Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2019    fiction    all issues


Cover Florian Klauer

Meli Broderick Eaton
Three Mississippi
& other poems

Andrea Reisenauer
What quiet ache do you wear?
& other poems

Alex Wasalinko
Two Dreams of Vegas
& other poems

AJ Powell
The Grammar Between Us
& other poems

Emma Flattery
Our Shared Jungle, Mr. Conrad
& other poems

Nathaniel Cairney
The Desert Cometh
& other poems

Sarah W. Bartlett
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
Jaybird by the Fence
& other poems

Brandon Hansen
& other poems

Andy Kerstetter
The Inferno Lessons
& other poems

Michael Fleming
Space Walk
& other poems

Richard Cole
Perfect Corporations
& other poems

Susan Bouchard
Circus Performers
& other poems

Edward Garvey
Nine Songs of Love
& other poems

Mehrnaz Sokhansanj
Sea of Detachment
& other poems

Jeffrey Haskey-Valerius
& other poems

Claudia Skutar
Homage II
& other poems

Donna French McArdle
Knitting Sample
& other poems

Megan Skelly
Puzzle Box Ghazal
& other poems

Tess Cooper
& other poems

Greg Tuleja
& other poems

Catherine R. Cryan
& other poems

Alex Wasalinko

To the Past


The snow aged the town, each flurry adding ten years.

As we drove down roads muffled with white,

your tires spun out: stuck in the past.

I watched from the passenger window as the quiet grew deeper.

Snowdrifts captured the street’s ghosts running between houses;

they howled and smashed their fists against my door.


I outline your memory in neon lights,

turn the contours of your face into the Vegas strip—

dreams of warmer days with your skin glowing red in the sun.

I cradle your face in my hands, pull you closer,

heatwaves radiate off your body.

Ultraviolet filling the space between us.


We relearned to walk along the empty streets,

deep slush and ice filling the space between cobblestone,

cold permeated the soles and canvas panels of our trainers.

You shared stories of your childhood in the mountains,

the mornings when you stepped outside to be enveloped by fog:

a world of mystery occupied by abstract shapes.


Outside of our halogen haze, my face feels older.

I pluck a silver hair from its root, hear your voice

tell me I am a queen with precious metals growing from her scalp.

I leave it on the shower wall, nearly invisible,

its curves catch the light. A forgotten language,

a sign with faded letters.


Knuckles and hands brushed together before you reached out:

It’s too cold. White with blue veins laced into faint pink.

On my palm, your thumb traced lines of poetry

I never read until we met. You recited them,

words formed in nebulae of warm air—

each exhale enclosing our path in its cloud.

Re-Routing. Navigating.

It tapped both of us on the shoulder

but told him first.

He did not tell me—

             I had to wait for it to make an appointment,

             leave a message,

             pencil me in for a talk.

                          The kind that happens behind closed doors.

                          The kind that is prefaced with

                          you should probably sit down for this.

I didn’t tell him I knew. Not for a few days.

But it was there. Watching me from the doorway.

Raising its eyebrows every moment he turned his back.

Well, what are either of you waiting for.

Each moment’s silence plunging its blade into my lungs.

You will leave me for it,

It will hold your hand, help you with your bags when you finally walk out the door.

The flashbulb scenes from our life before are stained with its presence

haphazardly obscured—

             A blurred profile

             The edge of a shirtsleeve

             One smirk, knowing I will later see it seeing me, seeing you, seeing us.

I am the first to smash through the silence,

Throw the photographic evidence at your

feet in a fit of fury

I see it laughing—

             it wants you for itself and this is how it will

                          keep you

                          trap you

                          overtake you

                          replace me

In the morning

I uncover the spare key, unlock the backdoor

stop and watch him cut into a mango at our counter.

He cradles the half in his palm,

scores the exposed flesh vertically—

I want to tell him it’s risky,

ask him if he’s afraid the blade will break

through the fruit’s skin and puncture his own.

His eyes stay on the new perpendicular lines he carves.

My eyes go to the counter, my mug full and waiting.

We sit in silence broken apart by the

muffled squish of his thumb gouging cubes of yellow.

To the mango he mumbles

I’m glad you’re back.

I take honey from the cabinet and stir it into my tea,

summon an amber whirlpool.

To its darkness I nod,

the past singing behind my clenched teeth.

There’s nothing new I can say.

Nothing sacred in the mundane

pulling of meat from cheeks

sticky with juice.



1. (noun)

the light that breaks through the spaces where curtains do not close

stretching hands that find his, a sleepy high-five

gentle pushing out of the bed into the day

2. (adverb, informal)

mostly we sleep in, shielded by the softest dark fleece

he sometimes pulls over both of our heads, our glowing cave

close my eyes and pretend I am falling backwards into his promise of forever

3. (exclamation, informal)

Goodnight, I yawn into his ear

          Good morning, he yawns from miles away

I count the minutes of remaining rituals


1. (noun)

if I stretch my fingers wide, place my palm on the globe

I imagine I can build a bridge, patch up the space

loose grip to close the wound, seal the cracks

2. (noun)

we have not opened the curtains in weeks

my eyes mirror his while we try to preserve our cave drawings

let little light and oxygen in

3. (verb)

glass shattered in the next room over

shards glittering across the hardwood, capturing the few beams of light

projecting a broken constellation across his face

Two Dreams from Vegas

How foolish to fall in love with the idea of forever;

but as I watched the roulette wheel spin into infinity,

numbers and colors blurring together into nothingness,

I considered the warmth of maybe

of possibility

of her hand in mine. To have and to hold tight

’til we part.

Outside he says to me

Let’s run through the fountain

but I can barely hear him over the rush of

bodies and conversations, layers of music

that surround us.

His imperative sings through cacophony,

I harmonize with my laughter.

The street turns our faces

technicolored and bejeweled.

Her laughter bounces off the lights over our heads,

rains down, the only melody I hear.

I ask her again,

take her hand

before we could change our minds.

Water hits his face first

and I am slipping, tumbling forward.

My hands find his and tug him with me:

we go down together

fast and slow, all at once

our clumsy grace

caught by marble, slick and cool.

Alex B. Wasalinko is a poet based in Pennsylvania. Before returning to her home state, she studied creative writing at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Her poetry appears in the University of Scranton’s undergrad journal, Esprit, and The Ekphrastic Review. Currently, Alex lives in Philadelphia where she teaches creative writing to children and teens. In her spare time, she visits museums, dabbles in art, and attends workshops at Drexel University’s Writers Room.

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