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

David Sloan

Recipe for Grammy’s Musical Stew

Before you start preparing this meal, put on

your swarming birds apron; it gives you

more of that St. Francis aura than usual.

Approach the counter less as saint or surgeon

than conductor, a musical liberator, the knife

you’re wielding more baton than scalpel.

Begin by mincing the onions in a slow staccato,

maestra, lento of a pre-sizzle overture. Brown

in butter and olive oil, the Tuscan special label

our friends sent us for “celebratory” occasions,

which back in the day meant a promising prelude

to a steamy evening. When the onions are golden,

add cubed beef. Slice rinsed mushrooms

with your practiced snare drum precision

and add before beef is fully brown. Don’t think

about the Mushrooms Supreme you concocted

early in our marriage. Love is making room

on the tile floor for a beloved—

who inadvertently poisoned us both—

while kneeling and heaving in alternation

through the night. Sprinkle in desired herbs,

according to mood; rosemary if you sense

a headache coming on, oregano if you’re channeling

Isabella Rossellini, thyme if you’re in no rush.

Add with a flourish pinches of flour (speaking of,

remember to admire the tulips I brought home

and artfully arranged in the glass vase

on the dining room table), beef broth,

and a splash of red wine. Pour a glass

for yourself. While it’s simmering for an hour,

peel the patient carrots with long strokes

of a trombone slide. Skin the potatoes

washboard percussion—cut into chunks,

and drop them like musical tone-stones

kerplunking into the stew. Serve

over rice, a side of steamed broccoli,

and fresh oven-warmed bread to sop up

the gravy. Mustn’t waste a drop. We may not

even need mood music. I’ll do the dishes.


He descends the hill in saffron

and crimson, proceeds with prayerful

devotion, the air sweet with jasmine

and yak butter. He lights a candle,

subtlest of foreshadowings.

He should have been at the temple

chanting or sweeping or making

alms rounds. Instead he joins

the procession to protest

recent shootings. A fellow devotee

places a cushion in the middle

of the street. The monk extinguishes

the candle, sits in the lotus position.

A growing crowd gathers. A friend

takes a five-gallon can from a car trunk

and pours gas over the monk, who,

in one unhurried motion, lights a match,

the sound like a finger snap. He bursts

into flames, remains unmoving, silent,

even as his bald head begins to bubble.

Later an official will call the act

self-inflicted arson. In Kánh Hòa

province, a couple kneel in front

of a lit candle, a lotus blossom

and small framed photo, trembling

shoulders almost touching. Their lips

move almost soundlessly, mouthing

two words over and over—Our son.


I’m the guest of honor, garden snake at a picnic.

My childhood friend and his grown daughter

peer concernedly down at me.

They perch politely on camp chairs skirting

a blue blanket in the yard, balance plates

of hummus, crackers and crudités.

I lie face up, squinting in fidgety afternoon

shadows. First foray outside after the accident.

I try to writhe discreetly, any position

that will blunt electrified strands

of barbed wire raking hip to calf. Can’t help

resenting the ease with which they sit.

I lose the conversational thread,

picture myself whole, pedaling on Highland

past sad, huddled cows, or chucking

firewood rounds out of the pile

as if they’re beanbags, then uncoiling

a monster maul to bust up oversize chunks.

At night, escape depends upon diverting

attention from flayed nerves

to external solaces; weight of a duvet,

waft and click of the fan, creak of a headboard,

pillow’s cool underside, reassuring

rattle of pills knocked off the chair.

My wife insists the worst has passed,

even as she teases how I bask in playing

the invalid. I want to believe her prognosis,

but I’m still pinned on my back, still

fretting about that i-word, how

there’s two ways to pronounce it.

Making Maple Syrup

A Wedding Poem

I. The Long Wait

It takes patience to make syrup from sap.

You must tap the right trees at the right time,

but you can’t start with tapping; you must wait

out a deep winter freeze, when maples

are dormant, when the forest can feel

as if it’s mourning the losses piled up

in previous seasons, loved ones

snatched away, relationships wrecked.

II. Seeing the Trees AND the Forest

That in-between time—when nights dip

below freezing, when days creep above—

can sneak up on you. What starts

as providing home-cooked meals,

companionship, comfort

against the chill, stirs alchemy.

Crystallized sap and wounded hearts

begin to thaw, then flow.

III. Filling the Buckets

First you cozy up an Atlantic sunrise

from Cadillac’s granite ledges, then wave

farewell to a sinking Western sun

from a red corvette cruising up Highway 1.

Tourists mistake you for Hollywood idols.

Horseback and hot springs in Costa Rica,

posing as flapper and bow-tied dandy

in front of a vintage biplane.

IV. Assembling the Parts

Building a home-made evaporator from scratch

takes ingenuity: so does blending families;

converting a steel drum into a stove for the boil,

trick-or-treating as Pooh and friends; breaking

up firewood for fuel, somehow breaking an ankle

in a parking lot to start a romantic weekend;

stovepipe and flue, tacking and rafting. All it takes

to fit odd parts together is a little gumption.

V. Up in the Air

The sap bubbles away, sweetening the air. Earth,

water, fire have given your love texture, life,

and heat, but the sky’s your binding element.

Pilot lessons, kites dancing and diving, and one

momentous balloon ride, burners fueling liftoff

and a mile-high ascent to pop the question

you both knew was coming. Below,

three thrilled balloon chasers,

with Nana and Grampy, follow a shadow

the shape of a joyful teardrop.

VI. After the Boil

You take care to filter the amber syrup.

Catching impurities is crucial for future

enjoyment; then the pouring and storing.

You’ve toiled together, boiled together,

blended families, affections, improvising

each dicey step of the adventure.

Now you know sap will always flow

again, buckets never really empty,

and the sweetness lasts the more

you pour into it, the more you share it.

David Sloan’s debut poetry collection—The Irresistible In-Between—was published by Deerbrook Editions in 2013. A Rising and Other Poems, (Deerbrook), launched in 2020. Honors include The Betsy Sholl Award, the inaugural Maine Poets Society Prize and two Maine Literary awards. After five decades of teaching, most recently at Maine Coast Waldorf High School in Freeport, he is semi-retired, focusing on the joys of grandparenting, gardening, cycling and more regular writing.

Dotted Line