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

Holly Marie Roland

Womanhood: An Education

Fear, like a falsehood, hooded burlap, jute jostling against ears;

and when I can’t hear my escape from this old world to new,

draped rough around winter shoulders, I call to you.

A whoop or roar of quietness I snub out completely.

Dear self, don’t disentangle this nest I’ve been working—

the cattail fluff and dry leaves, whatever I could get my nails on:

The elevator closing while my child knee bled,

flights of stairs clamored and climbed;

             we are not yet divine:

             shaking plane wings and drunk pilot

I couldn’t see;           my mother wheezing in another late

night room of waiting rainbows;           strange vegetables;

             sabulous lies, sinking into fossilized shorelines;

             a fogged breath against a window, the only one

not picked up on snow days; my father thumbing a match;

the legacy of lunacy;           loose dogs, snarling;

             brain parasites; warnings: tornados;           a stranger at my door;

             tabby kittens lost; I am alone; a teacher frowning;

                    a friend in a tule dress crying; a memory melting,

                              ice beneath weak feet;

                              youth fading like the stories

                                    I used to write in pencil, those too,           floppy, disappearing;

                                    my words, written

or not; realizing I am not held by any other and cannot hold any thing.

                    And death, surely.

Fear, like a truth, pitters and patters in this ravine of shoulders;

a track for the train to thunder down, shuddering, while my sore mouth tries muttering,

I have just one light and it flickers.

Take me as I am, take me as I come,

I will love you long,

            my fear digging in beside yours, waves whet with the curious

moon, rising

and setting, again.


The loggers start when the stars collapse

back into their canopy;

a bruised sky spins daybreak out in colored notches

as axels round the hairpin below my cabin.

Aloft, I pretend to sleep.

They say the harvest is healthy for men

and their lunch pails—

men who tug at the airhorn

because a woman shares the road

and in her morning smallness moves aside—

men who throw bones out an unseen window

watching if my dog salivates.

She hides rawhide in her rueful mouth

not knowing that for which she hungers.

Remember that fleshy vulnerability?

Seeded some moonstung

hour, howled in by a cutting wind, heedless and headless?

It is sprawled now naked in the clearcut.

Time and the turning of megrim days,

too many midnights caught up in my mind’s shrubbery,

idolatry of flesh, of one happiness licking another

in the mudmoist soil,

free in the forest, our once homeland,

free to flee,

free to call destruction regeneration—

all these named and unnamed swings

brought it to pieces.

Strangers see its skeletal shadows

from the opposite shore,

wildcats pounce upon the innards

and stalk what remains of its splintered ghost.

This poem is yet another sapling

aging too quickly,

just a junk tree in the end,

there one moment then gone,

replaced and repressed. I strain to see what’s left growing hillside,

stripped soil that’s supposed to look natural

to the untrained eye, that’s supposed

to spurt biodiversity from a barren floor.

I thought I made a new friend

with a young lumberjack.

He yesterday confessed a dream.

“A good one?” my words ventured.

“More than good,” he said. A woodshed

for his pleasure, as if that’s the natural order

of our small knowing: the inevitability

of our machinery, as if the scarred slopes

don’t remember a thing.

Across the Lake

The first ring of trees—

cottonwood, skinny trunked,

leaves spotted like the underside of a dying monarch,

watch clouds creep over a lonely lake.

The fire is tumbling tonight as the light dips down in strips

then dives and drowns, strangely.

If I said this elbow of woods was unholy

would you believe me?

If owls start tumbling from high branches

and carp stomachs leak lily pads,

would you then begin to believe me?

The fire is churning tonight,

spitting faces onto the soot-black glass,

but none yours, none mine.

My eyes scale the second ring of trees, unchanged

emerald, the tallest testaments, far from our dusty window,

and I imagine that sinking rowboat full of pieces,

my body:

           like every fallen leaf within me,

at rest in all its parts, so beautifully crumpled:

                                                   my eyelids

                                                   to nostrils

                                                   to teeth to collarbone,

                                                   my nipples

                                                   to trunk

                                                   to pelvis to knees

                                                   to long leg hair

                                                   to hallux

not being held but seen by another.

It’s inevitable—the way the sky slinks back into itself, until slate,

until haloed by watermarks;

                                                   who we used to be.

Swamp Queen Deluxe

The pocket of Cajuns dancing

in Louisiana backwater, stewing fish heads, are the sons

of sons of daughters of Acadians who were run out of their wild-

woods because they chose not to fight.

Sharpen gator bones,

‘cause that man calls me catawampus. I’m a mermaid,

swamp queen deluxe, chasing back with these clapperclaws

as you steer my sisters and me into the cypresses,

but we cannot seek cool refuge,

or rest, breasts up, under a cathedral of mosses. There is no reprieve

from sunstroke; woman, you’re an outsider, but I’m an outsider too:

admire us, as you sometimes do—

float our way and in the same day fear and revere

Her. Our guttural growls put that gris gris down deep,

lacing black danger. That pin has been in my mouth since

momma’s waterwomb. Survival is

stitching an arm before they can bite out the thread.

Come sundown, we make camp. The pot froths over

and eyeballs spill and stain marching, shiny shoes.

Do not paddle here again

to make love to miry shadows. A choir of gowned ghosts,

we now swing. Pauvre ti bête how many times

can creatures drown and be resurrected?

Clutch my molar-marked hand.


Newly cut grass kisses tops of feet, itches the inches.

Twenty-one weeks hasn’t seen your body so squarely

across from mine, that body next to this other,

like an inevitability, like the way night dips

her golden breasts into the mouth of day—twenty-one

weeks since you had stayed, lingered long in the doorway

before lounging on a faded futon, timer readied.

Ten tiny minutes: waved over,

             pulled atop animal apex,

             curls falling, tempting cheekbones;

             eager breath exchanging,

             belonging to no one, lips ascending

             to their gathering place—meadow

             of lupine and paintbrush,

             where pure purple and red, rapt,

             blended into brushfire haze.

             That first time, true instead of teasing,

             I like your touch. Then those other words,

             long rooted, easily exposed—

             a scoop away from the surface.

Here, I shoot a look at your shoes. For running away, I joke

clumsily. You stare down the legs of this overgrown season,

even after our small patch has barbed ugly and wild,

even now, when the struggle to share this verboten space

searches for the smoothest tip of conversation.

Let’s talk guns, why not?

             Tell me about your rifle, its recoil,

             the gravel lot where you could put a pistol

             in my starved, shaking hand, the hand

             that swirled between thighs,

             careful not to touch the betrayal.

             A shotgun would be too much punch,

             kickback, bloody my unlocked mouth,

             once whining for air as you slithered

             down fragrant folds. We whisper

             to that moment, now aged fantasy, and O’

             how I think of it and a lifted

             lemon dress fluttering against a fencepost,

             long torso pressed into my back,

             the bullets in your pocket indenting

             stippled skin. I feel everything, dear,

             before I feel nothing.

Once, you chased after a face pink and peaked,

but we’ve come to a standstill, straight, small speak,

knowing the buzzer has blared times up over and again.

Take me to grass grown from gunpowder, flailing tin cans,

an echo that comes back only to sever the silence,

half-cocked sorrys, wet toothed smiles glittering,

             a steady touch, a peace offering,

             sulfurous and dusty,

             eyes rolled shut, then open—

             all things dangerous if not deadly.

Holly Marie Roland writes poems and short stories that speak to rural America, the complexity, joys and griefs of human relationships, and womanhood. She works as a therapist who specializes in expressive writing therapy. Holly is the recipient of the Kratz Fellowship for Creative Writing Abroad and most recently, a winner of the 2020 Atlanta International Poetry Contest. Originally from Appalachia, she now lives off grid in the foothills of the Olympic Peninsula.

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