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

Brent Foster

Golden Silk Orb Weaver

What was building a web
but a gustatory expression of hope?
—Adrian Tchaikovsky

The bridge is heavy

with fog’s dim gray,

so dark I almost miss

the blink of a spider splayed

like many fingers—

as if thrumming those strands

dripping with morning is enough

to call the world home.

The space between words

lingers on your tongue

till it rubs your teeth and you know

                                                                   what you want to say

but it burns

like cinnamon up your nose.

Or maybe it

                                                                   hums like prayer,

the difference

between drowning and songs

shimmering through time,




If only

I could find the voice of honeybees—

silent, yet in their dance

                                                                   I sometimes think

I glimpse the after-blink

of understanding, the quiet

between ideas a bond strong as


when the stuff of a moment





Ode to Darwin

Don’t you see, Darwin—

             there’s no going back.

Not once you sketch your beaks

             in your books and write

how each wing branches

             from the tree of life. Your words

stick, a web that ties me

             to a fruit fly.

But do you feel it, Charles?

             The yearning still to be

more than genus and species

             anatomized in a laboratory?

We see the world through smoke,

             where brains decompose, where

death breeds life, where hearts tick

             and wet lungs fill as if by chance.

But surely you see that breathing

             is more subtle than living.

The truths you speak hide

             like moths against black bark,

their edges blurred by our squinting eyes.

             Through a glass, we see veins

of earth, ourselves, everything—

             we look to the stars

and wonder where our thoughts fit

             in this story you tell.

Tell me honestly—do you feel

             a kinship with those distant lights, too?

Because we both know, unreachable

             as they are, we are made

of those same atoms our ancestors

             called the gods.

Grandma’s Dementia

You don’t remember

how we’d play

Scrabble on the floor—

you’d help me

find sense between words

and silence.

We’d laugh at silly nouns

like twaddle,

at ticklings on our tongues

and new things

shaped inside our throats.

The world was

a garden of word play

and stones flipped

belly up, but now words are lost

behind your eyes,

gummed in your nerves.

Your brain is

a lit universe

growing dark

gaping large in this zenith

of a life.

Here I am lost in what

I know, what

I think I know, trained

to understand

the suicide of your mind

as it drowns.

Your voice is empty of verbs

and your nouns—

mostly your lips remind me

of a fish,

the way they open,

the way they

close, soundless as


Do you remember when you

locked the door

and left without a word to walk

past headstones,

the way unfamiliar, lined with tulips

and cut grass?

I searched for you then—

I search now,

invoke your name to remember

that symbol

of character worn out

after all

the years. This is a genesis

of thought, time—

a wandering for meaning. Here,


is defined by its absence

and longing—

I only learn what

waning is

when memories break like

fraying strings.


An ocean stretches, pulsing in the breeze

as sweeping fog throws shadows from the sea.

We wander the gray of beach; your fingers

squeeze my fingers, our edges cold and sharp

and melting, fluid as that place where sand

meets surf, the ebb and flow of tides

a whisper drifting on our skin. Brine dusts

our lips—a savor of our genesis

who thought the earth held promises beyond

the membrane of sea. While seagulls gawk

from cliffs, we walk the curve of wrack line,

toeing streams together with our pants rolled

mid-calf and crouching to touch a crab or rub

the polish of driftwood and imagine

the tumble and abrasion of salt

that smooth jagged edges with the patience

of chitons, their radulae scraping rocks

and tending gardens one diatom at a time.

Water licks our feet, brings the slime

of palm kelp and their bulbs that fit

in a slit of sand and stiff enough to stand

as if a tree, stranded on an island

where we might learn the shape and art

of building worlds with arthritic fingers.

Brent Foster earned his BS in neuroscience, with minors in linguistics and creative writing from Brigham Young University. He is a laboratory technician at the University of Florida and a science writer. You can read more of his work at his website Brent lives in Palm Coast, Florida with his wife, Alicia.

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