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Fall/Winter 2017



Al Ortolani

TOPEKA TORNADO 1966

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)

 


 

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