The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Literature from Mexico City

1 Poem Published

By Al Ortolani, USA (Published in Issue 10)


A shot from the film Le Trou (1960)


Al Ortolani is a secondary English teacher in the Kansas City area. His poetry has appeared in the New York Quarterly, the Midwest Quarterly, the English Journal and others. His most recent book of poetry, Finding the Edge, has recently been published by Woodley Press at Washburn University. Presently, he is a co-editor of The Little Balkans Review.




When the jail door shut,
The O'Grady brothers bullied their ham-like fists 
For one more round with the guards. They cussed
The bosses, the scabs and the cops.

The very afternoon the brothers battled the bars
Their old man dropped from a heart attack,
Digging clams in the Cold Harbor muck. 
He rose to one knee, ocean streaming down his back,
Salted hair glistening like nightfall.
Their mother in her long, twilight coat hoisted,

Fighting to keep them above the tide.
The two of them, wide-eyed, cursing God,
Buried their fists in the sea.


1 Poem Published

By Al Ortolani, USA (Published in issue 12)



The Velvet Revolution Reaches Kansas


Otto lived in a house boat on the Neosho River.

Some said he was a pot farmer in hiding. Mostly,

he drank cases of Pilsner, and floated

the corked bottles on limb lines.

On cold nights a foggy light frosted his window;

blue smoke twisted free from stove chimney.

A gang plank extended to the shore,

and a beaten trail curved upwards to the county road. 

But that was before something serious happened         

and the trail was overrun with kudzu,

the plank sinking into the river.  This occurred

right after the Berlin Wall collapsed. Neighbors renewed

their interest, and wagered his career failed

with the cold war, a disconnect no doubt

from the CIA.  He spoke Czech, you see,

received letters, addressed in a clear feminine hand

from Prague of all places.  When the letters stopped,

KGB agents, identified by their non-descript Renaults,

crept slowly up the county road,

searching for the path overgrown with green.

The truth of the matter (from a Bohemian source)

claimed Otto had taken to writing

children’s stories about talking cats.

They were being published in the Czech Republic

under the nom de plume of a beautiful

young blonde named Freda Horst.