July 31, 2013

Al Ortolani

Wildcat Miner

Try to imagine
the dead of winter,
the stove that stands
between you and the cold
an iron shell. Your children
cough up the
vapors of prairie wind,
fragile hearts behind
thin coats, canvas skin

The croup like a turkey buzzard
circles above the hardwoods.
It lands along the creek
wings spread,
talons open. Cold rain
pecks the windows,
begins to seep.

You raise
your arms to coal,
the warmth, the darkness
mined; you
flex muscle
as it burns.

Accepting Plenty

The truck cab steeps
in the afternoon sun like tea.
The upholstery swells
and cracks with rot. Over time
our once easy laughter
wearies. We sing less, speak
less, sit on the fender of the
rusting Dodge, the trunk
of a pecan sapling splitting
the planks of the bed.
A fox burrows below
the rear axle; raccoons
chew through the floorboards
and nest behind the seat,
straw batting strewn against
the springs. Pecans drop
all afternoon. They line
the rain gutters, spread  like
a fan across the rusted roof.


Al Ortolani is a public school teacher in the Kansas City area. His poetry and reviews have appeared in New Letters, The Quarterly, The English Journal, New York Quarterly and other fine places. He has published several books of poetry: The Last Hippie of Camp 50 and Finding the Edge, from Woodley Press, Wren's House, from Coal City Press, and Cooking Chili on the Day of the Dead, from Aldrich Press. He is an editor for The Little Balkans Review and works closely with the Kansas City Writer's Place.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Al, "Accepting Plenty" is tight, rounded, and roughly polished. Your insistence upon presenting hard imagery from the natural world, into which people occasionally wander, is persuasive, very difficult to dispute. The frame is photographic, the story intuitive. Stay spare. Bravo!

Ted Jean
Milwaukie, Oregon