Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2023    fiction    all issues


Susan Wilkinson

Selena Spier
Red From The West
& other poems

Pamela Wax
Talk Therapy
& other poems

Ana Reisens
Honey Water
& other poems

Mark Yakich
Necessary Hope
& other poems

Bridget Kriner
A Few Lies & a Truth
& other poems

Keegan Shepherd
Silver Queen
& other poems

Alaina Goodrich
Sacred Conflagration
& other poems

George Longenecker
Those Who Hunger
& other poems

Hailey Young
Ball Room
& other poems

Sébastien Luc Butler
& other poems

Savannah Grant
Ever Since (v.2)
& other poems

grace (logan)
& other poems

Samantha Imperi
A Poem for the Ghosted
& other poems

Corinne Walsh
& other poems

Kayla Heinze
Stop checking the score
& other poems

Richard Baldo
Chasing Through to Dawn
& other poems

Alex Eve
A moment
& other poems

Robert Michael Oliver
Prison Hounds
& other poems

Selena Spier


Nothing comes to life until you name it.

Just as it took saying light to make it.

What’s left over drifts

through the mind’s sieve

and sinks to the bottom.

Coats the tongue like an afterthought,

but can’t survive on its own outside the body.

Bright world, there you are—

thumbing through magazines, waiting for me

in the lobby. The bone-white pills

I cradled in my palm. The drive home silent.

In the new snow, fingertips shining

with sugar and grease, the heating pad

pressed to my abdomen. Bright,

bright world. How the knot of fear unraveled

at the sight of what had left me: blood.

Just blood.

And a pale clump of cells,

no bigger than a raspberry.

Playing Dice with the Universe

You won’t find me in your matrices.

You should know that—haven’t you searched

for a woman in her body, and found

neither woman nor body? I will not yield,

I will not take the shape of your container.

There are two variations of knowledge:

you cling to the one that is stored in the body,

is prone to the body’s distortions.

I sing the body dialectic.

I am kinetic, I am chemical—

I am the die and the hand that casts it,

the faces, the dots and the sum

of the numbers they signify.

I am your black luck and resurrection,

god-headed chance,

the act of measurement.

Red from the West

A halo circumscribed the place

where the little beast

sank its teeth in. We waited days,

a week. No symptoms, no fever.

None of our terrors bore fruit

in the end. Flickering shapes

on the brain scan turned out to be

tricks of the light. Candles left untended

guttered out. We left the oven on all morning once,

came home at noon to a hot house.

And the years began to repeat themselves.

And everything reminded us of something else.

So summer shrinks from the surface

of the skin—the air goes brittle—

the wide fields overtaken by milkweed

and goldenrod.

Still Life

The doorway to that bedroom coincided

with the outer edge of time. It was always

as you’d left it: crowded shelves

and books with broken spines

prostrated on the desk, motes of sunlight

drifting back and forth,

back and forth across the unswept floors.

And in the summer, when the heat

began to stay the night, the ladybugs returned,

forewings clicking like metronomes as they settled

on the windowsill, the sheets, congregating on your arms

and legs as you slept. And nothing changed

except the distance from your feet

to the foot of the bed. And the room became

a mirror

in whose smooth impassive face

the passing of your life became apparent.

Step back, and the image resolves. Clear

and clearer. Until one day you step backwards

over the edge of your life

                                              and fall.

Waiting for a Letter

How colorless the world became,

every sensation known only as pain

or its absence.

Dirty plates stacked on the radiator

and the blinds drawn.

No hero’s journey after all.

No dream of perfect order

to console me. Only grief,

the new milk souring

overnight, grief that hung

in the folds of unworn clothes

and came apart in my hands

when I tried to hold it.

I can hold it now.

It visits me sometimes. It likes the mornings.

Like a cat it is, always coming and going.

I’ll go to the sink to rinse my mug

and when I turn it’s gone again,

and my mind begins to populate

with other things—windows and pollen,

small talk and how to avoid it,

laundry receipts, international stamps,

the bathtub drain that wants unclogging,

bagels from Zabar’s, the rent check,

the subway, my romantic prospects,

strangers running to make their trains

with jackets draped over their arms,

clutching greasy paper bags,

clutching paper cups of coffee.

A white spot appears at the base of my nail.

Drifts closer to the edge each day.

My mother used to say 

that when the white spot

reached the edge,

I’d get a letter.

Selena Spier is a graduate student at Columbia University currently living in New York City. She has daylighted as a waitress, a bartender, a nude model, a farmhand, a baker, a line cook, a newspaper columnist, a tutor, a rock climbing instructor, a suicide hotline counselor, a carpenter, and a painter.

Dotted Line