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

Writer's Site

Michael Fleming

To a Fighter

for Marti


I. CAT Scan

      And just what does the cat see

with his shining green eyes

      as he skulks through the dark

warm jungle of your veins?

      Let him pad silently back

to report that the wet, pulsing

      miracle somehow continues.

II. Biopsy

May the surgeon

in her spotless apron

emerge smiling

from the kitchen


I had a little look

you’re not ready

the oven’s not

even hot.


It sounds so gentle—just a light caress,

nothing intrusive, nothing rude or rough,

just a feathery touch, a lover’s kiss,

a whisper barely there, barely enough

but enough all the same—you can’t say no.

Or a light knock on your door: open it.

A nice young man, clean as a Mormon, stands

there smiling brightly and asks: How many kittens?

Puppies? Tropical fish? And he hands

you a pamphlet, a rose—you can’t say no.

Think of these things when you’re in the machine:

the brush of a heron’s wing, the soft knock

of knuckles that have never known work, clean

sheets, clean slates, clean blood. And one day we’ll talk

of this and laugh, or cry—you can’t say no.

From Dartmouth-Hitchcock

I want to tell you:

they look like they know

what they’re doing here.

I want to tell you:

the man we met today,

he’ll be a sculptor in reverse—

a poet of perfect excision.

Just the one little pea, no more.

And then we’ll go back

to West West, to wood thrushes

and red-eyed vireos and the great

blue herons rising like pterodactyls

from ponds shaded by maples.


they know how summer heals

those neatly bored tapholes

from early spring.

I want to tell you:

we wouldn’t have a damn

thing different.


By now we know a thing or two about

fire, how it quickens everything alive

or dead or flickering between, and how

to conjure it from nothing, how to give

it what it needs, and no more—just enough

oxygen, just enough life. We love fire,

love to exult in our mastery, love

to amaze ourselves with borrowed power. By

rights we would be gods. But gods, they have their

troubles, too—all that incense, all that dark

insufferable mumbling, all that rain. Why

do we put up with it? We just do. Star-

crossed, marked for the burning at birth. Pain? By

now we know a thing or two about pain.

Picture This

Do you like a beach? Okay, then, a beach—

in fact, your favorite beach, favorite because

you’ve never been to this beach before—each

sensation beckons you, opens you, draws

you in, welcomes you to your beach—the sand

envelops the bare contours of your feet,

sunshine pours over you, here, where the land

yields itself to the sea. A waiter greets

you, hands you a glass of exquisite wine,

the taste is an aria, it unfolds

itself in your throat, your belly, the line

between you and universe is gone, golden

light floods through you, heals you, holds

you, whispers everything’s going to be fine.

The Champ

The Champ is down, cold-cocked. Seven. Eight. Nine.

(      two      heads      faces      backlit      floating  in  smoke

floating  in  warm  wet  gauze     unending  wind

choirs  of  voices    choirs  of  bells    one  face  broken

one  barking    numbers   the  other  gone

the other  ) The Champ stirs, shakes, slowly rises,

staggers, steadies, blinks hard twice, unfreezes,

nods all-clear. By God, the Champ fights on,

tapping the gloves as if to strike a spark,

as if to pray (  the other  ) and the crowd

is delirious, a heaving sea of darkness

and fists, cigars and fedoras, now

rapt, now roaring, now howling like a raw

nerve, electric, as the two of them dance

the dance of circling beasts, now grappling, now glancing

blows, now thunder—by God, the Champ fights on,

unrelenting (the other) a quick left,

a right, darting jabs, starting to connect,

at last the Kid is on the ropes, a deft

feint from the Champ, dauntless on the blood-flecked

mat (the other), that bed of mortal conflict,

the crowd’s madness is love, uppercut,

the Kid’s head flies back, rock-a-shock, eyes shut,

nimbus of sweat and blood—the Champ fights on,

by God ( the other ) and the Kid is through.

Carted off. And now the ref does his shtick,

the big-mike announcer does his bit, too,

the crowd trades backslaps and greenbacks. The fix

is on, someone mutters gravely. (   gone

never gone   ) Echoes and laughter, house lights.

Janitors appear, disappear. The night

is over—and by God, the Champ fights on.

Michael Fleming was born in San Francisco, raised in Wyoming, and has lived and learned and worked all around the world, from Thailand and England and Swaziland to Berkeley, New York City, and now Brattleboro, Vermont. He’s been a teacher, a grad student, a carpenter, and always a writer; for the past decade he has edited literary anthologies for W. W. Norton. (You can see some of Fleming’s own writing at:

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