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

Lucy M. Logsdon

How to Save Your Self

First you must pack up all

your madnesses, from noon’s pink

nightgown to evening’s vulnerable confusions,

from the green silk of drink and pills,

to fear’s dark black compulsions. Shove

their angry coils into a sturdy army surplus bag,

slide its zippered teeth shut on the banging

of your lost souls.

They’ll escape, they always do.

So ignore them when they intrude

on your ordered days. Keep your face calm

as a swollen lake, a placid mirror, a surface

that hides so much. They will rise through

the bamboo floor, seat themselves in the oak

dining chairs. They’ll bang against the stovepipe,

a trapped starling frantically trying to get out,

they’ll pummel the door like a frustrated child,

they’ll wail, You think you’re free? You think

the wind outside is a mild breeze?

Focus on the coming storm. Notice

the drops of rain already spattering.

You’ll have to move quickly,

you’ll have to decide who to save.

You can’t keep hoarding them; you

can’t keep loving them. You must

go to the basement, find the room

with the treasured candlesticks,

the generations of photos, your cow

figurines, your treasures,

and your duffel bag.

Carry it to the pond behind the house,

wait until the last of the summer geese

has left, listen for the evening killdeer,

watch for the yellow black belly of this

year’s water snake, and when the bullfrogs

start their mournful bellow, and the fireflies

began their luminescence, you must drown

all but one. Choose carefully

which madness you keep

for it will be the only one

you have to battle loneliness, to walk

with late at night when the full moon hangs

so heavy, when your heart is tired,

when you want some reminder

of all that raged within.

Beating the Boundaries

                   You have asked and asked again,

      beating nightly at my door. Clenched

fist, raised hand, questioning, insistent—

                   Why did I leave? Look at my eyes:

      corn-yellow, barn-brown, irises shot

through with dust. How can you believe

                   I’ve succeeded? In this city I exhale

      your landscape, my breath misty and fogged, hair

tangled, a bale of hay. I’ve left, and I’ve

                   left myself behind.

                   My great-grandfather slammed my

      grandfather’s palms against the farm’s

border: rock, oak, post—slammed until his

                   blood smeared across barren stone, seeped

      into old wood. Three months for his hands

to heal. My fingers are calloused,

                   lightly, at the tips. Still, I’ve memorized: This

      is the northwest corner, the granite rock.

This is the southwest, the upright row of

                   devil’s walking sticks.

                   In sleep I walk deep in your

      interior where pollen drifts

like rain, and creeks swirl with the quick silver

                   tails of minnows. I step into

      your rivers, your limerock streams, clay banks.

Who says geography is the soul?

                   I know the answer: each time returning,

      I return with nothing more than the dust

in a drowned man’s pockets. I am that dust,

                   scattering, then lost.

Those That Come Back

We are uneventful here, we who have returned:

the dutiful, the wounded, the living, the good,

the adult child. You may call us

by different names, but identify us

by the depth, the strength of our return.

Now back, we are forever here,

as rooted as the oaks and pines.

You can tell us by our patience,

the long lines of waiting in our face,

the settled air around us, the settled dust

within our homes. You can tell us

by our affinity for the winter night,

whose muffled layers soothe our memories

of other lives. We love the glazed, still

surfaces of our backfield ponds.

And yet, we try to make life

happen, to break this thick block ice

insulating us, but all we get are sharp rib pains,

labored breath, billowing across

the frozen fields.

Shades of summer birds haunt the pond;

their shadows brush the ghosts of former lives,

selves we buried so relentlessly. They’ve dug

themselves up, and dance just out of reach—

mocking . . . All that you could have been . . .

The other dead faded dreams would gather,

if they could, but they are trapped

still in their dank burial boxes,

weighted by sadness, love. Patiently,

they suffocate beneath the layers

of perpetual snow. So much lost along the way.

So much accepted, so much ground

down with the season. The drying husks,

the composting. Fat black tadpoles move

sluggishly below the pond’s ice. My life

barely moves within these bundled layers.

The years accumulate. The woodpile grows.

This winter bears down on us all.

Our houses weaken, the rafters shift,

mice grow bold in the hallways and shower,

the paint peels, and the windows loosen.

And, oh, how our parents dwindle.

They are beginning to look like distant

children, peering at the brutal landscape

fast approaching. Their tracks in the snow

grow lighter, footprints

smudged and rising.


To enclose, to hold, to wrap

around. To cradle delicately, gently,

securely. To seal for safe transport,

to shelter the message, the words

sent far away, where they would travel

for days, through the post offices of Champaign,

and Carbondale, and Des Moines, bumping

in the back of dusty trucks, falling

away from our fingers, full

of intent. Submissions sent to the west,

and the east, to the editors, to the journals,

to those cities we had read of.

How we believed in sending the message,

loudly and hopefully, into the big,

bigger beyond us. Such dreams

penned in those writings. Our landscape

one of envelopes, and typewriters, and stamps,

and return address ink pads.

How we tried to speed it all up,

now we long for the slowing down,

so typical. The nostalgia, the remembrance,

the loving only after it is gone.

The image of my lonely typewriter in the plane’s

overhead compartment—its keys hot

with those early poems of love,

and escape.

Lucy M. Logsdon lives in Southern Illinois. Her work has appeared in such publications as Nimrod, Poet Lore, California Quarterly, The Southern Poetry Review, Kalliope and Seventeen magazine. She received her MFA in Writing from Columbia University. Currently, she teaches English and Creative Writing at Southeastern Illinois College.

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