Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Fall 2013    fiction    all issues


Chris Joyner
Wrestlemania III
& other poems

Carey Russell
Visiting Hours
& other poems

Marc Pietrzykowski
Cabinet of Wonders
& other poems

Jonathan Travelstead
Prayer of the K-12
& other poems

Jennifer Lowers Warren
Our Daughter's Skin
& other poems

Jeff Burt
The Mapmaker's Legend
& other poems

Patricia Percival
Giving in to What If
& other poems

Toni Hanner
& other poems

Christopher Dulaney
& other poems

Suzanne Burns
Window Shopping
& other poems

Katherine Smith
Mountain Lion
& other poems

Peter Kent
Surliness in the Green Mountains
& other poems

William Doreski
Gathering Sea Lavender
& other poems

Huso Liszt
Fresco, The Forlorn Virgin...
& other poems

Clifford Hill
How natural you are
& other poems

R. G. Evans
& other poems

David Kann
Dead Reckoning
& other poems

Ricky Ray
The Music of As Is
& other poems

Tori Jane Quante
Creatio ex Materia
& other poems

G. L. Morrison
Baba Yaga
& other poems

Joe Freeman
In a Wood
& other poems

George Longenecker
Bear Lake
& other poems

Benjamin Dombroski
South of Paris
& other poems

Ryan Kerr
& other poems

Josh Flaccavento
Glen Canyon Dam
& other poems
& other poems

Christine Stroud
& other poems

Abraham Moore
Inadvertent Landscape
& other poems

Chris Haug
Cow with Parasol
& other poems

Mariah Blankenship
Fiberglass Madonna
& other poems

Emily Hyland
The Hit
& other poems

Sam Pittman
Growth Memory
& other poems

Alex Linden
The Blues of In-Between
& other poems

Bobby Lynn Taylor
& other poems

D. Ellis Phelps
Five Poems

Alia Neaton
Cosmogony I
& other poems

Elisa Albo
Each Day More
& other poems

Noah B. Salamon
& other poems

Jeff Burt

The Mapmaker’s Legend

Life cannot be limited to the Compass Rose

And the scale and the symbols of demarcation,

hues presenting heights of apprehension

and lows of depression, places to stop

and get off if only to wheeze, appreciate.

All the careful study of the distances and graphs

will not prepare one to travel, and cannot describe

the years spent dwelling in a single dot

desperate and willing to depart.

The sun’s face in the center of the Rose

will not shine in the valleys of loneliness

you will run your fingers through

like an imaginary woman’s long hair, who sat before you

and was gone before you could see her face.

Only the symbol for railroad tracks will be true,

the lines with crosses that look like stitches

that run up and down over all terrains

seemingly holding the map together,

closing wounds and scratches and leaving scars

of remembrance, your head cracked open

by an inadvertent elbow at school,

the glass imbedded in your palm

when you smashed the pane hearing cancer,

the bypass for your heart broken once too often

that meant you no longer wanted to love,

the second set of stitches for your heart

because you couldn’t live without loving.

Tribute for Phyllis

She punished the laundry, scraping the jeans of her boys

knuckles white against the washboard

flapped and snapped dishtowels and rags like a randy bully

in the high school shower against the butt of the basin

and clipped the clothespins with revenge to hold the sheets

that had been bleached and softened and breeze dried.

She could make shirts weep and undershirts cry

and boxers mourn as they pinned on the line.

Disease flew from her ferocity, and comfort came

when she’d hold the swaddling clothes to her nose

and sniff and smile as if something holy had taken place.

When she walked down the river the rocks remembered

and the riprap still murmurs her praise.


The Greeks would jump and dance about

mawkish-faced and freaks afoot,

and Prospero the Roman had an ugly face

scourged by smallpox and missing an ear,

so was a natural for amusement between acts of play.

But Prospero the Roman had seen an egret

from the Nile stand on one leg peering into water

then slowly trade its balance to the other,

so in his pantomime he played the bird

to which crowds booed and threw things at him,

but several asked for a private performance,

so he followed storks and cranes in landings

and takings off, the slow circling head of a female swan

as she knew her young had died,

the nightingale with upturned throat

that sang until its voice exhausted,

and when his time for performance came

he mimicked the storks and cranes,

and did the egret to murmurs of appreciation,

and the crowd was pleased, left gasping,

and for his finale performed the nightingale in song

by stretching his neck upwards as if to God

with his arms like wings forcing out the last of his breath,

then the circling of the swan

with his body, and left the audience hushed.

When he performed before the Emperor,

with executions and maulings of slaves on the fare,

he was whisked off stage after the act

and banished for life to a quarry outside of Rome.

But a thousand girls had the seen the mime,

and when brushing hair they would stand on one foot,

when walking down stairs would hold out their arms

as if cranes landing in a field, when imagining a lover

would strain their neck and appeal to God,

and when unrequited, slowly circle to the ground.

The Lost Pilot

Nestled in the far distances

my imagination had roamed

in the nether land,

still I am near to and nearing my home.

Frieda, my grandmotherly neighbor,

waves me in, the lost pilot

returning from the army air corps.

Yet after the fantasy recedes

its repercussions linger:

I step over a fence

and it rapidly disappears,

the steadily burgeoning sun

wades through formidable leaves,

air widens, and twilight shadows

fly over drought-shrivelled grass.

The paint on a primitive church shines

pudgy and white,

billowing like a parachute.

I smile, listen:

the wood is not laughing.

In the dry hot wind button-black susans

tango and rock,

dust waltzes

to unheard-of music, Frieda’s wave

a metronome of my heart.

With each thing both fanciful

and real, how flat the imagining man,

a solid body with spirit

which cannot by any artifice

detach itself from flesh

and vanish in a vaporous ascension

to the promise of joy.

How, when we can believe

all the feather, bone

and beak of our existence was born

of a central egg, can

we not set the mind skyward,

free in its flight?

Like gravity the daily routines

pull down magnificent creations,

and it is one continuum

between fancy and fact,

the two ends of the pole

with which we balance

unaware of any safety net,

the tipping of one end too high

sure to flip us off the wire.

So I feel: it is hot.

While there are no limits

to the distance a dream may take,

the clock of my body yanks

me back to the small seam

of time I continually try

to rip—a far journey

in a short span.

And though reentry

to the war-torn fortress

of a common world is loss,

an unshielded burning,

the greater intensity

of rapid associations

reduced to a linear conversation,

it is the condensation,

the subsequent recalling

of the imagined event

which makes the fantasy desired.

The ether I once was

vanishes, and I reappear

glistening and whole, joy

rising to the surface of my face,

death and logic submersing

to become a sediment

from which I can only toss and swell above.

I am liquid, a lake,

and the trickle from the hose

is a river replenishing

my arid head,

and a beer is the storm

dousing the kiln

of my thinning throat.

Three Threads

In Mason jars the machine, the wood, the metal,

the button-head, slotted, crossed,

whorled, knurled, tipped to explode, bound,

locked, washered, starred, bolted, nutted,

used, saved, reclaimed from rust.

All these threads, mechanical stitches,

filling punched, drilled holes

to keep the world from falling apart.

I have not found a fastener

for the hole since you’ve departed.

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California, and works in manufacturing. He has work in Rhino, Red River Review, New Verse News, Barnwood, Verse Wisconsin, and The Write Room.

Dotted Line