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, 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.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

241. Scarf in Manhattan

Three decades earlier, he'd lost a scarf in Manhattan. Now he thought of it without being reminded of it by anything. His mind reminded itself and spit out the memory like a bone mysteriously rising to the surface of the La Brea Tar Pits. He doesn't know how his mind did this. He doesn't know why it did this. Often one to ruin magic, his imagination boorishly pictures the scarf rotted in a landfill after a last stop maybe with a homeless man or woman. Wool. Red.

hans ostrom 2018

Friday, April 24, 2015

240. Ava and Miriam

When the red shoes went missing, the blue chair stayed still. A yellow bird cheeped in a cage by the sill. What does life mean beyond the song? Miriam is white, and Ava is brown, and they wear the same color gown. They mourn the loss of the red shoes, they move the blue chair, and--ah!--the red shoes, there all along. What does life mean beyond the song? * * * * hans ostrom 2015

Monday, March 30, 2015

239. Maxx Lomar, Private Writer

I've always bought my notebooks one at a time. That's just the way I work. I'm a private writer. If something needs to be said, I'll say it, in writing. I'll use the one notebook I have going, the kind with lines on the page, with a vertical red capillary running down the left side to set the margin. I like to work alone. That's why I never joined the force. I have an imaginary secretary in the imaginary outer office, where I see my name, MAX LOMAR, stenciled in black on fogged glass, and underneath: PRIVATE WRITER . . . Oh, and then she came through the door, 5' 6" of trouble dressed in beauty. Yeah, she was quite a poem. She said she had some revisions that needed to be done and was I interested? I lit her cigarette for her. There it was, between her red-lipstick lips. The tip glowed as she took a drag. I looked in her violet eyes and said, "Oh, I'm interested, all right. Tell me more." Yeah, I'm Maxx Lomar, Private Writer. * * * hans ostrom 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

238. White Ants

He'd been at his place of work many years when one day white ants swarmed into his official space and climbed all over him. They bit him, making red marks, stinging. He slapped and brushed, danced and ran. His co-workers stood stone-faced, looking at him and the white ants on him. "Will you help?" he asked them. "No," one of the colleagues said, speaking for all. "These white ants are a sign that you've never fit in here. They are a sign from the god of careers!" hans ostrom 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

237. My Heart

My heart is like an onion tree, which doesn't exist, so bite me--hey, just kidding. My heart is like New York poets who report regularly on their ongoing struggles with genius. Oh, my heart might be saying "Brooklyn," but let me tell you, it is thinking "Harlem." My heart talks. And talks. "Shut up, will you, heart?" That is something I say to myself. My heart is like the CIA and the KGB. It tortures, patriotically. My heart is like an analgesic dream. It costs too much. My heart is like an ancient people who had it all going on. It is wiped out. My heart, my heart. Nobody cares what it is like. People care about their own hearts, as they should. Nobody cares what my heart is or that it is mine. My blah is like a blah and so is your blah

Friday, March 6, 2015

236. Strawberry Thoughts

Apple trees have strawberry thoughts. Thunder is dissatisfied. When he opened the closet, the clothes got quiet all of a sudden. They had been making jokes about him. Seeing lightning made her think of maps and arthritis. Hope covers dread like a watery, thin lotion. Street surfaces are a genre of art. Fog, in some instances . . . When the water-line broke, the fountain in the public square went dry, and we were sad to see how plain the fountain looked when it wasn't wearing water. "This poet was an undrafted free agent coming out of college, Al." "That's right, Bob, and look at her now." hans ostrom 2015