About Red Tales

Here's an evolving electronic collection of short prose pieces, with a poem contributed occasionally. Brevity guides. Although sometimes a piece will run to 900 words, most pieces are much shorter. Here one may find erotica, flash fiction, brief observations, and modest improvisations. Another rule is that each piece must have something to do with"red"; at least the word has to appear in each piece functionally. . . . All pieces are numbered and titled, so there's a de facto table of contents running down the rail below, under "Labels" (scroll down a bit). Browse for titles that look interesting, if you like. Thank you for stopping by. Look for some red today, tonight.

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

249. Dirk Deliwogg

I am Dirk Deliwogg, consulting poet, visionary, crafter of opinions, digger of holes, raconteur, and something of a legend.

I kind of hate stories even though I tell them when the work calls for it. That's about all the work calls for. People want to tell things and I listen.  They want to hear things in return. Ritual sayings like "the weather's been really weird lately." They want short comforting or alarming tales. And so on.

Relaxing at home (I'm a slow drifter, an artful squatter) with a glass of red--not wine, just the color red--I like it when a woman who is there (or not there) speaks in word-collages, such as "teek notoriety web-savvy certain cream-based personal responsibility agenda mais oui lime allergy connubial etch scar vivid zephyr, actually." I reply, "Indeed. Well put!!

Anyway, I am really nobody living in nothing, which, although nothing, is saturated with texts, symbols, and momentary tyrants. Great to meet you!

hans ostrom 2016

Friday, December 11, 2015

248. Talking With Borges

I don't know where consciousness goes when someone dies. I can't assume that it goes anywhere or that it does anything but cease. I can believe it goes somewhere, but believing is different from knowing and assuming. All three though faulty are crucial to humans.

The single exception to all of this in my mind is Jorge Luis Borges. I know where his consciousness went: the Worldwide Web.  Borges invented the Web (web). Borges didn't invent it. Here we think of Schrödinger's infernal cat.

I know this (about Borges) because he is here talking to me--in Spanish, through a translator. (Recall that a writer of fantastical narratives must be deeply practical--hence the translator, even though my Spanish is adequate.)

Borges is dressed in suit (black) and tie. He holds his head up--not high; only a bit of lift, of loft. The overall effect suggests a statement: "I am not blind, no; it's just that I see everything now, as the web would see, if it had a central personality."

"The web is a library," the translator says. She's extraordinarily good looking, and her body in a silk dress (red)  stirs desire, if we are to be obvious. "A library," she continues, Borges looking up, delighted, as he listens to her take her turn. (We are in a courtyard of Baroness Ramona Ali Larsson's summer estate in Sweden.) "A library--nothing more, as if anything could be more than a library! The rooms are innumerable and each one different. The corridors divide and multiply like cells. The librarians are legion; the patrons, ubiquitous--like vapor."

The translator, Lucinda W., stops. Borges waits. He speaks. Lucinda W. smiles. I glance at her breasts, which beseech me to beg. I restrain my strong weakness for the sight of women's breasts. "You are lacivous," Lucinda W. says, adding, "and these words are from me. (Borges laughs.) This is from Borges."  She translates: "As grand as this library is--the grandest!--it is nonetheless so small that it can be contained in a short, obscure narrative--typewritten on an Olivetti, one senses, and lying on a desk in a remote cabin. The library, in turn, absorbs such a narrative, and all narratives.  The small becomes large (consider the universe), and large becomes small (consider a stellar black hole."

I consider a stellar black hole.  Borges leaves. Lucinda W. removes her dress, and a thousand angels perched on a wire strung between two nothings sing Hallelujah. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

247. The Duty

Her foot moved on the carpet, a swift brushing step. The big toe's nail gleamed, deep burgundy polish. I stared at the toenail as she spoke: "My first hike was near Ashville, North Carolina. They led us he lup a mountain, and we stopped, looked around. We walked back the same way, and I thought, 'Okay--that's it?'" I raised my eyes. She stood naked above, well most her body did. She held a glass of red wine. She smiled wisely after observing me admiring her pudendum, which is a strange word, by the way. Her eyes told me that knew precisely how many men in history had gazed upward like that at naked women. Modern cultural criticism has some things to say about "the male gaze," as you no doubt know. Except that sort of thing didn't seem to fit with what I was doing, not that I wish to evade responsibility. And no, it wasn't some sort of BDSM thing, which isn't my thing, but more power to them, or to half of them, I guess. No, as I stared up at her and admired the light on her body and her physical and psychic composure, and feeling her warmth in the warmth of the room, and seeming to melt into her abdomen, or whatever, the thing is it happens all at once, these sorts of moments; well, anyway, it seemed a necessary and sufficient activity, staring up at her, like an acolytes's duty. Soon I would be promoted above acolyte and join the admirable woman in embrace as an equal but of course not really, not really equal: it is what some men a born knowing about women--that women are more, and individual women are more in their individuated ways.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

246. Interviews

I interviewed a word, and all it did was keep saying its name over. And over. I interviewed a rock. Its atomic particles rioted, but I couldn't hear a thing. I interviewed a crow on a line above me. It caw-muttered cautiously and gave me a moody side-eye. I interviewed the color red, which remained silent but kept pumping red into itself and the cones of my eyes. I started to interview my past but couldn't go through with it. Everything got cold suddenly, and the doom that's always present became visible. Nor could I speak.

Monday, November 9, 2015

245. In Rome, Winter

Staring at red tiles, you occupy a center of noise naming activity thick around you. It leaves, the noise, and there you are at a periphery again. Cold wet air converts breath to steam, as it should be, as it has been on Earth as it is in Heaven. You're no one at all! And also with your spirit.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

244. Beet Poet

Yes, I'm a beet poet. I don't look East, I don't look West. I look down at the ground and see a garden's wisdom and consider what be growing underneath the soil. Ate a lot of pickled beets growing up. I liked the way they stained the cottage cheese. I liked the circular slices. . . The flavor of beets want to bite the taste-buds, a wee nip. Unpretentious, beets proclaim peasant values and store red-purpose ink to use on underground radical pamphlets. Listen, beet poets know you have to be patient with beets, coax them into working as food, engage in collective bargaining. First, a removal of the frivolous tops, bourgeois status-markers. Next, a nice par-boiling. Let them cool at their pace. Then a gentle peeling. Finally roasting, maybe with a little olive oil and sea-salt. The taste is earthy, surprisingly complex. Your stomach will write a note to you saying "Thanks for the honest food.". . . Borscht is fun to make and more fun to serve, bright soup! The taste is not for the delicate-minded. The taste is fine for vodka-sipping old aunts who do not suffer fools at all. Do remember the dollop of sour cream. Do remember never to invade Russia, especially in Winter. . . As you slurp your borscht or crunch your roasted beets, read some paragraphs from a Russian novel or listen to something passionate by Tchaikovsky. Don't be afraid to tear off a hunk of dark Swedish rye bread and dunk it. We beet poets do not howl. We grumble. We listen to opinions and roll our eyes. We think of root vegetables, my friend, and you should, too. hans ostrom

Monday, August 17, 2015

243. High Morning Learn

It is a high morning learn: the sun in a pure sky; an angel moves across a meadow. She stops here. Our wonder flares. Then we receive our high morning learn. Her dark face is purged of worry. She has lived beyond our evil. She take us to an aromatic red-cedar grove to teach us things that last beyond our petty passions. She is the angel of the high morning learn. div dir="ltr" style="text-align: left;" trbidi="on">

242. Old Hardbacks

Many of the old hardbacks on my parents' bookshelves were bound or covered in red cloth. They were inexpensive, from publishers like Lippincott and Doubleday, names that carried magical cache with when I was ten. Some were westerns--by Zane Grey, Max Brand, and Ernest Haycox. Others were about anything. I found out books could be about anything. That was excellent to know. I was interested in the words more than in the stories the words freighted. We try to make stories more different from each other than they are. It's good for business and for writers' and readers' ego. But, you know, those books, they were made of paper, cardboard, glue, ink, and cloth. I liked the books for themselves, the way I liked salamanders and rocks for themselves. The books were small light objects that stood up until someone took them and opened them, and then the books were obligated to go to work. Not long from now there will be secret clubs composed of people who like to hold old books.