Al Ortolani, Another Tornado Warning

Al Ortolani

Grandpa puts grandma in the closet with a flashlight,
a bottle of water, and a video poker game.
By and by, he joins her
although he has to sit on a step ladder.
He closes his eyes and listens to Larry
the white cockapoo whimper
below grandma’s chair.
As the storm builds, grandpa opens
the closet door. The television casts a pale blue
eye across the living room. Grandma sleeps
and Larry shivers with each roll of thunder.
The St. Louis Cardinals are up by two runs
and Albert Pujols is stepping to the plate.

Author’s Comment: “Another Tornado Warning” is typical of some Kansas resident’s attitudes towards storm warnings. This particular poem came about after listening to a relative explain how they rode out the last warning, even with sirens wailing, grandma dozed and grandpa cracked the closet door to watch the Cardinals. Luckily, the power didn’t go out. I’ve tried to keep the details of the poem as real and exact as possible. Sometimes poems just lay down in front of us waiting to be picked up. The key for me to such short narrative is finding the voice that carries the detail.

Bio: Al Ortolani is a teacher from Kansas. His poetry has appeared in a number of periodicals, both print and online across the United States: The New York Quarterly, The English Journal, The Midwest Quarterly and others. He has two books of poetry,The Last Hippie of Camp 50 and Finding the Edge, published by Woodley Press at Washburn University. His third book, Wren’s House, is due to be released this winter from Coal City Review Press in Lawrence, Kansas. He is an editor with The Little Balkans Review.

One thought on “Al Ortolani, Another Tornado Warning

  1. Love this! I grew up in Oklahoma and have memories similar of being in the pantry under the stairs while my mom stretched the phone cord from the kitchen in there with us, so she could talk to my dad, our neighbors, whoever, about anything but the storm.

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