Al Ortolani /Screwing the Pooch/

Screwing the Pooch

Last night I dreamed
that in a moment of hubris
I punched my boss in the face.
Of course, that was the end
of my career. Well-connected,
he made sure I never found
employment in women’s
under garments again,
which I thought didn’t matter
since I was old and near
retirement. But then my blue
truck got stolen, and I spent
much of the night searching
parking lots and garages.
Witnesses weren’t talking. They
kept the whereabouts of
my ride close to their vests.
I was late for the new job
at the Bingo Hall. I phoned
to explain myself. My boss
wouldn’t take my call.
I’d screwed the pooch. At home,
back in my parent’s house,
my father gave me that look
I’d feared as a kid. My mother
set a platter of pancakes
on the table before closing
the door in my face.
My lovely wife wept
as she rode away on the back
of Johnson’s banana seat.


Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and New Letters. He has published seven books of poetry. His newest collection, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. He co-authored, Ghost Sign, with Melissa Fite Johnson, Adam Jameson, and J.T. Knoll which was just released by Spartan Press. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has recently been featured on the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor.

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