Al Ortolani


Al Ortolani is the author of the collections Hansel and Gretel Get the Word on the Street (Rattle, 2019), On the Chicopee Spur (2018), Paper Birds Don't Fly (2016), Waving Mustard in Surrender (2014), Cooking Chili on the Day of the Dead (2013), and Finding the Edge (2011). His poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, Tar River Poetry, and the New York Quarterly. Although born in Huntington, New York, Ortolani has spent most of his life in eastern Kansas. Growing up in the college town of Pittsburg, Kansas, he moved to the Kansas City area where he currently teaches high school English. He also taught English at Pittsburg State University as an adjunct. Source

Game Prayer

Maybe it’s the way boys

look at each other before the last game,

their eyes wet and glimmering with rain.


Maybe it’s that I catch them

in these shy moments of waiting,

turning the world like a pigskin,


flipping it nonchalantly, low spiral

drilling the air. Maybe it’s this

moment before the splash of lights


before the game prayer

before you run from the door.

If so, forgive me


for seeing you so vulnerable,

in that quiet moment

before the helmets.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Faith & Hope

Music & Sports

Literary Devices:


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”