Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2021    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Summer 2021


Diana Akhmetianova

Monique Jonath
& other poems

Alix Christofides Lowenthal
Before and After
& other poems

Rebbekah Vega-Romero
La Persona Que Quiero Ser
& other poems

Oak Morse
Incandescent Light That Peeks Through Secrets
& other poems

George Kramer
The Last Aspen Stand
& other poems

Elizabeth Sutterlin
Meditations on Mars
& other poems

Holly Marie Roland
& other poems

Devon Bohm
A Bouquet of Cherry Blossoms
& other poems

Ana Reisens
In praise of an everyday object
& other poems

Maxi Wardcantori
The Understory
& other poems

William A. Greenfield
& other poems

Karen L Kilcup
The Sky Is Just About to Fall
& other poems

Pamela Wax
He dreams of birds
& other poems

Mary Jane Panke
& other poems

a mykl herdklotz
Mouettes et Mastodontes
& other poems

Claudia Maurino
Good Pilgrim
& other poems

Mary Pacifico Curtis
One Mystical Day
& other poems

Tess Cooper
Airport Poem
& other poems

Peter Kent
Congress of Ravens
& other poems

Kimberly Sailor
White Women Running
& other poems

Bill Cushing
Creating a Corpse
& other poems

Everett Roberts
& other poems

Susan Marie Powers
Canada Geese
& other poems

Claudia Maurino

Double Body Baptism

it is a baptism.

                           myself a double body:


                           and performed upon

the baptizer

                           and the blessed

both God

                           and woman

cold water crashes over my face

             and slips down my body

touching the dark places like fingers in the night

             it lights them up to magnificence



steam rises from the bath as from a pit

to the hell

                           I (self-flagellating arsonist phoenix)

rise from

I dare not look myself in the mirror;

             there is something too sinful and holy in that:

eye contact with the divine as she descends

             to mortal flesh

my head pounds; I may pass out

                                                    of this body

and into something greater

already my hearing is leaving me

             and I need to sit down:

I kneel on the grimy bath mat

             supplicate myself to whatever is holier

than the vision I see in the mirror when my eyes come back

             to my body:

flesh and bone and sockets that bleed

blue and grey; my womanhood slipping

out of me like divine tears

as I crumple further within what now is

             (and only ever was)

my wet and naked body

             curled on the floor of the bathroom

dust motes and dank air rising around me

             up to heaven

(even these particulates reach higher

go further

than I



the idea of disaster

seems like it ought to be a

(n unfortunate) by-product of chaos

of the unruly cynic god who rules us all

by way of doing nothing

but our etymological foremothers

             (           or perhaps four mothers?

                          what is it again that conceives and births us?

                          chaos (1)

                          hope (2)

                          love (3)

                          and spirit (4)

                                              Note: spirit:

                                              see: spir            see: respiration

                                              see: breath        see: invisible sustenance

                                              see: God            see: ‘holy spirit’

                                              see: ‘blow blow thou winter wind

                                              see: blow

                                                        (us—away)                    )

tell us a disaster

is (Note:) the “unlucky placement of an ill star”

see: dis: pejorative, mis—

see: aster: star

                                 (consider the astronaut: star-sailor

                                 hopelessly lost little man making himself small by

                                 proximity to bigness.

                                 loss is our one (1) fore father)

etymology suggests you can blame the stars for your misfortune

but I would not lean in to that notion

if I were you

             (and atomically, genetically, I very nearly am. what are you but nitrogen?)

my last note to you:


see: gaping      see: yawning      see: abyss.

see the star-sailor floating through all that black nothing

see him gasp, all alone. see him yawn and blow

through so much empty space

see the nearest star pull him in

(Note: love is only ever hot and cruel.)

see the final disaster: the astronaut dissolving, every atom resonant

and pre-determined

(we hope)

Good Pilgrim

Do your thoughts wander?

Is your mind, like mine, an empty church

hollow and cavernous, carved from ancient stone

with a great stained-glass window at its front—

a heavenly host of blue and gold, green and red

in a haunting, hollow medley?

Do the great wooden doors in the church of your mind

swing open and bang on their hinges

allowing every gust of vagrant, lusty wind

to touch and tickle all the nooks and crannies

every desolate pew—does it rustle the pages

of ancient books, teasing their covers open to allow

disconsolately lonely words to lift from their pages

and fly heaven-wards, lazily and vibrantly

to bounce and echo on the imperturbably heavy stone?

Does the grand and holy temple of your thoughts

ever stand so naked, so shorn of fancy and illusion—

a simple building in a simple world, echoing out

the tune of a choir long since gone?

Are you, like I am, so desperately hungry

to let your every godly atom stand so open

and so vulnerable? Do you ever ache and echo

trembling with desire for reverberation, for resonance?

And do you ever play the pilgrim, walking empty-handed

into the home of the Lord your mind, to sit and stare, to pray

without words at the foot of a shrine dedicated to a missing god?

Do your footsteps echo as you take communion from a ghost

smelling nothing but time itself and the memory

of a candle someone extinguished in a moment in a time long gone?

Do you ever throw your patient palms up

and feel the roof lifting off, a banquet

of delicate and dangerous stars descending, shedding

their ancient silvery light into the little lonely church

you have made yourself?

Are you ever deliciously empty?

Do you want more than anything someday to be full?

A Promise

Someday I will have a potluck and I will invite you

it will be in a home I don’t live in yet, on a porch I have yet to see

there will be hours and hours of soft afternoon light

the kind that stains everybody gold and glittery

I will say tender and gentle things like “I made pasta”

and “you don’t have to bring anything, but you can

because I know how much you like to cook.”

And you will bring a rhubarb pie. And I will smile.

We will drink wine and talk about art and share

the things that make our hearts excited

and there will be music playing in the background

and it will be called laughter, called joy.

We will be surrounded by friends we have yet to meet

who will bring gifts like recipes from their time abroad

and new ways of doing everything from folding napkins

to building a community of activists and artists.

My potluck might be in a city, but there will be plants.

I will have learned how not to kill them by then.

I will have learned all sorts of tender and gentle things.

Like how to cook. How not to worry.

By this time, I will have collected so much joy

from so many different humans and places, old and new

and my little home will be so full of it

that you will smile without thinking when you walk in.

On the walls there will be poetry I wrote in high school.

And photos from the river and the fields and the mountains.

There will be paintings and pictures and maybe a collage

from cities and countries and towns I’ve haven’t even seen yet.

When you walk in, I will greet you with a hug

and your favorite drink. I will take your pie

and put it next to my pasta. I will take your hand

and bring you into the sun. I will exclaim, loudly—

“look at all this light! I have so many things to show you.”

Road Map

“It makes a lot more sense to me than the bible.”

he says of his favorite book

as we burrow deeper into the unknown terrain, climbing

steadily upwards till the air is so thin

the truth just slips out

This bus has been moving

for an uncountable number of hours—my whole life

maybe. The lines that usually govern us

fade into the dirt that coats our shoes, our clothes

our throats.

He has been staring out the window for miles

not moving or commenting, but watching

with a hunger and an earnestness I can’t help but love.

While he watches the terrain, I watch other people watch it.

This is a sport I could spend days at.

Their eyes light in conjunction with hills and valleys

the delicate and rugged contours of the earth

and I am overwhelmed by how much I love

the intricacies of every human being I have ever met.

Sometimes it’s almost too much to bear.

Days later, we drive deep into a valley

the dark walls of barren Earth, the great behemoth mountains

circling us on all sides—acting neither

as a threat nor a comfort.

“It was my road map,” he adds, “to love. To being a person”

In less than two months, I am leaving for college.

Every semblance of normality, every ritual

robbed from me, in favor of an exploration

I am too trepidatious to look forward to.

What I wouldn’t give for a road map right now.

Every emotion all at once lives in me somewhere

pushing up like tectonic plates—I am well on my way

to becoming a mountain, so close

to bursting I’m surprised you can’t see the Earth move.

But you can’t.

None of this comes in the form of words, so I listen:

to him talk about his book, to the bus jolt over rocks,

to my heart: little and big at the same time

and so full, as it whispers

that to love people is the greatest pleasure of being alive.

So I do.

I do.

Claudia Maurino is a twenty-year-old writer from Western Massachusetts. She spent the last year traveling the country assisting natural disaster relief and vaccine distribution as part of a term of service with AmeriCorps NCCC. In the fall, she will be returning to the Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, where she studies English, social thought & political economy, and theater.

Dotted Line