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

Alexa Poteet


I would be good for

eating, I said as we ate

barbeque on the deck.

The cooking smoke thick

in my hair, as mosquitoes too close

to the fire, singed to ash.

I imagined my tri-tip

fried over fennel. The fingernail

you’d use to work my white gristle

from your teeth, pearlescent

as silver skin strung

between ribs. Don’t be silly,

you said, holding

my wrist to lick

my sauce-salty palm, then

smiling, turning away

to suck on a buttery bone.

The House Fire,
a Year after Moving in

In my dreams, still, I remember the smoke alarms,

wailing into the night like a far off arcade.

There in the gray room of sleep, I feel embers

where my storybook slippers should lie.

I heard once about hot-coal walkers. Thrill-seekers

who toe the line between

this world and the next.

But I was not made for fire. A chair, aflame

at the end of the hall, agreed. It’s white vinyl melting

into a face, aghast.

Together, we’d assembled it our first month in the house.

You knelt on a towel and I, on the dog’s bed,

sorting screws, which allowed a joke in those days.

The L of the Allen wrench an unfinished question mark.

In my waking moments, I cannot feel

the wall of heat. Only your hand cupped

around mine as you pass me a small clink of nails.

These are sharp.

Be careful.


This is not a poem for the 115ths street Harold’s

and the men with low-slung JNCOs. Chicken in hand—strips,

sandwiches, legs. White flight. Their Chicago

is older than mine. Nor is this a poem for the crooners

that caress microphone stands like spines. The aurora-glow

and melting jazz of the Green Mill where Capone wall-eyed

both doors for the fuzz. Who respond only to the violent

calls on the weekend, now. No. This is a poem for the red womb

of the California Clipper. The icy Pago Pagos with black

cherries in the last booth back. The gang who is really

a salsa band that lives on our street. The secret Puerto Rican asocio

with one red balloon on the door, where I broke my wrist

dancing with the middle-aged boricuas on Valentines day.

Their tiny pot bellies swaying in front of the yellowing jukebox.

The city of big shoulders, but no husker. Hog butcher

tattoos. The burn of a thousand right angles against the fizzing

sodium lamps. A subway that can’t bear to be underground. A subway

that dreams. Thunders overhead and makes

my heart thalak thalak thalak.

Aurora Borealis in Tennessee

Like an egg I left in the pan too long,

my memory of you

scorched on one side.

Only certain parts are still soft,

can be bled open.

I see your lipstick, terrorist maroon,

on a bagel in Nashville.

Drunk and topless,

hand washing a silk shirt

in the ceramic blue of my bathroom.

I’ve filed you under

Things Only For The Mind

next to tube tops in Tehran,

a clean subway,

the Aurora Borealis in Tennessee.

Escobar’s Hacienda Napoles

When it was still something of this world,

there were fields of Cadillacs, Mercedes

all maroon. As if they had once been Gringo Red

but since baked to a color more appropriate

for the fourth parallel north of the equator.

Napoles was his woman,

the jewel resting on Colombia’s breastbone

between Bogotá and Medellín.

El Patron’s other mujeres only a skein, squawking

and fluttering from doorway to doorway

in the hot, vastness of the house. They sweated.

Cut slug-fat lines of gum-curling cocaina

with the iridescent B sides of CDs. Each

mound its own legend, the slight smell

and electric white of new chalk.

The best blow tastes like nails just painted.

He knew firsthand—sucked the small, glossy squares

of their fingertips between sips of Aguardiente

at the breakfast table. The pirujas didn’t stay for free, cabrón.

Everyone knew that.

Opulence is 15 hippopotami with purpling skin

in Colombia’s bone-crumbling campo;

Escobar had 300.

African ocelots lazed in windowsill wells

like overgrown housecats. The bullring,

a private airstrip—the land’s bad Brazilian wax—

the decadences bore each other. Each not to be outdone

by the last.

Don Pablo raised cast-iron dinosaurs

out of the ground one October.

Moses with money. In 1993, the federal debt

in Colombia was 17 billion U. S. dollars. Pablo Escobar

could’ve created a surplus and still been worth eight.

Though, he wouldn’t have, friend.

And yet—

to have this history told in secondhand words

makes it fiction, not fact, for the living.

Stories aren’t too good to be true,

they’re too good to be walking.

And just so, the cars’ blast-out skeletons

with their heat-chewed rocker panels

become testament. A graveyard of iron prehistorics

that remain frozen among the breathing.

Five hippos thrive, even now;

they have children of their own.

His are still alive. They sang, not read, at his mass

because F minor is the saddest key.

Today, the muse is his own mausoleum. His empire,

a museo. If you arrive,

you will be handed a perforated,

purple admissions ticket in the empty doorway.

Keep This Coupon

It will say in Webster’s English, as you thumb

its small stiffness in your pocket.

Alexa Poteet is a poet and freelance writer from Washington, DC, with a master’s degree in poetry from Johns Hopkins University. Her poetry has appeared in Reed Magazine, Lines + Stars, PennUnion and NewVerseNews, among others. She was also a semifinalist for the 2015 Paumanok Poetry Award and a 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee. She has enjoyed staff positions at the Washington Post, the Atlantic and the National Interest.

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