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

Erin Lehrmann


“To make beauty out of pain, it damns the eyes—
No, dams the eyes.”—Dan Beachy-Quick

Wincing under the weight of the dinosaur

Six months could pass without


No word, not even a letter.

Is it dammed to hell somewhere?


Did global warming stick a straw in me,

Take it up through the puckering ozone?


1. My tongue is parched and list-less

2. My index has gone printless


Nights in a row my depths have been

Too arid to plumb.

The perpetual pinch kept

my eyes rolling in waking

but still in sleep.

Wincing under the weight of the dinosaur

Again, despite my best intentions.

I had that recurring nightmare

Again, I was making the bed and

despite my best interventions

I couldn’t smooth the sheet

Don’t catch what ails your house, they say

Studies suggest so much these days.

And so I creep up the street with a dent in my tail

Dreading the thorough woman and the zoom lens

I run in circles

I run off the page

I took that pill

I bound the way we were with the way we remember we were.


Why did they beige the building

once the color of sky?

And the hawk dives low, scattering the gulls

And the hawk dives low to whisper in my ear

                             Honey, what do you know of sky?


We wait for the ball to drop,

No, we wait like figurines

in a clay animation waiting for the ball to be lowered to us

by a hand in the sky

on a piece of orange thread.

We wait for another year to bring change

We make offerings to the calendar

And while we wait, the waves of the ocean are being drawn for us

by a diligent child scooting along on hands and knees

connecting point to the next with shaky graphite.

It occurs to me, to name it

but I dare not speak the name.

I wash my hair twice,

Lather rinse repeat

Lather rinse repeat—

Is that four times?

Is that me, reflected in the flesh of a prickly pear?

Do I escape one cactus snare just to reach for another?

It is amazing, the propensity we have to see ourselves in non-reflective surfaces.


I entered the house on a drill bit.

I entered the house and installed semi-permanent fixtures.

I entered the house to pull a drawstring close around my small life. The world puckered around it. I centered the kitchen table on an antagonistic rug and awaited chairs.

I picked this house from a list but it picked me first. There were three eyes embedded in the walls when I entered. Three out of five eyes in the room blinked expectantly, the other two gaped. I picked up my belongings and carried myself across the threshold.

I look different to myself but the house sees me. It sees my lipstick and my shame. I pretend that it’s just the wrong color lipstick but the eyes of the house raise their brows.

Two of the eyes are gray and the third is blue. The gray eyes have mile-long lashes. When I leave the house, two additional yellow eyes guard the door and the darkness.

You might feel strange in a house with eyes. You might wonder if the eyes record information about you as you drink day-old coffee. You might become aware that you neglected to clean the crack between the stove and the countertop.

But I have seen many houses. This house sees me.

“Learning to smile a certain way to disarm without appearing
vulnerable is drag. Learning to see how you are seen . . .”
—Mindy Nettifee

This too, you must own

Today I bought a dress covered in chameleons

Like Pablo, I, too, was tired of being a man

I had wandered the post-festive, already consumed

Already devoured aisles

And having plucked the drooping,

Crepe-paper-after-the-party from the wall

It swelled like a second-wind balloon, it

Transformed on me playing dress-up

I traded up for chromatophores

I see how I am seen and raise the world $29.98-plus-tax

Of forest green chiffon

Now feel drops coming:

Turn slick water-beaded yellow.

Feel psychology buzzwords fletched and flung:

Turn porcelain-white shoulder-to-shoulder front line, curving upward.

Feel scope zeroing in:

Turn red-ringed electric stove burner.

Feel pierced, distanced to the point of fringe, glossed-over:

Turn sequin-studded, catered-to queen.

See silver platter:

Turn flashing-in-the-hands-of-Judith.

See severed head:

Turn hydra,

Turn madman butterfly,

Turn reptile-clad iron woman.

Own the ways that you shift under gaze;

Shift gaze back with 137 scaly hooded eyes.

Erin Lehrmann, knocked out by wisdom teeth painkillers, snoozed all the way from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Baltimore, Maryland. Although she does not remember unpacking her belongings (or dropping her dresser on her mother’s foot), she very consciously chose to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art and to remain in Baltimore, where she works as a poet, painter, and art educator.

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