Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2023    fiction    all issues


Joel Filipe

Kristina Cecka
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Uncivil War of Love
& other poems

LuAnn Keener-Mikenas
Skunks at Twilight
& other poems

Alyssa Sego
& other poems

Anne Marie Wells
Forest of One
& other poems

Brent M. Foster
Ode to Darwin
& other poems

Jack Giaour
trans man is feeling blue
& other poems

Alan Gann
how strange
& other poems

Richard Baldo
The Privilege
& other poems

Michael Fleming
& other poems

Holly York
As it turned out, there was no bomb on board
& other poems

Celeste Briefs
Late Poppies
& other poems

Kayla E.L. Ybarra
Goose Song
& other poems

S.E. Ingraham
Leaving to Arrive
& other poems

Rachel Robb
Molting Scarlet Tanager
& other poems

Bruce Marsland
Sauna by a Finnish lake at Midsummer
& other poems

Ellen Romano
Seven Sisters
& other poems

Greg Hart
False Coordinates
& other poems

Greg Tuleja
& other poems

Corinne Walsh
Southern Charm
& other poems

Writer's Site

Michael Fleming

I could build a house

with nothing level, plumb, square—

but not to live in.


It’s like a club, and maybe you were hired

or maybe you were tapped, it’s all the same,

you’re in, that’s the thing, you’re in on the game—

but first: the trial, the hard ordeal of fire

and ice, the hazing, initiation. Admit

it, you wanted this, you wanted in, you

wanted a chance. Fine—you’re in. And the blue

vestments suit you, the rooms are underlit

and filled with whispering—it’s what you said

you wanted, it’s what everybody wants,

that special smell, those slots where special coins

can be the only tender, and you’re fed

the special food, you dance the special dance,

forget to wonder why you even joined.

A Gentle Nudge

It happens sometimes—an unforeseen moment

unburdened by yesterday or tired

rehearsals for tomorrow—the world slowed

down like an opening rose with its scent

and its color, a tacit hint of knowing

without thinking of knowing, a gentle

nudge, no drama, no heavenly choirs

or talking bushes, just the truth you’re meant

to stare into—life’s steady quiet fire.


A cloud of starlings undulating, rising

in the failing light, boiling with urgent,

unknowable purposes—the sky

is breathing starlings.

                                      Tonight it’s fireworks

and the fierce tang of gunpowder—the flash

and the bang, the sudden blossom of light,

the crackling drizzle of sparks.

                                                      This old-fashioned

universe—same old wrongs, same old rites,

always the one story forever telling

itself: the point, the sphere, the eversion

of the sphere, the ringing of the bells

theorem and all things involute.

                                                        We’re nursed

on nothing, shot into the cloud of unknowing,

spooked by murmurs of Go, baby, go.

Michael Fleming was born in San Francisco, raised in Wyoming, and has lived and learned and worked all around the world, from Thailand, England, and Swaziland to Berkeley, New York City, and now Brattleboro, Vermont. He’s been a teacher, a grad student, a carpenter, and always a writer; for the past two decades he has edited books of every description. His first collection of poems, Bags and Tools, was published by Green Writers Press in 2022.

Dotted Line