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, October 13, 2017

267. Snow and Light in Uppsala

Walking in the dim glow of snow in Uppsala when Winter noon, a miser, let a cup of sunlight through made  my chest fill with oxygen, the huff and puff, but also with something sweeter than sadness, more tart than joy.  Sometimes a band of pink would tinge a building's edge, and sometimes a woman, her hair and her red scarf fluttering sensibly, would pedal by on a bicycle.

I use the old tool memory to access the restrained pleasure of such an interval of some days in Sweden. Sweden keeps occurring to me.  Sometimes I wish it were a book and me a character--that awkward American--so I could live forever there, so snow and light in Uppsala could become a setting for scene including me.

In fact, right now I'm drinking coffee in that novel.  I'm not important enough to advance the plot much. But I can see you peeking through the cafe window, imagining the warmth, the aroma of pastry and delicate perfumes, and the murmuring of conversation.  It's cold out there.  Come in. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

266. As If You Were Different from Them

You're in a forest, so weary you wedge yourself in the hollow of an old-growth red cedar tree. You sleep deeply and wake to black darkness.  You hear raccoons and foxes, coyotes and bobcats--they're all commuting to work.

You climb out of the tree and stand in a city: noise, rain, crowds, stench, neon, fluorescence, larceny, fraud.  You're leaning on a metal light-pole.  And now you remember: it took years but the city finally broke you by revealing how absurd it is.  You saw how you'd betrayed yourself by living, working, there.  You began to suffer spells, every day, so that you might find yourself on a sidewalk when your mind takes off and flees to a forest, sleeps in a tree, and leaves you looking quite mad.  "Disoriented," they call it, although your state has nothing to do with East.

You know none of the people passing by.  They stare at you as if you were different from them. Your struggling scares them momentarily.

hans ostrom 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

265. Grace and I

I am the bull charging toward me. Grace is the red cape and the sidestep. I am the boulder in the middle of my road. Grace is ways around. I am the iron door locked. Grace is removable hinges. I am the long, bad winter. Grace is April. I am accident. Grace is pattern.  I am pattern. Grace is serendipity. I am full. Grace, empty. I am empty. Grace?

hans ostrom 2017

264. The Placers

I would thank them but I don't know
how to contact them--the ones
who have placed books where I'd
find them at just the right time
over the years. In childhood, the
affordable hardbacks, Westerns,
on the family bookshelf, published
by E.P. Dutton and Doubleday,
red, blue, or green colors, wispy-
light pulpy pages, always an illustration
or two.  The Complete
Sherlock Holmes at age 15,
The Fire Next Time at 17, Snow
Country at 19, and so on. Most
recently, the Collected Stories
of Marquez. Each one adjusted

my perspective, often jolted it.
The secret network of book-placers
is vast, superbly trained, and precise.
Sometimes they enlist parents.
Usually it just seems like serendipity.

Oh, yes, I've tried to place books
myself, as a friend, a parent, a teacher.
Clumsy, amateurish, inconsistently
effective.  I hope one day to visit
the headquarters of the Secret
Book Placers International and
get the proper training.

hans ostrom 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

263. Tiger in the Light

Tonight a tiger's in the light. A windstorm leaves red rose petals on frozen lakes. An old man finally gives up thinking he's younger than he is and locks up remnants of his lust. Overcome with relief, he weeps as he waits for public transportation. But enough about all that: what I really wanted to tell you is that I've never seen an angel. This is an important fact because I want very much to see one.  See an angel, there, in reality.