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

Ryan Lawrence

A Buffer, Douchier Me

They could be up to no good,

these doubles of mine: coming in

and out of my life and muddling things,

though they’re usually benign like customers

at happy hour, literally the case

during our $1 oyster special,

which really packs ’em in between 4 and 5,

when this one showed up

in tattoos and crisp jeans:

my buffer, douchier doppelgänger

according to Carinne who spotted him

as he put his name on the wait list,

and put his braceleted hand

at the waist of his ladyfriend,

who perhaps was a fit and tanned variant of another,

but I was only interested in him,

who I have to admit,

under his gelled head (still wearing shades),

looked liked me, but buffer,

and showcased it with a tight tee,

veiny arms bulging out,

though on the scale of buffness,

from dad bod to movie ripped,

I’m near the middle, a solid 4 at least,

a suggestion of muscles

and faint boundaries drawn on skin,

an archipelago of abs just below,

which I examined later that night

as I flexed in front of a mirror,

making modest continents emerge,

and wondering where I live

along the latitudes of Doucheland,

and if I can still leave.

Most Memorable Insult

I’ve been dissed and trashed,

put down, poor-mouthed, and shat on,

but only one smear I remember,

only one slander stuck.

It’s when Gina said

You’re nothing but a baby,

and I had just sipped coffee

from a hot paper cup,

I had just taken a hard drag off a smoke

and puffed out as the tip cooled.

I don’t remember what wrung me up,

what made me bawl and rage

and be the swirling blades of a hurricane,

then later the placid eye.

But it’s her addendum that cast

the insult in bronze,

a smoking, coffee-drinking baby,

and the scene it conjured,

that I’m helpless to erase:

fat-cheeked me in a crib

with my bottle on its side,

a dark drip on blue cotton

and bitty nails on chubby fingers

pinching a cig, so slender and white,

as I tremble in anger and start to wail,

but Mom leans in, cupping the light.

Vegan Teen Daughter
vs. Worthless Dad

I gave him the edge,

and figured he’d look like a late-round Rocky

before he’d go down for the count.

She had the strength of youth

and all its extras:

idealism and self-importance

and an iPhone, munitions of data

discharged with a finger-swipe.

I’m a waiter, not a referee,

though I wanted to throw a flag

when she rejected the pommes frites,

having realized the fryer

had been fouled by pork rinds.

That’s not gonna work, she says,

which as a spectator I wanted to applaud.

In forty years I’ve never been that direct.

The mushroom tarte,

no butter or cheese, please.

No problem, I say,

because I know the kitchen is on its toes,

eager for new challenges,

ready to go off script in an instant

because they know an audience

can see more from the seats

than can be seen from the stage.

Dad rushes out the corner

and leads with a half-dozen shrimp,

which arrive pink and curled

beside the dismembered tentacles of an octopus

interred in a hump of ice.

He follows with a combo:

a stack of bones cleaved in two,

the marrow bared and salt-flaked,

then an assload of pig-fat infected frites

circling a kilo of charred beef,

gaping and red as a quartered saint.

She’s gotta be on the ropes,

staggered by the bounty of massacre on the table,

all of it plated on frilly china,

but with her middle finger

shoves her glasses up her nose and says

You had people working under you,

now they’re above.

I want to call the fight,

the dad is done for,

but instead ask if everything is all right

and offer him another glass of wine

like a bucket to spit in.

What are you doing with your life, she says,

a roundhouse swing that glances off him

and gets a piece of me, too.

Stay down stay down

is what I want to yell

when I drop the check

but he lifts his hands and says

I’m not done yet.


It’s pouring now in Portland,

though usually it’s mist

or soft rain,

which tends to be a little boring,

a run-on sentence

and not a single period of thunder.

Meteorologically speaking,

it’s neither loaded spring or dead coil,

but a drizzling in-between,

better, perhaps, than desert extremes

or a hurricane,

or one on top the other.

If it’s not one thing it’s seventeen,

I’ve heard, but I must admit

it’s nice when it’s nine,

cruising through

the flat averages of life,

not a care or curve in sight,

instead of like the squirrel I’ve heard about,

starving and lost,

thinking it can’t get any worse,

when he’s suddenly struck blind,

and suddenly surrounded by nuts.


My last days will be like each day

before naptime

when I’m gripped by a weariness

that pulls me toward sweet daytime sleep,

though I’m stressed that I haven’t done

what I needed to do,

haven’t even come close,

and I hate that: pleasure being ruined

by regret, and so I seek to shift the balance

by increasing what I get

with a cup of wine, dark and too full

for 2:00, but perfect for letting go

instead of circling the drain of the day

and rowing against the truth:

you can’t do it, it hurts,

so take this and forget it.

Ryan Lawrence is an award-winning writer living in Portland, OR. His awards include the 1991 Presidential Physical Fitness Award and an Honorable Mention for a science fair project about dinosaurs. His girlfriend, Bailey, adores him occasionally.

Dotted Line