Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Poetry Consulates

Pushkin loved the idea of St. Petersburg
and the bronze horseman who saw
the city before it was built. Langston
Hughes loved the idea of Harlem,
also some people there. Did Baudelaire
love Paris? Splenetically, perhaps.
I don't think Dickinson loved
any cities. The village of her mind
sufficed. It pleases me to think
of all the poets writing now
in Istanbul and Mainz, Hong
Kong and Honolulu, Uppsala
and Houston, Brasilia and Berlin,
Tehran and Tangier and all
the other cities where poets
live, every city in other words,
in their words,  which
follow their cities around,
no matter how often the
cities change disguises. Poets'
words attach themselves to love
and food, despair and dreams. If
only these poets could meet
and read their poems and argue
but not fight, ask questions
about language and children,
mountains and rivers. Should we
build poetry consulates in all the cities
we can? Surely it couldn't hurt.

hans ostrom 2019

Monday, July 29, 2019

Dog in the Rain

Sometimes you feel like a dog in the rain.
Right at that point when the dog's
too tired to make its fur
shake off water. When the dog
aches to smell warmth
and what's hiding inside it.

The dog knows that if going
inside will happen,
it won't be soon because
dogs smell time and know
such things. So the dog
lowers its head and keeps
going to where clouds fall
apart and it can lift up its head again.

hans ostrom 2019

Friday, July 26, 2019

Respectfully Absurd

Rituals of remembrance,
so weary, so salty-sweet.
Beside an open grave,
someone says words 
about a dead man whose
corpse lies in a manufactured
box nearby. The memories
of him will never be riper
than they are now. No one
will think to recall him after
a few months, it not days, if
not . . . Even at the moment
how many listeners are 
thinking of other things, 
or wondering what the point
of funeral services is? "Funeral
services" has the ring 
of American assembly lines. 
That's all right. The frail,
exhausted nobility of mournful
practices preserves their worth.
They're respectfully absurd.

hans ostrom 2019

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Memo to Religions

Pretty much all religions
need to take a break from being God,
from being chosen, elected, selected,
right and righteous. Religions
are human and assuming God sends
rules and info, religions must therefor garble
the message, if not twist it into a club
used to knock around the faithful.

Religions, please spend the next 100 years
doing practical good, making up
as best you can for your stupidities,
atrocities. Get the hell out of the way
and let people breathe. Dump
the vast stores of wealth, throw
water on the preening, the pompous,
the predatory. Put that goddamned
fire out.

hans ostrom 2019

All He Could Manage To Do

I'll tell you what. I'll tell you
a man cut grass and picked up trash
and sat down then. He thought
about America's most recent
consolidation of white-supremacist
power, became queasy. Thought
of vomiting on the cut grass but
did not. A hummingbird

visited a nearby rosemary bush,
pale blue blossoms fluffed out
modestly like women's
handkerchiefs in 1911. Hummingbird
throat-chirped when it backed off
a blossom, and again when it
air-wheeled itself back for another
nectar-strike. The man made
a powerless choice. He let

sight and sound of one bird
help him breathe out of his
disgust and go more lightly
through next tasks. It was pitiful.
It was all he could manage to do.

hans ostrom 2019

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Ultimate Shade

A gardener grabbed
dead day-lily stalks
and some soil with them.
And an earthworm. Earthworm.
Syllables of that word
burrow deep in the mouth. Said

gardener let the worm lie
in a gloved palm. Said
earthworm paused its wriggling
until the gloved hand had
repatriated it to a bed of soil
where vegetables meet
to gossip about each other.

Buried alive in soft dirt,
the worm resurrected its writhing
life in ultimate shade, as gardener
returned to a life in air and light
and work and worry.

hans ostrom 2019

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Postcard from Anxiety

Hello! We've arrived.
Our knees have buckled,
and we're sick to our
stomachs. We're terrified
of being afraid. It's
just like home! We're
not sure how long we
will stay. We're never sure,
for certainty always lies.
We gulp our breaths.
Love to all, Us.

hans ostrom 2019

Busy Sky

Aquarius pours water into troughs
for Taurus and Aries, horned
herbivores. Scorpio surveys
one of the trays on Libra's scales,
wanting to pinch something.

The Crab tries again futilely
to cast away its cancerous nickname.
Leo looks at Pisces' koi pond
and laughs. Capricorn
meets Sagitarius for drinks,
two pals trading stories. Virgo
knows secrets and hordes them.
Gemini considers the alternatives.

hans ostrom 2019


Sometimes I'm an individual,
other times a dividual. More and more,
I'm a digividual harried
by image after image after
image. When I hold two contrasting

views at once, at once I become
a stereovidual, who listens gladly
to the paradoxical jazz of uncertainty,
ambiguous riffs unspooling, unresolved.

This viduality of mine's
less simple than certain very
certain individuals would
have me believe. They would
have me believe in my
singularity. Not so fast, say we.

hans ostrom 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019


"I hates those meeces to pieces!"
                   --Mr. Jinks, cartoon cat

I thought of Aristotle and held
up a mirror to the world. Sunlight
caromed off it and blinded a driver
who almost ran over me, roared
past, shouting his catharsis. I

dropped the mirror, which broke,
delighting a woman who passed by.
Borrowing a broom, I swept up
shards of mimesis, realistic glass.
A hubristic crow overhead tilted
on a line and cawed me out. Crow
was delighted. I was instructed.

hans ostrom 2019


If you think you have the answers,
don't tell me. Tell someone
who matters. I'm out here in
the weeds, walking around
a birch grove, plucking
a blackberry or five, dancing
with vivid women in the desert
of my mind. Although I'm
obscure, people with secrets
seem to find me. I'm telling
you, if you're important, don't
bother with me. I know how
little I can do about big things.

hans ostrom 2019