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

Jill Kelly

Five Encounters

Sister traveler

Second leg back from Nashville

I took the aisle next to a thin blonde my age

With a bad haircut and the reedy bones

Of nicotine and diet soda

The ancient creature at the window

Her mother moving up from Phoenix

To live with her, she said,

And the hate that pursed the daughter’s mouth

In resignation seemed as old as the Bible

And I wondered what their story was

What love withheld, what anger nurtured

In the decades between them

And I thought of my mom and all that never healed

And how I was spared the daily grate on nerve

And the need to wring out six more drops of patience

To weather the decline of a woman I’d loved too much

And tried hard to set aside

I rather liked the old bird at the window

Who helped herself to Cheetos from the daughter’s tray

Who watched the clouds and showed us scraps

Of balled-up tissues that carried some deeper meaning

She seemed all there, and perhaps that was the problem

“All there” can still mean not enough or maybe

Just enough to keep alive those ancient hurts that cling to us

That wring out all our tenderness for those we would most like to love

But cannot bring ourselves to cherish even as they fade.

Garage picnic

Driving home from the beach on Monday

I find remains of a picnic in my garage

Two coke cups, an empty sushi tray

And a thin green box that housed

One pair of handcuffs $4.99

The sushi was from Safeway

But I don’t know if they carry handcuffs

If there’s a display next to the pickles

Or down by the granola bars

It’s rained a lot this winter and I’m

Not surprised when I find wrappers

Where someone’s sheltered

From the rain, smoked, had a beer

Some Vietnam vet, some schizophrenic

Dumped on the streets by an indifferent system

Who trundles down my street seeking bottles and

Cans and a bit of dry now and then

But the handcuffs are a puzzle

Common enough in a police state like ours

But usually on the other side of the law

And there’s no place for kinky sex in my Spartan

Garage, though now that I think of it

There are two hooks in the wall

Where the ancient ladder hangs

From the rough concrete but the ladder

Holds its tongue when I ask

And I’m left wondering what you’d handcuff

To a shopping cart

Coffee with Einstein

27 or 28 he was, impossibly young

Spiffed up in his dress whites

Or so I imagine from the photos

He left of that life.

On coffee breaks my dad would sit

At a big table with a genius 30 years his senior

And talk about life.

“Ordinary things really,” he said

About coffee with Einstein

“A very nice man and kind to all of us

A regular guy, you know?”

My father didn’t see combat

Didn’t travel overseas, didn’t kill anyone that I know of.

Basic training in the wake of Pearl Harbor

And a quick wedding

Then stationed at Cape May.

What my father did there he never said

Ordinary things I expect

Only the Einstein connection of any note

Oh, and the death of his second child,

Who went for a nap and never woke up

A sadly ordinary thing to happen to

A very nice man and kind to all of us

A regular guy, you know?

Staying out of it

“Don’t let me order a drink”

The woman says to the girl between us

“I’m on medication for panic

And I can’t have alcohol”

But when the cart reaches us

And we’ve learned more than we need to know about her fears

She orders double vodka with orange juice

Hands the girl between us a zipper bag

And asks for two Oxycontin

In a voice laced with Atlanta helplessness

What’s the girl to do

The woman has 30 years on her

And the girl has Asian obedience written in the

Bowing of her head and the neatness of her jeans

It’s a long flight and when the cart comes around again

The woman orders more vodka and hands the girl the bag

And asks for two of the little blue ones

Her makeup is impeccable for all this and her clothes expensive

The zipper bag holds a pharmacy of relief

And if it were mine, I wouldn’t be handing it over

To a stranger but it isn’t mine and neither is the vodka

And I am both relieved and envious

It’s a long flight and she starts in again

I want to ignore all this

I want the girl to say no but I know she can’t

So I get up and speak to the flight attendant

Who speaks to the girl

Who puts in earphones and buries herself

In her Kindle and the addict in the window seat

Finds the call button all by herself

But the attendant doesn’t come

And she rummages in the zipper bag herself and

Whatever she takes then does the trick

And puts her out of our misery

And I think of flights years ago

When I needed a bourbon chaser for my own demons

And I don’t envy whoever is meeting this woman in Portland

We all know where we were, that first one

Third period Latin II

Dorothy West, her suit as grey as her hair,

Her hand on the blackboard

Principal Curtis stopping her in mid-correction

He’s been shot

He’s dead

Until that moment, it had all been in play

The gunfire we knew

Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Dragnet

We loved that it was fake, harmless

We hadn’t yet sent our boyfriends and brothers to die in the jungle

We were in love with the Once and Future King

And his model-perfect wife

Who had replaced Grandma and Grandpa in the White House

We didn’t yet know that the grassy knoll and whispered conspiracy

Would change the world faster than we could imagine

That this was the first of too many

That the weight of them all would push us

Into protest and rebellion and open up

A gulf and a war between us and our parents

Between those who wanted the old world

And those impatient for the new

After that Latin class they came so fast

MLK, Malcolm X, Bobby, Ohio State

That we didn’t register our surroundings anymore

When the news came or the body count rose

Or the atrocities deepened

I guess we each only get one first time

It’s not the same after that

Jill Kelly I’m a writer, visual artist, creativity coach, and freelance editor. My memoir, Sober Truths: The Making of an Honest Woman, was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. When I’m not offering creativity workshops and leading writing retreats around the country, I’m usually in my working with deep-color pastels. I live in Portland, OR, with my three cats, who do all the chores so I can be creative 24/7.

Dotted Line