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WINTER 2019-2020


Al Ortolani


My father was anesthetized
by television, his gout-swollen foot
raised on a pillow. We'd lean over
his shoulder, careful not to bump
the recliner, baseball cards
spread like a poker hand.
He'd thumb through them
for us, tap his finger on one.
This guy was a bum, a bush leaguer,
couldn't buy a hit. Now here,
he taps again, was a good glove,
no Phil Rizzuto, but soft hands
with the hot potato. Then he'd
hand the cards back
over his shoulder, and we knew
enough was enough, eyes shut, heart
pulsing in his toe, a working man
with a king’s disease.
Gary Cooper on the television
squared off in High Noon,
white hat, pearled six shooters,
steady legs to walk up the street
into the arms of Grace Kelly.

Al Ortolani is the Manuscript Editor for Woodley Press in Topeka, Kansas, and has directed a memoir writing project for Vietnam veterans across Kansas in association with the Library of Congress and Humanities Kansas. He is a 2019 recipient of the Rattle Chapbook Series Award. After 43 years of teaching English in public schools, he currently lives a life without bells and fire drills in the Kansas City area.



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