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

Kimberly M. Russo

The Home Depot

Even the inclined plane

we walk,

mirrors our journey.

Together . . . but worlds apart.

You’ve found a replacement,

Iron Man.

I am isolated,


You speak of new opportunities,


The lump in my throat,


Automatic doors offer


An immense warehouse of


Materials promise repair,


Tools for the taking,


You say, it’s my chance to

start over.

I can re-introduce myself,

sever ties.

(Like some defective product

made-over . . .

manufactured and marketed to a

top-drawer buyer.)

I am looking back, refusing to

let go.

You are looking forward, choosing

your future.

In a wall of stacked boxes, an empty niche,

Sylvia’s oven.

I pour myself inside and cover

my face.

My last visit to this “House of


left me on a short


Tethered to “experts” of

the mind

and memories of the child


With their shelves of


and crates of


what did they really


Sobbing in the presence of the


I exit through the door we entered


You pay for the filter to clear our


and leave by the alternate route.


My house survived the storm.

Damaged, undoubtedly . . .

but still upright.

Tearing through our home,

collecting seemingly random items,

an escort to oblivion.

Debris left behind . . . stacks of books

and their hopeful characters,

unshelved, displaced.

With force enough to eject furnishings,

and thorough enough

to pack your toothbrush,

You’ve left me

with the wreckage

and empty spaces.


Rolling suitcases and repurposed gift bags,

stuffed with clothes and memories.

How did we get here?

Four kids and two homes and six bruised souls.

The numbers don’t make sense to the heart.

Noted mistakes, tally marks in your mind,

engraved on my conscience

strike-over the ink of promises.

Years of shared dreams and intimate moments,

have you fled so discreetly?

I see you bleeding through the parchment

refusing to give up.

Don’t you realize, it’s too late?

The suitcases and their innocent handlers

are gone.

Definitive Definition

Keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss;

sharp sorrow; painful regret . . .

So reads the definition of


Mental suffering.

Steady weight presses my mind against the confines of my skull from the moment I wake until the moment I wake,

punctuated throughout the day by a hammer that yields ruthless force.

Sharp sorrow.

It found me below my ribcage today.

Staring at the lumps of packaged chicken, I inhaled through my teeth

and knew I could not side-step its arrival.

Painful regret.

Cooking for one is a parody of normalcy.

And not bitter, nor sharp, nothing tastes so bland

As grief.

An Unsubtle Metaphor

The pages turned, and I hadn’t tended to them ... at all ... just like the garden in the backyard. Neither of us spent a portion of our time clearing out the dried up messes, or planting new seeds, or even watering the life that existed despite our neglect. Now, the hour is late, the brittle leaves are the foundation of the plot, any recent growth withered beneath the truth of daylight, and neither of us seems able to produce a seed of hope.

Darling, Dearest,

quite neglectful,

How does your garden grow?

It doesn’t.

End of chapter.

I weeded the “garden” today — If you call a few strawberry plants fighting for space amid a jungle of tree-sized weeds a garden. It was hot. I wore gloves to protect me from the thorns, but some of them pierced deep enough to bring blood. I had to bend and squat and assume a variety of uncomfortable positions. Sweat kept finding its way to sting my eyes, and my hands were dirty, and several times, I wanted to quit. I thought about rushing through it, kind of half-assed ... you know? ... just focusing on the enormous stalks that even the neighbors recognize. Instead, meticulously, I plucked the tiniest sprouts, one at a time, until their remains formed a sizeable pile. Even as I pulled the last clinging root from the earth, I knew that tomorrow new stems would break through the dirt. The labor was long and detailed, and no one was around to notice what I had done. Standing upright, I admired the boxed plot of overturned soil and the cleared stone pathway. I’d forgotten how lovely it was.

Kimberly Russo is an English teacher in Aurora, Colorado where she resides with her husband, Tony, and her four children (Nick, Audrey, Grace, & Maritza.) Kimberly spends her free time gardening & bird watching. Much of her writing is dedicated to Marriage/Family, social issues, including the perpetuating inequality among genders/race, and the stigma associated with mental illness. Her poetry has appeared in River Poets Journal, Open Minds Quarterly, and PDXX Collective.

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