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

Katherine Smith

Mountain Lion

Nothing human’s in that sky,

like a room where guests aren’t welcome

no radio towers or electric wires,

and even the planes fly parallel to highway eighty-one

fifty miles to the west or turn east

north of here and fly to Richmond.

Just a few hawks circle the blue.

She eats a bite of the apple she took with her

and walks the gravel road to the ridge,

brushes her hair from her face and smiles

a habit like the sympathy she offers the mountain.

If she’s quiet she’ll see the deer in the undergrowth,

and once she saw a brown bear and cubs.

These hours when there’s no one to civilize her,

to put her in the proper perspective

she often imagines what she might say to the mountain,

how she’d advise it not to take too personally,

the dynamite and the quarry,

how she’d point to the example of the bear,

dung bright with purple berries,

its misunderstood subjectivity; to the deer’s

flighty point of view; to the wild wheat

harvested from the hillside,

its ingratitude at being found;

to the scrub pine that has taken root

while she was gone all autumn, green needles

bright with toxic gasses sucked from the wide blue sky.

But she knows if the mountain could

it wouldn’t offer brilliant arguments

but lift itself from golden haunches and leap.

Navel Orange

Audrey hates to bring in the groceries,

to struggle in through the side door, arms full

after the ease of plucking food like costumes

from a rich wardrobe: crushed velvet of coffee beans,

chains of barley, couscous, wheat-berries, grains

of edible gold. She harvests from the aisles

the silks of ruby red chard, of collard greens.

But then she has to get it all home.

It is—like the friends and lovers

with whom she once packed her mind,

their ruffled shadows, satin mysteries

all there for the choosing—too gorgeous.

No one told her of the difficulties of storage.

Once home the paper grocery bags, dampened,

split open, spilling fruit. Ripe cantaloupe

with its fragrance of sugar and garbage,

the lover with his belly, his suits, his job

at the financial corporation, a marriage

that haunted him, and four sweet children.

The voluminous sugars had to fit

somewhere. Only like the melon

they didn’t. It has taken years to decipher,

to learn to steadily unpack

the navel oranges exactly as they sit

on the table, to draw the precise distance

between the two pieces of citrus,

how light catches the pebbled flesh,

the flecks of shadow that fall

into miniscule valleys, the lamplight

that dazzles one pole of fruit bursting

with miniature oranges tucked into the globe

of larger fruit, the midnight that darkens the other.


In her dream her son is dead.

Candy cannot call his name

as she once did when,

four, he opened the iron gate

at the park in Paris, careened down the hill

past the waffle seller and the black swan

toward the boulevard, cafes, gleaming cars.

That was before she learned the names

of machines she can now forget: Renault,

Audi, Toyota Chevrolet, GM, Volvo.

She can forget the spelling rules,

the multiplication tables, the names

and dates of all the presidents of the USA,

the names of girls.

None of them will do any good.

And then it is morning.

He is twenty-one. Candy doesn’t know

where he is, not exactly

though certainly he is in America,

probably in a car, and she—

surrounded by fog rising from the pines trees,

from the hemlock, from the James river,

from the Shenandoah mountains—

taking her coffee down to the water

hears a single engine in the distance.

One rusty pick-up truck approaches

with farm tags on the gravel road.

A hand flies up and waves to her

and moves past her where she stands on the bridge

in the only location she knows for sure.


Audrey shuts the book on Shackleton,

the photos of his men: playing soccer in snow,

the Endurance foundered in blocks of ice

beyond them; gathered around the fire

on Elephant Island, their weathered faces

lit with wonder as they listen to stories

waiting for the rescue team;

petting the stripped tabby cat

that Shackleton finally shot

after calling it a weakling.

She would have been the cat

Audrey thinks worrying about the daughter

she raised alone, who careens

on the slick back roads of America

in her Japanese car. She rises from the couch

throws aside the weight of quilts

to choose the spices from the carousel

on the dining room table, soothed by

the tiny achievement of the small

wooden spoon in its bowl of salt,

the four ounce canister of tandoori spice,

glass bottles of whole black peppercorns,

cinnamon, nutmeg. She stands at the center

of a rag rug woven into a labyrinth of sienna,

green and blue, boiling the collard greens,

soy paste and tofu. Her daughter sings hello

as she arrives, elegant and oblivious,

from the storm, pets the purring tabby

that sleeps at the head of the table.


Not forgetting of course rising from the body that once thrilled you

with the same delight you now recognize in golden retrievers
chasing Frisbees

or calves born at the penultimate day of spring frisking in pastures

carpeted with blue violets, lime colored grasses, dandelions like helium balloons.

Glittering space shuttles land safely in limpid blue oceans like transparent silks.

The heroic astronauts resume the paperwork of their everyday lives

to a tedious fanfare. The golden puppy now sleeps half the day.

The toddler bites into the velvety pink Easter egg to discover salt.

Friendships once fields of sweet clover, gone stale,

weigh down your body like moldy hay bales left in the rain.

What do you do with entire continents of disappointment

once exhausted by the early rages?

John Cage said if something is boring for five minutes

do it for ten, if boring for ten do it for twenty, if it is boring
for twenty,

do it an hour, and so on for eternity. I think he had an answer

to cherry blossoms after the spectacular show and the
heartrending petal fall.

Katherine Smith’s poems and fiction have appeared in a number of journals, among them Unsplendid, Measure, Fiction International, Gargoyle, Ploughshares, The Journal of the Motherhood Initiative, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, Atlanta Review, and Appalachian Heritage. Her first book, Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House), appeared in 2003. She teaches at Montgomery College in Maryland.

Dotted Line