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

Brittney Corrigan

Stellar’s Jay the Week of the Boston Marathon Bombings

The young cat whose life I saved carries

a Stellar’s jay in his mouth, the blue

form limp on either side of his jaws.

He runs, tail bristled and tabby fur

a wild, brown streak into the azaleas.

The red of the azaleas, the blue of the bird

almost beautiful—until the jay’s mate

dives after them in a cacophony

of grief and bravery and alarm. And now

a ghost-jay settles on my shoulder:

I am in part responsible for this rending.

Some woman births the murderer.

The shooter. The bomber. The one who

shatters lives like a shockwave pulsing

from his center as he walks into this classroom,

that theater, this crowd. Maybe someone

tried to save him. Maybe someone tried

to patch him up, fed him a good meal,

raised him up into this world with her hands.

She would still run to him now, still gather

him into her arms, rock him like a child—

no matter what is lashed to his chest.

No matter what he has done. No matter

what he still may do.

My young cat is just a cat. He is supposed

to hunt. He is supposed to take lives

daily, licking his snout and preening his fur.

But on this day, my heart presses wildly

at the walls of my chest as the jay-mate whirls

and paces the air. Screeching. Crying.

Somewhere below him in the azaleas

the she-bird is broken open by a creature

I tended and released. Somewhere behind

him in the trees the little jays call from their nest:

their blue mouths open. The blue sky

falling all around them through the leaves.

Falling Teeth

My daughter, five, seesaws her first loose tooth—

small, slick finger hooking, tongue pressing at the new,

larger tooth blooming behind. Excitement lifts

from her face like spores into wind, alights on everyone

she tells her secret to. We lean together, imagine

what the Tooth Fairy must do with all the teeth.

Her Fairy—surely pink-gowned, awash with glitter,

bedecked with wand and bells—shapes jewelry

and studs her combs, collects teeth in rows of dainty boxes

decoupaged with flowers, padded in velveteen.

My Fairy is more twigs-in-her-hair fay—barefoot,

dark-haired, shimmering limbs circled in vines. Winged

and sounding like autumn in dappled sunlight, flourished

with birds. She revels in the macabre, grinds teeth to powder

to rub into her skin. Teeth dangle everywhere: a many-looped

necklace quivers at her breast, clattering wind chimes entangle

in her garden. Teeth nestle with tree roots and mouse-bone

filigree to form the arcing mosaic around her door.

My pixie-haired girl-child wiggles and worries the tooth,

first with constant attention, then gradually without

notice. She draws elaborate castles with her left hand,

one right finger working the tooth as it teeters and clings.

After the mother-loss moment of disbelief that my daughter

is old enough to lose a tooth, I go back to the horrific

and raw. They come often, the dreams of falling teeth.

Teeth crumble en masse, or drop out in slow motion,

one by one. Or I touch them and they peel from my gums,

slip through my fingers, tumble down and away.

Dreams of falling teeth, common, are always

about fear. Aging, uglification, survival, what

we reach for—devoured. My daughter at the table,

colors spreading out before her in wild, bright lines.

I can hear the Fairy’s breath as she hovers

nearby, stalking her next pebbled prize. Whether

rose-satined or mossy-toed, it is all the same. She took

mine, she’ll take my daughter’s, she’ll take mine again.

I smile to taunt her, pass my tongue over each firm stone.

Root in as she shifts her gaze. She jangles coins

in her pocket, choosing what she’ll leave behind.

My daughter holds up her drawing, wobbly tooth flashing

as she grins, and the sunlight from the window filters through.

Not Burning Down the House

First the smolder, then the catch. The scorch

and blaze. A bloom of fire: orange

and the flickering blue. Floorboards raise

their splinters like hackles, enkindle

and morph into torch. Shingles incinerate; their ashes

lift into the air like pale ghost-birds. Doors detach

from their hinges, fall into bright peals of flame.

Windows throw shards at the walls. Stairs collapse

and dangle like broken limbs.

Look what could happen.

Arrow-shaped thermostat buttons entrance

our son, tempt him to lean in and press while

we are elsewhere with our attention. The temperature

climbs to 90 while we are away at work and school.

Hours later, we ascend the stairs into a push of heat,

throw the windows wide, find the remains

of the thermostat charred to the wall, burn marks

spidering black against the still-standing room.

And again, months later, the forgotten toaster oven

elements continue to redden and glow. Crumbs

of breakfast cook all day down to delicate carbon husks,

an adjacent cord melts and destroys the radio, the stench

of smoke lingers in the thickening air. The kitchen

sits back on its haunches. Does not bother to ignite

and spread its molten crackling through our rooms.

Blinks its eyes at us slowly as we walk through the door.

Breath-catching, how we were so careless, and so

spared. We could have come home to a steaming

wreck. All of it ablaze and then extinguished. All

of it scalded and soaking. All of it gone.

The dog, confined upstairs in his crate: plastic

seared onto his white-brown fur, singe marks

from the bars against his nose. The soot-dark kitten

sleeping on our daughter’s bed: now cinders, withered

and soft. The sister-rats smothered in their tinderbox cage.

What of the quilts my husband’s grandmother

stitched from clothes worn down to scraps?

The paper on which our son first wrote his name?

And yet, we continue to leave and leave.

In the driveway, stocky green weeds shoot

through each crack. The flowering vine flings

thorny tendrils outward from our porch. Overgrown

shrubbery converges to follow us each time we turn

our backs on the house. Where we step,

our footprints wisp and shine to ember. Small beads

of flame drip from the pads of our fingers, alight

harmlessly in the street. We call back reassurances

with parched mouths. When the fires leap

from our chests, the sparks land just shy of the lawn.

Brittney Corrigan was raised in Colorado but has called Portland, Oregon, her home since 1990. She is the poetry editor for the online journal Hyperlexia: poetry and prose about the autism spectrum ( and works at Reed College. She is the author of the collection, Navigation, published by The Habit of Rainy Nights Press (2012), and a chapbook, 40 Weeks, published by Finishing Line Press (2012).

Dotted Line