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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

227. My Love Is Like a Red, Red Something

Oh, my love is like a red, red onion: it's purple, not red. My love is like a red, red dog without a collar, sniffing its way down an alley, smelling for some leavings, lifting a leg to mark what's verticle. My love is like a red, red car--rusted out, sitting on flat tires in blond weeds and armored thistles. My love is like a red, red stone in a load of blue river-rock: out of place. My love is like a red, red scarf worn by Robert Burns on a night of drinking: likely to get left behind.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

226. Mixed Mist Emotions

The woman with the red handbag said to her friend, "I like the mist. I love the mist. Except when it--. I have mixed emotions about the mist." In there in the mist, emotions mix. Which ones? Fear, nostalgia, depression, desire, elation, maybe even infatuation? Infatuation, yes. For out of the mist might walk a face, a body, pinning the woman's desire to an image, one person's unwitting self-advertisement. Mist is water. Add emotions. Stir. Then: what? hans ostrom 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

225. Fawning

Reclusive genius Annie Gerkinmew agreed to a rare interview. She spoke to worshiper and journalist Erich Nodmore at her reclusive-genius apartment in the Soho District at the center of the universe. The apartment foregrounds tones of rust and cinnamon, as well as contours of ineffable brilliance. Ol' Annie allowed as how she was indeed a genius, reclusive, special, diffident, ineffable, rare, and open to have her photo taken--by a highly paid pro, black-and-white, lighting to be directed by her. Annie spoke at some length about the burdens of genius and the rigors of being represented by the most powerful literary agents, managers, and lawyers. She alluded to the fact that no one has seen the trouble she has seen. She is considering crossing Jordan River. She identifies with Black people. The interview provides a fascinating glimpse into the manufacture and maintenance of literary celebrity, which is not so different from plastic cups or car-bumpers. One urges one to read the interview. Listen to me: Annie Gerkinmew is an important writer. She has won prizes. Her back-cover blurbs are written by angels and sub-contracted to cherubs. Annie Gerkinmew is an essential voice in our world. Her prose is kind of ineffable. Therefore, shut up! Be respectful! She is remote and talented. She is a rare genius, and she went out of her fucking way to grant an interview. Okay?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

224. Happeningness

The happeningness of reality never pauses. No wonder wonder tires us. And no surprise we like our invented constants: coffee or tea; known routes; the expected deployment of red in certain aspects of couture and home-decoration; music imprinted on us early; and now visits to the same illusory places on something we happen to call the Web. The happeningness of the Web mimics that of parental reality. Electrons constantly lay new eggs, which constantly hatch. What is or seems to be (now there's no difference) quickly joins a rank and a prioritized state of being, a stasis with a status; or not. One and Zero, baby, and infinite combinations thereof. It was and is a shotgun-wedding of the simplest and the most complex, and the offspring are the feudal overlords of us all. hans ostrom 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

223. The Sheriff Has Absconded

You touch the moon on water, a century collapses into a train & the engine's light shines on tracks, which ladder up from night into a blue dawn buttered. And now unfixed factories march across a plain to kidnap fugitive workers. You're at red rim-rock's edge, watching all of this--you, the emperor of images, brewer of creosote beer, melter of topaz, escaped sheriff. hans ostrom 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

222. Red Bandana

Investment Masters continue to control the scroll of insidious influence. Let's shake on it. The Stalk Market rallied today on news of better-than-expected burnings reports. If you're trying to make sense of it all, you're a sucker. If you're not trying to make sense out of it all, you're a sucker. Trying to alter the course of institutions is like dancing with an avalanche. On this day then I take my red-bandana-handkerchief out of my bluejeans pocket, and I wipe the perspiration from my brow. On this day then such a gesture seems like a signal of faith. Not far off, on grass, one crow attacks another but not seriously enough to injure. The attacker walks off. The attacked continue to recline and grooms himself. I laugh. I have to.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

221. Istanbul

In that city, small shops formed hives of work and talk and tradition. Birds whirled, wheeled in flight, dove above dusty trees at dusk. Voices called, young and old. There was the voice of the boy in the alley calling for his friend, "Ahhhhh-maaaad!" There were the voices of the calls to prayer. That city was a place of tough vitality. Ferocity and beauty shone in dark eyes. Oh, yes, we recalled that James Baldwin loved it here. There was a seduction of breezes after the sun went down. In that city, acres of red-tiled roof-tops accepted light and heat, and people there accepted their lives, their condition-- for the time being. Hans Ostrom 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

220. Tourist Brochure

Known for its lush valleys and catastrophic mountains, this island nation will dance a tango with a porcine dictator at the drop of a bomb. This island nation is a destination-blemish attached to a tectonic plate. Tourists and spies invent native dances that kick up dust, which makes the natives sneeze. The spirit of this vile vacation is perhaps captured best in the fable of the red beetle, a tale no one, alas, can recall, at all, anymore.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

219. Red Skeleton of the Abstruse

Imagine subway, escalator, roller coaster, U-Bahn, chain of command, Metro, yo, and so on, except the body in question is its own conveyance and so you flow through every urban tunnel, every scene and tube and dream. Scream. And so you go and do and go and flow up, down, around every renewal and neighborhood until you moan and drone and panic and wish and beg and plead to get off, to stop, to stop this motherfucking madness which includes hatred of the poor, denial of the truth, extermination of the Other. It may be so. I do not know. The red skeleton of the abstruse invades. Existence at its best is nightmare, and NASA is searching for another Earth: that is moderately humorous.

Monday, April 8, 2013

218. Is The Realistic Novel Dead?

"They say they realistic novel is, at long last, dead," said Grone. He was among the passengers committed to a transcontinental pod-train that soared, four inches above its tracks, across the parched mid-section of the United States. The train was silver, with a red streak, like a trout. "Who is 'they,'?" asked Jenny Fraska of Grone. She didn't care to know, but she cared enough to converse. "Critics," said Grone, with no enthusiasm but as if it were a good answer. He and Fraska didn't know each other. Their bodies were traveling at 100 miles per hour, at least. Jenny Fraska shrugged. "Someone once told me," she said, "that in the long run, not a single critic ever mattered." "I'm a critic," said Grone, "of sorts. And I concur. May I--?" "--No," she said. "You may not." "But you don't know--" "--I k now," she said. "You were going to take the conversation to some kind of second stage." "Jesus," Grone said, almost out loud but to himself, "I want to smell and lick and kiss you." "I know what you're thinking," said Jenny. "So do I," said Grone. "I can pay." Jenny Fraska laughed. "This is precisely why critics have dismissed the realistic novel, and why they are wrong," she said. "What do you mean?" Grone asked. "I mean that humans are determined to be realistic, and no one especially wants to read about it." "May I please sniff your neck?" asked Grone. "Never!" said Jenny Fraska. Grone smiled. For he recognized "Never!" as an example of a type of ambiguity.

Friday, February 1, 2013

217. Orpheus on a Road in Colorado

Listen to the summer road,
heat still in the dust and stones
at dusk. In a meadow
below the road, the carnies
have pitched their tents.
The heat has withered their canvas.
The women lift their hair
off of their necks in the heat
down in the blond meadow
tinged with pink now from the red
clouds in the West. Owls
tuck themselves back in the woods
where darkness is already
deeper than the dusk. Cicadas sing.
Trout waggle sluggishly
in the slow, warm current.
Gnats boil. You stare down
at your feet in the powdery dust.

The carnies will say they heard you sing,
but as the sound comes out of your mouth,
it seems only necessary, like breath exhaled,
not song. The deer back in the stand of oaks
stop; their legs become brown sticks.
To them the sound is necessary, too.
They cannot question it,
no more than fish can question river.
Only the carnies will wonder;
only they will testify.

It's almost dark now as the sheriff's car
comes rumbling toward you, white dust
pouring out of the chassis like factory smoke.
You tell him you were only talking
to the woods at dusk, and to the inhabitants
of the woods, talking of the underground river,
cool and actual in the bedrock below the road,
below all this heat and dust and weary brush.

He accuses you of singing, though.
You glance down at the lanterns
in the carnival's camp and allow that,
yes, it could be singing, what you do.
He says you can go, inasmuch as there's no law
against singing on a country road in Colorado.
He walks down to the meadow
to mumble with the strangers.
Darkness now. The animals
have retreated further. Farther on,
you find a place to sleep.
It's not a song, but in your dreams,
you know you hear the river underground.

Hans Ostrom 2013

216. The Season of Mercy

It is the month of desire.
I wake up and find you
and hold one of those unoriginal thoughts
lovers are bound to hold:
we could be any two living here at any time.
Look at the red morning clouds
and the blue coastal hills that absorb
the salt of those acquisitive waves.

We yearn for the whole love;
we wait for it to spring to life
like the blessed perfect leaf of a beautiful plant.
Do we seek our souls through love,
the perfect shape of us that lives
in these rough shapes?
And thereby do we implicitly prove the Soul
through dissatisfaction
and love's displacements?
Proof of the world fills the morning glass:
window, mirror, bowl, and spectacle.
Proof of our dying, well, it comes and goes:
each breath, each push
of blood from heart to palm.

This holding at dawn
wants more than versions of the world
            in the morning glass.
It seems to want a twenty-fifth hour,
an eighth day, one further season:
the season of mercy
            when orange groves fill our every window
and love for the first time
holds us as we have held each other.

Hans Ostrom 2013