Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2014    fiction    all issues


Anne Rankin-Kotchek
Letter to the World
from a Dying Woman
& other poems

Sara Graybeal
Ghetto City
& other poems

Tee Iseminger
& other poems

Lisa Beth Fulgham
After They Sold the Cows...
& other poems

Mary Mills
The Practical Knowledge
of Women
& other poems

Monika Cassel
Waldschatten, Muttersprache
& other poems

Michael Fleming
To a Fighter
& other poems

Daniel Stewart
& other poems

John Glowney
& other poems

Hannah Callahan
The Ptarmigan Suite
& other poems

Lee Kisling
How the Music Came
to My Father
& other poems

Jose A. Alcantara
Finding the God Particle
& other poems

David A. Bart
Veteran’s Park
& other poems

Greg Grummer
War Reportage
& other poems

Rande Mack
& other poems

J. K. Kitchen
Anger Kills Himself
& other poems

Jim Pascual Agustin
The Man Who Wished
He Was Lego
& other poems

Jessica M. Lockhart
Scylla of the Alabama
& other poems

James P. Leveque
Three Films of Jean Painlevé
& other poems

Kelsey Charles
& other poems

Therese L. Broderick
& other poems

Lane Falcon
& other poems

Ricky Ray
The Bird
& other poems

Phoebe Reeves
Every Petal
& other poems

David Livingstone Fore
Eternity is a very long time...
& other poems

Tim Hawkins
Northern Idyll
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
On the Pillow Where You Lie
& other poems

Joey DeSantis
Baby Names
& other poems

Cameron Price
Every Morning
& other poems

David Walker
Sestina for Housesitting
& other poems

Helen R. Peterson
& other poems

Kelsey Charles


He told the story like eating soup,

hot soup that steamed boiling

fresh from the stove, and we watched,

listened as he blew languid on each word

to cool it for our consumption.

“You’ve lived such an interesting life,”

I said, I hovered in my admiration, waiting

for him to continue. But he stopped,

told me my life was just as interesting

and smiled knowingly.

He went back to his soup. I hung

on his words waiting for resolution.

Paris, stolen kiss, the graveyard,

the subway, the walk, the loss and escape

from commitment. By the end,

I was full. I knew the meat was in the telling.

Fishing with Teddy

The man could not keep quiet as he cast his line,

pulled it back in, and cast it again without regard for finesse.

Teddy said, “I don’t understand why the damned fish

don’t like my bait.” I didn’t tell him they never had a chance to see it.

I offered to bring beer, but Teddy brought whisky—

“there’s no point in half-assing it.” It being getting drunk.

I imagine for Teddy fishing was a mythical romp of triumph

over the small brained swimmer, ending with a feast of his foe.

There was no waiting. Teddy didn’t wait. For ten minutes he yo-yoed

his line in the water, never letting it rest. He asked “Are there

fish in this river? I don’t think they’re there.” And he fidgeted:

crossed his legs, stood up, sat down, stretched an arm, formed a fist.

When he put down his rod, I knew there was trouble.

He went between the trees and broke off a branch the size of a bat.

I ducked as he took a few swings and argued when he stripped his pants.

He waded in like a hungry bear, and finally was still. Five minutes.

I jumped when the splash came, I hadn’t seen him move,

but Teddy swung away and the fish flopped on the bank

beside me, a wounded enemy brought low.

“Gut it, let’s eat.” Teddy commanded. I complied.

Ten Miles Away

We ate more than our stomachs could handle

that night as we sat with my Dad’s friends

I’d only just met, but the pots still over flowed with meats.

The sausage and bratwursts, the steaks and lamb

tenderloin, the pork chops all remained. The fried

potatoes, the creamed corn, long skinny beans, and

bits of carrot, we couldn’t finish. But they smiled

as I fell out of my chair, too heavy for legs.

And we rested outside, on the porch, the nylon chairs

sagging. I gazed at the fields without end until

the clear Kansas night fell. And they told me

the land was so flat you never knew the horizon,

that my eyes would break before I saw the end.

And there was a storm that night, but we were dry,

watching lightning spring from the sky ten miles away,

soundlessly illuminating the clouds in the dark.

I dreamt I died in Montparnasse

I dreamt I died in Montparnasse,

a careening moped to the skull.

People rushed around my body

and I watched them in third person.

I was abstract, a spirit, a specter

wandering in my death, the streets

around were filled with life, and I felt

apart. Then my vision blurred

and I saw other beings, great hordes

of ghosts and ghouls about the town

strolling through the living.

The artists and musicians of Paris past

romped about, gathered together again.

In the spaces they were most alive

they returned to in their death.

Outside of Henry Tanner’s house they

beat against the gate, the lines of pilgrims

returned for comments on their work.

They huddled in the sunny shadows,

burdened with translucent canvases

clutched to keep from drifting.

The Bobino raged with crowds while

Josephine waved from a car outside.

She’d returned in her prime, showered

in illusionary ticker tape parade.

It poured from the sky and floated

down through shades of past and present.

At the St. Louis Bar that night, phantom

jazz twined with modern pop, though

neither heard the other. The bar was packed

with dead on living, both dancing non-stop.

The air kinetic, emotions of both groups

went rushing like a flood. They moved

as though their souls depended on the joy

they’d felt in their warm blood.


You lay in the field, liquor in hand,

dead with brandy for blood.

You were hard to see in the two foot weeds,

Why couldn’t you have died courteous?

The kids who stepped on you didn’t flinch,

except for the new kid

from Connecticut. He looked on

as the neighbor kids rummaged

in your pockets. Thank him

that you were picked up at all.

When the morgue man came,

he saw fourteen dollars:

you were his dinner with a coke.

He called you John, and apologized

for the bumpy ride.

On the icy tray they laid you flat,

struggled with your arms,

then left you in the freezer bank

for someone else to claim.

Go on, wait in the closet for no one.

Kelsey Charles writes poetry and fiction whenever he can. But, of course, time is finite and always seems to be escaping him. He currently teaches English Writing and Public Speaking at Beijing Language and Culture University in China where he lives with his wife and daughter. Despite living in China for four years, he is still learning Chinese.

Dotted Line