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

Writer's Site

Lauren Fulton

Birth Marks


I am too faded // but for the most intimate / appraiser // diminished // by time / disguised by age // the small divot / slight darkening / a pox on the delicate / child’s body //

Pale skin dotted pink / tumble down a fever dream / delirium of bright wax colors // masterpiece of innocence / quickly painted over // I am the original sin / bittersweet apple / fangs through protective flesh / swallowing the sweetness / abandoning the core / the bite / of disconnection //

I am a phantom of touch // search for relief // scar of primordial need.

Carpus I

Below the fold / where wrist meets palm // twisted cross / bird in flight // scrape of metal on skin // imperfect / catch to a fall //

Fleeing grandmother’s hospital bed // her scarred flattened chest the family birthright // four stitches // one for each of the child’s years //

Doctor sewing skinned / bodies back together // mother sobbing between gasping mother / screaming daughter // grief upon grief / upon grief.


A patchwork on both knees // we are legion for we are many // bite of gravel // lightning bolt nerves on curbs // long slow ache on pews //

Blood / bone / stone / branch / dirt / sand // patella lodging pain / fearlessness / girlhood safety // discovering all pleasures have their limits //

An exorcism of innocence // boy child racing bicycles / becoming girl child chased / learning protection / means cover / shrink / hide //

freedom driven out / of the body and off the cliff // in a scrape of blood and dust.


A needle and a lighter / adolescent attraction to the sharp and the hot // discovery that pain can be desire // can be communion //

I am the etch of initials into ankles // symbols onto thighs / soft touch of a girl’s hand // the soothe before the sear //

Learning to bite cheeks // to hold inside the agony / of the burn // to look with love / into eyes // while hands make visible / the ache.

Carpus II

I am the attempt at symmetry / at remembering // of turning accident to intention // I am the small x on the other wrist // the cold metal / blade a mother’s gift / a lesson / in reining in / the unruly / the unsightly //

Easy after so many effortless nicks on knees // now with a quick flick of a scarred wrist // a fledgling cry / blood in bath / flood of fear / arousal of power / apprehension of depth //

Wrists pressed together / flight of two doves // parent/child, lover/beloved, memory/imagination.


Black rubber burned into intersection // skull thump on dash // funeral program crushed in pale knuckles // screams from the backseat // car full of black-clad teenagers blindsided / by grief //

Another friend lost to another car / garage parked / suburban idling // Flashing lights and sirens / the ferryman chaperone // from one death to another //

I am the dull thud / the quirk in the eyebrow // I am the mark of the beast / I am the permanent witness / to bereaved mothers // burying their faces // in the rent garments of their children. 


A congregation of cells // supposed to be dispersed // on the skin // malignancy / in waiting //

Sentinels guarding crease of thigh / valley of breasts / nape of neck // bulwark of the body’s own making // paladin of purity / that terrible angel //

Removal a benediction / now I am who am // trinity of steepled scars // chambered echoes of stitch / and staple / of shame / both excised / and etched into / the body.


Lonely celebration // wine bottle spiral // no corkscrew / but // resourcefulness / recklessness // in abundance // a deep / scissor slice to forefinger //

Blood dashing / on graduation gown / clear cut to tendon / mechanics of a body bared //

Close call / not the first / not the last // expletive of luck luck luck //

I am the revelation / of the father / in the daughter // inheritance of affliction / calamity in the veins // a patrimony of self-destruction.


I am the feline / striped witness / to motherhood // flanking the knotted depression / in the belly // legacy of the matriarchy //

I am the leanness / I am the swelling / the pain and / pleasure of fullness // of emptiness //

I am the presence of mothers past // passed to their babies // the gut of their own lives // their own //


Exit Interview

When I asked my mother to explain

mammogram                  she said

imagine all you were told was beauty

pressed to dust in a pill

you’ll choke to swallow.

When I asked my mother to explain

biopsy                               she said

an interrogation at needlepoint -

all the body’s secrets laid bare

under bright lights.

When I asked my mother to explain

chemo                               she said

When you kill parts of yourself,

even the ones you want to die,

you can’t help but be sick with the loss.

When I asked my mother to explain

radiation                          she said

remember Rich said, “your wounds come

from the same source as your power”

and there is no cure for either, only exposure.

When I asked my mother to explain

hair loss                            she said

when you spend your life wearing 

a crown of thorns and honey

there is relief in the tender touch of a silk scarf.

When I asked my mother to explain

scar                                   she said

even a leaf leaves a mark on a tree when it falls.

Does the oak mourn the damage done, or

stretch its limbs and grow something new?

When I asked my mother to explain

prosthesis                         she said

sometimes we put things on for the comfort

of others and sometimes their comfort

becomes our own.

When I asked my mother to explain

remission                            she said

every day the sacrament on my tongue, 

an absolution, a benediction

another lifetime with you.

When I asked my mother to explain

relapse                                 she said

it is a slipping into waters already swum

back to the cardinal element

held by the crystal light of the moon.

When I ask my mother to explain

goodbye                               she says

nothing, only slides the skin of her liminal fingers

against the vein of my hand, my inheritance

and presses precisely, tenderly, the terrified pulse she finds there.


Before the toe dipped

into deeper ends and before

the deck-smack of wet steps,

dampened feet getting colder

each metal rung up the ladder,

before heels hold the wobbling

body to the board, before

the arch before the sigh before


before splash and sting

of water-slapped skin before

the body bubbling to surface, gulping

lungs clung to sides of safety—

There is the gasp, the shivery snap,

clammy shell of a still-sodden suit

pulled over goose-pimpled skin

prickling apprehension, there

is the glance at eyes, familiar,

older crinkled slant of some wonder

unfathomed until long later, and now

satisfied someone is watching, dry

docked feet walk, wrinkling

toward the after.


Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.
—David Foster Wallace

Let go and let god, your dad

used to say, but you hold on

the same way that he did.

Bits left under beds of by-

gones left in shreds, a holding

pattern repeated.

As long as you live I will grow,

and so will the slivers

of memory you cling to.

Bodies I’ve gashed, every

bit of your past, careful—

I’ll also slice you.

Claws deliver to fangs

who devour, your hunger

pangs finally sated,

By violence wrought

against instinct, caught in

affections I have abraded.

Paint me red and pretend,

possession can lend beauty,

and what it grows into.

Blades made by your cells,

forensics that tell the dead

stories you’ve finally lived through.

Lauren Fulton is a queer, single mom and writer of poetry, fiction and essays. Born and raised in Florida, she now lives in Portland, Oregon. She loves naps, public libraries, cooking, and she really misses traveling. Follow her twitter @laurenfulton21.

Dotted Line