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

Lawrence Hayes

Searching for God in Vietnam

—after Laura Palmer


He was not in the jar of charlie ears,

not in the napalm dropped by the ton.

Not in the eyes of the forest or in the killing fields,

not in the land mines looking for limbs.

Not on the hills taken and then given back,

not in the poker game bet with young blood.

Not in the colonel’s body counts,

not in the journalists’ six o’clock scotch.


Instead surely God was huddled

with all the young nurses in Chu Lai,

receiving the broken bodies

one by one, earth’s staunch

stunned angels taking in

the endless train

of stretchered flesh,

the incessant incoming dread,

their soft firm hands and quivering

hearts tending to the blasted

beautiful ones

who would never be whole

or nineteen again.

The nurses worked daily

caked in blood and disbelief,

sometimes prayed out loud

for the bleeding to stop,

or for the dying to live.

And there were the times

they rushed quickly to the scaredest ones,

boys become broken men become

boys again in the end

begging for their mommies,

looking for a last hand to hold.


And at night, off shift, exhausted

and finally surrendering to sleep,

some of the nurses dreamed

of their hearts as lone candles,

then as fast-melting wax,

then the molten wax morphing

into the disfigurement of flesh

they handled each and every day,

then the dream suddenly shifting

to a fire outside

on a busy street in downtown Saigon,

the Buddhist monk a human torch

as he sits in his orange robe

in full lotus a few feet from the gas can

impossibly still inside his prayer

as his body burns

and his eyes stare cold

and the world looks on

in full daylight


the monk’s final gift

a silent song of God’s rage

at what men do to men

every day in an ordinary war.



At dusk we come

to the small dark pond

at the edge

of these winter woods

to pour our cups

of tears and rage

into the very face

of God,

that cold black


that remains


and dark

and waiting.


Tell me

how do you parse

pure evil,

twenty little children

cut down

like so much fodder,

all our sweet ones

who won’t ever

rise again

to greet us



on tip toes,

so glad

when we come home?


Will our hooded eyes

ever see beyond this muddied

veil, believe again in the sweetness

of gospel or grace,

feel anything again

outside this black granite fossilizing

one cold layer of the heart?

And can we ever hope

to empty ourselves enough to receive

the lost benediction of silence,

this quiet necklace of tears

we will touch and trouble

like a dark rosary the rest of our days?

Will our spirits someday return

to the ancient healing forest

that dreamt us once

in a place outside of time,

before we were born

into this fetal scrabbled light

as something human,

before memory,

before sorrow,

before breath?

Will the soul finally wake somewhere

brighter one day in time to join

the lit wing of the egret

banking at daybreak

just above the swamp,

white bird lifting

through a sky so blue it hurts.

Winter Climb

This day

a clear blue ship

I climb the fresh

powdered mountain,

stand after stand

of virgin white birch,

some with their hair

pinned to the ground,

bent as if in weeping.

Halfway up,

in a small striped maple,

sewn to a lower branch

a little snow-peaked nest,

twig-weave of field hay and moss.

Inside I find

two tiny white scrolls,

curled parchments

of thin paper birch.

Gloves off,

I anxiously

unroll them,



Rolled out in my palm

of course there is

nothing, just

the rich stain

of inner orange bark.

I’d still like to believe

in that kind

of miracle, mysterious

messages left by

dark-throated birds,

secrets sent in code

from the other side.

Hardest to hear sometimes

are the clear notes of the given,

how in an empty nest

a cup of snow shines.

Questions On The Cross

(They say they hung Christ on a dogwood cross.
I have some questions about this)

Did the builders first strip

the knuckled bark, plane

the crooked limbs true,

or was it a rough and rustic construction,

the wood still green and bleeding,

the old flower petals plastered

brown and rotting on the misbegotten bark?

And what was the joinery

that connected the horizontal

to the vertical, the sullen earth

with the broken sky?

Were the timbers tied

by the gut of some

unrisen animal,

or in the end simply pegged

by a single piece of wrought iron,

one thin pin of doubt?

Did some idiot savant

sing his cracked hymn of healing

in your darkest hour,

and could you hear it

through the jeers of the soldiers?

In those last minutes

of utter despair did you

lose yourself in dreams

of Magdalene,

how she once washed your feet

so gently, her long black hair

damp with tears

in the temple doorway?

And where oh where

was your Father,

and who cut you down

at the end?

Finally, what became

of the cross itself,

was it left leaning

caked in blood

in the mud on the mount

or in the end simply

dragged away by the

poor sorry faithful

to be sacrificed

into smaller pieces,

your final gift

a few hours of heat

and light to pierce

the all enveloping cold,

the dying coals

become risen ashes

the wind would scatter by morning?

Bowie Passing


Mere coincidence

the earth served up

that unbelievable double rainbow

over New York skies

the day of the night

Bowie died?

I doubt it.

The Thin White Duke

went out just

as he came in,

in mystery, music,

style and grace,

patiently curating

his own last act,

courageously choreographing

his end days

of trembling and fear—

Lazarus, Blackstar—

meditations on time

past and time passing,

the finity of all that is flesh,

his life a performance piece

to the very end, sweet rainbow

arcing into the blue abyss.


Every once in a while

the ineffable

gives us a clue.

You were one of them

and will always be by far

the coolest dude in the room,

the ultimate class act,

that guy up on the catwalk

in blue shoes

looking for one more dance,

one more track to lay down,

the jeweled cat collar in the sky

your final costume change, outrageous

astonishing beauty only you could pull off.

Lawrence Hayes is a writer, arborist, and deer fencer living in Pawling, NY. He studied with the poets Charles Simic and Mekeel McBride at the University of New Hampshire, where he received a Masters Degree in Poetry Writing in 1981. He has had his work published in The New York Times, Water Street Review, Aegis, and other small magazines.

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