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

D. H. Turtel

On Margaret Filled with Smoke

Don’t you know? Hero grows in broken home,

Swollen cheeks and eyes are fine, just hide and

count minutes on her wrist, give mom a kiss.

Margaret did. Light and violence birthed a kid,

name him child, name him boy, name him girl.

name him anything. Better—name it nothing.

Airplane bottles, tiny cocktails, make a mobile,

set in motion metronomes overhead,

both before and after bed, tucking in,

set the thermostat to cold. Shiver you!

shiver boy! Uncertainty is velvet,

it is sure to keep you warm. Winter’s warm,

when winter comes at all, spring and fall and

No. We are not children of the sun.

when darkness came, when darkness comes,

do greet him warmly (with uncertainty)

welcome him across the threshold that keeps

out the dirty forest. Frost covered earth.

the open doorway, you could just make out

quick flash of right eye cataract, follow

boy, he’s grown up now, has buried things,

has killed things too. Stands waiting in the room,

Margaret rocks her rocking chair, air compressed,

Her perfume dense. She waves you in. Accepts

your pendulum of nothing, of nothing,

you of nothing, of nothing, of nothing,

Of light and violence. Of shallow silence,

Shallow, yet still deep enough to drown in,

I have seen men drowned in puddles. So do

call home. Scream through the screen of swinging doors,

where your voice carries the same frequency,

swallowed by lights. Ceiling’s circular bulbs,

of lamps in the street, of sky on the lake,

of cloud covered moon. You’ll talk again soon.

You’ll talk of light and violence. Of shadows

Come to haunt you, come to kiss you, kill you,

They come disguised as infant poltergeist,

And promise already to grow old.

And you’ve grown old.

You’re still as stone and sad,

A sorrow common in things without hearts,

A patience reserved for lawless winter.

We were minerals. We knew nothing of

Breath. But we breathed nonetheless, our denim

Matchbox pockets filled, our heavy guilt, our

Gasoline. Sing something sweet, and scream the wind,

We watched your words curl up like smoke. They rose

They fell, they froze in cold November air,

Some arsonists, some anywhere. We watched

Your words curl up like smoke. They rose, they fell,

Like passing phantoms in the night. Tidal,

Fleeting, running, repeating, ‘it’s alright

It’s alright, it’s alright.’ Those seeds are sown.

And don’t you know? You breathed, you didn’t, no.

stand we there

stand we there

smoke sting eyes

whirlwind dream


rocket star

broke moon dark

distant drum

clicking heart


why not now?

pulling hair

sky fall down

violent grass

red stripe skin

wind collapse

stop begin

siren call


trembling neck

hears no sound

pinkwhite eyes

why so still?


lungs or gills


night commands!

pulse on wrist?

warm on hands?

violent grass

cover sin

spade move earth

stop begin

To a Bride Growing Thin

The clock in the kitchen, it didn’t count seconds

His idiot tongue knew no words,

The hour hand moved on the hour, we reckoned,

And screamed with a clay cuckoo bird

Minutes said summer and doors grew in frames

Agoraphobe Margaret, going insane

The clock in the kitchen it slept all through June,

The cuckoo bird missed all the sun,

The hours had promised to wake Maggie soon,

But the comatose minutes unspun,

The calendar laughed but did not eat a thing

And July was as thin as she ever had been.

A red-stitched white ball flew back through the window

The shards of glass mended themselves

The kids ran away and Jack called them pussies,

And screamed them to all go to hell,

The cuckoo’s green tears fell and pooled on the ground,

And awoke in September, red, yellow and brown.

The hour hand looked at the closed and cracked window,

And saw himself for the first time,

The clock in the kitchen, it froze in December,

The Seconds they shivered and died,

The calendar’s name, nobody remembered,

Margaret asked, but winter unanswered,

And both just a twelfth of their size.

The cuckoo bird called to come out every hour,

But the minute hand hung, fifty-five.

The clock in the kitchen, it melts in the spring,

And the wall it looks empty and white,

The hour hand’s broken, pneumonic, asleep,

In a puddle of sad, phantom time,

The Calendars wasted away to a bone,

She hasn’t died yet, but already a ghost,

Grey cardboard square with a mannequin’s soul.

And the west facing windows, they never see sun,

They dreamt of pink settings that never did come.

Margaret, again

When you asked about a soul,

I laughed, ‘You mean the brain,

And the way the veins can take the shape,

Of something shapeless in your head

And be invincibly invisible but not at all concrete.

But when mother grew her headstone,

We watched the moving clouds,

Kept our heads out of the ground,

Left my thoughts unspoken,


Like the tattooed wall behind the school,

Where you asked me about love,

I laughed, ‘The heart just forces blood,

To heads and hands and places

It might not really want to go,

those girls off chasing bottles,

golden Johnny Walker Red,

To be whisked by boys to bed,

The same way they once knew,

Cranes dropped children on front porches,

Like the one that held your yellow house,

An empty picture frame,

We’d disregard the inside scenes,

Your mother’s swollen wrists and eyes were fine,

As long as that old wooden chair,

Kept swinging we’d keep sitting,

And you’d keep asking about fate,

Like it was something that existed

Outside the pages of some book,

(star-crossed lovers who died at the same time,

You said that there was love in poison,

That there was love in suicide)

Then when Margaret left we asked,

Why not a single celebration,

Bright flowers and congratulations.

So we burned up all your Shakespeare,

And that fire forged a ring you let me slip around your finger,

we dressed your youth in white and put a veil over its eyes,

Fattened like a slaughter cow, at some fancy ball reception,

To cut its throat while you were sleeping.

When you woke you were a piece of art,

And asked if you were beautiful,

I laughed, ‘you’re just a storybook,

With wrinkles, scars and beauty marks’

And some curled up like smoke above

That goddamn yellow house,

And some ran off in straight fast lines,

Like the way we ran away,

Our denim matchbox pockets filled,

With heavy guilt and gasoline,

And there was happiness like Velcro,

That stuck my face to yours,

And when we died as one, a piece of art,

I knew of poison,

And the cancer of a wedding,

And the hot knives in the cake,

The cyanide in white champagne.

D. H. Turtel lives in New York City.

Dotted Line