“The Senate Vows Impartial Justice” by Al Ortolani

Al Ortolani


Sheltered from the ice, a bird
has taken cover
in the Christmas wreath,
forgotten below the porchlight.
This evening I use the backdoor,
slipping across the lawn,
around the frozen forsythia,
and then down the driveway
like a skater. I don’t need
to move a muscle. Gravity
does the telling as I slide
to the mailbox.
It is shellacked with ice,
glazed in the gray dusk.
I smack the metal lid
with my fist, and a hundred webs
crack the glossy sheen.
I walk the lawn up to the house,
the weight of junk mail
in my hand. I plant each step.
Blades of grass shatter,
give way to my heel.
If I walk the front steps, the bird,
some midwestern species,
maybe a sparrow, a starling,
will fly into the cold, rather
than risk my approach.
No amount of coaxing
will keep him nested
against the siding. No promise
will keep him hidden
in pine needles. He has learned
nothing from my words,
my concern for falling mercury,
the frozen night.

from Poets Respond
January 21, 2020


Al Ortolani: “Washington’s partisan politics wearies me. Little which is said by either side of the aisle leaves much to believe in. It angers me enough that I avoid reading much more than the sport’s page. But that solves nothing in itself.” (web)


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