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

Natalie LaFrance-Slack


peace demands a turn to speak

from the back row of

the largest classroom

raises a hand in defiance

glances at confrontation

steadies for a fight

my mother

well intentioned told me that peace was

to sit in silence and wait

on God’s timing

but did not teach me that I am a

goddess on my own time

that peace is seldom quiet and

operates in urgency

peace is the sound of feet running

pavement away from cycles of abuse

the sound of mothers lighting candles

in remembrance of dead sons and

daughters blowing smoke as they

ready to free the captives

wings spread

have you ever watched a spider

spin silk around a moth

held your breath through a field of

butterflies in your stomach

wondered aloud and tear filled at

the moment of triumph or long

pause before the

last supper

peace is the chewing of the meal

before you swallow and peace

is the nourishment from the

meal as you finish and peace is

the neurons that fire because you

ate and peace is the energy you

leave behind

when you pray for a soul you imagine

its entrance to heaven all song and sunrise

or the fiery flames licking it over all

defeat but peace is the freedom

to imagine one thousand other


creation exists in the inbetweens of

life and longing and you cannot tell me

or my mother now that there is no

peace in a womb or that blood and

disaster and stars and universes do not

also inhabit it


in a hurry before time wipes

across the slate and cleans to begin again

peace is the scream of the chalk

the first word of a toddler the last

word of a goddess

one thousand other echoes of freedom hard fought

and finally won


It took me until I was thirty five to

love my body enough to listen

and Believe her when

she told me “no” with her smallest voice

in her biggest time

to let her unfold and fold

wrinkled and rolled


into fits of laughter

to hold her gently when she


to imagine uninhibition


in the beauty of enough

large and containing

multitudes I stopped biting my

fingernails to the quick

catching blood drops on my tongue

while smiling

I let the skin stretched home of my

infants breathe all the way in

until she is full

I met her in the corner at a cocktail party

and loved her as she filled her plate

as her eyes danced across hors d’oeuvres

and decorations and drank

opulence and dove into


She is

I told her for the first time that she

is Beloved

worthy of stories with twists

and turns and lovers and victory

of climax and windows down hair blowing

tangled and unkempt

but draped in sunlight and


salt kissed and well traveled I

told her I loved the dirt on the bottom of

her feet the

scars inked into her knees the

way she extends others second chances

like an offering that

when I dream I can feel pieces of her heart beating on other continents

and yet

when I reach across my own body

caress my navel with my big hands

smile at laugh lines mirror eyes and

take up space

I finally love her loud enough

and quiet enough

and for long enough to know that

she has given and given and she is still



I think about dying every day

so when Eric the yoga instructor encourages us to inhale

and then exhale and

then close the back of our throat and

let ourselves feel empty and let ourselves feel need

I think

*this* is how I want to go



laying on my back or stretching to the sky



in silence and contemplation

The act of re-regeneration

or laughing loudly as a lover tells a story

laying side by side

or walking a sunlit path

rays dancing off a chemo bald head

still victorious

I want to die in the act of creation

paintbrush arcing between delighted fingers

half covered canvas

dreams still unseen

I want to die mid poem

words aching at the back of my throat

my obituary will just say

Hello World

isn’t it wonderful?

and my held breath will tell the world all the ways she was

the prize

I sold a bunkbed on Craigslist today and

when the grandmother came to pick it up

she told me about how the system had

taken her grandchildren

from their parents’


and paid

another family

for their care

how she’d fought to regain


to retain them

to house them

and to create safety

for them in what

turns out to be a very unsafe world

especially for bodies that

are brown or black or dark or big or small or

so I gave away a bunkbed today

and with it

a box of Legos a few old shirts

some Crayola markers

some kind words and

not enough

someone asked me if I believed in

attractiveness privilege


when things come easy because

you have been called traditionally beautiful

girl next door

all your life

and I think that I have always been

on the cusp of “Grab her by the pussy”able

and I wonder if that has done me better

or worse

if that is a prize or

I keep thinking of all of the times I was asked to be quiet

in a boardroom

and the times when my ideas were repeated

as if they were a man’s own

and then I think

at least I got a seat at the table

in that boardroom

as a woman

and then I think

that’s a horribly fucked up way

to think

about my right

and my worth

is that the prize?

as a teenage mother in the foodstamps

line I never once worried

that my children would be taken


hear this

as a teenage mother in the

poverty line

I never worried once

that my children would be taken


there is enough money in my bank account now to

feed my children

and line my eyes

to gift a bunkbed to someone in need

there is not enough money in my bank account to

speak up in anger

when my own words

are repeated back to me

is that the prize?

Natalie LaFrance-Slack has her father’s smile. She carries her mother’s laugh and loss around her eyes. She is a sister to many; a long time lover. With her three teenage sons, Natalie can often be lost in the woods, driving narrow highways, or finding live music in little towns with one stoplight. A child of repressive religiosity, she finds beauty in writing her way out of the walls she was told would contain her.

Dotted Line