Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2014    fiction    all issues


Debbra Palmer
Bake Sale
& other poems

Ann V. DeVilbiss
Far Away, Like a Mirror
& other poems

Michael Fleming
On the Bus
& other poems

Harold Schumacher
Dying To Say It
& other poems

Heather Erin Herbert
Georgia’s Advent
& other poems

Sharron Singleton
Sonnet for Small Rip-Rap
& other poems

Bryce Emley
College Beer
& other poems

Harry Bauld
On a Napkin
& other poems

George Mathon
Do You See Me Waving?
& other poems

Mariana Weisler
Soft Soap and Wishful Thinking
& other poems

Michael Kramer
Nighthawks, Kaua’i
& other poems

Jill Murphy
& other poems

Cassandra Sanborn
& other poems

Kendall Grant
Winter Love Note
& other poems

Donna French McArdle
White Blossoms at Night
& other poems

Tom Freeman
On Foot, Joliet, Illinois
& other poems

George Longenecker
& other poems

Kimberly Sailor
The Bitter Daughter
& other poems

Rebecca Irene
& other poems

Savannah Grant
And Not As Shame
& other poems

Michael Hugh Lythgoe
Titian Left No Paper Trail
& other poems

Martin Conte
We’re Not There
& other poems

A. Sgroi
Sore Soles
& other poems

Miguel Coronado
& other poems

Franklin Zawacki
Experience Before Memory
& other poems

Tracy Pitts
& other poems

Rachel A. Girty
& other poems

Ryan Flores
Language Without Lies
& other poems

Margie Curcio
& other poems

Stephanie L. Harper
Painted Chickens
& other poems

Nicholas Petrone
Running Out of Space
& other poems

Danielle C. Robinson
A Taste of Family Business
& other poems

Meghan Kemp-Gee
A Rhyme Scheme
& other poems

Tania Brown
On Weeknights
& other poems

James Ph. Kotsybar
& other poems

Matthew Scampoli
Paddle Ball
& other poems

Jamie Ross
Not Exactly
& other poems

Winner of $50 for 3rd-place-voted Poems

Michael Fleming

On the Bus

Life into legend, legend into life—

I once was you, Alex Supertramp—fresh

out of school, half nuts, no money, no wife,

no work, no matter. The sins of the flesh

were behind me, beneath me, beyond me.

Another self-inventing dharma bum

on the road to anywhere, off to see

the elephants, bound for glory. And from

such dry, dreary soil I’d sprung—I was you,

Alex—naked in my cast-off clothes, so

full of myself, so empty, just a few

well-tasted words were enough when the low

clouds to the west whispered, Get on the bus,

and I got on, and you got on—we wanted

more, magic, furthur, Alaska—I must

have crossed the river. But you? You were gone.

for Chris McCandless

Paging Doctor Bebop

The good doctor, he knows all that book stuff—

the flatted fifth, Italian baroque—hell,

he wrote the book, and that would be enough

if books were enough, but he won’t just sell

you on the art of listening, he’ll give

you the real medicine, body and soul—

the silver horn, the music that you live

for, music that you die for, that the whole

world needs to hear, now—the clickity klack

of time on the rails, the spike in the blood

and the colors of sound. Where have you gone,

Doctor Bebop? And when will you be back?

Life’s so syncopated—starts and stops. Good

music, though—man, it just goes on and on

for Howie Brofsky

Mr. McPhee’s Class

Jouncing. Dolos. Craton. Words you serve like

oranges, unpeeling their sounds. We’re not just

horsing around in canoes, or hitchhiking

newly made reefs, measuring the crust

after the quake—we’re holding words to our

nostrils, inhaling, truly tasting them,

getting them down. Yes, we love this class. Our

urgently unhurried task: stratagem and

structure, a sense of where we are. You

model the hair shirts we’ll wear, naturalized

citizens of this country we’ve come into,

promising too much, eager but unwise,

hardly writers yet and our hearts don’t break

even when you tell us: keep squeezing, guys—

every good word takes as long as it takes.

for John McPhee


He loses every case—it’s hospice, he knows

that. Isn’t medicine supposed to mean

saving people, healing them, saying no

to death? The right technique, the right machine,

the right dosage—isn’t that what a doctor

should know? Coax fire from the spark of life—

is that what he should do? But no one walks

out of here. Nothing is fixed with a knife

in here. They’re goners—we all are. So when

did doctor stop meaning teacher—is that

where we went wrong? Best to call him attending

physician—here to bear witness. What

else can the white coat mean, if not surrender—

tending what is broken, what is not.

for Derek Kerr

The Audacity of the Jaguar

My world is not your world. Who was here first?

And who is the master? My amber eyes,

they’re voiceless mirrors—imagine the worst

of me, call me coward, devil, beast. Why

should I burden myself with your fears? You

peer into these eyes and see nothing that

you know beyond your own reflection. Who

are you now? My wanderings are no matter

of yours—if you gaze into my coat

of a thousand eyes, I melt into smoke,

into spirit, into memory. Go

to bed now, lie beside your wife. That low

cough—just her soft snoring? Sleep. Dream your dreams

of all that you will do with fences, fire—

your farm, your finca—oh, how it all seems

to be yours. And when you awaken, I

recede and I wait and I watch until

you send your shadow man. And I’ll remain

here, hidden, choosing what I want to kill.

Closer—I can bite you through to the brain.

for Alan Rabinowitz

Michael Fleming was born in San Francisco, raised in Wyoming, and has lived and learned and worked all around the world, from Thailand and 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 decade he has edited literary anthologies for W. W. Norton. (You can see some of Fleming’s own writing at:

Dotted Line