Tag Archives: Al Ortolani

Mountain Goats on a Highway West of Aspen

I remember watching for mountain goats on a steep ridge in Colorado, our small Toyota flying down the highway towards the interstate. Probably, I should have pulled off at the Historic Interest marker, sign bolted to a post, between the … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 1 Comment

Grinding the Christmas Sausage

I. The papa I knew, in the telling, grew chickens and parakeets from eggs. He lost his boy Walter to a midnight hit and run on Thanksgiving, then the same night, tossed the priest along with his god from the … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Two Truths About Fishing

A fisherman, swathed in a poncho, trolls the water’s edge. Morning rain pocks the water, splatters off the gunnels, the ballcap, the fiberglass. The boat moves quietly, barely creasing the surface of the lake. Overhead the limbs of oaks, usually … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 2 Comments

Dogs Have Changed

and I blame it on World War II. My kids treat their dogs like children, taking them to sitters or doggie hotels when they’re out of town. They hire a girl to walk them and to pick up their shit … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Guilt Trip

In every phone call with my mother there comes a point when dialogue narrows to monologue, and she insists that she’d be better off dead than at the assisted living. Usually, I change the subject to some cheerful antic of … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 3 Comments

Pharmacy Run

They find each other waiting in lines for prescription refills and begin to speak of ailments. Nothing clicks like it once did. There are no flashing lights or musical accompaniments. They realize that more time is needed, more time for … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 1 Comment

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 … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

At the Trading Post Bridge

A dozen cranes stand in flood waters. They are as stoic as statues. Even the eighteen-wheelers roaring down the highway do not disturb their quiet. The berm of the road cuts the water—drivers with deadlines, hauling fast food, livestock, refrigerated … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Dog at the End of the Day

Some days I want to write my last poem. one that will manifest the controlling image of my future silence. It will have to say it all—like the way a branch bends with the weight of a bird, and then … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 1 Comment

Name on a Napkin

I walk into the teacher’s lounge. Someone has written Hey Al on a brown napkin and left it lying on the table. I’m curious about who is messing with me. I respond, Hey Yourself in red. Back at my desk, … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bridge Club

Once a month mom would have to sneak out of the house. She’d carry her shoes in a sack under her arm so that our baby brother wouldn’t notice she was leaving. My sister and I were ok with her … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Blue Moon Diagnosis

Surprisingly warm in October— I mow my father’s grass, running the edge of the mower in circles around the flower beds, the Madonna, the martin houses. The deck is cluttered with pool toys, baskets of browning petunias. An ideogram for … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Empty Branch

There’s a moment some mornings when I don’t long for more. I can’t plan my day around it, but it shows up, suddenly like a lover’s email. I might be staring out the rear window watching the bare-limbed lilac twitch … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Ruffino and Francis Step Off the Bus at Major Shopping District

Our message needs a new metaphor. Must we preach naked again, Ruffino mutters. Let’s avoid cliches, Francis continues. No cardboard signs. No drum circles. Saxophones are misunderstood. We are not seeking our big break. No dancing with finger cymbals. Let … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Brother Masseo’s GPS

Confused at the crossroads, Francis suggests that Brother Masseo twirl like a child at play. Masseo spins until his head begins to swim. He grows giddy and falls into the mud, his body a compass― needle pointing to Siena. It … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cement at San Damiano

If a bluebird lands on the slate roof, Francis knows the voice speaks from the Gospel. Three times he opens the book. Three times the bluebird sings. The rest is conjecture, based on a semaphore of wings and flashing trowel, … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

After Being Transported in Time, Francis Rides with Clare on a Tandem Bicycle

She’s beautiful in her disinterest, pedaling in time, muscled, unrelenting in her power stroke, her eyes keen on the narrow roadside that shoulders into forest: buntings, larks, common sparrows― sassafras, scrub oak, willows woven through fencerow. He longs to turn … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Clare and Agnes in Joplin

Where her house stood is a wilderness of power lines, concrete blocks, and roofing from the church. Natural gas wheezes from brass hot water tank couplings. Street water runs ankle-deep from curb to curb. She emerges from behind a curtain … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Jesus and Francis Shoot Pool at Chubb’s Bar

Wednesday advertises half-price chili & 50-cent draws. Frosted mugs for each draught. Jesus racks up the balls under the low hanging Schlitz light. Francis chalks his cue and watches the balls roll tight, black 8 nestled in the center like … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 1 Comment

On a Night when the Town Sleeps St. Francis and Brother Leo Are Taken by the Beauty of the Moon

Francis and Leo watch an old DVD of Moonstruck. Later, Leo steps out into the front yard. The same moon that enchanted Cosmo in the movie, rests on the roof of Madden’s house. He calls Francis and the two of … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 1 Comment

Lost at Safeway

Grandmother has forgotten the way back to where she parked the car. Memory skipped a beat and landed her like a fallen kite string cut in the Safeway parking lot. The make of her car is unclear; it’s either the … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 1 Comment

Sepia Tone

Dear A― Found a photograph at the flea market. Actually, a photograph of a photograph tinted to sepia in Adobe 5, trimmed and glued to fit a cabinet card..a con you know. Framed so you couldn’t thumbnail the edge. Priced … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Poem for Sale

He begins before the bullet, the pills, the rope to give away what he holds in the creases of his clothes. He empties his pockets on the nightstand, hears a few coins clatter on wood. Al Ortolani has been a … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment

Unlikely

A mayfly lands on my computer screen, translucent wings lined with delicate veins, Through them, I read the words of a new poem entitled “Unlikely.” It consists of an observation on brevity, on a body too light for muscle, too … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | 1 Comment

Straining Tea

I had to admit that she was the most innovative teacher I’d ever met, but for the most part I thought she talked too much, sounding a bit like Forrest Gump with her my momma used to say routine. Each … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged | Leave a comment