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

Lisa Zerkle


Our billions begin

as cell knit to cell.

We’re always


to something

else. A stacking

of cosmic bricks.

Ancient shells

over time

become limestone.

This graphite

scratching words

at the tip

of a pencil.

This diamond

for the bride.


come together

to be stable. How

do you name

their need

to settle? They level

like clouds

spark to ground,

like lungs release

breath. We’re

half carbon,

the stuff

that straps together

the universe.

Vigor or structure

in every living

thing. We’re

buttoned one

to one, all bound

to earth. Energy

can’t be made

or destroyed, only

changed, one form

to another. Leaves

part from trees,

molder into dirt,

rise again to leach

sugar from sunlight.

Without breath,

we’ll burst

into leaf, once


from this bone

and flesh.

The Definition of Friction

Two bodies so close. To move, one body

must overcome inertia. It’s easier to keep

still. A force resists. A daughter

leaves her mother. She packs

a small shoebox full of clean

underwear, stomps her way to the top

of the street before returning. A few years later

the daughter runs to the woods, stays

until a thorn pierces the bare arch

of her foot. It’s the constant battle

with momentum. Once bodies move,

they tend to keep on

going. Slide a key across a table, friction

stops it. Maybe the key to the house. Maybe

the key to the car. Bonds form, heat

releases. The afterglow

of an open hand, its imprint rising

on her face. Look closely

at a surface that appears even—

it’s rough, pocked with microscopic

hills and valleys. Tires slap against blacktop,

the rougher the surface the more the friction.

A physicist says someday

our levitating cars will zip

from coast to coast by little more

than a touch. How much will be enough?

The touch of a mother’s lips brushing

her baby’s dreaming eyelids? A balled

fist, breath released from a sigh? For now,

it takes gallons of gas

to get the hell out, to escape

the pull of air, of wheels on the road.

Delmonico’s, At the Turn

Bernhardt orders bisque. She really wants

a nod from Tesla, the fair-eyed inventor

just back from Paris. It’s hopeless,

he’s given up sex for science. Not

to mention his aversion to germs, ladies’ curls,

pearls. Each night before he dines, he shines

the already spotless knives with spotless linens.

In the satin-lined dining room, fellow patrons

choose alligator pears from Peru, steak Hamburg,

pommes frites. Mirrored walls reflect kidskin gloves,

lavish plumes, and the silver chandeliers’ new wattage

gleaming gold on mahogany. Over Maryland terrapin,

Twain tells how in Tesla’s lab he was electrified, hair

a shaggy nimbus, fingers tingling. New energy! he extolls,

predicting Tesla’s patent will be the most valuable since

the telephone. After supper, they’ll stroll one by one

through the garden at Madison Square, soft leather shoes

leaving impressions in the gravel paths. But now

Astor and Vanderbilt polish off the Baked Alaska.

The New Century editor takes note. Bernhardt

bats her eyes over a cold bowl.


An inventor’s job is to lay the foundation for those who are to come and point the way.

—Nikola Tesla

Given to visions, Tesla

has seen the air around him

filled with tongues of living

flame. Accosted by the ticking

of a watch, the dull thud of a fly

alighting, it’s hard to still

his thoughts. He walks, as a friend

suggests. Fresh air. The riverside

park in Budapest. The February sun

wheels towards horizon, setting

the Danube aflame. As the sun slides

to light another sky, Tesla lifts his arms,

quotes Faust to his friend, The glow

retreats, done is the day of toil. In a flash

he sees a wheel of power. One

current fades, another blooms.

A dynamic orbit, an endless loop

of energy. Grabbing a stick, Tesla

sketches in the sand, this, his perfect

motor. No more will men be slaves

to hard tasks. My motor will set them free.

(Oh Tesla, this success will leave you

penniless, without love or family.)

Soon, he’ll make his debut

at the Chicago World’s Fair—energy

passing through his body until his suit

seems to emit fine glimmers or halos

of splintered light. How his mind,

his brilliance, shines.

Lisa Zerkle’s work was featured in the Nimrod and in Press 53’s Spotlight anthology. Her work is forthcoming in The Ledge magazine, Charlotte Viewpoint, and has appeared in poemmemoirstory, Crucible, Main Street Rag and Literary Mama, among others. She has served as President of the North Carolina Poetry Society, community columnist for The Charlotte Observer, and co-editor of Kakalak. Heart of the Light, her first chapbook, is available from Finishing Line Press.

Dotted Line