Gabriel Ostler​


Each ancestor with a pedestal would love to tell me

how ridiculous i am for getting my jollies off

such a vacuous expression of sentiment.

Back in my day the phone didn’t have a screen or games or mobility

it was anchored to an arbitrary spot by the kitchen door so you

could proper frame shots of the panicked coed picking up and hearing no dial tone

as killers in the night made like gorgeous statues on the ballroom lawn


& before that we sent telegrams. it wasn’t so easy

if you’d found a promising place for land speculation in the Great Southwest

but your brother-in-law pulled a double-cross with a pearl handle

to your temple and a dusty pen shoved into your grasp

deed done. you kicked out into a riverbed drier than a laugh

crawled 55 hours on your hands and needs to a general store and hacked

out your final words to some clerk who demanded a bellowed STOP

after each thought


& before that: pigeons


& before that, wisps of smoke that could not be bent

at will but only given suggestions as they ran cavorting

into the afternoon expanse, given independent hope

by your incendiary action, lit with belief,

a promise that you made not just to three valleys over

a guarantee that you sealed with dedication of

limited time and rushing embers


of course all these are poor surrogates

to setting down the stick dipped in crushed berries

or tossing your carving-rock over a slope-side and leaving that horn unspoiled


and finding this other and telling them that you see forever in every casual motion to where they all feel like thunderclaps

or original javelins or beats of a dangling, frizzing, severed cord


Look I can’t do that unless you’re dying so get sick with—with a disease,

punch through the gauzy film your lids laid over your eyes like

packing tape and notice me having dropped everything yet still holding

objects and they’re for you it’s all for you even this hideous affliction

that’s turned your spine into an ear of corn I’m here and

i’m fishing baby hairs out of your back if you’ll let me


but the tickets remain unbooked the land was signed away off that bad

deal before petroleum even made fire on accident

And I have left the blades spinning freely and ineffectually while 

the metaphorical mail flag stands carefree and defiant too many steps

down the way


so get bent great-uncle Robert anthony i’ll take my message like

 because the pony express broke my legs

Gabriel Ostler

Gabriel John Ostler is a bowler and crab cake enthusiast from Northern California. His poems have appeared in Cruel Garters, Plainsongs, and Liminality. Hit him up with your insurance fraud ideas @orindasfinest