Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2016    fiction    all issues



Cover Carly Larsson

Sarah Sansolo
Bedtime Stories
& other poems

Miranda Cowley Heller
Things the Tide Has Discarded
& other poems

Alexa Poteet
Escobar's Hacienda Napoles
& other poems

Cynthia Robinson Young
Triple Dare
& other poems

Nicole Lachat
Of Infidelities
& other poems

Amy Nawrocki
Bad Girls
& other poems

Lawrence Hayes
Winter Climb
& other poems

AJ Powell
God the Baker
& other poems

Gisle Skeie
& other poems

Bruce Taylor
Always Expect a Train
& other poems

Ricky Ray
They Used to Be Things
& other poems

S. E. Ingraham
Storm Angels
& other poems

Laura Gamache
& other poems

Keighan Speer
It Rained Today
& other poems

Emma Atkinson
Grocery Stores Make Me Feel Mentally Ill
& other poems

Erin Lehrmann
& other poems

D. H. Turtel
Margaret, Again
& other poems

Chris Haug
Bovine Paranoia
& other poems

Kimberly M. Russo
Definitive Definition
& other poems

Holly Walrath
A Tourist of Sorts
& other poems

Angel C. Dye
Beauty in Her Marrow
& other poems

Writer's Site

Amy Nawrocki

Waiting for the Plowman

In the morning: Rousseau’s Confessions. Breakfast:

something forgettable and unfulfilling, toast,

the white of an egg circling a shiny yolk.

By midday, the desert of chalk buries the laurel

and watching juncos burrow under the feeder

suffices for motion. Blank under its plastic face

the kitchen dial signals two o’clock with sleek

anemic hands. Within the hour, sugar held

in the spoon’s mouth is let go into black liquid,

and boots, scuffed and sheltered alert the tangled

knit scarf to concoct itself. At four, shovel in hand

I depart to do the job myself. The man

and his truck are nowhere to be found

even though the blizzard’s end is new

and he promised and there is a lot of it.

Lighter than a pile of proverbial feathers

but sticky and heaping, the first bundle I take

begins to build a dune around the driveway

but there is nowhere else to go and no rest

and nothing to do to lessen the white

except to bend at the knees and let it fly.


She says without irony or modesty

I’m literally so irritated, as if irritation

could be anything other than literal, forget

the aching hyperbole of so and the blankness

of those other loosely placed modifiers that fill

space left empty by the dysfunction of sound,

the way fireflies pulse unevenly in the summer air.

She literally calls herself Mary C

on her cellphone when she asked for Saturday

night off to attend a “family gathering.”

I literally was like making fun of him,

and I told him: I was, like, I never would do

that and I like can’t even imagine you

trying to handle a girl like me, you literally

have been doing a shitty job lately. This was before

she told her brackishly tanned friend, who

sported a shiny ankle bracelet and had

her hair pinned back literally with a binder clip,

that she had thrown up in the parking lot

sometime after the office party. You can tell

this was the type of parking lot where

white lines had to be repainted and underneath

some faded ones still gloomed like

bad eye shadow on a clown. A very sad clown.

Literally, the clown is sad.

Mary C has dark auburn hair, like soil

found beneath piles of wet and decomposing

oak leaves that like the stasis underneath

the layers of newly dead foliage, storm-tossed

and musty. I guess he has, like, a superiority complex,

so like I would pick him up and take him on a date,

so he, like, would feel like he’s accomplishing

something. It’s very long hair, like long, literally

past her shoulders, which isn’t that long, not like

polygamy wife long or whatever, but long enough

for you to know she has never, in 30 some-odd years,

ever been confused with someone clownish, or even

someone with a superiority complex, not with those

pouty eyes and tailored eyebrows. Clowns, literally,

do not speak with such elegance or authority, like

not ever. Clowns are known to stumble and wear

cherry wigs and awkward shoes and bow ties, for

crying out loud. So funny, though, like literally,

so funny. It’s true, few of them mind picking

up people and chauffeuring them around

especially in very small cars. Mary C drives

a Nissan Sentra, so you can understand about

trying to handle a girl like that. Fireflies, you know,

filling a really humid night with sparkles, so

irritating, if you, like, aren’t paying attention.

Instead of Poems

Instead of poems, I weed the sidewalk

and empty crevices of intruders.

I find it helpful to harvest

their relentlessness. Maybe dirt,

maybe blood sacrifices, maybe

a shovel.

The words I wished would come

unprompted, stick like pollen

to my nose. But the heat has broken

enough for me to breathe.

Despite the scarlet beetle

that has scoured their stalks

to skeletal canes, the lilies’ perfume

layers into me like embroidered

handkerchiefs pocketed once,

then rediscovered in a pair

of comfortable pants.

Instead of poems, I savor

scents sung by saffron tongues

and listen to the striated pink

of unbeatable blooms.

Bad Girls

The boy at the pub had blonding hair

and a round face

and we were cruel to him.

If I sat under hypnosis with a police sketch artist,

I could recall exactly what he looked like, down to the earlobes

and cheek bones, down to the insignia on the shirt pocket,

the ironing board and the decision against a tie,

down to the comb, even the television show he watched

while he pressed that pale green shirt, reruns and

laugh tracks, the best anyone has to fill the time

preparing for a broken heart.

But everybody knows that eye witnesses mistake

what they see for what their mind conjures

out of conglomerates and jigsaw memories.

The pub had dark wood paneling and pockets

of light. Lily and Kate were there, talking

quickly and coyly, sometimes slipping into Serbian

through the privacy of a giggle or nod.

Maybe there were other reasons

to close the world out. We were often bad.

He never got past hello and we never

even bothered with ordinary niceties.

As far as brush-offs go, this might have been one

of the most perfectly written. Turn of shoulders,

the huddle, then the pantomime: you do not matter to us

because this is where we take our punishment

and you are not allowed to make us feel worthwhile.

What did the boy in was that he could not hide

the authenticity of his hopefulness.

We know how to preen thin skin

and screen smiles through bloody teeth.

Field Guide to North American Birds

In my dream, the call

came from a rose breasted

grosbeak, but I have seen

none, only recognize

sparrows and catbirds

and hummingbirds

whom I have heard

chittering in a blur,

tickled at their luck

at being born

with the ability

to fly backwards.


that hummingbirds sing

shouldn’t have surprised me,

but it did. While they aim

toward silence

and an almost

sightless blur,

one could imagine

their quickness

as breaking some

inaudible sound barrier

that only hummingbirds

can break. Without looking

I can tell one

just passed by.

Between afternoons

I wander into

the forest just past

peach trees and raspberry

bushes, completely


to the blueberries

ripening in a thick grove

in the center of the lawn.

Seeking the nest

of red-tails

whom I hear but

cannot see, I catch


between a screech

and a squeal, a plea

and a declaration:

I am not anonymous,

you know who I am.

After dreaming

I hear what can

only be called


and on the table,

my breakfast bowl

is full of ripe,

misshapen blueberries.

A song sparrow

left them, though

I know she was not

the one laughing.

Listen, she said,


Amy Nawrocki is the poetry editor for The Wayfarer and the author of five poetry collections, including Four Blue Eggs and Reconnaissance, released by Homebound Publications. She is the recipient of numerous awards including honors from The Connecticut Poetry Society, New Millennium Writings and Phi Kappa Phi. She teaches literature, composition, and creative writing at the University of Bridgeport and lives Hamden, Connecticut with her husband and their two cats.

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