Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2015    fiction    all issues


Cover Hannah Lansburgh

Jennifer Leigh Stevenson
For Your Own Good
& other poems

Marianne S. Johnson
& other poems

Kate Magill
Nest Study #1
& other poems

Karen Kraco
& other poems

Matt Daly
Beneath Your Bark
& other poems

Paulette Guerin
& other poems

Hank Hudepohl
Crossed Words
& other poems

Alma Eppchez
At the Back of the Road Atlas
& other poems

Jim Burrows
At the Megachurch
& other poems

Rachel Stolzman Gullo
& other poems

Yana Lyandres
New York Transplant
& other poems

Heather Katzoff
& other poems

Tom Yori
& other poems

Barth Landor
What Is Left
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
Never So Still
& other poems

George Longenecker
Polar Bears Drowning
& other poems

Ben Cromwell
Sometimes a Flock of Birds
& other poems

Robert Mammano
the way the ground shakes
& other poems

Janet Smith
Rocket Ship
& other poems

Gina Loring
& other poems

J. Lee Strickland
Minoan Elegy
& other poems

Toni Hanner
Catching the Baby
& other poems

Robert Mammano

the way the ground shakes

or the holes in the walls

where you would be able to see the guts of the house

if the house had guts.

it makes good sense that our limitations are so

tight around our cute little necks

and our ambitions are knick-knacks

collected on end tables

sit for years and are eventually

thrown outdoors to get turned over

ashes to ashes junk to middens.

daylight from citrus oil

lampshimmer tomorrow,

the crunchy foot prints on the flash frozen grass

the architecture of the water structures that come

                                                 out of your sigh.

                          I’ll watch till there is nothing to see,

            let my fingers linger in your hair—

shivering whispers sew the buttons on the morning

the intrigue has been woven and fastened like this

for as long as the deep sky went blue

and blue to true and just, just

out of reach, your skin, so soft just under—

how do our weak wonders rest

their troubled feet and great heavy heads?

the steady lonesomeness lovely

almost passing as longing.

the fever climbs about cloud cover high

and stolen away

                          a bit longer you must.

look at all them letters

all the damned things flitting about,

blustering and flummoxed

colliding and colluding!

just outside this window

on all the awnings

squatting and cosmic—

I want to talk about what holds me.

I want to talk about gravity,

the newspaper from two days ago

filled with rain stuffing the gutter.

we continue to be surprised by violins,

yell across the avenue

as if we were in a crowd.

we’re just pieces.

there is nothing but life

happening between us,

but the sky

the atmosphere

and beyond our weather,

the whole mess.

consciousness is such a delicate accident.

stars don’t cross .

two lines

expressed in tons

of wood, gold, and concrete

for twenty centuries.

“and by the way thanks for that”

half-assed over the shoulder disputes

lobbed like a split pomegranate in parting

we were in the kitchen cutting onions

and someone came in

we pretended we were at our wit’s ends

that strange region where men weep

a tangle of ropes

the path of least resistance is atrophy

sometimes decisions waiting to be made

make themselves

evaporate opportunities

and inaction knots an expiration


living past tense

all the moments of knowing

you wanted everything changed

line up like constellations

flickering moot way way up

and I trace these stubborn lines

‘look a seed

a bulb, a tuber’

back toward the last times I wasn’t myself

those nights

when who knows who circulated

through the little back alleys

and sloppy veins

crocheted byways

underground amateur astrology

root structures drunk moon shine


I still find a stray hair

here or there

a polka dotted sock

when my underwear drawer is almost empty

and how many years since that smile glinted

you won’t remember

the handkerchief situation isn’t half as strange as it seems

because this contraption scratches

tilt your mouth

and what voice chooses

come clean for once

bones after the flesh has rotted away

a wolf big black bird with hunger

a feather       a hair     a plume of smoke

we’ll go on and on

wondering how 2 people in complete agreement

could argue so long

“I’m not lazy       I just don’t see the point”

imagine if we picked any direction

and just went

but sometimes these directions loop

5 years in circles

there used to be formulas for these sorts of things

out of boredom

something pretty is molded

with my preachy voice

that clears out subway cars

mind the gaps

how many “well             the names aren’t important”

until the names disappear and the places follow

leaving dull skeleton stories waltzing around

I’m 2 stepping this 3 step dance

“my first love was a boat”

independent thought like buoys suspended

rope worn round the wrists and ankles

like cheap juvenile jewelry

lately through this strange irrelevant term

seems all my thoughts fall about

neither here nor there

I’ve been thinking about people living in their heads

I like imagining them miniature

pulling down eyelid curtains a warm glow still behind

I wonder how they’d leave if they wanted to

I know it’s fancy but I’ll bet the ants still get in

maybe through chimney ears

and march their numbers along the skull’s walls

a few resolutions ago

Nothing is set

run around and around

New Year’s eve

we’ll drop our own ball.

I’ll try not to play the accordion.

My sweet, what?

I am almost out of space.

Oh what wonderful geese you have, ma’am

and what a sigh.

Even the mailman gets a raise

and here I am still jobless,

a big green apple.

She left last night

and they’re all praying for you

green peppers . . . green peppers.

Cross the ‘i’s and dot the ‘t’s

let them talk about despicable so-and-so’s

and we’ll throw in an orange wedge with our two cents.

Read it to me in your real voice.

Let us send messages on rays of light—

No, no, give me primitive construction any day

tic-tac fingers and swollen pulleys.

“Ain’t no rest for the wicked.”

a post-modern post-script:

Nothing is set

We moveable parts.

Run around


and I breathe deep.

Robert Mammano was born and raised in New York City. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English/Creative Writing from SUNY Geneseo in 2009. He has spent the last few years wandering around the United States, working odd jobs, and writing as the mood strikes. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon, where he is enjoying the natural wonders of the region every chance he gets.

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