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Hans Ostrom

Apertures

Life imposes on us.
Memory superimposes,
layering life’s imprints.

Into an aperture
between life and memory
moves the photographer,

who listens to light,
convenes shadows,
constructs position.

In the dark room,
life and memory wait
while hallucination bathes,

inscribes itself on a
pane of white-space,
coalescing like epiphany

[...] Read more

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Couplets In The Fog

Fog's a species of weather-
gray, like a pigeon's feather.
Auden once wrote, 'Thank you, fog.'
Sandburg thought of cat, not dog.
Fog's in Eliot's Unreal City-
yellow fog, what a pity.
Call it mist, call it fog:
Still you tripped over that log.
If you can, take off work.
No sense traveling in that murk.
Anything you try to say
will come out mumbled, foggy gray.
The fog is subtler than the snow.
And so it's the more dangerous foe.

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You And This War

You are part of this war. You
pay taxes. You are not part of this
war. No one in charge cares what
you think. You are part of this
war. You go to work each day
and remain quiet on the subject.
You pave the path of least
resistance. You are not part of this
war. You watch images of it and
read words about it from a great
distance. You are part of this war.
You are one 200 millionths of this
nation. You are not part of this
war. You do not fight in it or
fight to stop it. You are
part of this war.

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Animals and Investment

1. The Managed Fund

Crows guarded his retirement plan.
They marched around its perimeter.
Squirrels managed the fund.
They wore small green visors,
used their cheeks as briefcases,
embezzled by accident, forgetting
where they buried the dividends.

2. Fixed Income

One day so dispirited by his work
was he that he decided to retire.
He asked to begin to withdraw
his pension. The account-manager,
a raccoon, presented a box to him,
removed the lid, and waddled away.
The new pensioner peered in.
Feathers and leaves were all

[...] Read more

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Sonnet: Less of the Different?

(after Ashbery)

A sonnet's 'just more of the same'? Uh, no.
It's rather like less of the different.
There is no formula involved, you know.
True, syllables and lines and rhymes get spent
At predetermined intervals: mirage
Of order. Inside, sonnets are a mess
Of words, a slew of syntax, a barrage
Linguistically set off; are nonetheless
Provisionally impish-and as free
As freest verse to chat up any ear
Or signal any eye. The form, you see,
Is just a well mapped route from which to veer.
A sonnet is a disobedience
Of sounds, a flaunt of form, a tease of sense.

Hans Ostrom

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Monastery, Montserrat

Christians’ belief will outlive
these particular monastic bricks,
which will, in their present
configuration, outlast us—visitors
today in bright sun. A child

accidentally kicks a soccer-ball
over the parapet. We all move
to the wall, peer over. Rocks above

the monastery will outlast
Christians’ belief in its present
configuration, will persist past
words like rock and kick that
visitors today, tomorrow, speak.

Can belief make the face of
a simple wooden statue last
forever? The face of the Black
Madonna shines, seems

[...] Read more

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Terribly Important

I wonder if I’ll be welcome,
and welcomed, in Heaven. I
wonder if Heaven exists, even
as I’ve risen from the font, and
as I accede to Pascal’s reasoning
on behalf of a faithful wager. How
would I like to be welcomed there?
What a question. The answer is
I must not care-meaning I’d like
the welcome not to be anything
I might have predicted. Heaven
must be a wonderful surprise,
a way of being so different
that none of our machinations need
apply. Heaven must be where
all necessary love exists. What
a statement. Here are more: Heaven is.
Heaven is necessary, but I am not.
To speculate: Perhaps Heaven exists
for the unnecessary; maybe it converts

[...] Read more

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Concerning Joy

When an infant laughs,
especially at nothing,
joy has scrawled a note
for anyone to read
and get a giggle.

When people see someone
they love receive what's right,
joy juices a corpuscle of time.

When you sense that thing
move through you, the one
that feels as if your bones
just told a joke to your nerves,
which then told your feet
to dance (knowing full well
your feet ache) joy just might
have been nearby. Mercurial,

needed, and nimble,

[...] Read more

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Names of the Obscure

Mr. Jiggs ran the grocery store in town. He never used
his name as an excuse for not being famous. No one ever
asked, 'Hey, Jiggs, did you want to be famous? ' It was
out of the question. Not so with Johnny, local mischief-artist:
A thief by age 15, in the Marines by 18, back home at 24
starting fights. He wanted fame and settled for trouble.

Meanwhile, Claude Munkerz became ever more reclusive.
With a name like that, what else was he supposed to do?
Where were 'his people' from? someone once asked, not
looking for an answer. Those who made it inside Claude's
shack came back with tales of smells, guns, and incongruously
exquisite furniture. Johnny robbed Clyde (guns and cash) ,

left town, never came back or found fame. Jiggs let Munkerz
run a tab at the grocery. Claude paid in cash at first, then
in barter (walnut table, mahogany chair) , then not at all.
He died. So did Jiggs, in Florida, after retirement. On his
lap when he had the heart attack lay People magazine-
all about famous people.

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