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

Charles McGregor

Twink Chaser

—For a gentle bear


He was a violin serenade man. Roses were in my future. I knew what convenience meant—a back seat privacy. Tampa Bay has palm tree boulevards and bridges to islands. I didn’t recognize anybody there. The odometer turned 100,000 on our last trip. I felt every mile. I know he did too. I was embarrassed riding that long. Monotonous car rides are moments when the weight of air reads the seconds aloud. I felt guilty, but liked the attention. When his ultimatum popped, I wasn’t ready for revelations.


Lakeland Square Mall stores the town’s gossip. Shelves are adequate barricades—they reinforce the ideal of specter queers touching our boys. She—the one I bring around Momma—talks about him and his beauties; he buys them comfort and performs. I laugh. He could be listening on the other side of Superman abdomens. I feel the miles.


I think back to the slow power lines that dipped and rose—that moment when the meaning of silence was as recognizable as the taste of salt. His gaze made me feel lipstick beautiful, but the citrus rays don’t hide very long in the sticky summer heat. I know the comfort of a tangerine sunset without him.

Before I lifted my palm out of his hand, he said everything was okay. He gave one last squeeze before he let go. We both understood the stars and stripes consciousness of secluded highways. Plastic Jesus’s abdomen cries Kool-Aid blood from the cross every Southern Sunday pitying the kneeling boys peeping up at Him.

The Boys that Don’t Know

My tongue is the musk of masculinity—a scent that keeps

me safe on the center court’s flaming cross.

I calm the nerves of the boys that don’t know—

my well-placed fudge packer taunt, the you would know

response. The conversation ends with my basketball

fluttering down a rainbow arc. I can’t extinguish

the extra flare of my flicked wrists, but like all good boys,

I strap on the masque of sweat—it’s the Christ-like effort

that counts. Sneaker squeak sirens control my desire—

I long for my place with the boys that don’t know.

There are other boys and they know the wooden helm

that steers my gaze. One rewards my jump shot

with Golden Delicious hips lulling me towards the bleachers.

I bluff with bone bruising knuckle sandwich fists,

but his oasis dimples have already undressed me:

I hope you’re good at this game.

Yanking Bootstraps: An Affliction

I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger: A man on the move, and just sick enough to be totally confident.

— Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Bye, Bye, Birdie

The Army’s got you now

I’ll try Birdie

To forget some how

— Ann-Margret, Bye Bye Birdie


Florida soil liked accosting my feet—

the black droplets seeped through the holes in my socks.

I could smell citrus tree ghosts between my toes—

I didn’t take off my shoes, I didn’t want to look. I wept.

Father looked down at me. The crevices around his eyes—

chiseled onto a Roman coin—deepened as he pounded

the earth. The colossus of my youth yanked

my crackling shoulder into his flaky metal car.

Be a man…

…rattled against my skull—the steam from the cul-de-sac

engulfed the baritone commandment. Sweat and dirt

gushed out of my stomach’s folds. I stopped weeping.


I now see Father clearly; yellow Polaroids from his wedding

reveal a smear print of translucent tears across his red face.

I ask Momma why to avoid the littered silence

of our ticking cuckoo clock. She doesn’t reply.

We look out the window at Florida’s pastel evening

blinking with desert eyeballs. Neither of us want to answer

with Iraqi Freedom. I don’t always know why I cry—

sometimes I just raise my arms, yawn, and the tears fall.

During more certain times, the lachrymal salt soaks my cheeks

while I dream of Napoleon’s crown—the perpetuation

of the leather bootstrap pull-up. I am moved by the myth

of anyone’s empire. From Dollar Tree socks

to black booted emperor of the Gulf of Mexico. Father,


my classmates were ambitious too—

MBA dreamers mastering their destinies,

unlocking the front doors to their business loan

comic bookstores housing blue anaconda biceps

bursting across the clearly dictated line

of good and evil. Too many of my MBA dreamers

reel off whiskey breath flashbacks of Iraqi Freedom,

flinch from Florida’s midnight lightning crackling the skyline.

A soldier will fight long and hard to move up ladders

while dodging loose rungs hurtling back to earth

like arrows flung from Sagittarius’s opaque bow;

the flames from reentry are legendary—the spectacle,

the horror generates stateside applause.


I am an instrument of Fortuna—Father died

funding my climb with life insurance, a warehouse 401k.

Maybe, one day, Fortuna will shatter me across her knee—

the day I reach the celestial titans, the day their exclusive universe

collapses my voice. Oh, the lure of success—the scales across my eyes

leave me without imagination, leave me without my plausible reality

of M16 shoulder rifles, white beams terrorizing

Florida’s skyline, black droplets slithering down my face.

I would’ve known my father’s blue eyes—

why they burst like flash grenades

across our humid winter,

across the faceless coins,

across leather bootstraps that snapped at the seams.

A Debt to Privilege

      The long days of forklifts poking reams of buy one, get one

            newspaper excerpts

on the silver floor of warehouse dystopia means we all owe you.

      You loved telling me about each ultraviolet ink stain

on your blue collared shirt–Publix’s green Thanksgivings, Wal Mart’s Black Fridays.

      I knew each cedar plank lodged into the pores of your shoulders;

lugging Horatio Alger crosses takes holey palms.

      Grandpa never drove you to do your paper routes on snow days.

Your bicycle cut through the chicken wire wind

      delivering Cold War men news about how close they were to


The yellowing Polaroid parables lead to a tidy thesis

      for my Dairy Queen paystubs–an act

of resistance against the moocher class.

      I never knew what your artic eyes wanted from life. You answered

            American Dream

with nuclear family privilege–a house, a silver truck, a wife and kid

      you weren’t obliged to see. You’d sigh

into your sweating Natty Light on my bi-weekly tours

      of your wooden paneled trailer crammed with freezer steaks

and premium cable evenings. Hollywood doesn’t film men

      that can’t find the time to cross their cedar T’s

on unfinished blueprints that would craft that thing

      people must buy from you–the invention

of bio pic academy award whispers

      reverberating into the noiseless space

of our pockmarked skyline.

Beautiful Savior

      I love when victims reassure me they’re all right. I live

for resurrection moments–moviegoers love popcorn beautiful Jesus

      ascending into the stratosphere. Until then, hushed gasps

must clatter down climactic cobblestone streets.

      My hammer’s claw will be ready to slide palmy nails

out of a lacquered cross; the audience will whisper so brave,

      and I’ll know they’re talking about me.

I’m in love with the idea of bloody pulpit Jesus–

      the woods with the earless Roman, Judas’s puckered lips,

the scripted dignity of a martyr. I can say I was there

      for the final act–a disappearing deity’s escape

from His stony sepulcher before the black sky

      rained closing credits.

Charles McGregor habitually dreams of putting his memories on the page in divergent ways. A lot of the themes in his poetry deal with growing up queer in the South, negotiating the American Dream, and reconstructing the identity of his father. He is also interested in prose and is increasingly exploring ways to blend the two genres. As someone that identifies as pansexual, he longs to express himself through all the different identities of genres he loves.

Dotted Line