Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2019    fiction    all issues


Cover Antoine Petitteville

Laura Apol
Easter Morning
& other poems

Taylor Dibble
A Masterpiece in Progress
& other poems

Julia Roth
Lessons From My Menstrual Cup
& other poems

Jamie Ross
Ceaseless Wind. The Drying Sheaves
& other poems

Nicole Yackley
Mea Culpa
& other poems

George Longenecker
I’m sentimental for the Paleolithic
& other poems

Taylor Gardner
Short Observations by Angels
& other poems

Greg Tuleja
No Thomas Hardy
& other poems

Joanne Monte
War Casualties
& other poems

Nathaniel Cairney
Potato Harvest
& other poems

Steven Dale Davison
Wordsmouth Harbor Founder
& other poems

Heather 'Byrd' Roberts
How I Named Her
& other poems

sunny ex
& other poems

Ashton Vaughn
Through the Valley of Mount Chimaera
& other poems

Linda Speckhals
& other poems

Lucy Griffith
Breathing Room
& other poems

Steven Valentine
& other poems

Emily Varvel
B is for Boys and G is for Guys
& other poems

Jhazalyn Prince
Priceless Body
& other poems

Marte Stuart
Generation Snowflake
& other poems

S.J. Enloe
Kale Soup
& other poems

Meghan Dunsmuir
Our Path
& other poems

Writer's Site

Jamie Ross

Ceaseless Wind. The Drying Sheaves

heave in their twine. A man can only

tie so much, and then move on. How often

have I found this road—two simple tracks

curving into darkness. They don’t explain

their readiness, or their appearance. I don’t

forget who lined this face. Every step I take

I learned from you. Every match I strike

trembles with your light. The old stone barn

sighs in its ruin. Carla’s two gray burros

flick their tails, doze against a wall. The ancient

towering cacti around my mother’s grave

wave back and forth, with spiked

familiar fingers. We all have nails

embedded in our hands. Every village

has a bus arriving from the distance,

each window with its curtains, TV’s

that play movies hours after dawn. So long

I’ve heard their rumble, deep along the river.

Turn back, my love. Look again, at me.

Let me comb your hair.

—Ajuchitlán, Guerrero

Last Stop on the Chili Line

—Rio Arriba, New Mexico

Now the tracks are gone at Taos Junction

but the stones remain—hammered plinths

and stelae that marked a freight train’s passage,

some still upright, others down to rubble,

each one etched with miles and chiseled towns,

a distant whistle moaning from Servilleta station,

the iron clack and thunder of drive-rods

and wheels, pine-fire steam and pistons

wheezing up the steep from the Embudo drop.

Henry Wilton in his vest and flannel shirt

smiling at the door, Susie in the kitchen

with her two-buck enchiladas. Brown-bottled

beer stacked in a machine: Ice Cold Coke 5¢.

How it got there is our story

with its lines bent and fractured, pounded

seven decades up from Silver City,

through Socorro, Antonito, Huerfano and north,

how wood became the coal, how the world

becomes its own harder instrument—

a two-man broadsaw gone pneumatic,

a river’s floating logs to a hopper freighting ore,

smoke choking Pueblo and gas fires

smelting steel. How the rails, cars and boilers

were shipped into the furnace, poured

into molds, the Rio Grande & Santa Fe

now just names for history. Where a stop

becomes a family or a lifeline or a place of

deep transference—the vanished town of Stong

with its rock-wall platform, houses and hotels

where Henry went to school, learned his

figures and the tonnage, surveys

for the highway, dorm rooms for workers

and headstones for the failures the war

would leave in fragments. Where a man like

Henry Wilton would still hold on, as Susie

ladles chile; while a group of boys

in pickups, beards, hemp and desperation

take their barstools with the others

at the flask-lined mirror—women

weaving horsehair, babies wrapped in burlap,

torn men in leather, soot-covered pants—

waiting with their whiskey, Schlitz

or soda, waiting for the sawmills, or foundries,

a hospital in Denver, a shack in La Petaca,

waiting, as we all wait, for the next train north,

or the next train south. Who was my father?

When can we go home?


—San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato

Many have flown or bussed

to escape the thrall of blizzards, frigid

months of erasable light.

But the stooped man

herding two burros past these café doors

has never seen snow.

His beasts are stacked with bulging

sun-bleached muslin sacks, from

the nearby cerros—hand-dug planting soil.

They amble easy, slow, through

robust mango, laurel and banana trees,

new-blossom lemon, redolent

gardenia. Every small front yard

a universe of roses, lily, starburst gladiola

and bird-of-paradise.

The campesino carries a mesquite switch

which he rarely uses. The burros

know their route by heart: each corner

and callejón, each entry that will open

at the moment of arrival; the woman,

man or child who’ll emerge

with the weekly five pesos, a saucer

of galletas, mug of hot atole, two ripe

apples—or, by fortune, a dish of figs.

For burros, figs are special. Perhaps

it’s in their blood, an ancestral

taste from their time near Bethlehem.

Always, they’ve carried gifts,

human needs, and needed humans

across the desert. Burros know winter

all too well, and this way of service.

Once it was Mary, about to birth Jesus.

Today it’s snow white sacks of dirt.

The Road Calls

Again. As much as I

deny her, as much as the red pickup

squeals in its belts, rattles

in its rust. I love you, says the truck. Always

the two mesas blue in the distance, always

this wracked highway, steep

in its declension, whipping like a rattler

down to the village. Always the café

with its wood-fired Ashley, stacked

split cedar, planked pine tables

for Mona’s enchiladas, her pinto beans and chile

for the stream of tourists, long-haul freighters;

a family from Chama with their 1950’s hay-rig

tow-roped to the trunk of a Ford LTD,

Jake Mora’s son Merle on his gas-route to Ratón;

two kids from Questa, with a yellow

bashed Camaro parked behind the dumpster,

her smeared day-glo lipstick, his left, swollen eye.

Always the dishes, scratched and steaming,

served in celebration—by Ronnie,

Mona’s sister, hair swept back, who knows

me like my sleep, every stock word,

knows every idling semi, every awkward gesture

of the teenagers’ hands. They don’t reach

for their sodas, or napkins, but for one another

as I once reached for her. And the engines

simmer quiet for one blessed moment, while

I sip my coffee, with a front moving in.

Until the crack of thunder, a school bus

rumbling by, the money and the tip. The one

she’s knows by now, more or less—

with a flip in her hair, the wave of her hand,

and mine, on the shift; half-turn of the wheel.

I love you, says the truck. Hey Ronnie,

says the truck. Headed up a mountain

in the oncoming rain.

—Rio Arriba, NM

Jamie Ross writes, paints, hauls water and repairs his Toyota pickup on a mesa near Taos, NM. He also lives in Mexico. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Sixfold, Nimrod, the Northwest, Texas and Paris Reviews, also in Best New Poets 2007. His 2010 collection, Vinland, received the Intro Poetry Prize from Four Way Books.

Dotted Line