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

Huso Liszt

Fresco, The Forlorn Virgin,
Dirbi Monastery, Kareli, Georgia

The history of Georgia is that of repeated invasions from the south, up between the Black and Caspian Seas. Few peoples in the world have an ancestry more dominated by rape. Contemplate the Forlorn Virgin of Dirbi, and its corrosion by violence. Remember that the monastery was a nunnery. Don’t forget that Stalin was born in Gori, just thirty miles away. The faux culture of a State based on the abstractions of Marxist ideology did not so much supplant a culture, as take root in a poverty of violence where the peaceful transmission of cultural wealth from family and society to child had been rendered impossible

–Keith Smith

i. Paleo-Violence in Plaster

We saw it first in Pernambuco

from the stoop of our rustic farmhouse

roofed with thigh-molded tiles.

Enormous toads emerge from the orchard

to the scent of orange blossoms, jasmine, chicken shit

as the sun pissed its blood and sank. A boy

appeared out of a darkening tunnel

up from the river through the trees.

He was the youngest son

of the caretakers we had unwittingly

dislodged by buying the farm the week

before from their landlord.

We were in danger, he said. You’ll need a gun, he said,

and pointed to a cold flurry of bullet holes,

a heavy-flake snow perpetually falling

in the plaster around the windows.

We saw it again, and again, even next door

in the boarded-up house where Jose de Deu’s

brother was murdered. We’d pried

the door open, and in barred shafts

of biblical light, a host of tree

frogs leached to the walls

and disappeared though the roof

as if they were the severed tongues

of the survivors

lunging for the cover of a time-

darkened mouth. And there in the plaster walls

fell the same heavy snow.

The silence that each violence had scarred

into the wills of the living there

was so palpable. This is poverty!

not an absence things,

but a drought,

a truth drought in floods of silence.

When the real drought came dust rose

like insurmountable drifts of snow.

ii. As She Was First Painted

Midway through her last eutherian trimester,

the flush of certainty drained from her faith.

No fire could unchill her from her doubt

which rose with every parent else against herself.

It had been at best an unamazing dream.

She could brave the market as well as anyone,

and once she’d passed a spot of bronze

to hear a teller weave the Greek and Roman stories,

and had shyly scoffed at all the shapes

the so-called gods would take

to relieve an earthly passion.

But now she came to question how trusting she,

and how unmiraculous he

had been—so unlike a raging swan, or shower

of golden light. To be sure, the angel

had been bright,

but only with an earthlike radiance,

as if the shadows in her room had all

conspired to be nowhere near his eyes and hands;

and she had seen a Roman’s slave

with just as clean and shiny hair.

Worse, she had never once refused

to linger for the tales of shipwrecks

the soldiers like to tell, and their funny,

awkward rescues from despair;

and her people

had seen her talking to them there.

She had imagined her time laid up with the holy baggage

would be more graceful than this. She’d accepted

the vomiting; she hardly noticed

the bugs of lamb fat stuck to her chin

as she scraped the pot for more stew,

but even the colostrum that seeped through her

swollen nipples repulsed her now, and worse,

if the baby kicked at all, his kicks were as weak

as the spastic reflexes of any half-living thing.

iii. Dirbi Now

The snow, the snow, for eight

centuries, the snow,

by Monguls, Turks, Persians,

Khwarzem, Timur,

Dagestani, Turkestani,

Germans and Russians, over

and over, each war the same:

the men arrive, the women die,

or go.

Only the Dirbi Virgin remains

confined within the Dirbi walls,

a wedge of fresco

in deepening drifts of snow.

The flurries of spear, bullet, cannon

scars and holes

now render her forlornness

as beleaguerment by cold.

And the fossilizing swelling

above her lap, which once gave

hope to others in confinement,

conceals the reluctant slouch of

transformation, slouching

still, as with newer gods from

somewhere else, toward the same

old Bethlehem to be born.

The Death of a Whale

it isn’t the

harpoon kills

the whale, it’s

the line

from which they can’t 

be rid.

their nostrils are a field

of nerves

vaginally sensitive

to feel the shed

of water, the snap

of air with every

rise, to time

each blow and breath

to fall between

caprices of

the breaking waves.

or do they begin their blow

underwater, and feel

its pressure at

the surface change?

whatever. in

their panic, and

in their pain,

and under the



force of the ship,

there are breaths

they can’t arrange.

From Alaska: At a Conference
on the Poetry of Place

On the closing of the last light bulb factory in the United States of A.

Let us have a conference and connect!

And admit to the robbery and murder our consumption funds.

If our tastes and dependencies here

arm tyrannies there

just as the love of pepper once

launched a quarter-million ships to slit

their way,

throat by throat, up the coasts of the orient,

what is the poetry of here, of place, and only here?

From my porch in rainforest, Alaska,

rainwater complicates over the clogged and rotted eave gutter

and pounds on the mossy concrete below.

There’s a simple pi pi pi pi of rainfall on the steps,

a bassline patters out on popcorn kelp in the tidal zone,

off salt-fluted hemlock leaning out to sea.

Only a mind could organize so much water,

and dum dum titty dum, suddenly

it’s Mozart. I’m in the 18th century.

And I’m drifting east, high over unnamed Deer Mountain, Blue Lake,

over the ridge to Harriet Hunt, unnamed Carroll Inlet,

Portage Cove, and the random fires of summer fishing camps,

Behm Canal, and the dark continent.

Lights cluster, mussel-like, to the shores

of the the black Atlantic: Boston, Philadelphia, New York.

The silence and utter darkness of ocean, then

the first lights of Europe,

scattered smoky fires of the agricultural poor,

now, Paris, Avignon, Vienna. From high windows

into the great parlors of the western world, we see Lords

in pink and robins-egg-blue powdered wigs

lean forward at the waist

before ladies gowned like giant jellyfish

and dance, gloriously lit

by oil extracted from harpooned,

drowned, and boiled humpbacked whales.

I look down at my clothes, my Patagonia fleece from Sri Lanka,

my Indonesian pants. Today, I ate

an orange from Chile, apples from New Zealand, Belgian cheese.

My American clam shovel leans against my wall.

Up and down Tongass Narrows, reflections

of crimelights, yellow incandescent windows of houses,

winks of video and tv

streak out through the rain and waver with the water.

It’s the eyes of tired Chinese parents drowning in the sea.

Pieter Breughel the Elder’s
The Parable of the Blind

Listen! The blind are leading the blind.

Hear the wary linkage of six men, their breath

and fearful muttering, how their syllables

shorten and tonally ascend

with each stumble and jolt. Hear how their tentative

shuffle hisses music contrapuntal to the toads

that screech to populate the village ditch

where sewage makes wet kissing sounds

against the rustling reeds.

Their staves click between pebbles and grass

like thumbnails picking dirty teeth.

Their alms bowls jangle and thock against

their beaded rosaries and belts.

But where are those capricious landmarks

of the human voice, of the villagers who see? Somewhere,

a woman shouts insults into

the vast cavern of her drunk son’s ear. There must

be birds, too, twittering indifferently, high in the trees.

Now hear the slip of gravel, the grunt, and then,

the prodigious splash.

Now, hear the things you wouldn’t have heard:

The scrape of broomstraw as monks in the steepled church

sweep pheasant bones from between the pews,

and angels repeating whispers, mouth to ear,

over the great arc of paradise, to laugh

at each new garbled truth

emerging on the other side.

Hear aldermen belching, softly, ale gas,

counting money in their troubled sleep.

Be, for a moment, blind.

You lead. A hand rides your shoulder;

its grip tightens and slackens

as you pitch over ground swells. Leaning

forward, you choose your way carefully, always

balancing against stumbling over roots and divots,

your hand on guard for low-hanging branches.

Suddenly, you feel the first horror of air where ground

should be, and twisting your body mid-step,

as if you might scramble back across the trespassed air,

you fall backward into the water.

This is the parable of the blind:

No precipice exists from which men can fall forever,

except within the human heart, where fear dissolves

the underpinning earth. What would it take,

in darkness and in panic, to shout out to the others

as you fall, “Stop! Fall back. The ditch is here. Hold still!”

It’s too late. The men tumble

cursing & thrashing on top of you. But let’s say you, unlike

your fellows, don’t keep falling after landing

in the ditch, but find your feet, the bottom, the surface

of the water, air. Can you now shout, “Fools!

Stand up! The ditch is only three feet deep! Stand up!”

Or do you stand up, wipe your mouth, and wade away,

and leave the rest to drown?

Huso Liszt’s poems have also appeared in Poetry East, Poetry Northwest, River City, The Indiana Review, The American Anthropologist, and the Journal for Anthropology & Humanities. He has written extensively about the Peoples of the Agreste in Brasil. Also a theatre artist, he is a seventeen-year resident of Ketchikan, Alaska, where he is currently working on a novel for children.

Dotted Line