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

Phoebe Reeves

Every Petal

The roses in the pitcher open

their gradient of desire.

My flesh blooms, too, and I travel

its gradations: fulfillment,

need, silence. The white

at the height of the curve, what

comes after speech.

After petals come

loose in the hand.

Without the fruiting

body, the red hip

violent against winter’s

shushing monochrome, tart and disdainful.

Muscle, also pink,

also loosening, clenches

its last bud. Releases its last bloom of blood.

What We Don’t See When We Witness

Twice, I sang with nine other women,

all older than me, beneath the shadow

of the stage, behind the orchestra’s last row.

The bassoons, the fourth violins, the harp.

Just back and above I could hear the feet

rustling and thumping down. Titania,

Bottom, Puck, the pas de deux, the local

ballet school girls all dressed

as tiny fairies—I would see them after,

leaving with their parents, cheeks flushed like

the flowers they were supposed to be.

Three hundred dollars was enough

to take the train up and stay in my old

bedroom, regress in age and occupation,

be the chorus girl again, without spot

lights, in matte black like stage hands,

singing only a small part while the story’s

feet in worn pointe shoes tattooed its

old tune behind me, in the lights.

Three years ago this winter J took E

to the emergency room, late and in the

cold dark of old December, two days

back from their honeymoon. Her breath

came short in the car, shorter, and he

left her at the bay doors to park the car.

No E when he ran back, no breath.

Just the halogen lighting and the scrubs

and the obscene gift shop.

Was it looking back or not

that lost Orpheus his wife?

I never knew any ballet better than

the one I never saw.

Atomic Oneiromancy

We see the bomb in the distance, knowing

the radiation comes. We can’t

just crawl into a lead-lined refrigerator like Indiana

Jones, and come out adjusting our fedoras.

First, nausea. Weariness, blurred

eyesight. Then, the dreaded hair

on the pillow, coming loose at the root.

The cells of the stomach and intestines

slough off like a glove peeled

inside out. Can’t eat, can’t drink,

veins thin under skin like dry

river beds. Isn’t that far enough

to go?

Or is it worse to live past the present

crisis, to imagine all our little half buried

codes clicking on in the genome,

like land mines waiting for the pressure

trigger, precious inheritance

passed down for generations, all

the rigors of natural selection

switched on at once as we

flick the light on over our heads,

and watch it rain down, alpha,

beta, gamma, the alphabet

of our unmaking. If not this,

then something else.


All enzymes are catalysts, therefore they battle entropy.

You enter the house enumerating your domestic sins,

trying not to envy the dancers jumping high in their entrechat—

remember, their toes look like hamburger.

During the entr’acte they shoot up their feet with Novocain and cry.

Such is beauty.

You get all entangled in the entourage of your insecurities,

but the pruned redbud trees are never too mangled

to put out the tiny cilia of their good looks come March.

You are not entitled to any more entropy than the rest of us.

Pause. Make your entrance.

Entertain the guests. Envelop them in your hearty

goodwill. Enunciate their names, making eye contact.

They will remember how you reached out your hand,

your enthusiasm for their chatter.

It’s better to find comfort in their enthrallment, the canapés,

the gossips picking through the absent players’

entrails, than to be on stage, ensnared in the one spot light,

waiting for your partner in the pas de deux.

He’ll never show.

There’s only the entreaty of the crowd and the ensuing silence.

The creak of the worn wood boards.

Did you think your waiting would entrance all these

entrenched carnivores? You’re an entrepreneur in a desert,

a seamstress in a nudist colony, a chauffeur

in an automobile museum, a museum on the moon.

You are entombed in your own environs

and your patrons applaud when you fold down,

fetal, under the sodium lights, and press your entire body to the stage.

Phoebe Reeves earned her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College, and now teaches English at the University of Cincinnati’s Clermont College, in Southern Ohio. Her poems have recently appeared in Versal, Third Coast, Quarterly West, and Memorious. Her manuscript, Helen of Bikini, was recently named as a finalist in the Sarabande Books Kathryn A. Morton Prize, and a semi-finalist in the Waywiser Press Anthony Hecht Prize.

Dotted Line