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

Olivia Cole

Learning the plum

Now I know what a plum

truly is. I have seen its heart.

Gnawed down to the naked core

of seed, I am poised with a knife

to break this thing open and know

its atoms, its lifeforce, its tiny strings

of being. I hold

the thing in my palm and wonder at its

strangeness, this spiny nut like a dragon’s

bone. It is my own curiosity, the child-scientist

who holds the blade like a scalpel, ready to learn.

Dead cats have taught me curb.

This could be a box named for chaos:

I could unravel my world by knowing

this fruit.

I decide

not to cut. It is enough perhaps

to hold this piece of the secret.

It is enough to know, perhaps,

that it grows.

poem for Trayvon Martin and other dead brown boys

The delight of the airplane

is what sticks in my eye:

ground-bound, but the sky

is a butterfly you’re cupping

in your palms.

Just a few more beats

of heart and wing

and you could have been

in the blue, arms or engine


I want us all to live

in your eyes:

to see how

in one breath

a boy can be


and in the next

be a leaf


carried away


then gray,

then gone.

For my lover, leaving

The lid is on:

your cipher is kept,

my name is safe and secret.


I who have lurked in Egyptian

cotton and warm water,

my nylon ghost

your busy burial.


I have sewn in the stitch

to shut my mouth,

I won’t screech

a sound.


My name is a quiet thing

you have expressed only

in Garamond, it is wet

skin wrapped in canvas.

You put it on your plate

with the drapes drawn.


This is not a war where lovers

carry likenesses in lapels.

Anyhow, there is only one to speak

of, and you guard it

from eyes and air. I fold

my hands and forget.


I am a girl who is sarcastic

about promises. I am a girl

who rolls her eyes at oaths

but dreads their not

being made. When the parts

don’t come together,

the laughter drains from lips.

Worse, when they do,

the eggshell is held gently

underfoot, waiting

for pressure.


Welcome. I sang you a song

about this long ago; your mind

may have been on something

else when I read you the lyrics.


I am a girl with a round

name who despises circles.


Let this at least be a square,

angular and abiding

by ancient rules.


The circle has no law.

It may go around

as many times as it wishes,

the eyes spinning along

its endless track.


Let this at least be a box.

Heavy, at least I know

what it contains.


Let’s collect dead white things.

I cherish all evidence

that proves black

is not the only thing dying:


check: the white seal

and his ghostly impotence


check: the white wolf

and his icy violence


check: the white swan

the evil fellow of stork


check: the white horse

who has carried death for centuries.


Keep counting. Bless

the black things that are


and dark, and deep

not with ash

but with ask

palms stretched out

and smiling

Last lament

I have picked my way through a patch

of blackberries and come out

stained and scratched. This is the wild

kind; not the neat bush of agriculture

but a free-spilling mess of deep

juice in jungle. I can’t tell my skin

if she is black or if she is purple.

My fingers have found a knot

in my neck. I rub it out tonight

and find a walnut under my flesh

in the morning. This is love:

a problem solved in the dark,

and rerooted overnight into a skyward

beanstalk towering,

not tame.

Its trunk is thick and its branches

blot out the light. I am transformed

into a tunnel-creature. I am mole

and mother; murderer.

But I emerge. Through the bramble

at my back I have broken

a narrow path. I watch

for awhile and soon

a rabbit comes through,

small and brown.

I could smash his skull.

He has a delicate nose,

a twitching face, a body

made for escape.

He passes by, gently

crushing berries underfoot.

I let him go. The path closes


Olivia Cole is a poet, author and activist in Chicago, IL. She recently finished a feminist science-fiction novel and started the sequel the next day. If you need her, she’s probably writing. Or eating.

Dotted Line