Poems by Lin Ostler 2018

LIN OSTLER. Engaging with poetry since establishing a college literary magazine, Satori, Lin’s embodied, earthy work has been incorporated into multi-cultural collaborations and anthologized in various poetry journals. A familiar reader in Utah, Lin has read with an international group of writers, the “Faraway Poets,” in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Ojai, California.

Sadder Than Wilson Floating Away…?

In this gnarling hand
are bones, broken & intact,
views in the veins,
a useful thumb. Fingertips
with sensations wearing off.

Convinced now
that anyone who chose intimacy with me
loved me, or felt once infatuated,
is gone now.

I’m talking Dead.
Beginning with my fabulous first high school love, then my best friend from forever & the radio host we called Pterodactyl on the Flamenco Guitar. the high school student who loaned me his Honda 50 Summer after I student taught, & we got caught in a moment until Agent Orange got him for good. My companion to the Monterey Pop Festival. Our Lamb of God, Bill, Fluvial-haired Celt, Our Poet Group Mentor, Dearest One of 4 years in Vermont & my colleagues, teachers there. & Half of my family.

I could, and will not, go on. and on…
Knowing the drill,
we are expected to get used to it,
admit the Obits
are the next page you check.

My writings brush against
a few of the furies,
and my children’s lives proclaim
bodies from me-&-the-Earth
that warrant Highest Proclamation.

Music, Wearable ear art, & ethnic bracelets
are my paltry endowments:
Cobalt and Lapis, Amethyst & Citrine,
Turquoise & Coral, Ethiopian figures,
beads & bone & shells
from the entire African continent—
some I rue for owning. Yet honor.

A final admonition:

Remember to look inside
& beneath everything.
Hidden treasure is there.
Dive into that Wreck
my beloveds.
Share In Peace.
I loved you more.

Ancient Dialogue

“You’re driven.”
he accuses.
Casting sand patterns like a
desert sidewinder.

You don’t need to step
in my path,
my patterns,
she replies.

He: Not so easy.
It’s the nature of snakes—

She: So if you know that,
you must have strategies
to avoid, or deal with
sch cunning cambers.

He: But that requires that I
take the long route,
trail the bowknots
instead of zip lining.

she: More adventure for you

he: More exhaustion

she: Your choice

he: You up for compromise

she: You?

he: Who’s driving?

she: Who’s awake

Both: the s n a k e

Who By fire ~ an odd ode to Leonard Cohen
And who by fire, who by water
who in the sunshine, who in the night time
who by high ordeal, who by common trial
who in your merry, merry month of May
who by very slow decay
and who shall I say is calling?


Your gracious, brutal,
???? otherwise inexpressible ascendancy
with language doesn’t hinder me
in this puerile attempt at praise.

It could be so much worse
than to sustain an unyielding
e a r w o r m
with the calibre of your tour de force,
“Joan of Arc.”

The detail of the unmoored,
gapped word or two —
which puts the rude needle-scratch
of interruption to the melody—
hasn’t deterred me.
I improvise.

You saw her wince, I Heard her cry.
Together, we transmute into the very grain
of the wood that fuels
the fire, sequalled
by falling pale ash.

Our breath,
these millennia later,
is yet flecked with hers.
Our planet maintains the same air,
those same waters which
forebore the quenching
of those flames.

Or yours.
Who by fire?

Which Wolf?

Something is lurking here.
I see shadows flitting, dark eyes
glinting in the room
a presence
mostly benevolent—not deeply menacing.
But hungry.
It knows I hoard the wolf food.

Grandfather, which wolf wins? the young child asks in a familiar fable.
Which wolf— the angry, greedy self-involved wolf inside us, or the compassionate, spirited generous-hearted wolf?

The one you feed, we hear him respond.

I have a famished creature at my door.
Hunger alone drives her. She is lean.

Our familiar wolf has been pampered,
overfed, proffered loads of liberation
which has been squandered.
She is short-tempered & petty.

This lurking creature petitions
only for scraps, enough of our leavings
to revivify her voice
to a full-throated howl.
The pinked moon is desolate
in the absence of her attentions.

We are confused, grandson.
We need a new fable
to guide us.

The Nack of “Tack”

Sometimes it takes nerve to swerve,
shows some genius
when you reach a terminus,
reconcile with the notion
that it’s time
to veer away from the lines
you unctuously tracked.

But tacking into ferocious winds,
smacking full on
into the bobbing walls
of derelict shipping containers,
you realize swift enough
that it’s not a Solo
Robert Redford’ imbroglio
you’ll encounter if you drift,
but just a juicer cabin filling up
— faster than a kelp smoothie—
with sea water.

Better to veer, reveal your tenacity
sagacity, the genius to let go
of the Lemming instinct
for some solid connection
to the song you were sent to sing,
the Siren’s voice, the zing
to pitch some sizzle
into your dogged days.

It takes some verve,
some Je ne sais quoi
to foray in,

S w e r v e !

Three syllable test drive

Even though
it was just
tonic, limes
and some ice,
my friend had
to note that
I was just
p o u n d i n g it
down so fast.

Okay, I
admit it.
The one thing
I truly
could ever,
nurse had been
my babies,
I reply.

Why Not an Angel for the Heart?

R e l a x ,
he told us.
A limitless breath
extends into the deepest reach
of all five lobes of our lungs.

w i t h i n

We were trained to speak
into our breath
as if we had slumped
into oblivion

thumb tip drawn to the fingertips
of index & middle finger.

The parking Angel —
when invoked in absolute belief
absolute surrender, long before
we reached our destination–
has always manifest
the perfect spot for every occasion.

Why not, I inquire,
use it for healing my


did I decide that waiting
was an essential strategy
& {for} what was I saving myself?

is the place more sanctified
than this quickening breath?

ardently must I search
for that which abides
within me this moment?

How much
pain, delusion, needless
self-defense can I assemble
until I realize
the liberation that vibrates
within me now?

How often
will the sun set & rise,
will sea & river waters
embrace my wanting body,
the softness of a barn owl’s feather,
like the ineffable fragrance
of a newborn’s temple?
How often will flowers
bloom in my hand,
the loam of pine & humus
under my feet offer the rebound
to venture to sources ever-flowing,
until I bathe in the immensity,
the span of transcendence
in the eyes of my of my offspring,
of my own vision?

Sonnets of Emergence ~ Songs of Departure— a haibun

There are so many more Songs of Departure than Sonnets of Emergence at this point in life.
I see Verabel’s (“Belle” to us) tudor home, adorned on every wall with vibrant paintings, each shelf weighted with ceramic art, all the windows exclaiming the chortled joy she released there. When you left us, Belle, this poem arose, of you standing like a dragon figurehead in the reed boat on the Amazon River, your Dashiki flowing around you, your laughter stirring the exotic rainforest birds you cherished.

Remembering you, Stephen, I take in as much of Lake Champlain as my eyes can sweep into the memory of you when you wore your tattered sweater with Logan green pills forming on the shoulders. When we stood still, you behind me, you wrapped me in your full warmth, & the symphony, the tympani of geese exulted in every breath we took.

Kent, I sensed the solid gravitas of your long bones & effluvial red hair long before you came into view the first time. Earth trembled a bit, not because of your lithe weight, but with the rhythms we would share. Your early leaving opened gashes in our story that I attempt to heal with my awkward bone awl of a needle.

I hum these Songs of Departure endlessly, their singular melodies that once held the magic harmonies, hoping that they may be stitched together after I am gone.

We arise like stars
burn & extinguish in mists,
songs still vibrating


A bleary line scored the sky.
Not a bird, not a plane,
not a UFO nor a drone.

Climate was temperate
so no wavy lines of refracted heat,
no mirage, no bending light waves,

yet the pulsing, end to end
unnatural spectra—
though I’ll never complain about color-

captivated, intrigued
as I covered one eye
then the other.

Sunglasses, then readers
clarified nothing..
I checked the News. More nothing.

As a last resort,
I resourced my day planner,
noticing the upcoming birthday.


More than a Malaprop

*Actress Linda Darnell (born Monetta Eloyse Darnell, October 16, 1923 – April 10, 1965)

Some aptronyms are ironic rather than descriptive, being called inaptronyms … A notable example is the former Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Sin who in 1976 was made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI, thus becoming known as “Cardinal Sin”
Was Darnell’s short career so stunning
that her name would be broadcast
over the lives of my generation
like her ashes from the hotel fire?

Linda’s raven-haired endowment
was one that countless mothers
&, no doubt, fathers, wished
for their babies.

First-day-of-school roll
would inevitably become a din
the very moment the teacher called
At least three of us in every class
piped up.

A lot to live up to
with a hardscrabble life,
a mother who resentfully released
the quarter into our hands
for occasional school lunch.

So, when I picked up a Marcel Marceau
type of a guy in Edmonton, hitchhiking
from Montreal, with the distinguished name
of Serge de Repentigny, it thrilled me
when he shortened my name, 
Linda, meaning” beautiful” —an unfeasible standard
for a 70s Natural Woman to live up to—
to Lin. 
Mees Leen.

And though we entertained
the notion of marriage ,
perhaps becoming Madame de Repentigny,
it didn’t happen.
But I never took back
the Duh!

“Don’t interrupt the sorrow”
Joni Mitchell on her The Hissing of Summer Lawns LP

And so it goes on:
Let it ebb and flow
counsels Paula Dawn
Kidney stones {and other hard places) pass,
suggests Lois
It’s tough to do anything every day
my wise daughter reminds me

All right, I’m pretty sure I can
scare up some old boot straps —
hashed as they might be.

I’ll begin with a rough sketch
on yellowed paper
like the one my son’s father
instantly created the moment
we put the baby-to-breast.

Here, the continuous sea
tumbling onto the kelp-heaped shore.
Here the sea glass clear enough to limn
my palmistry beneath it.

And over there, the bike I rode in on
the sturdy plastic child seat still attached,
leaning against a palm tree.

The sun—still out of the picture
until I pencil it in.

The sorrow—
safely intact , uninterrupted.

My Soul to Keep

 “…This frayed tapestry of humanity rising

                          from my poem,Wildly Wingless

In all our clothes
or naked on silken sheets,
we enter the theater of sleep,
rising toward the moon.

On a good night
there is a breeze,
rustling curtains
a hush in the neighborhood
a fiesta of cricket song.

The gravitas of our body
acquiesces, gracefully
as we float
within the folds of heavy
velour curtains
in this theater-in-the-round.

We are as comfortable
roaming in the childhood home
that provided the menus of our days

as we are in the one
allowing this simmering
in darkness.

Casual emergence of those
long dead
seems as natural as when
their voices
purveyed the poetry
of the longest day.

At times, one voice
will call our name
startling us awake.

Whether the call is benevolent
or the sounding of distress
the mewling is
at once binding
and unfurling.

Lin Ostler
April 16, 2018

Postscript to Sleep:
I weep in sleep,
go deep, seep in teeming heaps, risk perilous leaps
entrusting that I might reap the promise:
My soul to keep.

Estuaries of Amazement

through the leagues,
we cherish a dream
of solidarity
within the guild,
surviving together
in Goodwill.

or being squeezed out.
Assuming, we can thrive alone,
that primitive foraging
is our Way—
The Tao of Survival.
Yet, not flourishing.

the absence of alliance
among the sanctuary
of amazement,
desiring a comrade in arms,
a Browning
to our aspirational Barrett.

poetic parity?
We know that is a fable.
We germinate in dark soils—
Croning without ceremony,
encompassed in a vast
estuary of sound

that there is
in the act of setting
syllables together
with a grain
of Grace

Lin Ostler

“When you do things from the soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
~ Rumi

Slings of Silence

Free as any silver thread

from here to the nearest Nebula,

aware that my timer chimes 1n 19 minutes,

I sit

in silence.

Kvetching a bit

with fast twitch predilections,

adjusting this wrist,

that shadow,

I finally settle.

Early morning silence

is piqued only by the self-conscious

Ujjai breath sound of my heat vent

until the tick ticking metal finally re-shrinks

it to its mid-sixties comfort zone.

Perception —eagle-eyed as the raptor


on the mole dashing under the Grease Wood—

hones in on my own breath,

waits for re-emergence.

Another silence

one not as gracious,

is gunning

for a greater shot at


the re-weaving of frayed threads

abraded & detached by countless

careless acts

which splinter

any wholeness I seek.

I have parried aside those closing walls

with Sampson-like grit

painted scrim after scrim

to separate myself

from them.

Still, I know

that when the elegant tone


I will



into the prickly nest

of necessity.

Integrity, they say

is one of only four essential things.



Yoga play outside
as planned? Not today it seems.
White blizzard rages.


Spring Yoga outside
as planned? Not today it seems.
White blizzard rages.

Joan, In White

“…It was deep into his fiery heart
He took the dust of Joan of Arc
And then she clearly understood
I if he was fire, oh then she must be wood…

I saw her wince, I saw her cry /I saw the glory in her eye
Myself, I long for love and light
But must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?”

~ Leonard Cohen in “Joan of Arc”

Cohen’s Joan of Arc wants
something white to wear,
perhaps a wedding dress.
Be careful what you wish, we are warned. And so she indeed became fully arrayed in the whitest of white ash

blowing down in soft sacrificial mounds. Who is the fire to our wooden fuel?
Who the punch line to our unwitting jests, But must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

A strange word
for the cool-aid we drink,
the medium for liquid spirits
the thrusts we throw,
the well-delivered repartee
to an inscrutable riddle.
Something snappy
& potent
“And then she clearly understood.”

Whose voice is in our heads,
how certain our vision when we ride, armored with naiveté,
into these intrenched fortresses, gather by tens-of-thousands
against the arrows, the bullets
the simple flint-against-stone
which is intentionally amassed
for our destruction?
“I saw the glory in her eye.”

We “Stand With a Fist”
for the portal to a changed cosmology We gather
with children at the helm
believing their pronouncements
as we were certain
of our own decades ago t
that our world can return to sanity, compassion.

“Myself, I long for love and light.”

Lin Ostler
April 11, 2018
All Rights Reserved
note—We were, in the Tiferet Poemathon 2018, to attempt an old poetic form–the Glosa. A glosa is “a tribute is paid to another poet. The opening quatrain, called a cabeza, is by another poet, and each of their four lines are imbedded elsewhere in the glosa. The opening quatrain is followed by four stanzas, each of which is generally ten lines long, that elaborate or “glosses” on the cabeza chosen. Each ending line (10th line) of the four following stanzas is taken from the cabeza.”

Grunae, or large, long-legged/ long-necked birds

Seasonally, we pilgrims journey
with little guile, to the North Platte River
or the marsh grasses, Whitewater Draw

awe-struck & engrossed— as you land
or by thousands

dipping your slender talons into shoals
or patterning
the grasses near the marsh.

But it is the rising—
the cacaphony that trails
your slender dangling legs

upon each communal uplift,
embellishing the sky—
which rivets our attention.

We freeze, or break into dance
or endlessly snap at our cameras
for a fragment of the rapture.

This crane in flight —
a red-crowned beauty
who lives on my left shoulder

limned in black, tufted in red—
attempts to tone down her call,
to be more like the chick

with her low, purring search calls
as she shriek-whispers
into my ear.

It’s almost time.

????leven:????leven-????our ????ovena
My liturgy of the hours pulses inside me,
the clock of the soul’s carillon.
It is that crack between twilight
and the dark of night
that sings my antiphons–
the small chants reminding my breath
to extend
into the smallest alveoli,
into the remote crannies
of its five cardinal lobes.
Just as the calendar’s proclamation in March
may not, for me, be the primary harbinger
avowing that the world is wrapping itself
in a floral poncho
(though I am never without the drums
& songs to call it in)
for me, Spring arrives
with music, frolicking, celebrations
dancing en plain aire
to ethnic and bacchanal rhythms
weaving Maypoles, & garlanding our hair.
Not so much canonical hours
but the inevitable glance to the clock
at 11:11 calls me to evening
as much as any Novena or sunset.
The Gayatri Mantra nor Gregorian chants
may not always arise
but a psalm of amazement
pulses in the swirling Clefs
of my soul, sometimes Treble ????
sometimes Bass ????

Light & the Cherub

I heard the sun thud
into the untended backyard garden,
watched it sink among the rose & raspberry bushes
refusing to
     burn them, or me, to ash
in my dream
     when I was eight,
already violated
& praying for the gamble of rescue.

More ominous was the followup dream —
a metallic Cherub with its frosty, steely arrow
scoring a path in the air
at the height of my Father’s eyes.

Back & forth, and back across the length
of the room, this menacing figure
cut his path,
through the Family room— a place
that should have been safe,
yet was frigid as a catacomb.

Light, even dressed in the dread possibility
of incinerating us
sizzled in the garden.
I knew it could ignite
a portal through our rice paper walls.

The light carried warmth.
It shimmered down from somewhere
they called  infinity,” without a beginning
never ending.

I chose feverish peril
to the eyes of my father
fixed on the chilly cherub,
his clothes barely draping him.

I could not stop searching for the light,
dreaming it back.

Domed Domiciles

Not blessed with architectural prowess
(fully incapable of erecting anything—
even stacking dishes
to dry—which were not destined to crash)
I chose to fashion homes for babies.

A climate secure environ,
baby’s first home — creations
of domed, sustainable
came naturally to me.

My first suggested the Dome of the Rock.
Its golden arc suited me,
the teeming life inside, an inquest,
the forming of a human soul
with eyes fully-formed in 24 weeks.

when those
alabaster doors opened
searching mine,
I was undone.

Dome #2 shone like the gold
& teal synagogue in Berlin,
lightning rod-protected,
solid as it was stunning.
When she emerged

from those resounding portals
her father cut
the three-spiraled cord
and its succulence patterned the walls
with jubilation. Jubilate Deo!

Dome Three resembled the Keenan mansion,
its penthouse lavish and scarlet-hued.
The last to house my progeny,
its ambiance steeped in blood-rich majesty,
my son announced himself

by a community
of creators—
a guide
in the wilderness.

Naive & untutored as I was,
these luminaries of design
ripened with natural ease
like their habitants’ startling grace,
my prayers ceaselessly streaming from within.

I Do/ I Do Not  or The Fishless Desert                                                                 

 For what I do, I do not recognize as my own action. 

             What I desire to do is not what I do, but what I am averse to is what I do.

                                              Paul, via Weymouth New Testament                             

                      Georges Oshawa declared,  The bigger the front, the bigger the back,                                  & I lived by that.

On the shore, electric blue bioluminescence
wilts with sunrise, crushed to chalk
by runner’s heavy footfalls,
ground to granules of forgetfulness. 

If I journey toward your early bloom,
enticed and  star-eyed,
know that those stars will one day
burn caldera into lakes frozen with vacillation.

When preparing feasts for present-&-imagined hosts
it is possible I will get the day wrong, or switch bitter herbs
for honeyed-pecans, not noticing.
Traditionalists are not likely to Répondez, S’il Vous Plait.

Still. . .
there is enough in this world to tame me
set me out to the most arid lands
“…as old as erosions in a fishless desert”*               

and feel Matsya’s pull into the too-small pond,
to satisfy me, drench me in the dews of morning
which, when scrutinized, reflect a reminiscence
of Evening Primrose, the acrid berries of Sumac

the rare porcelain cups
of Night-blooming Cereus
their scent ravishing.
Yes. Enough.

For My Meditation Class 

Hoping you would rise from your desks,
I lit all my candles
around each landscape
that make me cry

depleted the ink
from my repetitious printer
reviving the deepest ultramarine
from ashes of the lost gem

to tempt a temblor
in your eyes.

But I left the folder
in the car
with the keys

Instead, we danced
T’ai Chi
Waving Hands Like Clouds.

Blast the brights and storm into the blizzard!

Eggshells and edging in
are compost now.
Going for the gusto.

So belt in,
pull down
the the face shield

and cover your ears,
a ready finger
on the delete button.

for the gut now.
My gut.

No energy healer extracting
bloodless psychic strands–
no tricks.

it’s happening, now.
Not waiting for anyone to die
or saving myself

(as if there’s a better one in there,
pull it outa the hat
at the last moment…)

This is that moment.

A Haiku:

Limpid Crown Chakras
vivify dreams of flying
wingless & meme-free