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

Greg Tuleja

Two Geese

On the drive home, just a brief glimpse

off to my left at the side of the road,

the one, standing erect and alert, firmly balanced

on webbed feet, the other, sprawled carelessly against

the curb, one wing fanned, the bill half open,

both of them motionless.

I had read somewhere that geese mate for life,

like wolves and swans and otters, so it’s likely

that these two were paired, before some predatory

or mechanical piece of violence had occurred,

the only sign now a roundish mound of feathers,

and a particular, perfect stillness.

It was just a goose, one among millions,

lacking our treasured human sensibilities,

a brutish creature without emotion,

in its abundant, anonymous wildness,

and surely, I thought, they do not feel hope,

or love or loss. Still, I felt like crying.


In the deep South, it’s now almost a joke,

the massive, relentless ubiquity,

monstrous green curtains that suffocate oak

and dogwood, smothered blossoms of cherry

and rose, growing fiercely, one foot per day,

overachieving, unwilling to spare

a house or barn that might be in the way,

a dogged instinct to spread, everywhere.

I’m on the lookout, as it crawls and creeps,

an irresistible march to the North

where helpless, I wait, unable to sleep,

a nightmare that it will soon reach New York.

Central Park, the High Line, Fifth Avenue,

the Brooklyn Bridge. All covered in kudzu.

In County Wicklow

We were married in Glendalough,

under a wide blue sky, on a clean mountain breeze

that I imagined might lift away suspicion

and soothe our stubborn family controversies,

but it only ruffled the lavender blossoms

in Aislinn’s hair, as red as the deepest, fiery sunset.

We named the baby Claire after my mother.

She came too early, weak and yellow,

and though we admired her proud resolve to survive,

she lasted just six weeks. We buried her in the far hill,

and marked the spot with a granite cross

that we hauled down from Dublin in the hay wagon.

For a time, we contemplated the mysteries

of human misfortune, placing ourselves,

in thought and memory, against our more profitable neighbors,

whose good luck or superior character, allowed them

to gather and assemble their daily contentments,

and to avoid calamity.

This was in 1918, when the influenza had spread

to Ireland, creeping north from Spain, some said.

Aislinn’s skin turned suddenly gray, and she was besieged,

spectacularly, by fever and nosebleeds and monumental fatigue.

One October afternoon, she climbed the heavy stairs,

and for the first time in full daylight, lay down in bed.

A more adventurous spirit would have looked ahead,

in spite of these dreary setbacks, to rediscover hope

and confidence, but I have found the strength only to remember,

one starry midnight when I carried our tiny daughter

through a field of primrose, and a cool autumn morning

when Aislinn turned to me and whispered that she loved me.


With broken hearts we stared, our mouths agape,

as three planes crashed, a horror on TV.

The never-ending replay traced the shape

of grief and fear, a grotesque tragedy.

The news would come that there were four not three,

another plane in Pennsylvania down,

and witnesses would swear that they had seen

it was inverted, when it hit the ground.

And now a vast memorial marks the site,

where mysteries are known and stories told,

the forty screens of marble, gleaming white,

and forty names in letters scratched in gold.

We sense an invitation here, for prayer,

a kind of peace, and infinite despair.

Two Boxes of Sheet Music

From deep in a dark, dusty corner of the attic

I carried them down, down to the light and air

of the present day, and cautiously reached inside

toward a strangeness long passed, to touch

once familiar pages, the austere mythologies of my youth.

Andersen etudes, Bach sonatas,

Quantz, Rameau, Danzi, Hindemith,

Mozart concertos, Kuhlau duets, and layered

appropriately at the bottom of a pile, mercifully hidden,

the much dreaded Prokofiev and Chaminade.

Elaborately cascading displays of ink, a vast profusion

of notes, and my own markings in pencil,

indications of tempo, dynamics, articulation,

and for wind players the most profound

and impossible of challenges, where to breathe.

Once so much a part of me, or who I thought

I might be, an ecstatic urgency

to know music, to understand it, to master an instrument,

with yes, some measure of ability and interest, but alas,

as I had always suspected, an undeniable absence of real talent.

Slowly I sifted through the pages, with sharp waves

of nostalgia, and true astonishment that I used to be

able to play these pieces, with what I presume

was an elevated refinement of mind and personality,

an immersion in the beauty and elegance of bygone centuries.

I can still recall the joy of being a musician, the wonder of it,

the long, long hours of lonely practice, occasional pride

and constant doubt, and the miraculous thrill of a high G,

lifted tremulously above a final shudder of strings,

a proper moment of silence, then the rush of applause from strangers.

Greg Tuleja was born in New Jersey and received degrees in biology and music from Rutgers University. Greg lives in Massachusetts and has recently retired, after working for 39 years at the Williston Northampton School, where he taught English, music, and for many years served as the Academic Dean. His poems and short stories have appeared in the Maryland Review, Lonely Planet Press, Romantics Quarterly, Thema, and in two previous Sixfold publications.

Dotted Line