POETRY by Hans Ostrom

TO WAR AGAIN

To see them go to war again,
Again, will clarify the choice,
Which is that either nothing or
A Mystery will save us from
What comes when love and reason fail.
And love and reason always fail.
Perversity and cruelty,
The will to power, greed, and hate
Will overwhelm what better selves
Would want to do and be, will grind
The planet and devour us–
Unless a prescient Mystery
Can manage us away from our
Capacities, propensities–
For otherwise we just
Combine our smarts and viciousness,
Our genius and ill will anew.

ELIGIBLE

Because you are unworthy,
Your value is set.

Because you are doomed,
you are deemed

ready. For no cause, for
nothing you have achieved,

you are eligible. Because
a recent sojourn featured

an unlovely foray into self
(vile reconnaissance),

you loathe yourself: this
is good preparation. Actually,

anything low, honest, sober,
and clear aids alertness.

Everyone and no one is better
than you. Write your name

in the book of change. Grace
has voted. You do not deserve

to be elected; therefore,
you are so elected. You shall

represent a ludicrous,
graced constituency of one.

Hans Ostrom’s poetry has appeared in a variety of national magazines. His recent chapbook is Subjects Apprehended. He is the author of A Langston Hughes Encyclopedia, and is co-editing with James Herrick a new book in the field of composition studies, The Subject is Story.