Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2018    fiction    all issues

Poetry Cover Summer 2018


Cover Michael Lønfeldt

Carol Lischau
& other poems

Noreen Ellis
Jesus Measured
& other poems

Amanda Moore
Learning to Surf
& other poems

Adin Zeviel Leavitt
& other poems

Jim Pascual Agustin
Stay a Minute, the Light is Beautiful
& other poems

Timothy Walsh
The Wellfleet Oyster
& other poems

Anna Hernandez-French
Watermelon Love
& other poems

J. L. Grothe
Six Pregnancies
& other poems

Sue Fagalde Lick
Beauty Confesses
& other poems

Abby Johnson
Finding Yourself on Google Maps
& other poems

Marisa Silva-Dunbar
& other poems

Merre Larkin
Sensing June
& other poems

Savannah Grant
& other poems

Andrew Kuhn
Plains Weather
& other poems

Catherine Wald
Against Aubade
& other poems

Joe Couillard
Like New Houses Settling
& other poems

Faleeha Hassan
In Nights of War
& other poems

Olivia Dorsey Peacock
Thelma: ii
& other poems

Sarah Louise
& other poems

Kimberly Russo
Inherent Injustice
& other poems

Frannie Deckas
Child for Sale
& other poems

Jacqueline Schaalje
& other poems

Nancy Rakoczy
Her Face
& other poems

Ashton Vaughn
& other poems

Carol Lischau


for baby L.

I say I want a baby because no one says

              I want a person.

I’m told it isn’t yet time, as if anyone

could determine which foggy breath a tinder will catch

              and keep.

A life, the whole weight of it, cannot be carried

              in a womb.

But we bear its progressions—

the size of a fig, a turnip, a pomegranate too alive

with red.

              A stain. An ER wristband.

The spirit of every human is already

                            in the world wishing only

to be arranged. And when I look,

I find you waiting everywhere.

A scrap of blanket I was knitting,

a box of prenatal pills on the counter.

Or mushrooms clustering in a hollow of my garden bed

              or winter rain spells tearing

from the sweet birch its last clinging leaves.

Why have I finished you, my unfinished?

If I could only offer you that gift, if I could find

              your hand to place it in.

Red-Throated Anole

I was nearly nine when I found the limp lizard

under the porch swing. One eye bulged into a white knot,

two limbs were severed. I didn’t know whether to be grieved

or terrified as it wriggled what was left of itself across concrete.

My mother didn’t refuse, perhaps she couldn’t,

when I came inside, cupping the barely living, its tawny skin

faded to grey. This, my first moment of urgency.

We set up a tank of shallow water and a plastic container

of food on the counter, though I’ve forgotten what we thought

to feed it. I added a handful of twigs and plucked grass

as if what’s familiar would prompt the lungs into swelling.

That a shadow of home would usher in miracle. And what,

if not my gesture, could direct the body to survive? Cooing,

believing all this, I wondered where its ears were to understand me.

In the morning its jaw slacked open, the tongue

a bright red announcement. The heart unwilling to obey,

the milky eye refusing to blink. Like a pearl,

I wanted to think as I watched it not watching back.

Azalea House

He’s a drunk, my father explained

as they drove the slurring man away. An hour before,

he’d staggered to the road and smashed into our car

just in front of the house on Azalea.

My widowed aunt and her daughter lived there

with their German Shepherds, hair blanketing the floor

and everything inside the walls. The house collected

their collections—manicured Barbie dolls posed forever

behind glass, Carebears and other kaleidoscopic animals

huddled and peering down from upper shelves. Look,

but don’t touch my aunt would remind me on nights

my father would drop me there. Why did I want to evade

her words? To lose composure, to feel the frill and eyes

filled with plastic and another kind of life.

Look, but don’t touch my mind rehearsed.

How to resist the allure of what is forbidden?

After his arrest, the man’s anxious wife stood in the yard

as they asked her questions, her blue-bruised arm lifted

to a wordless mouth. What compelled her silence—love?

the private cosmos of a home? I watched from within

the locked car. Beyond me, the crime scene in the street,

and beyond the street, other homes and other private lives

interrupted, their frantic mouths through windows,

and from within window blinds like cage slats,

their gazes white-eyed and wanting.

Ice Storm, Post-Divorce

My father is freshly alone on the other end

of the line. He talks of all that’s rolling in.

I listen. Pacing my attic room, I see

where the pale walls are peeling to show sycamore.

And my eye catches, reels in—an unexpected color

clustered in a top corner of the wall.

Ladybugs. Dozens, red and huddled

like pomegranate seeds in the white meat

of winter. Did the wind force their retreat,

did the brightness against the ground?

My senses reorient to my father’s voice, and

I tell him what I see. He says they’re lucky.

Luck. I cannot connect our life with theirs—

vermillion cloister, elytra and abdomen,

brains like needle eyes open and clear,

and my father’s home cleared like a throat.

And what of me in this? What of home?

I cannot say if I am more afraid of loneliness

or its image. Our calls linger after they’re ended,

as do the ladybugs till the season passes.

I never can decide whether or not

I should have wanted them gone,

the pitifully beautiful red refuge

tucking further into itself and away

from the window’s biting draft. Still,

they collect in the corner of my mind—

crimson nest, endless days, till death

(O the sweet covenant) do they linger.

Birthday, An Elegy

Today a mother shot her daughters

before her husband breathed a wish over a cake.

And what this says about domestic

ennui or the right to bear arms, I do not know.

Smoke from the heirloomed pistol rises

with our questions, while in the kitchen 45 candles

have begun their forever burning.

A father searches for the right wish.

Where are we taken when longing hems

the edge of language, dares past the boundary of word?

The sound of a whimper. A gunshot. A neighbor’s ohmygod

from a parlor window. If ever a siren dopplers past,

I wonder what it means to speak. The lights too, frantic

and wordless, urging to transfigure.

The girls collapsed on their manicured lawn

20 miles west of my mother stirring again a pot of risotto,

her own mother propped in a La-Z-Boy straining

to make sense of Lauren Lake or Dow Jones

or Fox newscasters. Every evening, the world.

Every birth, death. You can never know what fears

or exhilarations such people have. Their daughters’ bodies held

in the grass there like last notes of the annual song.

To—you—she forces him to hear. Deep breath.

Make a wish sense of it if you can.

Carol Lischau grew up in Southeast Texas, where her relatives have lived for the past 200 years. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cider Press Review, Notre Dame Review, and Common Ground Review, among others. Her manuscript was a finalist in the 2017 Literary Awards for the Tucson Festival of Books. She resides in Blacksburg, where she is pursuing an MFA at Virginia Tech.

Dotted Line