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

Greg Tuleja


When we still had voices we used to sing

in two parts, our favorite rounds and folk tunes,

perhaps an aria, but then the slipping,

the wavering began, and we knew that soon

we would become nonessential, unknown

and invisible, obliged to silence

our own breathing, a distant, muffled groan,

a gasp, a sudden slash of dissonance.

When they drew their knives we felt the high breeze

that spun itself down toward the hard foothills

and whistled through a bend of chestnut trees

where we could hide, so penitent and still,

so insignificant in the thin air,

huddled behind a shallow spray of leaves,

a sanctuary where they would not dare

to look, a place where we might start to grieve.

But the slim tendrils parted, on a cloud

of gray mist, and they did look, they did see

their wayward daughters, resonant and proud,

but damaged by a brilliant memory

of blood screams and the bright, blazing chaos

to which we must return, bearing the pain

of renunciation, and a last loss

of hope, two songbirds trembling in the rain.

The Woman in 302

This morning the woman in 302

rolled the piano toward the window again

and this time out it went, from three stories up,

a didactic gesture, she later explained,

rather than an aggressive one

although she did admit to being surprised

and perhaps disappointed

that no one was hurt.

She must have been more singularly determined

this time, and able to command the resolve

that is needed to do such a thing,

but we always knew that she possessed

enough leverage of spirit and control

of her imagination to reach

for grand, existential achievements,

drawing on a cunning strength of personality,

pushing through a tangle of ethical contradictions,

and finally getting it to go,

a great black blur against the yellow brick

and indifferent silences of our building.

Afterwards we were told that she had no regrets

for so dramatically annihilating convention

in order to grasp a dream,

and watching her, in this her finest triumph

we all realized that we were in the presence

of greatness, even the poor, shaken, anonymous

pedestrians on Madison Avenue, who might eventually

be persuaded, she had often said,

to take more responsibility

for where they walk.

Spontaneous Human Combustion

Not many would, I think, believe it true

that Auntie might explode while pulling weeds.

Ridiculous! Impossible, they’d say,

there must be other reasons, deeper clues,

as fire trucks careen to intercede,

too late for Auntie, who has burned away.

But let’s not close our minds, it could be true

that high metabolism, added to

a taste for ion-busting alcohol

might cause a spark, a flame, a fireball!

It’s not as bad as swarms of killer bees,

or being mauled by raving chimpanzees,

dismemberment by packs of wild boars,

that open window on the eighteenth floor,

a trash compactor that we might be crushed in.

I’d make the choice: spontaneous combustion.

Dear Oscar

The tomb in Pere Lachaise surrounded,

a murmuring crowd of ardent admirers,

cameras zooming, tiny stones clicking on stone

to anchor scribbled messages

to this imagined friend, the florid celebrity poet,

stopped now, here in this shadowy corner

far from home, the Dublin pubs and lecture halls,

the London prisons.

They seem young, these French groupies,

non-readers, I suspect, unfamiliar with Lord Savile

or Lady Windermere, as they aim their cell phones,

and with blue chalk and black marker

ignore the warning, Please Do Not Deface The Monument,

affectionate tributes scrawled to dear Oscar,

You will shine for us always, with Truth and Courage,

Your Life imitated your Art, How I wish I had known you.

Stepping back then, the full view of the strange sculpture,

an odd creature without category, stretching forward,

leaning out defiantly toward the world,

a bizarre figurehead sailing into the wind,

attended by these faithful pilgrims,

his name obscured by intricate strands of lipstick kisses,

pressed to the cold marble like a wreath of roses.

Dear Oscar we love you.

No Thomas Hardy

Shocked by another birthday, I dreamed of books

I will never read, nearly out of time

for Margaret Atwood and Rupert Brooke,

and all the abstruse Russians. How, through crimes

of idleness that I dared to commit

did I squander a rare and precious chance

to discover the daring, lavish wit

that seemed to glimmer in the dry distance,

and how so fiercely did I remain blind

to breathless, dying fires, year after year,

to be finally defeated, resigned

never to know Count Vronsky or King Lear?

What might be heard through all this glorious burning?

Just the low, plaintive sound of a page, turning.

Greg Tuleja was born in New Jersey and received degrees in biology and music from Rutgers University. He has worked as a professional musician, piano technician, and flute teacher. Greg lives in Southampton, Massachusetts with his wife, Frances, and is currently the Academic Dean at the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, where he has taught English and music, and for 35 years coached the girls’ cross country team. His poems and short stories have appeared in various literary journals and magazines, including the Maryland Review, Lonely Planet Press, Romantics Quarterly, Thema, and The Society of Classical Poets.

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