an on-line poetry magazine
for the 21st century


Al Ortolani


My father, a dreamer, traded
a pitching machine for a pool table
He placed it in the center of the family room
which was originally a carport. Before
the pool table he had hoped hope to build a garage
with a workshop. a wall to hang bicycles,
rakes, shovels, pinup calendars. As money
permitted, the carport was walled in
with sheet rock and fake wood paneling,
the two of us a team. I rested
one end of sheet rock on my head,
then pressed it up to the rafters, arms shaking,
dad nailing fast, his hammer rhythmic,
a tap tap bang. The floor was tiled
over concrete, troweled with black glue,
then changed out when the next new baby came
for orange shag, luxurious, pile raked.
We played stripes and solids, learned
the irony of an eight-ball scratch.
When Dad developed Mennear’s syndrome,
the spinning bank shots grew too much.
The green felt filled with laundry—
shirts, jeans, underwear,
endless baby clothes. I folded diapers
while rolling the eight ball
between piles of onesies. The corner pocket
caught diaper pins with safety latches:
pink ducks, blue rabbits, yellow chickens.

AL ORTOLANI’s poetry has appeared in Rattle, New York Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Chiron Review, The Long Island Quarterly, One Art Poetry Journal, and others. His most recent poetry collection is The Taco Boat, published by New York Quarterly Books in 2022. His first novel Bull in the Ring will soon be released by Meadowlark Books in Emporia, Kansas. He currently lives in the Kansas City area.