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

Daniel Lassell

Chewing Cud

A llama doesn’t care about bills or deadlines

it doesn’t care about making ends meet or making momma proud

all it wants is warm weather and grain at dusk

a green pasture to graze and a friend to eat it with.

I wish I could be more like a llama

eyes that see miles into souls

you brush its coat, whisper into those banana-shaped ears

and it answers your worries

with the sound of a hum,

a meditative pulse that takes you out of body

to ancient South American mountains

where, on icebox tips and in spanking wind

you observe humanity’s absence

there—detached from the familiar

you call it good.

it makes you pause: I think I’ll stay

and dwindle my life

just a while longer.

Learning to Stand

I passed within the barn walls,

unclamped the gate to enter the llama’s pen.

what was to be an ordinary

day of filling water buckets and hay bins,

turned to be the birth of a cria.

the mother stood wide-hipped,

the others crowding around

sniffing its rear as the head emerged.

the body dropped to the floor

wet and quivering

wrestling its eyelids to behold

its inaugural sight of dusty earth and straw.

the mother turned to inhale its fragile body

those quaking bones that

had been within her 11 months.

a single hum deemed it hers—

not minutes from the womb,

the cria stumbled to stand.

its lips small and shifting in its efforts,

shivering with hips as a dog after bathing

clenching its toes to the dirt

muscling upwards,

those legs, so lengthy and feeble.

at last,

its feet flat with the earth

cloven at the angle of a mountain

its neck in a U.

I see I’m not needed.

I pass to the gravel, and

take my steps to the house.

We Have a Llama Whose Name is “James and John Sons of Thunder”

My mom named him that because she’s into the Bible. In fact, all our animals are named after biblical characters: Peter, Paul, Luke, Abigail, Hannah, Zapporah—You name it, we got it. When you live on a farm and there are lots of animals, you tend to emanate that Genesis-given role in naming them. This is what a Christian household looks like. So we named that llama James and John Sons of Thunder—and one would think it’s fitting—the way it is but two names in one llama, a mirroring of the Trinity in a lesser form. A symbol for Christ’s “fully God, yet fully man” personhood. But my brothers and I always joked it referred to his testicles: those sons of Thunder. Those sons who would bulge in the summer heat, who would sag on crisp mornings. Those sons who drove him to straddle the fence-line in pursuit of the females. And who led to his castration. That day the vet cut them out, scalpelling the sack and loosening them from their hold, my brothers and I felt sadness in our hearts—a sense of death, like witnessing a funeral. Two little orbs emerged, cupped from the heat, white like a molded sphere of dried candle wax. I watched them disappear into the woods-line. (Did you know they bounce?) The llama’s head limp from anesthesia, tongue flaccid in the barn floor dust. Now he’s just called Thunder.

I Feel Like a Cowboy

when I saddle my llama

and you take my hand—

just the two of us

wandering ancient footpaths

where I choose to inhabit

straw huts and caves

that trickle out of mouths—

I salivate when I think

of chocolate and other drugs,

those sugar-comma dreams

and toothache stings

I feel like a cowboy

when I smoke marlboros in the sunset

and wear torn jeans that chafe

dreams under skin to surface

hopes that display


this belt loop that holds hearts tight

that you string up around your neck

and back against mine

I feel like a cowboy

gun in holster, yet not for


I just like the way it looks

hung and swaying against my thigh

as you stroke my chest

I feel like a cowboy

in a western film riding

into the sun with dust curling behind

I feel like a cow

boy, when you’re around.

An Account of a Llama’s Death

Zapporah died two days ago. She was such a good llama. The way she watched over the newborn crias as they matured to adulthood. The way she guarded the herd at night against coyotes. She was so kind even to the youngest of my siblings. My father tied her body to the bush-hog and dragged her to a pit beneath the big tree at the end of our property, the family gravesite where all our animals rested. There, he cut the engine and tussled her through the snow into the hole. My brothers and I looked into the earth at her stiffened bulk, already losing wool. She was ripe with age, and had outlived many younger than her. She was full-blooded Chilean after all—one of the last imports before the open trade stopped in ’88. We had long hoped against this day. We shoveled dirt to blanket her from the winter. Clouds rolled on the horizon to drag a cold front in.

Daniel Lassell is the poetry winner of the 2013 William J. Maier Writing Award, and has been featured in several publications, which include literary journals such as Steam Ticket, Future Cycle, Penduline, riverrun magazine, Pure Francis, and Haiku Journal; and anthologies such as Panik: Candid Stories of Life Altering Experiences Surrounding Pregnancy, A Celebration of Young Poets, and Overplay/Underdone. In his youth, he raised llamas on a farm in Eminence, Kentucky. Today, he lives in Huntington, West Virginia.

Dotted Line