Johnson County Exit

Through the soupy January mix of darkness and rain, it is difficult to see the painted lines on the highway. The truck fishtails at 45. On-coming traffic—a hundred eye-like lights—push from the suburbs into the city, choreographed, keeping pace before the sun rises.

dashboard clock challenging my “let it be”

At the bottom of the exit ramp, the headlights swing in an arch across the construction site, a development of strip malls and box homes. Sleet slaps the windshield. The hulk of a bulldozer crouches in the mud.

crinoids in landscape stone +++++ diesel fog




About the Poet:
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 New Letters. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he has recently been featured on the Writer’s Almanac.



Poetry Breakfast accepts submissions of poetry and poetry related creative non-fiction year-round.  See our Submission Guidelines page for details on submitting your work.


Start your morning with a nourishing poem.  Follow us on  Twitter, Facebook, and  Tumblr,  and enjoy a new poem every morning straight to your feed.