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

Michael Fleming

Waiting in Line at the Liquor Store

That look we exchange in the liquor store—

it’s all right there: shame, defiance, oblivion,

the love we’ve been denied. Let’s ignore

the voice of the village scold, let’s not give

ourselves up to the perp walk, flashing red lights

in the rearview, the deputy’s soft knock

in the middle of the night, screaming fights,

the drunken uncle whose wine-crazy talk

ruins everything. I guess I agree: booze

leads to madness, sometimes in those who drink

and always in those who don’t—those who choose

to scorn the devil’s alchemy. But think

of it: money turned to spirits, America’s

hardest-fought dollar in exchange

for song, friends, poetry, moments without care—

the loving cup, the lifted chalice, strangeness.

Don’t I know you from somewhere? Wasn’t I

that apeman in the cave of magic berries—

and you that apewoman wandering by,

she who grunted, Fancy meeting you here?


They wanted the coal. They knew they could sell

the coal because everyone needs fire, so

they built the town nearby, and all was well

until fire crept into the seam beneath

their feet, rising like the hand of hell

to take back everything they’d made. A wreath

of smoke arose, just wisps at first, encircling

their homes, their schools. The fire was something seething

and obscene in the earth’s belly, lurking,

unseen. There was nothing they could do.

For years it smoldered, relentlessly working

its way—sappers beneath their walls. Few

families were spared the sickness, the failure

of human will to stop what is too

big to stop, can never be stopped. Centralia’s

people, places, everything—

                                                         She turns away,

takes the remote, hits mute as he inhales,

then she returns her gaze to the cold gray

fire of the TV. God, everything’s so—

she whispers through tears. Exhaling, he says

Let’s see what else is on. I hate this show.


Not: I’m so sad, but: I forgot my keys

again. Not: I know I’ll always miss you,

but: this food has no flavor. Not: oh please,

God, bring her back, but: I wore the wrong shoes.

And people continue to speak, they say

it’s a beautiful day, quite unaware

that beauty’s been revoked, mindless that May’s

the same as December, that nothing’s fair

and nothing matters, that jokes might as well

be Chinese. Their laughter is dust, their pain

is dust, everything’s dust. Forecast for hell:

rain. Whatever. Forecast for heaven: rain.

St. David’s Head

In my defense, as I would later tell

myself, I was weary, footsore, alone.

I had no map—but no matter. The Welsh

moors, the Irish Sea beating on the stones

a hundred feet below—who needs maps? I

would take no rest, I told myself, until

I reached St. David’s Head, and then I’d lie

on the grass beside the path, have my fill

of the wine I’d brought to help me admire

myself for arriving—the end of the world.

I conjured ghosts of murmuring druids, choirs

of angels as luminous as schoolgirls

to greet me, sing my song. But every time

I reached the farthest headland, there would be

another, still farther ahead; the fine

spring day reproached me, mocked me. After three

such defeats I finally lost heart and let

myself collapse beside the path and chew

my onion vanities, watch the sun set

into the sea, drown in sour wine. In due

time I stood and stretched and watched a gull

hop effortlessly into the headwind,

hovering there in flightless flight, the pull

of gravity poised against the relentless

push of wind. And then I saw the trick—

the path bore right. The rocks I’d seen ahead—

an island. But here was where banshees shriek

at fools who’ve been here all along—St. David’s Head.

Jubilee Blues

Anguish and grief, like darkness and rain,

may be depicted; but gladness and joy,

like the rainbow, defy the skill of pen or pencil.

—Frederick Douglass

The books were all about November—dying

light; brown, withered leaves; black ink on white

paper; words to call the colors. And I

was sure I understood. By candlelight

I read about despair, and understood.

I read about freedom, too, and of love

and the words for its colors, and I could

recite those words. What did I know? Above

the wharf, above the masts, above the smoke

and stink and roaring might of New York, I

saw the sky for the first time, and the docks

were alive with free men in blue; the sky

was blue beyond my words, beyond my books—

I laughed with the men, and began to cry.

Michael Fleming was born in San Francisco, raised in Wyoming, and has lived and learned and worked all around the world, from Thailand and England and Swaziland to Berkeley, New York City, and now Brattleboro, Vermont. He’s been a teacher, a grad student, a carpenter, and always a writer; for the past decade he has edited literary anthologies for W. W. Norton.

Dotted Line