Monday, July 31, 2017

At the Edge of the Road One Evening

He was quite high and making
up nonsense songs as he stood
in battered sandals on the gravel.
Dusk. In one of the lyrics he

rhymed spaghetti with confetti.
It was a mournful ballad.
Turning from composing and
performing, he asked himself

if there was any discernible
reason for humanity. He was weary
of the standard answers. He
imagined looking at the human-

phenomenon from another side
of the galaxy and thinking,
"What's that for?" in a British
accent. He then heard his name

called and listened to the familiar
voice as if for the first time. Then
it was no longer dusk but night,
what a drag.

hans ostrom 2017

They Call Him The Numerator

Yeah, that's me.  The Numerator.  Freelance.
I'll work with any denominator--they all
think they're the sum of all parts, anyway.

Me--I come in, I represent myself
and no one else.  I get paid the same
whether I'm working for a 3, a

million, a square root, or some
ludicrous boutique unit. I have to say,
it's still a thrill to work as

one over one.  Gives one a bit of an
autotelic buzz.  All about a fitted whole
in a fragmented world, or some shit like that.

hans ostrom 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Small stingrays propel floating
as if they were broad flesh-leaves
rising from secret forests on the sea
floor. How can their skin be so softly
liquid to the touch? How can the edges
of their bodies undulate and curl so subtly?
The rays move like intuitive insight
through the mind of the water. They
are a marvelous surmise.

hans ostrom 2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017

What They Told Him

You need a special color. The right card. The
appropriate look and lingo. You have to know somebody,
but not just anybody. Are you on the list?
No, not that list, stupid. It's not our fault

we resent you. You don't belong here.
We belong. You're not us. How did
you even get in here? Get out or we'll
call somebody, but not just anybody.

It's not our fault we hate you. It's yours.
You made that choice. If you were just
like we like people to be, you might
be all right, but you're not, so  you're not.

Got it? It's not our fault we don't know
anything about you.  Why should we? We
don't have time. We keep a list of  people
who's fault things are.  You're on that list.

hans ostom2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Free-Radical Yearning

Sunlight just
before dusk
adds gold to fir trees'
in the boughs, dark lapis.

And sky's color
behind is at its palest
blue all day. I've
seen this burnished image,
only slightly varied,

hundreds of times
in the Sierra, in Sweden
and Germany, in
Istanbul and the Pacific

When it soaks in,
it always generates
a slow longing,

an impersonal sadness
involved with grandeur,
peace, and hope--all
far, far out of reach.

The heart, as we call
that mental zone, pretends
to want to ask the trees
to stay in that light,
beg the scene never to leave.

The question's
really a way to savor the mild
spiritual soreness, this
free-radical yearning,
this old, old emotion
which even other species
of hominid felt,
drawing from an immense,
invisible psychic lake.

hans ostrom 2017

Dragonfly Corpse Recovery

A blueberry's what
the head of the dead dragonfly
looked like.

A blueberry with a small
metallic visor attached.  Do you
covet video
of what was perceived and how
through that mono-goggle? Me, too.

The body looked like one of two
elegant eyebrow
from under which a Persian woman
looks wisely
upon the world. And the wings?
Stained glass

done in ash-gray, or crystal
for hiding in fog. When the head
fell off
and fell into a paper cup,
it sounded like a final pebble
hitting a coffin.

The legs were a bunching of
collapsed angles,
the knees so terribly delicate.

Things fall apart.  Creatures, too.
But it's also true
that this dragonfly was one of those
beings that show

how Evolution's patience delivers
functional art
and inspired form to its client,
the unsentimental Earth.

hans ostrom 2017

Sunflowers Are Sad, Experts Claim

Propaganda notwithstanding, sunflowers
are morose. Their puritanical, resolute
stalks lift them up to be sacrificed
to the gods, which employ birds, flied,
and bees as visiting priests. The central

cycloptic seed-cushion--color of tobacco
juice--weighs too much, like depression.
Too, please note the celebrated solar petals

wrinkle like Edwardian handkerchiefs
left in a jungle. Oh, Sunflower, foster
child of Old Bill Blake, 1960s advertising,
and baseball players: I bow my head
to you and yours.  You grow, I garden,
and it's all work, isn't it?

hans ostrom 2017

Transformation: Footballer

(soccer, that is)

When I become a footballer, I run across
grass exuberantly but usually stumble into
thick mud as it were: halted.  I become

two years old again and stab at and stomp
and kick things with my legs. Adrenalin-
incited, I then oscillate between manic

ambition and dispirited lethargy. Every
so often, ambition gets what it wanted
with regard to a ball and some netting.

Sweat-ecstasy. For a moment held
in the raucous hive-mind of the Folk.
Even as I begin to celebrate, I feel

the thrill begin to fade. I see the howling
crowd drunk in the rain, and I turn 51
and lie on a couch snoring while TV

broadcasts a soporific match.

hans ostrom 2017

Today in Memory World

Another brilliant day
of pretending to recover
time by accessing images
of spaces-past and a few
of the people in them then,
including us. It's a strange
system, but it's about all
we have. Meanwhile, we
continued to float down the
river for the first and last time.

hans ostrom 2017

Friday, July 21, 2017

Aren't We?

Tonight the rice-marsh glows,
and rows of plum trees feed
their purple particulars. The scene
means food. Poetry and photography
will want to extract more from it,
impose more on it.  They're tools
of the greedy, insatiable grunting
wanter with the frothy name,
Imagination. No. We're not doing
that tonight. For we're satisfied.

hans ostrom 2017

A Sultan at Sunset

Thirty feet up, the hummingbird hovered,
looking at sunset behind blue, wrinkled
Olympic Mountains. After a long day
of nectar-hauling, why not? Sitting facing

East, I watched the bird watch. I then
saw it trace with its body an enormous
precise circle in air.  Wondering what
or if this circle signified was a gift

grand enough for a sultan.  The invisible,
unforgettable shape suggested geometric
graffiti, avian ritual, or a secret signal
to the sun.  I almost applauded.

The whirring bird zipped off to close
the astounding performance: what a pro.
As Sultan, I decree my hummingbird
equal to Whitman's eagle, Poe's raven,

the crows of Ted Hughes and Al
Hitchcock, Shelley's and Mercer's
skylark, and Bukowski's murdered
mockingbird. (I refuse to discuss

Yeats's rapist Zeus-goose.) The effect of
this decree, the Sultan does not know.

hans ostrom 2017

Millipedes and Words

Those armored locomotive tubes,
millipedes, lived with us, resting
on cool cinder-block walls
in our tomb-like living room.

We left them alone unless guests
were expected. (You know how
guests are.) Otherwise, they stank
too much to mess with, excreting

hydrogen cyanide, and their
innards were too awfully, softly
much. (I killed one in the bathroom
once.) If we'd lived in Thailand, say,

where millipedes aspire to be snakes
then some frontier shit would have
gone down. Since they were only of
several purple-brown inches, co-

habitation worked satisfactorily.
This arrangement was decided
silently, no family discussion
(the horror). Words were to be spent
on work, hilarity, or arguments.

hans ostrom 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Another Old Concept Stopped By Today

Home is a place where you keep
your stuff and almost have privacy.
Could be mansion, could be cardboard
box.  Home is were you live
at the moment.  Is home home?

I have felt it isn't.  I have felt
it is a forgery.  That said, Go home,
said with kindness quietly,
seems to be in every language
always good advice.  Probably

home is where you'll probably
stay instead of going to that
other place to do those sociable
things.  Home might be. With luck
it might be where things are easier.

hans ostrom 2017

Lighting Out

I'm lighting out for infinity.  I don't
yet have a firm idea of when
I will arrive. Oh, everybody says
it's going to take me "forever."
The truth is they don't know.

Who could blame infinity
for getting sick of extending
itself, for stopping and settling
down?  I think on my way,
I'll come around a bend,

and there will be a town,
a scape of mirrors, towers,
boulevards, gardens with
gigantic butterflies and
multicolored trees.  It will

all have been designed by
close associates of time.
After I settle in, I'll
ask if anybody knows the street
on which I might find infinity.

Of course I'll try to reach
the residence by phone or signal
ahead of time.  Manners matter.
What sort of gift should I bring?
What sort of song should I sing?

hans ostrom 2017

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Key

There's someone in the basement wailing.
It must be that fellow other tenants call Poe.
That's all I know. Wailing and Poe.
I don't own, don't hold the keys to,
that ambitious dungeon. Otherwise,
I'd knock trepidation aside and descend
toward the sound like a responsible person.

I start wailing myself.  Weakly, at first.
And I begin to wonder what the tenants
will call me, if indeed mournful cries
lead to nicknames and dungeons.  It
all depends on what the rules are. The key
will be to know who has the key.

hans ostrom 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I Robin, I

I robin tip
my body forward
on an axis
when I hop-walk.
I robin stand
up tall after
I stop. I
robin turn my
head to listen
to/look at grass,
so to seek
evidence of worms.

I robin swallow
a worm whole
with a bit
of dirt. I
robin may also
chop worms into
pieces, then eat,
or take them
back to nestlings

I robin like
my orange feather
shirt and my
gray feather jacket.
I robin fly
and hop with
other robins long
ways after something
changes in the weather's
tone of voice.

I robin flute
fluidly my tune,
I robin I. 

hans ostrom 2017