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

Donna French McArdle

White Blossoms at Night

In dark, we forget ourselves.

Blow out our lantern light.

Light in you, stars in the night sky.

Night sky, night-blooming

Imagination. Ipomoea alba spirals open.

Opening spiral: from lantern

Darkening, from bound revealing,

Then full white moon-flower.

Awakened to unfurling, a hawk moth

Swoops the expanse, its strength

Audible. A strongest sphinx rubs

Past anthers to the nectary,

And sips a sweetest nectar, most

Plentiful of all night-bloomings.

In dark, let’s forget ourselves.

Blow out our lantern light.


Somewhere between Mt. Morris and Canandaigua,

driving route 5 and 20, I tap the brakes because

up ahead something is not right.

A pickup has pulled over, its flashers on.

Then I see a doe in the middle of the road, fallen or pulled

onto the painted stripes of the turning lane.

She is so still, so plainly gone;

not even the air currents of cars speeding past

ruffle her reddish fur.

I want so much to stop the car and go to her

and stroke her neck.

But this is a rural highway, and I do what’s safe:

I tap the brakes and drive slowly past.

Where He Floats in Shallow Water

“You get your rest,” I had said not even a week before.

He had shot morphine for his pain, and his head rolled back.

Now, where he lies in his polished casket, I pause

on the kneeler, this moment nearly as intimate,

a last chance to study the brow, the nose, the curve

of the ear. He did not bear this still face last week;

he is slathered with makeup and painted with lipstick.

I do not entirely recognize him.

As I stand to turn away, I see his big watch ticking

with enormous energy—solid proof time is relentless;

it drags me around like the thread-thin hand sweeps

past the seconds, drags me back to this scene, this room

when I had wanted to leave lightly, to deny how much of him

I did not know, to drift backward, to walk with him

down the street to the stone stairs, to watch him

slip off his sneakers and step into the black mud of low tide.

Two bleach bottles full of sand and rocks anchor

his small row boat. He walks carefully,

sinking to his ankles in the mud. He does not slow

when he reaches the incoming tide, so I know it is

a warm tide, heated by the late summer Gulf Stream

and its own drift over the flats to this cove.

The ocean is nearly to his knees when he arrives

at the tiny blue boat. He finds his bailer, a coffee can,

and sits, with careful balance, on the square stern.

There, where he floats in shallow water, he pours

a full can over his muddy feet and brushes the mud

off with his free hand. He racks the oars and rows to shore

to let me climb in, wobbling, and to drag my hands

in the water as he maneuvers us out of the cove

where a fine mist lifts off the water and we breathe in

the ocean air on that hot summer day.

The Edge

First delicate arc of waxing moon and sky still sapphire overhead

but darkening just above the trees. Venus off to the left,

as if it had spilled from the lunar goblet. I know I will yearn

for this. I tell myself, remember: sapphire and moon.

I have reached the river bank where spilling past is half fresh water,

half sea. Kaleidoscope of fog, leaves and the soft, greenish feathers

from the bellies of goslings swirl the air. I grab at paper flying by,

but it is past reach. Words so carefully written: my instructions?

I squint, as if I were fighting astigmatism of the mind or of the spirit,

where not the spot, but the notion, is unreliable, dubious.

Will I be wading into bliss or into the Acheron, the river of woe?

Here is the boundary between myself and the rest of possibility.

Past the demark, what? At this edge so often, I’m prepared

when my half-hearted self refuses to step, so when the strain hits

I unwrap a sandwich, ponder the crunch of its cucumber, sting of its salt.

Remember this, I whisper to myself: cucumber and salt.

But already my world is shifting. The wind tugs at my resistance.

I pull off my shoes and reach one foot into the river current

and swirling fog. I must walk; I must arrive. If I need a way back, I must

remember: cucumber and moon; sapphire and salt.

They Are Revealed by Their Shadows

I see but reflection of the morning light

gleaming from the low-tide mud, a gorgeous mud

mottled with rocks and kelp. Then a shadow moves

and the first bird is revealed. A second tiptoes

alongside, then a third; a flock of fellows moving

lightly over the uneven surface. Sanderlings.

Over to the left, another, and since now I am

focused, I see a fifth staring, like I have been staring,

at the ocean’s edge where the waves carry rills of sunlight.

Donna French McArdle’s poems have appeared in the anthology Lost Orchard: Prose and Poetry from the Kirkland College Community, and in Wilderness House Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Antioch Review, and other journals. With a grant from the Massachusetts and Boxford Cultural Councils, she documented local farms and farm stands in Essex County Harvest 2003. She earned an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and works as the writing coach for a public school.

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