Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2013    fiction    all issues


Sharron Singleton
Five Poems

Sarah Giragosian
Five Poems

Jenna Kilic
Five Poems

Kristina McDonald
Five Poems

Toni Hanner
Five Poems

Annie Mascorro
Five Poems

Brittney Corrigan
Three Poems

S. E. Hudgens
Four Poems

Ali Doerscher
Four Poems

David Sloan
Three Poems

Olivia Cole
Five Poems

Lucy M. Logsdon
Four Poems

Marc Pietrzykowski
Four Poems

Donna Levine Gershon
Five Poems

Eva Heisler
The Olden Days

Stephanie Rose Adams
Five Poems

Jill Kelly
Five Encounters

Ben Bever
Five Poems

Michael Hugh Lythgoe
Five Poems

Arlene Zide
Three Poems

Harry Bauld
Five Poems

Lisa Zerkle
Four Poems

Peter Mishler
Five Poems

Tim Hawkins
Five Poems

Marqus Bobesich
Four Poems

Abigail Templeton-Greene
Five Poems

Eric Duenez
Five Poems

Anne Graue
Five Poems

Susan Laughter Meyers
Five Poems

Peter Kahn
Two Poems

D. Ellis Phelps
Five Poems

Linda Sonia Miller
The Kingdom

Nicklaus Wenzel
Skagit River

Holly Cian
Five Poems

Susan Morse
Five Poems

Daniel Lassell
Five Poems

Svetlana Lavochkina
Temperate Zones

Daniel Sinderson
Three Poems

Catherine Garland
Five Poems

Michael Fleming
Five Poems

Ben Bever


Something holy about ravens,

a corpse in a meadow.

The doe had been shot, I think,

and staggered here to die,

blood rusted to her fur.

It had not been long,

her bones still held meat

untouched by the congregation.

They clung to her like God,

talons tore the sacrament

from her in zealous gluttony,

heads bobbed to heaven,

swallowing her down.

I went to touch the cold, flapping flesh,

probe the gaping socket with a finger

expecting who knows what—

some revelation, perhaps

an electric shudder.

They flew away when I approached,

a flapping, cawing exodus on night dark wings,

a glistening eye clenched in one beak,

the nerves still dangling out the back.

Inmate #460908

knowing this meal would be his last,

awaiting the lethal release,

ordered, for his final repast

Justice, Equality, World Peace.

By all accounts, a strange request:

how do you cook a meal like that?

Was this some form of weird protest?

How did equality taste flat

on his tongue—bitter and cold

as fingers of gin? Is justice

like barbecue—smoky and bold

home cooked, fall-off-the-bone bliss?

Why would a man who rapes and steals

want a final dinner of ideals?


My father, in the 5 a.m. darkness

puts his hand into the kitchen sink

still filled with water and dirty dishes.

floating among the bubbles and cold grease

his hand closes on the water-logged corpse

of a drowned mouse.

To his credit, he kept a level head

carried the body into the yard

and threw it from the porch into the snow.

What he was trying to find that morning

or why he was even awake so early

I never thought to ask.

Air Burial


The old man finally

died last night.

I got the call this morning

from one of his disciples.

The ground is too hard for digging,

wood too precious

to waste in a pyre.

They will bury him in sky.

The monks burn incense and offer

prayers as I set out my knives

and tie my leather apron.

The birds jockey for position

their monstrous wings

beating the air and each other,

their beaks and screams

mingling with the prayers.

Red-bearded lammergeiers

and cruel-taloned griffon vultures

have gathered already,

waiting for the feast to come.

I lift the cleaver and begin

my work. It is unpleasant

and I am glad for the whiskey

I drank before I started.

I remove the limbs first,

split at the elbows and knees.

The blood is thick and

already clotting.

The head comes next—

It is easier now, to work with

just a torso—I can trick myself

into believing it is a pig.

I slice the belly,

remove the entrails, liver, kidneys

and offer them to the greedy birds,

their beaks already caked

from picking at the old man’s

arms, legs, and face.

The eyes are always the first to go.

The fingers swallowed bones and all.

A squabble breaks out over the liver,

drowning out the monks.

It is torn in two and shared

as I pry open the rib cage.

When they have eaten their fill,

I will take what is left

and grind it mixed with barley,

to feed the smaller birds.

After this, there will be

only three things

that remain of the old man:

memories of him,

which will one day

be carried to the sky

with those who hold them;

pride in a job well done,

the carrion-eaters fed,

a vigil completed,

good karma for us all;

and the third thing—

a stain on the rocks,

to be washed away

with the rain.

My Grandfather’s Shoes

At midnight, my father

made pancakes shaped like our grief,

coated in Mrs. Butterworth’s

I’d bought from the 7-11

I passed on my way over.

There were no words between us.

Later, after the funeral,

Nana cleared out the basement

and gave me his last pair

of hiking shoes, barely worn

since he’d given up

the Appalachian Trail.

To think they would fit was sacrilege,

but they did. He had always been

a weathered mountain of a man,

even after the cancer;

stubborn as a rusted door-hinge,

though never as loud.

I wore his shoes, hoping

they would grant me his strength,

but now they fray at the seams,

the soles wear out,

the laces unravel.

Benjamin Bever earned his Bachelor of Arts in 2006 from Allegheny College. The poems included here appeared as part of his thesis in completion of the Master of Fine Arts degree at George Mason University, where he was the 2012-2013 recipient of the Completion Fellowship for poetry. Other work by Benjamin has been published in Willows Wept, and he has written book reviews for The Lit Pub.

Dotted Line