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

Harold Schumacher

Dying To Say It

The decision was made—

we went in and killed her—

a squad of father, sister, uncle, aunt,

doctor, nurse, chaplain, myself,

and the finger of God.

We went in and killed mom—

all of us, none of us, stole

the tubes from her dark veins,

slipped off the switches of life,

slid in the syringe of peace, but

We all heard—

the metronomic clicking stop,

saw the green mountains pass by,

shrinking on the screen like troops

marching down sloping holes.

We all heard—

the sighing respirator stop

and waited and watched

in the silence,

the deceiving silence.

She breathed alone—alone—

she breathed alone—

she breathed—

“ . . . cannot compare to the suffering

of the present—with the glory to be,”

verses the chaplain glued appropriately

an anthology—


We came before her throne

with rites of passage.

“Nita”—her brother whispered German in her ear.

“Nita”—her sister whispered, unclear.

The pendulum slowed like the sunset—

small waves of golden white

so faint, delicate, and slight,

seeped back into darkness,

the deep hole of creation

where something hovered

like breath and light.

He was wounded early and deep,

a boy’s feelings fired to ashes,

who never trapped fireflies,

watched eagles and sunsets,

got crazy and laughed till he cried,

never made birds of clay,

never on a tender bet—

my father,

always in the next room,

who hid between sheets of anger,

dropped his first tears before her,

like blood and lead. He said

his words, falling like stars,


we had good lives together.”

Winter’s Edges

When the edges of winter appear, and

             the cardinals haven’t sung since early August,

When the jays speak every second day, and

             the trees lose weight, training for the test,

When the geese, calmed down, caw less, and

             the freeways are quiet after midnight,

When will the next funeral be, and

             whose will it be, and

Where will they be, the dead,

             unburied until the spring thaw,

Their bodies lying in cinder block

             waiting rooms?

You said you wanted to die

             that first winter we were married.

You said so much, so many things,

             now buried in ground too frozen to break.

The memories lie waiting in

             the stone house of many rooms,

Not heard since some forgotten August

             until now at winter’s edges, but

No spring thaw will ever come.

When I hear the wind again, at night,

             blowing from brick-lined streets

Trying to enter and sleep with me,

             sounding like prairie photos of North Dakota

Where you and I were young,

             so young, too young,

Speaking only every second day, at times,

             and the veins stood out on our necks,

And the winds blew hard, and loud

             as blizzard-lost cattle,

And the windows rattled, and the geese

             had gone to more pleasant places,

I know the only weight we lost

             was our minds.

God Next Time

And will I ever see more of God except in the sunrise and the storm?

Ever see more than the beauty of the flowers and fields, or

a beautiful child in a grocery cart staring back at me,

ever see more than a quiet sea on an early morning beach,

or stunned still trees in the forest, or the swoosh of water on my boat’s bow?

What is the face of God other than these, than the love of my wife,

the love of my friends, a happy dog, the yellow bird in my feeder,

the solitude of silence, the greens of Ireland’s springs,

the shades, hues, and tints. Did the primitives experience more?

And would I recognize him if I saw him, or her—this God they talk about?

Would s/he be Jesus again, or a woman this time? Next time

God might choose a female to show the world for sure

that compassion is the way—softness, gentleness, composure, calm,

the receptiveness of the vagina, the yielding of spread thighs,

the Mary-ness of surrender, the warmth of the womb,

the mother’s hovering spread wings.

And what if the second coming really were a woman coming down

out of the clouds, a glorious lovely woman of light?

And who would our heroes be then, the next time around

in the new creation, and who would we be

if we followed her?


After the drunk tourists

are done drinking in Mexico,

going past my window at 5:00 AM

waking me when the darkness

is still holding fast,

I quit arguing with myself

about whether or not

I have to piss,

get up and do it, then

to the kitchen for a liquid replacement

and a look outside the window.

Red and blue flashing policia trucks

drive by slowly, and

in their eerie stabbing strobing lights

I see him—

I’ve seen him twice this week

in the dawn—


the groundskeeper, sweeping

the parking lot

the sidewalks, even the street

with a broom, a pan

and a wheeled garbage can,

sweeping with fervent thrusting strokes,

like a forest-fire fighter

like a lumber jack splitting logs,

like a man beating down a concrete wall

with a sledge,

or a soldier pushing back

bacterial armies.

I wonder, standing by the window,

I ask questions,

I compare the contrasts in this world

between Alejandro and others

who hours later would drive

in gadgeted computerized vehicles

to their rare-wood desks,

soft swiveled chairs with high backs

and lumbar supports,

to platters of glazed donuts,

lattes, bonuses,

profits, pensions, soft palms,

and clean manicured fingernails.

I go back to bed—

thinking, I can’t sleep.

I get up and look up

three Spanish words,

and memorize them. Exiting

to the outer freshly-washed

and scrubbed hallway,

his bicycle locked to the wall,

I see him in the courtyard,

sweeping the grounds again!

bean pods, twigs, and seeds,

flower petals, and leaves,

all of the falling

Mexican winter fecundity.

“Buenos dias, senor Alejandro.”

“Buenos dias, senor.”

“Como estas?”

“Bien, gracias, y tu?”

“Bien, muy bien.”

Then with language skills

of a two year old,

I begin my memorized speech

as I wave my arm across the yard

like Crazy Horse defining

his lands and his people,




“Muchas gracias.”

Alejandro proudly beams

so wide

that I see the gold in his teeth.

“Si,” he says.


I was in Melvin’s garage

towards the end of his life

when he told me.

I don’t know why

but I felt honored.

Melvin is one of those

no bullshit guys

who always tells it

the way he sees it.

He doesn’t believe

in lots of words,

and certainly not


He is the world’s best

and smartest mechanic,

better than any doctor,

not a body, or organ

or limb, or vein

he couldn’t fix.

He gave me hell

if I waited too long

to service my truck.

“That’s a carbureted engine,

not fuel injected,

gas can get into your oil

and pretty soon your cylinders

get etched, then you get problems.

Gotta change that oil more often,

’specially in winter.

Don’t wait so damn long

next time.”

I always paid Melvin with a check

made out to cash

at his request, and would say,

“Here’s some tax-free income.”

We both would smile,

knowing he was a “screw ’em” guy

when it came to income taxes,

and how the government used his dollars

to kill people.

One day when I paid,

this is what he said.

“I was in the war, you know,

in the Pacific theater.”

“Yes. Weren’t damn near all you guys

in town there?” I always threw in some

cuss words—guy talk, you know.

“Yup, me and Don enlisted together

and fought together, it was hell,

I tell ya. No fun. Seen it all.

Arms hanging on tree branches,

brains stuck on bark, eyeballs,

chunks of skull with hair,

hands, legs, feet, ears, cocks,

strewn all over the place.

Hell, even on my weapon,

and my hands,

and face,

in my mouth,

on my uniform,

in my helmet—

just wipe it off,

spit it out

and keep on shooting.

What the hell can you do?

It’s either you,

or them

gonna die.

I did what I had to do,

ya got no choice.

Killing ain’t easy,

you know.”

“Don’t tell me about war.

I’ve been there.

It isn’t right, I tell ya, goddamnit,

no matter what those bastards say,

all a bunch of damn liars

if you ask me.

Someday they’re gonna pay,

someday they’ll get theirs.”

It was the most

I ever heard him say,

and I couldn’t get it

out of my head

Sunday morning

when I was in the pulpit

and Melvin was sitting

behind the pews

in his usher’s chair,

looking out the window

while I was preaching

lofty concepts about love.

When he came up front,

the last to receive the host,

we looked at each other,


and I said,

“Melvin, this is the body

of Christ,

given for you.”

A holy mystery was happening,

because killing

isn’t easy,

you know.



Harold Schumacher Originally a pastor, his career transitioned to stockbroker (he served “God and mammon”), realtor, townhome complex caretaker, high school and college instructor, newspaper columnist, pastor again, and retirement. Currently, a novel and poetry book are in progress. He lives on Rainy Lake near International Falls, Minnesota, and is a 20-plus-year veteran of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

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