Al Ortolani

Cardboard Pillow

I lay my head against the crushed
Lone Star box, the last bottles
spread across the cook-off ground

like tornado debris. I will gather them
by noon. I'll try to remember
to do something about myself as well.

I'll find a shower, wash my hair
and brush it back from my forehead to dry.
Then I'll find a small parish priest,

make a good confession and give up drinking.
I will never drink again. Not
for a week. I'll clean up this mess,

rake up all the empty bottles, give them
to a poor kid for the return.
The kid says lo siento pendejo, keep

your bottles, your trash.
A hitchhiker from El Paso carries the sun
in a gallon water jug. He drains it all

before nightfall, before he rests his head.


Al Ortolani is a teacher in Kansas. His poetry has been accepted by journals such as Prairie Schooner, New Letters, and the New York Quarterly. He has three books of poetry, The Last Hippie of Camp 50 and Finding the Edge, published by Woodley Press and Wren's House, published by Coal City Press. He is an editor for The Little Balkans Review.

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