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

Monday, February 28, 2011

161. Honey-Toned Chair

A honey-toned
rocking chair
next to a hearth
is composed of
red oak, which
used to be a tree,
which used to rock
in warm winds.

The tree's great-
grandparents were
acorns, which sat
together, attached
to a branch, in
presence of leaves
flushed yellow-red-orange
in late October,

when the honey's
been harvested and
the rocking chair's
seasons of seeming
a good idea begin.
Again, agaiN.

Copyright 2011 Hans Ostrom

160. Birth Story

My parents, having sex, mixed the ingredients that would eventuate in me. Forgive, Lord, for they knew not what they did.  I know because my mother told me so. I had not been "planned."

I don't like to (and in fact don't) picture them having sex, but one must face the fact that one began to begin when a wad of semen embraced an egg.

Dr. Padgett pulled me from my mother, who lay etherized upon a table, into the rest of the world. And it was done--or begun: accident, miracle, inevitability, propagation, something (something else), nothing in the scheme of things.

My father was two canyons away in the Sierra Nevada, having wearied of my delayed arrival.  My gender allowed him to win a bet from a woman who asserted "he" couldn't have three sons in a row.  He was drinking her whiskey with her husband when the winning news arrived by phone (a party-line, common in the 50s).  I can see him in a red-and-black checked flannel shirt, the massive Swedish laugh--it's after midnight. The color of the scene over-cooked, as in those early Kodak color-shots, the reds and browns so deep.

I see my mother lying in bed, exhausted, wondering, wondering how she will handle it all now with a third son, and with her husband, an implacable mountain man.

The hammer-toe was there from the beginning, the blue eyes and dark hair with multiple cowlicks, and also no doubt the in-born reticent watchfulness: something told me in a sub-conscious secret baby-language to keep an eye on this whatever-it-is--this excess of things, light, motion, people, shadow, change.  Way too much excitement for anybody's good.  I remain suspicious of the whole arrangement.

On the advice of a Swedish great-aunt to whom I would deliver cream weekly five years later, they named me Hans, pronounced hands, Ansgar (beleaguered saint sent to Christianize the Vikings) Ostrom, which used to be Åström.

Birthed and named.  I happened, as did you: Well done.

Friday, February 4, 2011

158. I Give You . . .

Poets, even famous ones, write nonsense like "I give you the sun."  I guess it's their job (our job--okay I'm a poet, too) in a way to write crap like that.

Now I can't even give you these words unless you take them like a moist red pamphlet handed out by a blood-shot-eyed youth on dirty corner of an urbane street.

Poets can't help themselves so they try to help others by means of words, which people need less than cash, food, time, medicine, and rest.

So here it is: I give you your 8th birthday-celebration, when the wild turkey ran through the yard with that flapping red thing under its chin, when your uncle tried to tackle it, cracking his collar bone, and you received a crucial gift that you still keep in a drawer no matter where you move. 

Yes, yes, this didn't happen to you, but now it did, or something like it did, and so I give that to you even though you already have it.  Happy Birthday.