Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Summer 2022    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Summer 2022


Joanne Monte
& other poems

Holly York
Still When I Reach for the Leash
& other poems

Anne Marie Wells
Catholicism Still Lingers in a Concrete Poem
& other poems

D.T. Christensen
Coded Language
& other poems

Laura Faith
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
Winter in Choctaw
& other poems

Natalie LaFrance-Slack
& other poems

Nicole Sellino
iii. moving, an interruption
& other poems

Gilaine Fiezmont
In Memoriam / Day of the Dead
& other poems

Sheri Flowers Anderson
On Being A Widow
& other poems

RJ Gryder
& other poems

William S. Barnes
to hatch
& other poems

Suzannah Van Gelder
& other poems

Sam Bible-Sullivan
The Dying Worker’s Soliloquy
& other poems

Hills Snyder
Eclipse (July 4, 2020)
& other poems

Lauren Fulton
Birth Marks
& other poems

David Sloan
& other poems

Nancy Kangas
Dry Dock Cranes of Brooklyn Navy Yard
& other poems

Noreen Graf
In Attendance
& other poems

Jim Bohen
Nothing Tea
& other poems

Thomas Baranski
Let us name him dread and look forward
& other poems

William S. Barnes

the history of a color

you can see it where the pathway bends into the hills, across the contour, rising.

all the grass in seed and thick between the ruts and where the road falls off.

cowfields. a wooden gate.

hedgerows mark the water lines.

everyone is calling. the skies darken. piling into the north.


no single color in the chromatic range of green

              appears in Neolithic painting.

and the glaucous sea

              is the same shade to Odysseus

as Calypso’s glaucous eyes, as the glaucous underside of the leaves in her orchard,

              as the shimmering honey she makes

—a sweet paleness there.


lying on our backs in the dirt by the summer-ditch

              we can hear it.

there is nothing in between. the air and the body itself

      gray-barked, riven and wet and filled with its voices.

a shelter, close as skin.


Goethe says darkness is not the absence

              of light, but rather

     another kind of wave, like light,

complementary, as mind is to heart.

              —color comes from holding hands,

     the warmth that rises in between.


a pair of salamanders

              suspended in the lake

     in the middle place

wavering between day and night—

columns of gold

              descend into the water,

     deep into the heart.

still. as a match.


then viridis appears, and a whole family of names to mean the luminosity resident in things: viridine, viridescence, verdance, verdure, verdet rising from within. the way knowing feels

before speaking can begin.


at first, I couldn’t see.

              I couldn’t tell between the mirror and the gaze, your fleeting eyes.

     the glance. your sunlit arms.

it doesn’t matter.

              you were here. a sudden fluency

eyes closed windows flung wide

              and the wind so near and ready and the brilliant canopies of leaves

     and the sudden rain pouring straight down in.

to hatch

at first, it’s something broken makes me look, the sharp, small flake like a tear in the grass.

and then it’s the color.

we look up. nestlings!


Sunday. near the beginning, I left my car in a ditch, tore my shirt on the fence

then slept in the grass, hidden till the moon rose and the sky turned violet

and the voices came out of the wind and pinned me to the ground. tell me a story, they said.


Monday. once there was a girl named Sophia. she was normal in every way but for the arrow in her eye.

over time the arrow grew and the world darkened. of course, she could not see it because it was hers

and because it slept in her eye. one day, in the way that revelation always happens, she caught a glimpse

of herself sidelong in the milliner’s shop-window and she saw: the arrow like a wing with its mallard fletches nesting beautifully there, in her eye. at first she felt shock, then shame, then a fear close to terror. and now, what is she to do? the world is a wonder, unfixed and unknown. the self in it too. what if she recognizes nothing? what if bloodied

and blinking she wakes herself blind? having named the thing beside her

that darkens, can it be removed?


once, I found myself walking down the street. black asphalt. like tarmac.

on the right, a city park with elms, evenly spaced.

on the left, a sidewalk, bright windows, dry goods, women’s shoes.

in front of me, there is a manhole missing its cover. I leap in and fall.

at the bottom, I find myself sitting in a rich black earth. I see with my hands.

I touch the roots. I smell the good dirt.

later, I climb out and find myself walking down the street. black asphalt. like tarmac.

on the right, a city park, green with elms and lawn.

on the left, a sidewalk, windows, candles made of beeswax.

in front of me, a hole. it is very dark and I can’t see, but for the love of leaping,

I leap in. at the bottom, I find myself sitting in a rich black earth. I see with my hands.

it is moist and warm and I want it to fit. I want to taste.

later, I find myself walking down a city street. it is night. the city lights are like stars.

there is a hole pulling me in. I leap.


circling. circling. dawnlight. a bear on the path in my dreams.


late now. Tuesday. too soon. the mayflies

rise at dusk from out of the rocks, into the current, peeling themselves

through the veils at the water’s surfaces.


Wednesday. something happens at the end of winter, a swirling time, when spring threatens to wake us all,

and the wind starts to blow its ruse and its danger. ‘come out if you dare.’ the darkness is leaving.

I’m afraid I’ve lost everything.


once, I went looking for the elk beneath the ridge in the flats by the creek:

a young bull asleep in the grass. when he woke to my walking, he stood.

and for a minute he stared, not moving.


Thursday. once in a winter desert. hard rain deep.

I am flooded and flooding. unraveled. unleashed.

pine dropseed. mountain muhly. junegrass. sweetgrass. wild manna grass—

suddenly, he bursts into flight.

again and again. a madness of water.

of heat.


Friday morning. the garden window’s open, binding us to it.

—eggshell blue, like that.

Saturday. nested.

little wing. clouded.

rising. to a hard rain deep.

it was a gift. the night. the sky. the wind.

it was a kiss. like permission. unfolding.

the waters

there are fishes in the story. side-by-side. a crimson thread.

we watched from the bridge. into the currents. a green bus. and a girl. it was cold

above the tree line.—we were looking for ptarmigan

in the season that fades from mottled-brown to white and the snow deepens.

in pools against the rocks.


there was water in it. unexpected. mineral-carved canyonslide

we pull over. searching. for the voices. for the birth. for the fall.


once, my father gathered me into his arms before dawn and we drove to the river.

I wake to the mist curling back across the water and the sun flashing

and I am blind-casting into the wildlight and leaning toward that sudden pull my heart



voice, tongue, lips in the wet world under—

fluid and scaled and cold. is that speaking?

to be finned and gilled and tailed and giddy and longing. to be painted.

IS that?


some far slip. some rut. cut across the contour. and the summer dirt. powder. electric. or—

touch. and it pearls away, a voice no more than air.

if you lie in the sand and stare straight, you can see

how the water shapes it. how it braids. sifting. something not broke.

something that cannot break. how everything fits. how everything’s wave.


a mermaid in the pool in the summer surrounded

by a million screaming somebodies, and yet

beautifully alone. infinite. chlorinated. blue.


first snow—first flakes. twisting. one-by-one.

a bay-colored rock. laid in sheaves so that it breaks horizontal.

we stand in the eddy. at the fault line.

what falls away is a gesture into. scree into pine into prairie.

green into blue into white.

you can feel it. the winter’s night. coming in. coming through.


some nights I dive down there to speak

some nights I tell myself stories to make myself weep—

then, let the tides stroke my hair. [I stroke my own hair, till I fall

myself to sleep].


sometimes the lake is gray, or burnished like steel or mist or flat. opaque. repeating.

black. with the barest light on top. warmer than air. I am swimming in between.

liquid. not.

sometimes I am woven. and in it.


my voice is in the crests. waiting for the when in which I want them,

see them, love them—

wish to speak, and you will speak, girl.

wish to die, and you can do it—foam only.

wish to live, and here you are—aquatic and electric and abuzz—


in the story there’s a crossing. sunhot. rock-gleam. the animal river.

wish to speak and my feet are rooted.

—all the stories crossing here.


[in the days when wishing is having, I get what I wish for, and then I wish I hadn’t]

I want the jungle-lushness rainstorm in my heart, marsh birds

on my tongue I want

to be so quicksilvered so flash-flooded up-filled

that I overflow

that I mudflow spill it


fear of parching, fear of perishing for the lack,

for the lack alack alack—

and what is it that you long for that you cannot have?


tracks at the soft edge. heron here. pressed it. creased this. waited, stepped here

waded, watchful. the water pulls me deeper in. the little silt waves asking

if I want to be taken.


the cold of it.


the inside-out of it. oiling in fin and bone—

the slick of it. the smooth-sticky swim of it


upcurrent, in wave, upstream, in slither—in deep


and the bird, this heron, quickly sharp now

lifts—till her wings, outstretched, for the slightest moment—slips

to the heat of it—leaps, to the radiance—the sweet bright curve of it—

bent now, curls now—lifting, up—


to the backlit wingspray streaming

streamfew, droplight [having flown once . . . ]

dripfall, wet, falling, [having fallen]—from out of no place, from out of nothing—

to the mind dark, rock dark, wet now—


to the heat of it. parsing and pouring and leaving—and dazzling.

to the want of it.—I want to come in.

the least wave

we’re travelling together downstream.

barefoot. along the river. along the dry, cobbled edge. late summer.

I am trying to recall to you the first beach: a steep slope of sand.

the sudden deep water. the slip of it.

you turn to look at me. press your forehead to mine. then slow

you trace the bones of my face with your cheek. with your chin. till we are leaning

against each other. till we fall into a strange orbit. your head perfectly fitted

to the circle of my shoulder. we are slow wooden gears. each

twist seeking into the hollows of the other. I am

helping you to turn. my hand

slips to your waist. to the curve of your hip.

I can feel you then. inside. listening.

how you rise to meet. the expanse of you

unfolding then.—I have no ground.

I cannot tell if you know.

or why you move against me. into me. the way you do.

the beach in my story is far from here.

a circling I can’t seem to unwind.

and yet all the surfaces are shining:

the river spinning past.

the sweetnesses of the sand.

the willows. my tempest.


begin again.


the history of a color

The title is taken from Green: The History of a Color, by Michel Pastoureau, Princeton University Press, 2014. In ancient Greek, there were no words for what we think of today as the color green. Homer used the word “glaukos” to describe the color of water, the color of eyes, the color of leaves, and the color of honey. Pastoureau writes that the Greek word “glaukos” “conveys the idea of a color’s paleness or weak concentration rather than a precisely defined shade.” The first words in any western lexicon denoting what we think of today as the chromatic hues of green arose in Latin during Roman times. Pastoureau, p. 20.

“Viridis,” “viridine,” “viridescence,” “verdance,” “verdure,” and “verdet” mean green, or pertain to various shades of green and derive from the Latin verb “vireo” to green.

For Goethe, darkness was not an absence of light, but rather, a polarity of lightness like the poles of a magnet, which interacted with light; color resulted from this interaction of light and shadow. “Yellow is a light which has been dampened by darkness; Blue is a darkness weakened by light.” Goethe, Johann, Theory of Colours, 1810. paragraph #502. For Goethe, green is the color that arises when light and darkness interact equally.

to hatch and the waters are written for two voices.

William S. Barnes is a botanist and conservation biologist working for the New Mexico State Land Office. Author of “The Ledgerbook” (3:A Taos Press, 2016) Mr. Barnes’ recent and forthcoming poems can be found in Bangalore, Comstock, Crab Creek, Ilanot, Mudfish and Ocotillo Reviews. “The history of a color & others” is from his new manuscript titled “the artemisia” based on the true love story of Artemis and Actaeon.

Dotted Line