Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2016    fiction    all issues



Cover Carly Larsson

Sarah Sansolo
Bedtime Stories
& other poems

Miranda Cowley Heller
Things the Tide Has Discarded
& other poems

Alexa Poteet
Escobar's Hacienda Napoles
& other poems

Cynthia Robinson Young
Triple Dare
& other poems

Nicole Lachat
Of Infidelities
& other poems

Amy Nawrocki
Bad Girls
& other poems

Lawrence Hayes
Winter Climb
& other poems

AJ Powell
God the Baker
& other poems

Gisle Skeie
& other poems

Bruce Taylor
Always Expect a Train
& other poems

Ricky Ray
They Used to Be Things
& other poems

S. E. Ingraham
Storm Angels
& other poems

Laura Gamache
& other poems

Keighan Speer
It Rained Today
& other poems

Emma Atkinson
Grocery Stores Make Me Feel Mentally Ill
& other poems

Erin Lehrmann
& other poems

D. H. Turtel
Margaret, Again
& other poems

Chris Haug
Bovine Paranoia
& other poems

Kimberly M. Russo
Definitive Definition
& other poems

Holly Walrath
A Tourist of Sorts
& other poems

Angel C. Dye
Beauty in Her Marrow
& other poems

Writer's Site

Laura Gamache

Before We Call the Bellevue Police Bomb Squad

“Oh yeah, it’s definitely live.”

—Joint Base Lewis-McChord Bomb Unit

My sister pulls a white silk wad

from the box she seemed to conjure

from behind the shabby resin bench.

Under that his Marine Corps cap.

So this is where Dad kept the war

folded flat as a #10 envelope,

USMC buckle, inlaid boxes fallen

open, apart, handwriting on envelopes

that must have been his mother’s.

These boxes must have been

his mother’s. A wine-red watch box

with a fancy women’s watch inside.

Red sun Japanese flag with bullet hole,

yellow hand grenade, very small gun.

I reach my hand towards a book spine,

flinch from a second small gun.

“Let’s put this away,” Lyn panics,

stuffs back ripped shroud or parachute,

disintegrating boxes, letters from home.

I’ll tell our brother, he’ll want the guns.


For handling dry ice; for glass cutting, sheet metal work, etc.
—from Dictionary of Discards

I try on a right-hand leather glove.

It is buttery and barely too big,

pull on the left, but can’t. I’m confused,

stare at it like a stubborn child.

The left glove has a thumb, and

three fingers, like my mother’s dad,

who chopped off his pointer

with an axe, not careful enough

steadying wood on the stump.

He waggled that knob with the skin

stitched white-knuckle tight in our faces,

cautioned us cousins with his tale,

left behind this unwearable glove.

Carpe Diem

for my sister Lyn

At my kitchen counter

with tablespoons and Sharpies,

we divided our parents’ ashes

into labelled Ziploc bags.

I couldn’t do that alone,

seeing those bits of bone.

I laid out my father’s sand dollars

beside my Japanese ash-fired bowl.

They are smaller than I imagined.

Some are broken. Have I broken them?

I want more and bigger beach tender.

I want another chance.

Our parents are gone from the big rooms

of their enclosed lives,

their bitter squabbles,

their small and large sorrows and regrets.

Their shoes do not need them anymore.

Dad’s Carpe Diem sweatshirt remains

on its hanger on his open bathroom door.

I drove his bathrobe through the tunnel

and down the chute into the finality

of the Children’s Hospital donation bin.

No message echoes back

from the planet the dead flutter towards,

as they abandon us

to our pettiness and postcards,

the boxes neat beneath a rubble

of sticky dust and dread.

Do not ask for whom the wood curls

have been left across the work bench.

They are not mine, nor are the workings

of my brother’s thoughts, the voices

above and either side of him that lead him

into the caves of their improbable conclusions.

Blood stains the indent where skin curls

to nail on my thumb. I tear at myself

in this quiet way to not cry out,

my mother no longer complaining,

my father not walking away from me down the hall.


Within these covers, you may
find some use for your discard
far removed from its original purpose.

—from Dictionary of Discards

My brother, sister and I station ourselves

in front of the bunker slits on the faces

of the recycling dumpsters in Houghton.

Steve from the Boeing Wine Club

already took empty wine bottle cases,

but here we are with two cars-full more.

“I’m Zeus,” I say, after Dave Letterman

who flung fluorescent tubes

off a tall building in New York City.

I’m aiming for humorous, for light,

but the bottle misses and shatters.

Shards skitter across our feet.

Notre Dame

for Virginia Sullivan Gamache Quinn

We rode the RER to Saint Michel-Notre Dame—

same stop Bill surfaced from the first time he’d come,

American GI, World War II, a Catholic.

That view across the Seine to Notre Dame

was the same, walk across the bridge to Ile de la Cité,

this time with cane. After he stumbled, fell,

I held Virginia’s hand, our own grande-dame,

Bill her ten-year’s spouse, aprés-omelets

and croissant at the corner café near our apartment,

Rue St. Charles, Arrondissement Quinze, our first

full day in Paris. Aprés rose windows and candles

lit for loved ones gone, Navigo Decouverte passes

useful even for the funicular up to Sacré-Coeur.

Three mornings we boarded the Metro to Musée

D’Orsay to find it closed due to strike, Virginia

And Bill game for seat-of-pants plans. At Musée

Marmottan Monet beside the Bois de Boulogne

I led Virginia to what water lilies were there. Bill,

spent, leaned against a wall, but here he came.

Jim and I explored: Musée Cluny, Foucault’s pendulum,

Paul Klee at the Musée de la Musique. Rue de Mozart

chocolate shop compact as a sonatina. Macaron at Maison

Ladurée. Falafel pita at the Israeli deli opposite

the Palestinian deli in Le Marais, where a man

pulled me back from a car careening around the corner.

Every evening, Bill and Virginia took the elevator

to the alley beside the apartment to watch la Tour Eiffel’s

9 pm display. Every decade, Virginia tells me,

“You’ll love being fifty, seventy, ninety, . . .” a feather dance

where in the end no pretense is what we display.

Some year and soon I won’t have her, but for now

she’s here, and as she stoops, more dear.

Poet and Arts Educator Laura Gamache earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington in 1993, and directed the UW Writers in the Schools program from 1993 to 2003. She was a Jack Straw Writers Program fellow in 1999 and 2002. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, nothing to hold onto. Her poems and teaching essays have appeared in many print and on-line journals. Her band, Feeble Prom Date, is imaginary.

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