Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2013    fiction    all issues


Alysse Kathleen McCanna
& other poems

Peter Nash
Shooting Star
& other poems

Katherine Smith
House of Cards
& other poems

David Sloan
On the Rocks
& other poems

Alexandra Smyth
Exoskeleton Blues
& other poems

John Glowney
The Bus Stop Outside Ajax Bail Bonds
& other poems

Andrea Jurjević O’Rourke
It Was a Large Wardrobe...
& other poems

Lisa DeSiro
Babel Tree
& other poems

Michael Fleming
& other poems

Michael Berkowitz
As regards the tattoo on your wrist
& other poems

Michael Brokos
Landscape without Rest
& other poems

Michael H. Lythgoe
Orpheus In Asheville
& other poems

John Wentworth
morning people
& other poems

Christopher Jelley
Double Exposure
& other poems

Catherine Dierker
dinner party
& other poems

William Doreski
Hate the Sinner, Not the Sin
& other poems

Robert Barasch
& other poems

Rande Mack
& other poems

Susan Marie Powers
Red Bird
& other poems

Anne Graue
& other poems

Mariah Blankenship
Tub Restoration
& other poems

Paul R. Davis
& other poems

Philip Jackey
Garage drinking after 1989
& other poems

Karen Hoy
A Naturalist in New York
& other poems

Gary Sokolow
Underworld Goddess
& other poems

Michal Mechlovitz
The Early
& other poems

Henry Graziano
Last Apple
& other poems

Stephanie L. Harper
& other poems

Roger Desy
& other poems

R. G. Evans
& other poems

Frederick L. Shiels
Driving Past the Oliver House
& other poems

Richard Sime
Berry Eater
& other poems

Jennifer Popoli
Generations in a wine dark sea
& other poems

Robert Barasch


My daughter photographs loons—

finds them in their nests, tracks them

as they swim across lakes, knows

when the hatchlings are due, waits

to record first swims.

She photographs babies on the backs

of their mothers and fathers, the same

who dive from under them

to emerge from the water with fry

to put into their mouths.

I have pictures of my daughter on my back

and of my granddaughters on her back

and of my great-grandchildren

on their parents’ backs

and being fed treats over shoulders.

“Up,” my children would say

and we understood and lifted them.

Lev Vygotsky proclaimed:

no thought without language first

and I think of the loons’ calls.

Are the words of instruction in those yodels,

setting the babies to think about leaping up?

Did I grab my mother’s breast without a thought?

Did Helen Keller's first thought come on that famous day,

or do we just not understand?

Pas De Deux

The fourteen-month-old boy stands,

one hand on the edge of the chair

before launching himself

toward his great-grandmother,

who grips the edge of the kitchen counter

before stepping out

toward the table between them,

one amazed at his new way of travel

the other perplexed by hers.

They continue to learn new steps of their minuet,

first performed shortly after he was born.

Early variations included slow dancing in rocking chairs,

arm and hand motions together on a piano bench,

these and others before the early warnings.

Now, both vertical, the choreography calls

for their hands to meet at the center of the room,

an awkward couple among complacently confident dancers.

The background music is both silent and polyphonic,

his a Sousa-like march with flute and cymbals,

hers a violin with slipped tuning,

strings frayed, notes elusive,

more and more unreachable.

One peers gleefully into the opening out,

the other squeezed by the relentless closing in.


That ’possum never had a chance,

dazzled as she was by the beam of light,

brightest star of her night; she,

fading already in their thoughts

before the warm glow of the fire.

They sat and talked about her—

how her eyes gave back to them

part of the light they gave to her—how

each shot once, the three shots hitting her—

how she lay, limp fur, on the ground.

So Mary, seventeen, a game girl,

lay drunk on her father's lawn

while the three football stars talked

in the red glow of the Wurlitzer,

recalling her hungry eyes, her furry gift,

her falling into a loose heap

when they dropped her off at home.

Spring of 2001

Fifteen feet of snow and twenty below

got the downtown caucuses talking.

“Might not get a garden this year.”

“Tractor tires still frozen to the ground.”

“Old horse’ll have to eat snowballs this summer.”

At the red store, a man at the gas pump said

it was because of killing the rain forest.

Another one said you can’t blame nukes

for this one. A man at another pump said

“Oh yes you can it’s the final tab

for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Oblivious, the croakers strained their muscles

pushing the sluggish mud, breathing stilled,

letting their cold skin suck muddy bubbles

of air. All pushing at the same time,

they sent currents to the ceiling of the pond,

startling the ice. Like a locomotive in a roundhouse,

the engine of winter got turned around;

still, no one heard a sound. Suddenly,

only two weeks behind schedule,

the snow receding to the shadiest woods,

the songs erupted in the pond. This year,

along with their songs of longing,

the frogs were bragging, raucously,

“Wedidit, wedidit, wedidit.”

And three days later, the peepers joined,

“Yousee, yousee, yousee.”


The turkeys, who have been coming in small groups

seem to have got together last night at a meeting

thirty of them coming into the field this morning.

Perhaps they were considering the weather

light frosts two nights and today ninety degrees,

and the dozen little ones.

Who hatched these youngsters in late August

they must have been asking, the answer

plain to all of them and even to me

who thought I could read embarrassment

in the eyes of the fidgety hen and the blushing

of an old Tom’s beard.

When they hear the geese going over soon

they might wonder about joining them

nudged by a vestigial memory that hangs

like a human coccyx or appendix

with impulse to action, fit only for dreaming

of perpetual summer.

Born in 1926, Robert Barasch grew up in Alabama, moved to New York in 1952, and to Vermont in 1970 with his wife and three children. He worked as a newspaper editor and reporter before getting a PhD in clinical psychology, retiring in 1996 and writing poetry and fiction since that time. His poems have been published in several journals and he recently published a novel, Parallel Play.

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