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

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