Charleston Midnight

Mother is awake, unable to sleep without Ambien. She rises from bed and walks the house, pausing at the back door to watch the storm sweep the patio, and then at the front door to see if her stone retaining wall is being washed into the street. She should be sleeping, or at least, in bed listening to the rain through the window. The neighbor’s sycamore is twice as high as her wooden house, highest limbs tossing dangerously. If she owned a pistol, she would fire back into the clouds, into the cracking branches. Azaleas bleed red blossoms.

clicking on the lamp
in midnight storm
      the doll’s tight fist

Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Word Riot, and The New York Quarterly. He has four books of poetry, The Last Hippie of Camp 50 and Finding the Edge, published by Woodley Press at Washburn University, Wren’s House, published by Coal City Press in Lawrence, Kansas, and Cooking Chili on the Day of the Dead from Aldrich Press in Torrance, California. His fifth book, Waving Mustard in Surrender, was released by New York Quarterly Books in 2014. He is on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Writers Place and is an editor with The Little Balkans Review.

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