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

Abigail F. Taylor

Never So Still

See this wire-boned boy climbing

to the mangoes? Papi below

sings—Oh Dusty Venezuela!

Picked fruit falls to his blistered feet.

He bites into it, peel and all.

Ruben eats in the tree. Sublime

juice tickles his wrists. He, aglow

with Papi’s New World tales, clumsy

in an old half-toothed mouth, retreats

to dreams: America! Baseball!

Papi taught him this, to throw fast

and hard. To love equally so.

Ruben, at sixteen, poor, tired,

and yearning, sent to shore to play

the game. To honor frail Papi,

who died between his first and last

crash into home plate. There were low

years when he fought to inspire

the song of himself in bad ways,

and listless days were choppy

with old promises. Then Ruben

swallowed up his grandfather’s soul,

became that man of effortless

joy. And he loved so vibrantly.

He had a son and was happy.

I met him in the taste of sin.

His cross pressed to my breasts. His bold

grin and my paid for recklessness.

I miss our spare talks, privately

passed like school notes, that were sadly

never enough.

At Ruben’s wake, his son sat quiet

and lonely in the front pew. He

marveled at the rosary breathed

into his father. I wanted

to say, he was never so still.

While the Streetlamp Listened

She took

his callow face

and tipped it, nearly kissed

in the sacred glow of night. But

dawn came.

                                      And he

                                      felt her age press

                                      into forbidden fruit

                                      and her husk of wine-dark hair. The

                                      lark sang.

Wichita Falls

Can you remember dawn’s dreary mist

as it curled and settled into the trees?

Autumn had a peculiar way of falling before leaves.

There are no loons on this side of the world,

but I think of their hallowed calls

fighting against a separate, peaceful cold.

She had paid for a cabin far off the road;

a hope of stitching back together a loveless

marriage she herself had caused to unfold.

But you and I found comfort in pitching camp

beneath a dripping candled moon.

Do you think that he returned to her arms

that night, their faithless kissing as joined up writing

or like that morning mist hugging brittle bark?

Perhaps they stayed as distant as the loons.

Either way, we woke with dawn.

Our dog, the only one to grin at such an hour,

rutted through pine needles, then leaped

into the thicket, while wind chimes

took on the beat of unseen hooves.

We, as children, were never allowed to stray.

It was the duty of grownups to strangle themselves

in the undergrowth of wayward passions.

Still, we followed the dog.

Despite the light, all of it slept:

The brambles. The hollied hill. The pale red robin.

Only the beck spoke over moss and stone.

We found the dog laying at the water in lazy company.

These fawns and young bucks, not quite into their points,

drank with caution.

As we called out, our echoes shepherded the deer

to distant corners, while the dog bounded to us

and licked flashes of bare skin.

He took a way back to the dark cabin

beyond the trees.

You pressed last night’s coals to new tinder

and we tried to scramble eggs on a dry skillet.

A good fire had been made by your hands,

but breakfast turned brown, improved only

by a dashing of salt and the clear air.

He stepped onto the closed off deck.

His eyes blank against the breeze,

so remarkably outside the man we knew.

He saw us and dissolved into a familiar face,

then returned inside to prepare something better

than what we had eaten.

Do you remember how we spoke like this was home?

Our souls slumbered there with cold pine and warm fire.

We understood the dog’s contentment to roll in sweet mud,

follow the deer, and ignore the shrillness of women in winter.

At peace in the wandering.

And you told me the cabin had a design like jazz.

Frozen in marrow. Harsh and vibrant.

Had I known then how to tell you the rhythm of this wood,

I would have shared everything.

Abigail F. Taylor is a North Texas Poet published in Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, and Sixfold. She worked as the script editor and assistant director to Raptor Ranch, a gore-comedy now known as The Dinosaur Experiment. You can visit her on the web:

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