Al Ortolani

Growing Tomatoes
is a lot like waiting
for Jesus. Each day
you pull up the lawn chair
next to your six leggy
plants. The yellow blossoms
and a few green
vegetables droop outside
the wire cages. You’ve tied
them with white rags,
a surrender bowed
to the soil. Dusted with
Sevin, they should be free
of aphids. You are not an
organic farmer. You are not
a farmer at all. You slice
tomatoes well, and that’s
about it. You like them salted,
and spiced with chili peppers
between cold beers.
It is June. You have weeks to wait.
An asteroid could hit by
then. If you leave now,
you could be at a roadside
stand in Arkansas by sunset.
Surely, someone
is harvesting more than hope.

Al Ortolani’s newest collection of poems, Paper Birds Don’t Fly, was released in 2016 from New York Quarterly Books. His poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has recently been featured on Writer’s Almanac.