
catastrophe in a businesslike manner,
very professional.

Atlantis is a casino
and a resort, Plato
was a fascist, and the Brooklyn Bridge is
quaint, and . . . .

. . .And everything, is the problem.
Anyway, from inside, unlyrically,
some craft reports like this
about the lovely contours of the machine,
the words floating like plastic trash
on the surface of "our" seminal html. May
a brother buy a vowel? Machine says no.

hans ostrom 2015

Friday, April 24, 2015


Oh, the brain is such
a busy beast, operating
on its own, only oh occasionally
letting will pretend it is a manager.

On its own, the beast
associates the Thursday word
with an aubergine purple
and velvet texture.

It links Saturday
to red, Sunday to hard
translucence, Monday to off-white
or beige, Tuesday

to blue and an upholstered feel,
Wednesday to tan and cinnamon,
a graininess. Friday: black and gray,
the vintage whimsy of

a checkerboard linoleum floor.
Brain, to what end, this
communication between strangers
in the internal jazz cafe?

hans ostrom 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Crow Knows Chronos

How does a crow
know when to slow
down as it flies
toward ragged-tipped trees
near Pacific?
You tell me.

And tell me this, your Majesty:
How does the eye
know when to spy
crows as they slow-
ly approach that tree,
ragged-topped next to coast?

Will you science me
when you tell me
why brain, which
is eye, which is crow,
knows crow, ocean,
and differences between?
Why brain indeed knows,
why cerebral deeds seem sane
when nothing would make
less science

to the unaccustomed crow
than eye and ragged
tree-top, ocean and black
ragged crow-wing brain?
Oh, you tell me,
oh, talk to me

using available light
and good godawful language
which crow's caw & ocean's
elasticity can soon articulate.
You science me, fathom
depths and chart crow-flight,
you all, you You, you too, O crOw.

hans ostrom 2015

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What I Miss About Sweden

Jag saknar Sverige.
Have I
sentimentalized that long country?
To be sure. Still there's much
to miss specifically. How
Swedes listen and have known
silence to be a key component
of conversation. How
they're suspicious of people
who require attention and thus
of Americans. The ubiquitous

(or so it seems) aromas
of coffee and pastry and certain
spices. Small grocery stores
that sell small potatoes still
with dried mud on them. The

presence of the absence of war.
A multitude of drolleries.
Crunch of tires and boots
on snow. Bicycles through snow.
The practical national enthusiasm
for children as a protected class.

Group-thinking (but not group-
thought). The way the language
swings--no wonder that the Swedes
loved Duke Ellington. Certain shades

of yellow on large public buildings,
and of red on cottages. Order,
without mania. How light
is a Norse god. Pop music. Jazz,
blues. Cucumber sandwiches.
Herring, herring everywhere.
And the news, which is, as it
should be, presented with
suspicion and perplexity.

hans ostrom 2015

Pluto, Yes

I wonder what day it is
on Pluto. Maybe
the Plutonians have named
a blues song after the day
of the week (or corresponding
unit) that's notoriously grim,
even for a disrespected orb
barely on speaking therms
with the sun. And

everybody knows that the
Plutonian work-day is forever,
longest in the solar system,
plus no labor unions. Cold.

I say, Hey, Pluto, I'll check
with you again when it's about
noon your time, Okay, man?

hans ostrom 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Experimental Vulgarity

Experimental. Ex-
paramilitary. Osprey,
men, tall: say it fast.

...I meant all. Expired.
Ax-pyred. Rapier wit:
annoying as hell. Expert

in metal. What does the
experiment entail? Experimental,
imperimental. Ahem:

empirical is no miracle,
but still it can be lyrical.
Free radicals are costly;

you'll want them surveilled
and unveiled; ultimately
intimately impaled. Mostly I wanted

to question the planted
evidence by means of
experimentation, to

curate with large vulgarity
disinterested respectability,
which has always been my enemy.

Adieu! Whew! Boastily and
brashily, I wanted a clashingly
jellied up bit of jazz

so as to pazz the evening.

hans ostrom 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Gun in the Sky

There's a big gun in the sky
hanging over the nation.

If the nation runs,
the gun will shoot it.
If the nation doesn't run,
the gun will shoot it.

The nation hasn't been
in this situation before.

It has only heard about such
an awful thing--and scoffed at it.

Now the nation is scared. Shaking.
Pleading. Panicked.

There's a big gun in the sky
pointed down at the nation.

The gun doesn't see the nation
as human. It sees it
as an awful thing. The gun
doesn't have a conscience.

After the gun shoots the nation
and the nation starts to die,
the gun will make a joke.

hans ostrom 2015

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mind the Mind

Mind moves from manzanita
to overpopulation to
the Dreyfus Case to
accident of birth to
the poetry of Wang Wei
to heartburn to itch to
American's death-cult of racism.

Parts of mind watch other parts.
They correspond. They feud.

Why mind, why this mind, why
this mind works this way,
why questions?

are questions mind has,
moves toward, around, with.

Oh, manzanita, whispers mind,
ah accident of birth, and ohhhhhhhh,

hans ostrom 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chicken-Killing Algorithm

1. Hear a father say, "The chickens aren't producing."
2. Surmise.
3. Look not forward to killing chickens.
4. Enter the chicken house.
5. Take a hen out of the chicken house.
6. Repeat 5.
7. Watch a father with a hatchet decapitate a chicken.
8. Watch headless chickens stride boldly, spurting blood from open necks.
9. Recoil mentally.
10. Dip chicken carcasses in hot water.
11. Inhale overwhelming wet-feather smell.
12. Pick feathers out of carcasses.
13. Become discouraged and bored.
11. Look at trees and sky.
12. Hear a father's curse-filled exhortations.
13. Surmise.
14. Continue picking feathers from carcasses until all carcasses are bald.
15. Think in terms of escape.
16. Look forward to escape.
17. Escape.

hans ostrom 2015

Quiet Whiteness

(Walter Scott, South Carolina, and uncounted others)

If you've ever asked yourself
what we did to deserve these
depraved politicians of ours,
you may have considered
genocide of the indigenous
people, slavery, Northern investment
in slavery, Jim Crow, Northern
acceptance of Jim Crow, lynching,
child labor, eugenics,
imperial lust, monopolies,
Chinese expulsion, Japanese
internment, anti-Semitism,
McCarthyism, the blasting of
air, land, water, and people.
We've done everything to deserve
the depraved, you might have thought
in a moment of clarity, or
in a moment of despair (same

White supremacy remains robust,
is the truth. Remains robust
because of quiet whiteness:
the indifference, the privileged
numbness, of whites who know
better but cast out the knowledge
because it asks too much.
The smug passivity
of whites who won't educate
themselves. The endless string
of lame excuses, casuistry,
and weaselly rationales.

Quite whiteness likes these
politicians. Otherwise,
they would be intolerable
in 2015. So much would be
intolerable, including
quiet whiteness itself.

If you've ever asked yourself
when the white choruses will
stand up and sing, stand up and
shout, get up and make damn sure
the depravity's demolished,
maybe in a moment of clear
despair the word
(printed in white against
a black background) "NEVER,"
came to mind.

hans ostrom 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Old Cloud Con

A "magician" came to town.
He explained what information was--
different, he said, from our tools,
animals, and plants. He asked

where we dept our information.
The usual places, we said:
Boxes, pockets, minds.
Oh, he said, give it to me,

and for a fee, I'll keep it
in a cloud for you!
In a cloud? we asked.
Yes, in a cloud, he said,

but for a fee! We then
kept the "magician" under
guard for a while after
that exchange because

he was so obviously a
scoundrel. Soon we let
him go, unharmed.
We gave him information

about where to travel
from here and
options for
a new career.

hans ostrom 2015

Kettle of Ma & Pa

Mother, gather. Father,
proffer. Mother, other.
Father, farther. Mother,
smother. Father, wrather.

Mother, feather. Father,
weather. Mother, mystery.
Father, factory. Mother,
whisper woe, Mother

know oh no. Father,
falter slow, Father
go gone. Ma, Pa,
dead, dust, as they

must, as we too must
just so very soon. And
yes, yes, the moon here
from the first, round & round.

hans ostrom 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Trinity in Your Hands

Believers, bow your heads.
Worship your phone. It is all things.
Its icons bind you
to the holy trinity
of Telecommunications, Infotainment,
and Consumption.

Accept the liturgy of apps,
the dogma of fake urgency.

Believers, tap your loving phone
with humble thumbs and fingers.
Stream and text. Forward and purchase.
Your phone will go with you
where you go, amen.

hans ostrom 2015

Pavlovian Symphony

In the Pavlovian Symphony in E minor,
cello, piano, tuba, clarinet, and howls
from the conductor evoke many dogs

Then the conductor takes the baton
in his teeth and runs with it
among audience members,
who pet him. Before

the third movement begins,
he is leashed by the concert-
master and led back
to his marked spot.

Implicitly, the Pavlovian
Symphony urges listeners
to respond to their conditioning,
scratch themselves, chafe
against their finery,
and slobber tastefully.

Bravo, brava, bravissimo,

hans ostrom 2015