Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2022    fiction    all issues


Li Zhang

Ana Reisens
Pam asked about Europe
& other poems

Krystle May Statler
To the Slow Burn
& other poems

Kristina Cecka
On Remodeling
& other poems

Belinda Roddie
Bless The Bones Of California
& other poems

Summer Rand
Alexander tells me how he'd like to be buried
& other poems

Alexander Perez
Toward the Rainbow
& other poems

Karo Ska
self-portrait of compassion…
& other poems

David Southward
The Pelican
& other poems

George Longenecker
Stamp Collection
& other poems

Mary Keating
& other poems

Talya Jankovits
Imagine A World Without Raging Hormones
& other poems

Laurie Holding
Sonnet to Mr. Frost
& other poems

David Ruekberg
A Short Essay on Love
& other poems

Elaine Greenwood
There’s a thick, quiet Angel
& other poems

Richard Baldo
Carry On Caretaker
& other poems

Jefferson Singer
Dave Righetti’s No-Hitter…
& other poems

Diane Ayer
A Fan
& other poems

Kaecey McCormick
Meditation Before Desert Monsoon
& other poems

Meg Whelan
& other poems

Katherine B. Arthaud
& other poems

Aaron Glover
On Transformation
& other poems

Anne Marie Wells
[I'm crying in a sandwich shop reading Diane Seuss' sonnets]
& other poems

Holly Cian
& other poems

Kimberly Russo
Selective Memories are the Only Gift of Dementia
& other poems

Steven Monte
& other poems

Mervyn Seivwright
Fear Mountain
& other poems

Writer's Site

Richard Baldo

One Lake Day

The boat had old waterlogged floorboards

saved with decades of tarnished ochre caulk.

Clear water held us several feet above

a green forest beneath the hull’s blue paint.

My father rowed his three young sons

across the calm Jersey lake named Cedar.

This day, his strong biceps pulled the oars

at his long remembered trolling speed.

Our lines spread out behind the soft wake,

mine towing that grey plastic lure

with the red bill, silver back

and black dots of skyward facing eyes.

A pickerel, waiting in the weeds

was also young in fish years,

and hit the lure hard, bent my rod

and brought the boat to attention.

It rose in the writhing whiplash

of its head above water,

splashing white as you see

in mighty marlin movies.

The fish saved its life shaking

my silver lure loose and launched

it into the air to catch a hook

in the left pocket of my madras shirt.

The closest thing to a catch that day

plays now, a memory of my father

lighting the wilderness of our lives.

A moment of a day, the way

it was supposed to be. He lured us

into nature, into a taste of a father

sharing something he had to offer,

his childhood boat, time with us

on the safety of the placid lake

and a lively pickerel fish.

It was the kindest he would come

to us in all his moments.

Can we call it love?

It shines its light through the trees

of our childhood’s dark forest.

Last Lesson

At two, you, with your water wings

learned to splash into my arms.

In time, you launched wingless

across to the pool’s far side.

Four years later, I showed you how

the row of pawns lines up in front

of the castle to the queen on her color.

Now others teach you classic openings

beyond my chess horizon.

When you said you would instead push your bike,

I named you fearful until your angry denial

made you prove me wrong for our five mile ride.

Life lessons are varied, at times—harsh.

If I must also be the one to teach you

a last lesson,

             about death,

I will not do it gladly. I would never

choose to leave you, but life

comes with its written conclusion.

I hope to keep my wits as I slip away,

to leave you my

appreciation for who you are.

If we have time, I will teach you to visit coral

and white-tip reef sharks, to breathe bubbles

while we listen to the whales’ melodic greetings.

If I must be that teacher, I ask to be

a good example, showing courage,

keeping fear from between us

as I depart.

My loss will be over in that last moment.

I hope your loss will be softened

by the love left to linger with you.

Autumn Warmth

Drifting through shadows as fall leaves flutter,

late morning light is sensed through night crew fog.

A slow warmth awakens my awareness as softness

invites me into the presence of an early afternoon.

Somewhere in the day, she decided to share this gift,

make a surprise of herself and travel to my room’s soft light.

She quietly let her clothes fall away, to slide under

my pale blue comforter to touch my still form.

No longer only her first, I have become her familiar lover.

She reaches under my arm to palm my beating heart.

Some courage of her desire proves a growing newness, and moves me

to wordlessness as we grow together, skin welcoming skin.

Broad branch shadows spread across her arm onto my lean chest.

Twinkling sun tickles and tastes the touch being taught under our skin.

She closes the distance between us as leaf-danced light

plays on our bodies’ offered gifts.

Through these decades, she rests against me,

in that shared skin-lit moment.

Carry On Caretaker

The man she has loved

for the last 43 years

fades into the wallpaper

of their Manhattan co-op.

Patches of darkness deepen

to accent the shafts of sun,

the direct or reflected arrows

from the frames of city glass,

the buildings’ eyes watching.

This petite caretaker carries their cares

moving about her constant business.

He is leaving her, going nowhere.

She manages the daunting tasks

as best she can—fighting a battle

to stay the loss,

for another day, month, or year,

preserving an hour of partnership,

adding a codicil to life’s contract.

Motes of dust in the light beams

tell their story—parts of their bodies

have already left this life.

As the sun so gradually fades to night,

she stumbles over memories

that light her way with love’s grief.

Decisions must be made.

Carry on caretaker, with the words

of doctors who come and go.

Stay or go, home or hospital,

she navigates the rocky shoals

of medicine and prayer.

Carry on, give your care,

respite will come soon enough.

Give all your gifts while he remains.

Last Walk to the Canine Orchard

The apple trees are past bloom, young fruit growing,

not yet the right size for boys to fit into their throwing hands.

My throwing days are past, but today’s job has always been mine.

As the oldest, I have carried each canine friend to earth.

My father can no longer stand to make the trip.

His legs will still carry him, but the weight of grief is too great.

I proceed to the familiar tree, last before the field,

passing the McIntosh, whose branches once held our fort.

And there is the Red Delicious, where the hammock hung

and wrapped me under summer and winter night skies. Here,

I gazed through those ancient limbs to the stars of my future,

trying to divine a path to adulthood.

In reverie, with reverence, I arrive at the unmarked plots.

This tree’s surviving two trunks split as fingers to reach a hand

wide toward heaven. Over four decades, I made resting places

under the canopy of this elderly Winesap. I dig now.

This white-furred shepherd, my father’s last, wrapped

in another old green army blanket, I did not know her well.

I lift the body, returned to puppy suppleness,

lay her gently to rest, and replace the earth and grass clogs.

The occasion calls for a father’s words, but none come to me,

while he waits alone in the remains of the house.

There sounds a witnessing breeze through the tree’s leaves

releasing me to walk back up the hill.

Richard Baldo is a recently retired clinical psychologist. That experience informs much of his poetry. He has been writing poetry off and on since college and began more serious study about twelve years ago. He won the UNR English Department’s Award for Best Poem in Spring 2020 and has poems published in The Meadow 2021, 2022, and Sixfold in 2022. He is currently a first-year MFA student at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Dotted Line