Al Ortolani


Funny how the days in a month fly by.

It seems like only yesterday that October

shuffled into the room, dragging yellow leaves,

and now, it’s stepping out into dimmer rust.

It’s time for my monthly pension check.

I can pay for the extravagances of the past weeks,

coffee for tomorrow, carry out Chinese, Netflix.

For a few days I’m flush with discovery,

a silver dollar in a box of copper coins.

I keep a roll of fives in my pocket, hand one

to the guy in the parka with the cardboard sign.

He mumbles a blessing. I nod to him, say

take care brother. Then it’s just the leaves

in my pants cuffs, the acorns at my feet

cracking, toes like typewriter keys,

like little hammers on the sidewalk.

AL ORTOLANI lives in the Kansas City area, subsisting on Chinese carry-out with his wife Sherri and their rescue dog Stanley. His most recent collection, Swimming Shelter: 100 Days of Coronavirus, an Exercise in the American Crawl, will be released from Spartan Press in December 2020.