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

Benjamin Dombroski

Because Your Questions
on the Nature of Memory Have,
at Times, Threatened My Buzz

Ahead, the coal train enters a long curve

and here we watch it slow

as if into the memory of curve. Below

the river courses through evening

and the island goes skeletal

in shadow. Woody

spit of land from which captured Federal troops

once watched this city burn—

a light not unlike tonight’s lowering

on the horizon—and nothing grand

in those flames, what they promised

then; an end nearing

only in the slow exhaustion

that all fire reveals—ruins

to comb beneath empty

warehouse windows. It must be easier

here than at the yards upriver—

no one walking the rails,

cutting wide arcs of light

through the woods. So, from the balcony

we watch the boys creep through scrub pine

and up embankments, disappear

in the trains’ chuffing.

You tell me you’ve known coal

the promise of heat. You’ve written it.

Heaped in car on car of freights

pulled easy along the rim of these bluffs,

I think of it as memory

of the mountains which held it.

Bored, these boys hop the trains,

only to leap from them when again they slow

through the far side of the city

on their eastward slide to the ports

at Hampton, the bay

and sea. Doubtless you’ve dreamed the sea

a kind of memory. And the coal,

which carries to the sea

the weight of mountains, wears tonight

ragged coats of melting snow.

Oh, frozen wards of snow

carried down the mountains.

Oh, motion. Oh, absence

and he longing for shapes

of things the snows have covered.

I reach for your glass and refill it.

I reach for the night and stars.

I reach for the train. Let us speak plainly

now—as the wind dies, and the noise;

as the tail end of it disappears

like a dark thread

pulled through evening.

My mother called yesterday

with news of the fourth

suicide this month:

a girl this time, who stepped in front

of the 5:38 carrying traders

home to their suburbs by the sea.

In her voice I heard the reach

toward what question

the child’s mother must have asked.

No, she didn’t ask it.

Nor have we talked of the others.

Though I know

she wonders. I wonder. You must wonder.

But we talk instead of a room

walked out of, row of empty dresses

hanging in a closet. Or laundry; the scent

of someone else’s idea

of mountains in springtime.

If a mother needs answers, let her

find them. Let us have another drink.

And if we must speak of ghosts,

tonight they shall be the ghosts

of a boy’s hands on a window as a train starts:

fingertip, palm-print and the world

pulled through them like a sheet.

Tie and rail bed, parking lot and platform clock.

Bright sheet of the world

through which a few gulls glide.

South of Paris

. . . perhaps on a Thursday, as today is, in autumn.

—Cesar Vallejo

Horrid to die on a market day

in a foreign town, like this one

in the Loire valley, in November, with a light rain

passing its secrets to the slate roofs

and opened umbrellas.

How ill, beneath the plane trees

and between the stalls of vegetables

and strange meats,

the fish and foreign, fish-like faces,

among gestures of buying and selling

how black, even surviving the Thursday

after feeling suddenly behind you the presence

on the cobblestones

and balking at a case of aged cheese

before asking in broken tongue for a taste.

Afternoon with My Nephew

Pushing your racecar through the grass,

you say, shooo, the car says, shooo.

The plane says, grrrr overhead.

Its shadow is t-shaped, or boy shaped,

when older, you’ll run with outspread arms

through a field. Its shadow says nothing.

The birds say hello, even the buzzards say hello,

but you can’t hear them, they’re too high.

Their shadows are eaten by the air.

There are people in the plane, you know.

A pilot, yes, and passengers too.

What do they say? All kinds of things.

They’re coming back from a war which isn’t yet over.

And if they’re talking about it

we don’t hear them either, only the plane,

which keeps on saying the only word it knows.

Benjamin Dombroski is a graduate of the MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University. His work has appeared in Best New Poets 2009 and Hunger Mountain.

Dotted Line