Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Fall 2013    fiction    all issues


Chris Joyner
Wrestlemania III
& other poems

Carey Russell
Visiting Hours
& other poems

Marc Pietrzykowski
Cabinet of Wonders
& other poems

Jonathan Travelstead
Prayer of the K-12
& other poems

Jennifer Lowers Warren
Our Daughter's Skin
& other poems

Jeff Burt
The Mapmaker's Legend
& other poems

Patricia Percival
Giving in to What If
& other poems

Toni Hanner
& other poems

Christopher Dulaney
& other poems

Suzanne Burns
Window Shopping
& other poems

Katherine Smith
Mountain Lion
& other poems

Peter Kent
Surliness in the Green Mountains
& other poems

William Doreski
Gathering Sea Lavender
& other poems

Huso Liszt
Fresco, The Forlorn Virgin...
& other poems

Clifford Hill
How natural you are
& other poems

R. G. Evans
& other poems

David Kann
Dead Reckoning
& other poems

Ricky Ray
The Music of As Is
& other poems

Tori Jane Quante
Creatio ex Materia
& other poems

G. L. Morrison
Baba Yaga
& other poems

Joe Freeman
In a Wood
& other poems

George Longenecker
Bear Lake
& other poems

Benjamin Dombroski
South of Paris
& other poems

Ryan Kerr
& other poems

Josh Flaccavento
Glen Canyon Dam
& other poems
& other poems

Christine Stroud
& other poems

Abraham Moore
Inadvertent Landscape
& other poems

Chris Haug
Cow with Parasol
& other poems

Mariah Blankenship
Fiberglass Madonna
& other poems

Emily Hyland
The Hit
& other poems

Sam Pittman
Growth Memory
& other poems

Alex Linden
The Blues of In-Between
& other poems

Bobby Lynn Taylor
& other poems

D. Ellis Phelps
Five Poems

Alia Neaton
Cosmogony I
& other poems

Elisa Albo
Each Day More
& other poems

Noah B. Salamon
& other poems

Joe Freeman

In a Wood

The onset of winter and

All around me the furtive

Stacking of woodpiles as the

First snow gathers itself

Behind cloud banks in the west.

A poor squirrel am I that

Neither scurries nor hoards,

Ear cocked to a restless heart song

While winter entraps me unawares.

Leaving the Oasis

Desert’s edge, and I balk at

The hissing of shifting granules:

Whispers of desolate miles

And parched-throated doom.

Decision made, it is too late

To wonder if my dromedary

Skills have survived at all intact

Their long sojourn in the shade,

Or if I face mirage, delirium

And the heart’s desiccation

Amidst the migrating dunes.

David Butler

What made us dream that he could comb gray hair?

—W. B. Yeats, “In Memory of Major Robert Gregory”

We were the first of six,

Sequentially paired, two to a room.

In even-numbered destiny

We lived in forced proximity

Some twenty-odd years—longer

Than you lived with anyone,

It seems worth noting now,

Now that you are gone,

Beyond reach of all but memory.

Odd how word of an early death

Gets out, finding old companions

Or lovers long out of touch—

As if, out of nowhere, they’d

Felt a cold wind blow and looked

To find its source, turning up,

Against the chill, the collar of memory

From a shared youth, a once-long-ago

When all things seemed possible.

Their tributes call to mind the promise

Of your early days; the golden circles

In which you traveled, in a time out of time,

Beyond recapture. I grant now what

I begrudged you then: you were the

Best of us, gifted of mind and body,

The center of every company, destined,

It seemed, for great things or, failing there,

At least happiness—at least that.

All of us deceived, looking back, perhaps

You most of all. Some missing gene,

Some somnolent flaw, lay in silent wait for you.

It stole upon you slowly, unrecognized,

Disguised as the excess of youth, a canker

Of burgeoning power, unbeknownst, that

Hollowed you out from within. Unmatched

With any heart true enough to anchor you,

Or call you back, you foundered—

more vulnerable than ever we dreamed.

Growing up in the long shadow

Your talents cast, I burrowed deep,

“An inner émigre,” like Heaney’s wood-kerne,

“Taking protective colouring

From bole and bark, feeling

Every wind that blows,” husbanding

The sources of my slow-building strength:

The un-David, the blocking back,


Lower profiled but better moored,

I became, for as long as memory serves,

In all that mattered (save strict chronology),

The eldest; strapping on the first

Of the many obligations you shed,

One by one, year by year, until,

At the end, your passing was strangely

Without context or consequence,

Barely a ripple in our daily lives.

Our shadow brother, long since

More wraith than real, you slipped

Away one night as if determined

To spare us any further trouble

Or drawn-out goodbyes; no fuss

Or bother that would be unbefitting

A life so empty and bereft of purpose

As yours had become (thus holding onto

A sort of pride, a kind of dignity).

Would that you could have spared me,

As I’m sure you would have wanted to,

My leaning over the lip of Adams Falls,

Shaking your ashes into the thin stream

That dribbled to the shallow pool below;

So weak a flow that it could barely

Carry you: your remains a gray sludge

I had to shove over the ledge

With my fingers, ingloriously apt.

Even so, one good rain will

Wash you down Linn Run into

A soil that knows much of rebirth

And renewal. If Ree was right

And we all come back again,

Know that I wish for you smoother

Sailing next time through; fewer gifts,

If need be, but more staying power,

And the same gentle, generous heart.

Farewell, my brother.


A contentious day at preschool.

“She has a stubborn streak,” I offer.

“Not from you!” their smiles opine,

And I smile back, as if to concur.

What can they, who see me

Only in corpulent middle age,

Benign and becalmed,

Know of the fire that once

Burned blue from within

In a youth inseparable from

My thought, quoting Yeats,

Because I’ll have no other?

And how often you were singed

By that unforgiving flame,

Flaring like a solar storm

Each time you fell short,

Or stumbled, along

The twisted, stony path

That led us both away

From that single, calamitous, event.


What if between this life and the next

A soul, if only for a moment, knows

Where it’s been, and where it’s headed:

A blinding instant of self-awareness,

A glimpse of The Big Picture it spends

The next life trying to recall, a fading

Imprint on the closed eyelid of a soul

Plunged back, ready or not, into the trial

          by existence?

What does it feel in that moment,

That grace of respite, catching its

Breath before heading back down?

Relief, to know there’s meaning to it all?

Reluctance, to be stretched on the rack

          once more?

Or, most likely of all, longing,

Unreconciled and inconsolable,

For the life left behind. The hands

Now forever unclaspable, a parent’s

Or a child’s; memories of a lover’s

Touch, warm breath, whispered

Promises, circling then disappearing

Down the drain of eternity. Recollection

Stripped, identity shed and reentry

Accomplished, naked and soiled, again.

Joe Freeman, raised in western Pennsylvania, contracted there an abiding love of forests and fields. Graduating from Harvard, he attended the School of Peace Studies in Bradford, England (more hills and fields), and returned to the states—after a stint of community work in Northern Ireland—to undertake a career, of sorts, in government service. He presently resides in Arizona, a full-time homemaker. His only previously published poem, “What Job Might Have Said,” appeared in the Spring 2011 issue of Midstream.

Dotted Line