Hans Ostrom

Silver Star - 4,285 Points (1954 / California)

Fingernails - Poem by Hans Ostrom

Neither bone nor skin nor food,
fingernails are tools we mouth,

deploy, and decorate. None
of us is ever so civilized—

whatever civilized means-
that we won’t, when

need be, start to claw,
scrape, dig—evolutionary

eons collapsing, leaving
residue of whole lost worlds

in our instinctual hands. Just
to scratch the scalp is such

a human gesture—and not; such
a basic lice-finding task—and not.

If your fingernails are soiled, they
file a report on your social status.

If they are manicured, they may
purr concerning leisure’s delicacy. If

bitten, they murmur of gnawing self-
doubt. If artificial—how fascinating.

I have heard that employees of alleged
civilized societies pull out fingernails

with pliers. This is torture: remember?
It is blood underneath human fingernails.

Comments about Fingernails by Hans Ostrom

  • (11/11/2007 3:56:00 PM)

    An interesting read, Hans. Fingernails, like hair and shoes, say a lot about use.

    Love, Fran xx

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, November 11, 2007

Poem Edited: Sunday, April 24, 2011

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