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

Sarah Giragosian

The Man Born with a Snake Heart

“Atavism is the rare reappearance, in a modern organism, of a trait from a distant evolutionary ancestor. We describe an apparent case of atavism involving a 59-year-old man with chest pain whose coronary circulation and myocardial architecture resembled those of the reptilian heart.”

—“A Case of Atavism in a Human Being”: Abstract

Before the twinge and pain in his chest,

there were the dreams: scenes of wetlands

flooded with milkweed and cattail,

sulfur rank in the air, and mudflats

where he thrilled in secret at the sight

of a frog, wall-eyed and refulgent

beneath a sheen of bog water.

And he dreamed of his wraparound self,

bound around the bough of a hemlock

before shuddering off a ribbon of skin,

scrapping a thin ghost of himself to be lost

in the rustle of leaves. He drowses

under a copse or tests the wiry

alacrity of his body, fluent as a fist.

Later, with his chest tricked out with electrodes

and jelly-slick with a robin blue luster,

he watches the shivery green pulsation

of his heart on the monitor, while the echo

gives voice to its liquid beating,

and belly-up, he hears with his whole being

the oblique, blubbery throb of god’s ruse.

The Lioness

After the attackers leave, the lioness

finds her cub, splayed and half-gone.

She laps at his face, his breast, his haunches

with the shivery pink tip of her tongue,

mouths the crown in the O of her jaws.

She works her tongue through the lush jungle

of his veins, plucks at the muscle,

thin as violin strings,

swills the blood, grinds the fat,

sucks from the wreck

of his bones until they glint like stars,

until she eases him back into her.

Above, the vultures wait then flag, thwarted.

In the economies of death,

let there be no waste,

and if there is a witness overhead,

let my body’s strange devotions deter him.

Missed Connections


At every estuary I ask for you.

We had a laugh wading near the mangroves,

waiting for the sun to come up.

You were a pink lamp in the dawn,

a rococo pink, with a body contoured like a heron

and feathers bunched up

like flounce on a flamenco dress.

In our stretch of swamp, silhouetted tortoises

slid past us, a speck of regret in their eyes,

and you found a little knot of fish

to spoon up with your spatula bill,

trilling a riff of bullfrog-grunts

and surfacing with your mouth

fringed with fronds.

In spring, I will be skimming

across the lower latitudes,

looking out for you. Let’s not worry

about probability or the weather.

If you read this, what is the weather to us?


With the eggshell tiling of your belly draped in mud

and your immaculate scales glinting like ceramic in the sun,

you lolled (strategically?) near me, your tail,

articulate and comely, sweeping half moons

along the swamp bank. You smelled of dropworth

and mouldering larvae, and I blew networks of clinging,

bottle green bubbles across your cheeks.

You showed off your snout and curled your forelimbs

around mine; for a full minute, you and I were entwined.


I saw you blinking your wings

against the marine green finish

of a gas pressure lantern.

Pheromones and kerosene spiked

the air, and I flitted above your thorax,

stuttering against your sparked

fury (you had browned your wings

from the light, usually a yucca white).

We found dusty moth wings

pressed like flower petals

along the lantern rim, and we bolted,

returning to the moon as our frame of reference,

and beating wings as thin as confetti

against the night. Although for you,

I would balance astride the flame’s eye

and meet a night swelling with lanterns.

The Anglerfish Finds her Muse

Tonight I wake as an anglerfish,

ringing my world with light,

prowling the window sill, gutted of flies,

the bedroom’s shadowed amalgams and rifts,

its submarine and faceless blooms of mouths

and stomachs, waving tentacles and threads

that go trawling above the lure-light

that sprouts from my head,

the fatal charm that obscures me.

In a room of nose-diving lamps,

little twitching schools of fish, and you,

my broadside eyes obvert and roll inwards,

indrawn to a sleeping language,

while a squid uses its vast arms

to rope and cloak its face.

It sways, encrypted and plain

before the masked diver.

From a body, I turn to a nocturnal verb

brushing up between you and me

in a love letter written in the space between,

finally legible in our dreaming.

The Seals off the Coast of Manomet

We came upon the colloquy of seals,

effusive in their idiom of barks and coughs.

Some speak with an inquisitive inflection

as if to ask, How does this relate

to what we were talking about?

And how do we respond in turn

to these creatures draped and lolling

along the razor-edged rocks,

their skin lustrous in the damp air,

while others stipple the distance

with their bobbing heads?

They shimmy off the ledges

when they see us or are phlegmatic

and sloe-eyed, like a Degas nude

in her chaise lounge. One bull heaves

a belly as big as a kettle drum

up onto a slab, his neck receding

into the wrinkles of his scarved fat

as he bellows to us, probing our reasoning:

How could these marvels be refuted?

Sarah Giragosian is a PhD student in 20th-century North American Poetry and Poetics at SUNY-Albany. Her work has been published in such journals as Crazyhorse, Copper Nickel, Able Muse, and Measure, among others. She is also a co-editor of the online literary journal Barzakh.

Dotted Line