Thursday, February 28, 2019

My Song for You

Days and leeks
and mouths and years.
Ways and beams
and jaws and fears.

Wishes and misses,
fiends and trees.
Reins and stones
and cogs and bees.

This song is for you.
It's not going very well.
It's absent a message,
as you can tell.

Anyway: skunks,
aluminum, flowers.
Sadness and sneezing,
minnows and hours.

hans ostrom 2019


Many molecules
briefly in circulation
so as to articulate
a body-plan, which is
embedded in the material
itself (which is like wood
turning itself into
a house): that's me,

hans ostrom 2019

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Just Plain Hard

Rooted in Oklahoma's winter plains,
unleaved gray-grown trees
graduate from artery trunks
to capillary branches, final
twigs feathering into nothing.

Here people set hard faces
against hard work. At night
neon blooms, blazes--
a reward for getting through
or going to another shift.

Oklahoma, flat and difficult,
cast iron red ground:
look elsewhere for loam. This
is home if you need it to be.
Your choice, maybe.

hans ostrom 2019

Seagulls in Snow

Seagulls in snow step
with authority and bulk
like army officers
from the 18th century.

Their shrieks turn into
mad laughter that shreds
the insulated calm following
flurries. Sometimes

they sit on white
as swans float on water.
In search of food,
they chop at a drift

with heavy yellow
beaks: cutting tools.
The failure of snow
to surge, swirl, pulse,

pound, slap, and leap
like the sea soon bores
them. They jump into
wind then and glide

and fly forthrightly
back to a bay and cliffs
and the raucous, slow
riot of the shore.

hans ostrom 2019

A Number of Words

On the mulish bus
going to the conference,
a mathematics professor
said to a scholar of rhetoric,
"One day you'll
realize that everything
is about numbers."
The rhetorician replied,
"Thank you for telling
me that using words."

hans ostrom 2019

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Resistant to Rain

Before I could fire the poem,
it quit. It had wanted it
to concern blackberries
in Fall (ugh), the labyrinth
of language (whatever), or
fatuous dictators--the deadly
clowns of drowning/frying
civilization (fair enough).

I had directed the poem
to be about,  into, and of
poets in the rain, down
through time, across
the planet. Conjurers,
troubadours, prophets,
lazy bastards, scribblers,
hermits, high-toned culture
bosses, seedy professors,
cowgirls, fierce warrior
queens, rappers, gadflies.

All of them with some
connection to the rain
in their hours amid language
alive. Something epic-ish.

The poem said No. I
offered a severance package--
some nice verbs, a packet
of metaphors, certain adequate
syncopations. The poem
resigned, saying something
ugly (but nicely phrased)
as it stalked off. I'm here

without it, listening
to the intricate tunes of
another rainstorm. (I
welcome all rainstorms
now.) I don't think I'll
ever see that poem again,
but I hope it's somewhere
inside staying warm, sipping
soup--and going to hell
(just kidding).

hans ostrom 2019


Maybe there will be rabbits
in my dreams tonight. Not bunnies--
jackrabbits, wild hares. Maybe
I'll see a vast brown plain filled
with gray smokestacks
overseen by stained skies.

Or maybe centipedes
by the thousands will pour
out of the mouth of the President
of the United States. He'll
speak in centipedes, which
will invade the ears of his
audience. And still a lot
of people won't be horrified.
In fact will be ecstatic.

hans ostrom 2019