Subscribe To Our
Poetrybay Blog on Facebook

Fall/Winter 2017

Al Ortolani


I was taken by the apartments
split open like doll houses, rooms still
populated with furniture, beds unmade,
blankets and sheets tossed, end tables
with shaded lamps, framed pictures
cock-eyed on flowered wallpaper. We drove
the streets in our scoutmaster’s car,
following the tornado’s path,
pointing into bedrooms, into closets,
like pigeons without window sills—
a bathtub, fastened to a drain, hung
from a second story, a roll
of white paper fluttered,
a mirror reflected our Chevrolet. 
I was embarrassed for them,
the poor, the homeless
with their lives turned out to see,
the secrets in cabinets,
the underwear on the floor,
the stain on the bed.
In the sun that shouldn’t
be shining, in the crooked lines
the wind wouldn’t take,
a cat crouched back up the stairs.


Al Ortolani was born in Huntington, New York and grew up in Pittsburg, Kansas. He was educated at Pittsburg State University and for the past 41 years has taught in Kansas schools in Baxter Springs, Pittsburg and Overland Park (Blue Valley) as well as an adjunct at Pittsburg State University. He is the author of six collections of poetry, including Paper Birds Donít Fly (NYQ, í16)



Poetrybay seeks fine poetry, reviews, commentary and essays without restriction in form or content, and reserves first electronic copyright to all work published. All rights to published work revert to the author following publication. All Email submissions should be in body of email text.

To submit poems write to:

PO Box 114 
Northport NY 11768
or email us at

send comments to

first electronic copyright 2004
©2018 poetrybay. 
all rights revert to authors

website comments to