Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2017    fiction    all issues


Cover Marija Zaric

Kathryn Merwin
For Aaron, Disenchanted
& other poems

William Stevens
Celestial Bodies
& other poems

Kendra Poole
Take-Off, or The Philosophy of Leaving
& other poems

AJ Powell
Mama Atlas
& other poems

Matt Farrell
Waves in the dark
& other poems

Timothy Walsh
Eating a Horsemeat Sandwich at Astana Airport 
& other poems

Nancy Rakoczy
& other poems

Joshua Levy
Venezuela Evening
& other poems

Ryan Lawrence
Vegan Teen Daughter vs. Worthless Dad
& other poems

George Longenecker
Yard Sale
& other poems

Susanna Kittredge
My Heart
& other poems

Morgan Gilson
& other poems

Jim Pascual Agustin
The Annihilation of Bees
& other poems

Taylor Bell
Browsing Tinder in an Aldi
& other poems

David Anderson
Continental Rift
& other poems

Charles McGregor
The Boys That Don’t Know
& other poems

Cameron Scott
Ashes to Smashes, Dust to Rust
& other poems

Kenneth Homer
Inferno Redux
& other poems

Alice Ashe
& other poems

Kimberly Sailor
Marriage's Weekly Schedule
& other poems

Kim Alfred
Soul Eclipse
& other poems

Kenneth Homer


Tlaloc blesses us

At the Mexican restaurant,

Granting us shards of corn,

Which we baptize blood red.

The diners favor Quetzalcoatl,

And a plumed serpent leers at us

As we study the menu.

In the kitchen a cook

Frees tortillas from plastic bags.

We will not set foot in the Temple of the Sun.

The last codex has been burned,

And our hearts remain with us

As we flay the waiter for such poor service.

A resin Tezcatlipoca stands by the bar,

Coatlicue grins at the faded picture of Cantinflas,

And Huitzilopochtli hovers above

Frozen on the wall—

Such is the fate of conquered gods.

Inferno Redux

If Beatrice were consigned to a modern American hell,

That hell would be something very like

A downtown parking garage.

Dante would encounter no boatman—

That job having been automated.

And he would drop coins down a metal gullet.

Cerberus, having assumed human guise,

Would be sprawled at the foot of steps

Stinking of stale urine and lost hope,

A corona of broken glass around the stuporous form.

Dante would walk by slumbering metal giants

Oozing dark excrescences, the ichor of a culture.

Hell would be a low efficiency regime:

Leaking pipes,

Scabbarous paint,

Chipped plaster—the scrofula of neglect.

Here and there the walls of this man-made cave

Would be covered with impromptu messages

From the East Side Locos,

The Bloods or the Crips,

Or similar lost souls drifting through

The nether regions of society.

Spiritless guardians would occasionally drift by.

Dante would encounter American demigods:

Jefferson who failed to

Grip the wolf by the ears,

Punished by a ravenous wolf

That eternally gnaws at his great heart;

Jackson condemned to shed

A Trail of Tears;

Nixon bound by ribbons of shame.

Robber barons and princelings of industry

Would be punished by the theft of their souls:

Rockefeller would hand out dimes

To buy his salvation;

Morgan would find all hope foreclosed,

And Madoff, an American Tantalus

Would never be sated.

And then the nameless shades:

Politicos never to seize

The ever- receding prize,

The vainglorious in search of long departed youth,

The friends of Jim Crow.

Dante would search for Beatrice as in the original story.

How to Gut a Poem

Scale the silver scales.

Eliminate all layers of meaning

Until the dull meat remains.

     Cut off the head.

Ignore the pearl-like eyes.

     Sever the flashing tail,

And remove the poem’s heart.

Take a sharp knife,

And guide it along the poem’s plump belly.

Remove the viscera.

Drain the blood.

Discard the spine and the small bones.

Soak the poem in buttermilk

To remove any strong taste.

Poach the pale flesh.

Last of the Yahi

A simple soul

And relict of a slaughtered tribe,

Ishi stumbled into the twentieth century,

An object of curiosity—

Much like curios collected in a Victorian home,

Barnum’s omnium gatherum,

Or the cabinet of curiosities of German princelings.

Of course Ishi was a sensation,

A boffo hit—

Until the novelty wore off.

And the last of the Yahi

Succumbed to the White Plague*

That killed so many then—

A noble savage among savages,

A victim of the Twentieth Century.

And that microbe that we call progress.

• Tuberculosis

Kenneth Homer has an abiding interest in history, so many of his poems are based on historical personages or events. His poems have been published by Wiregrass, The Southern Tablet, Blue Unicorn, The Lyric, The Great American Poetry Show, The Corner Club Press, and Verge. He is an English professor at East Georgia State College.

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