Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Al Ortolani’

Perhaps It Would Help If You Thought of the Poem as… — by Jason Ryberg

 

a hermit’s hovel of many mansions,

 

a shimmering silk kimono billowing

on a clothes line in Central Kansas,

 

a meteorite, suddenly fallen in your backyard,

 

a particularly toxic strain of word virus,

 

a flaring moment of clarity in the middle of a moshpit,

 

a tattered travelogue entry written in hobo code,

 

a series of lies that leads (ultimately)

to (something resembling) the truth,

 

a random, haphazard arrangement

of the 10,000 myriad archetypes of the world,

 

a sum of parts that is actually larger

than its whole,

 

an unexpected arrival at reality

via the unwitting disengagement from it,

 

a Chinese puzzle box or Russian nesting doll,

 

an open-air market bazaar in a lost city,

 

or, perhaps it would help if you thought of this

fragile little contraption of memes as a butterfly

flittering the non-Euclidian geometry

of its flight pattern through a forest of wind-chimes,

still glistening with rain from a brief

morning thunder-shower.

~Jason Ryberg

 

Jason Ryberg is the author of twelve books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collections of poems are Head Full of Boogeymen / Belly Full of Snakes (Spartan Press, 2016) and A Secret History of the Nighttime World (39 West Press, 2017). He lives part-time in Kansas City with a rooster named Little Red and a bill goat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.

 

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

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Catching a Lefty — by Adam Jameson

I squat behind the plate.

Cole spits sunflower seeds

into the dirt at Bill Russell field.

 

Catching a lefty is hard.

Sometimes his ball moves

down and in.

 

Other times it’s up and out.

Sometimes I got no fucking idea

where it’s headed.

 

30 pitches in, he asks if

I need a break.

I sure as hell as do, but

I’m not about to tell him that.

~Adam Jameson

 

Born and raised in Southeast Kansas, Adam Jameson played linebacker under Larry Garman and studied poetry under Al Ortolani at Pittsburg High School before going on to graduate with a B.A. in History from Pittsburg State University. Over the years he has worked as a house painter, railroad conductor, UPS supervisor and meter reader. He is currently employed as an Estimator for Westar Energy. His work has appeared in HARPThe Little Balkans Review, and To the Stars through Difficulty. His poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His most recent work Ghost Sign was selected as a Kansas Notable book for 2017. He currently lives in rural Pittsburg with his wife Meredith and son Cole.

 

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

Newsfeed — by Melissa Fite Johnson

     For Tamir Rice, 2002-2014

Beautiful white boy,
freckles like cinnamon,
salutes the camera.
Sign pinned to his shirt:
This boy stands for our flag. 

How can I say

of course he stands,
this morning’s photograph,
whole world his. They kneel for
beautiful black boys,
yesterday’s photographs.

How can I say

if your son played with a toy gun
on his front steps,
a police officer might
call him soldier,
return his salute, drive away.

~Melissa Fite Johnson

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first book of poetry, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Review, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book.  Her poems have appeared in RattleValparaiso Poetry ReviewBroadsided Press, and elsewhere.   Melissa and her husband live with their dog and chickens in Kansas, where she teaches English at her old high school. For more, visit melissafitejohnson.com.

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

The Dancing Cottage — By George Wallace

Before she came to America your grandmother served three sisters in a chicken legged cottage in Russia, a dancing cottage that turned and turned among the trees, a woodcutter’s cottage in a clearing in a forest and the woodcutter was never home, a modest cottage that turned and turned with three beautiful sisters inside,

 

Woodsman’s daughters they were and your grandmother was servant to the three sisters and small and capable, and silent and quick, when she plucked a chicken she was a fistful of feathers and the woodcutter was never home, and the three sisters laughed at your grandmother, her clothes and her smell and her manners,

She belonged outside where she was born they said, she smelled like the skin of animals — and the truth of the matter is your grandmother DID spring out of the earth, like a mushroom, near a tree where the cottage pigs dug up roots in summer, and when she walked through the cottage a chill like outdoors followed her from room to room,

And the three sisters were afraid of that and they didn’t like the look in her eyes and called her Baba, as in Baba Yaga, and they called her that right in front of her face, and she said nothing and tended the smoky stove and cleaned things up, she pushed the handle of a broom through straw to chase away mice, when it was necessary,

 

And in the candlelight of evening the cottage danced and the pine forest was silent and watchful, and the silence was terrible and wonderful and enchanted at the same time, and the clatter of chicken bones and metal plates, and in winter the three sisters ate turnip soup and laughed and were very happy,

 

And the woodsman was not there, and the wind shook off the blanket of snow which covered the trees and the animals and the wet straw roof, and your grandmother standing outside the door of the dancing cottage, dreaming of America

~ George Wallace

George Wallace is writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, author of 31 chapbooks of poetry and winner of the Naim Fraisheri grand prize at the International Poetry Festival “Ditët e Naimit.” Editor of Poetrybay and co-editor of Great Weather for Media in New York City he travels regularly to share his work with poetry with writers across the United States and internationally. Recent appearances in Kansas include the Gordon Parks Museum, Pittsburg Library, Prospero‘s Books (2012); and the 2017 Kansas City Poetry Throwdown. An interview with the poet may be heard via ‘The Poet and the Poem,” webcasts & podcasts from the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress.

 

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

Backlash — by James Haines

For years a boy will watch his father’s hands

uncross crossed coils before he gets the knack

of never pulling tight, before he gets

his father’s words: Don’t pull until you clear

the nub. In time a boy will learn to make

a nearly perfect cast, to place a plug

between two lily pads or softly by

a rock. A father though won’t always clear

 

the nub, won’t always find the words to say

exactly what he means and by the time

he learns, his doubt has hardened to regret.

A line recalls the worst that it’s been through –

a backlash pulled too soon will tighten up

and leave a kink a thousand casts won’t cure.

~ James Haines

 

Jim Haines lives in Lawrence, Kansas. His poems have appeared most recently in Spank the Carp, Inscape, Naugatuck River Review, Blue Island Review, and The Evening Street Review. Poems are forthcoming in “Measure, A Review of Formal Poetry” and in “The United States of Poetry”, an anthology to be published by the National Geographic Society. He is a lifelong woodworker and is retired from a career in law, business, and teaching.

 

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. Ghost Sign, a collaborative work, was released in 2017 from Spartan Press in Kansas City. It was named a 2017 Kansas Notable Book. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. Ortolani serves on the Board of the Little Balkans Press and Woodley Press. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of the Writers Place in Kansas City. Recently, he retired after teaching for 43 years in Kansas. He’s sometimes trips going up or down curbs. He once said that if he didn’t laugh at himself, someone else would beat him to it.

Cathedral of the Plains by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

(St. Fidelis Church)Lindsey
Victoria, Kansas

Even if it isn’t the Temple at Nîmes,
we race each other through quiet streets
to this tall, limestone church that reigns
over Victoria, a town the British named.
Inside, I feel chills and wonder if a spirit followed us.
I squint at windows to see if it filtered through green
and red glass, and listen for rustlings of the Holy Ghost.

Here, white marble guards the sanctuary.
It spreads out like angel wings, this marble from Italy.
But St. Fidelis never stepped inside this sacred place.
Killed when he claimed, “One Lord, one faith,”
he left the earth in 1622, centuries before this altar
was shipped, before Volga-German farmers agreed
to lift a cross here and name a church after this martyr.

St. Fidelis studied law and taught philosophy,
fought cases for the poor, and like me,
when put off by too much aggression
and greed, dropped the legal profession.
No saint, I come from German farmers in Mankato,
where the prairie roils from rust to green,
acres away from this Plains Cathedral.

And burdened with uncertainties,
I wonder if I’m a tsunami or a soaring melody.
Under stained glass reflecting in corners,
I move to candles and drop in quarters.
Then I light two stubs and drop to my knees.
I cross myself, inhale sweet perfume,
and watch you lift your camera to snap these scenes.

~ Lindsey Martin-Bowen

(From Standing on the Edge of the World, Woodley Press 2008)

Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s “Bonsai Tree Gone Awry” (Inside Virgil’s Garage, Chatter House Press 2013) was nominated for a Pushcart. Woodley Press published Standing on the Edge of the World, named one of the Top 10 Poetry Books for 2008 (McClatchy). Paladin Contemporaries released three of her novels, and her poetry has run in New Letters, I-70 Review, Coal City Review, Thorny Locust, Flint Hills Review, Bare Root Review, The Same, Little Balkans Review, and others. She teaches at MCC-Longview.

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Writer’s Almanac, and the New York Quarterly. He has published several collections of poetry. His Waving Mustard in Surrender (NYQ Books) was short-listed for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award from Binghamton Univesity. Paper Birds Don’t Fly was released by New York Quarterly Books in April of 2016. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Place, The Brick Mountain Foundation, The Little Balkans Press, and is currently a member of the Board of the Woodley Press at Washburn University in Topeka.

In Search of John Juda’s Grave by Mary-Lane Kamberg

Killed by Quantrill’s Raidersml2
Olathe, Kansas, September 6, 1862

broken tombstones,
eroded epitaphs
pleasant ridge
where Judas grieved
gone to clover
dandelions
moles

~ Mary-Lane Kamberg

(first published in Midwest Quarterly)

Mary-Lane Kamberg lives in Olathe, Kansas. Her first chapbook, Seed Rain, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2015. She is listed as a Kansas Poet on KansasPoets.com and serves as co-leader of the Kansas City Writers Group. She directs the I Love to Write camp for young writers.

Guest Editor Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The Writer’s Almanac, and the New York Quarterly. He has published several collections of poetry. His Waving Mustard in Surrender (NYQ Books) was short-listed for the Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award from Binghamton Univesity. Paper Birds Don’t Fly was released by New York Quarterly Books in April of 2016. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Place, The Brick Mountain Foundation, The Little Balkans Press, and is currently a member of the Board of the Woodley Press at Washburn University in Topeka.

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