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

Holly Walrath

Elegy for a Body

I take up ashes

like taking up space.

I am dis-embodying my body

or what I once called skin,

its remnants rounding out,

the insides of a blue funeral urn

whose curves make sense.

Inside here with me

the afreet’s ghost

and the memory of feeling thin

like a butterfly’s wing

like water in a glass pitcher

like telephone wires

filled with energy

of the me I remember only

in the soft nail beds

and crane’s neck

and boy’s chest

of yesterday.

Two-Hundred-Fifty Seven

I have eaten 942 sunflower seeds

(roasted, unsalted, in-shell)

and written 257 words today, today

I have told the character in the science

fiction novel that he will die, and

he has responded with the

casual and unbroken flick of a middle

finger between his teeth. Today

I imagined several haikus that could

not really be defined as such but

at least they looked pretty, in a nice

little block shape like literary wood

engravings on sheepskin or the desperate

secret note of a fugitive, squeezed

onto the back of a postage stamp. Today

I revisited the scene in the back

of the black pick-up with the blood

on the floorboards, concealed by the

litter of cigarette butts, coins and receipts

and reckless cell phones that will

not stop ringing hip hop ring tones. Today

the pregnant girl, wooed by the stack

of gold rings upon the older man’s

fingers, will not escape into the thick

crowd of New York bodies and mist

that lies at their feet like death’s

odor, she will not deface her

rapist, branding him for the bastard

he is with the hush of the gun. Today

instead of beginning anew I instead

made honey lemon herbal tea, which

was so hot that I had to drop a tiny

ice cube into its surface, which refused

to melt away anyway, but at least today

I managed to recreate the sound

between my teeth when my pursed lips

hit my tongue and the cat comes running

besides which the noise of perfect


I Think My Taste is Questionable

In my childhood, I ate one ninety-nine cent candy bar a day.

Walking home from the gas station,

a cold Dr. Pepper between my legs as I jumped

the fence behind the woods. I had a panache

for Smarties, hoarded at Halloween,

and I would slowly bite their white rims

until a hard heart remained.

In my teens, ahead of my time, I drank Jello shots

that gulped down, formed a strange pile

like gummy bears at the bottom of my self-respect.

At the movies I ordered tubs of popcorn

and sour patch kids, and sat in the back row with my friends,

dreaming about the projectionist, and his freckles.

In my twenties I smoked clove cigarettes,

coiled in brown paper, little love letters

chased them with orange sour Altoids,

which at first glittered with a layer of diamond white dust

but later, in the hot car on a Texas day

congealed into sticky sweet oblivion.

In my thirties I developed a taste for pickles

and sunflower seeds, the latter’s shrouds littering

my desk, in the cracks of the couch and my bra,

the former folded in white paper, saved for later,

always in secret, to avoid uncomfortable questions.

Will I take up pig’s feet in my forties? Perhaps

kimchee and caviar? Will I finally mature a taste

for Grape Nuts, like my father? Or will I swill

a diet coke with brunch like my mother?

Or perhaps, the tawny suicide

of a whisky bottle

kept close at hand,

under my pillow

like a tooth for my

guardian fairy?

Like my brother?

The Ghost of a Living Man

Sometimes, I see a man who looks

like my brother, in the parking lot

of a Wal-Mart, or a grocery store.

Mostly seedy places.

He’s got a shaved head—his ears poke out

and there’s a gray shadow of once thick,

richly dark hair. He wears an oversized

tee shirt, always black, usually a band

or a video game. His beer gut hangs

out beneath it—like a bee hive

on a skinny oak tree.

He wears faded jean shorts. There’s a sko

ring in the back pocket, or a pack of cigarettes.

His legs poke out beneath like

little bird stalks. He wears combat boots

or torn-up sneakers and clean white socks.

Sometimes he has a tattoo.

His hands shake.

I think—there goes the ghost of a living man.

Estranged brothers can haunt you that way.

A Tourist of Sorts

I am rediscovering you, in pieces.

In black and tan voices behind

gray partitions, tongue on tongue.

Syllables made American, New England.

In the retelling of Joyce on sky lit stairwells

Irish men and women, pride in the morning,

      “Think you’re escaping and run into yourself.

      Longest way round is the shortest way home.”

In the quiet hum of

rows and rows and rows

of white screens,

their light simulated

in faces, eyes, glasses of the hoi polloi.

And also in the smell of you,

amongst the rows an intoxicating

scent of dust, memory,

earthly and incompletely human—

the contribution of the heavyset homeless

who bring the street with them.

Today I found the back hallway, unaccountably

leading into the front hallway, like a Penrose

staircase in a painting, and I began to wonder

is this art? No, it is just a vacant vestibule,

but it is mine, and I begin to wonder if it exists at all.

White on blue arrows demarcating, nonfiction,

archives below, further down, inexplicably, magazines.

Where the newspapers are, nobody knows.

Above me, in the atrium, I am struck anew by the

daylight through the panes of the skylight, four-sided

and devastating, as if I have never seen the sun before.

You are almost too much, as I slowly uncover you,

mapping you, until I know you, just as I am.

Holly Walrath is an author, freelance editor, and the Associate Director of Writespace, a nonprofit literary center in Houston, Texas. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in Pulp Literature, Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, and Literary Orphans, among others. Holly currently resides in Seabrook, Texas. Find her online @hollylynwalrath or

Dotted Line