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

R. G. Evans


Every day an origin story—

an ordinary man swallows a potion

he knows is dire poison.

The change begins at once:

he writhes through blind bliss,

tears his clothes (and sometimes bleeds)

as the poison moves through his veins.

His strength grows great.

His strength remains the same.

His secret wears a mask.

Everyone knows who he is.

At last, eyes red, bottles emptied

by his superhuman thirst,

he enters his fortress of solitude,

wherever it may be tonight.

His bed. The floor beside his bed.

The sidewalk where he fell

on the way to find his home.

And all this just a prelude . . .

He awakes, having never really slept,

alter ego dead, home planet nearly destroyed,

the ability to suffer his only super trait, thinking

With great impotence comes great irresponsibility.

At least the Drunkmobile stayed in its dock tonight,

waiting where it’s waited since the beginning,

and in the beginning was the drink,

every day an origin story.

The Usual

In a faraway bar in a faraway town

the bartender thinks I’m someone

I’m not. She smiles, arches an eyebrow

and says The usual?

What would I get if I were this man

she thinks I am—a shot and a beer?

Somethng with more finesse?

I wonder how long his usual would last,

this man who looks and acts like me.

I remember my usual and the mileage it got me

though all the time I was riding on “E.”

My usual was darkness and long draughts alone,

hairpin roads and a hand too light upon the wheel.

I pray this stranger’s usual let him fit into his world

better than I fit into mine. The bartender’s waiting,

a wall of bottles holiday bright behind her. The usual?

she says again. I nod and walk out of the bar

into this stranger’s land where a lake as large as the sea

is drying up.

After April

She spent the whole first weekend in the dust,

rummaging through clutter. Animal,

she’d say to empty rooms or to the mirror

as she passed. Beer cans and cigarette scars,

scraps of food and flies. She couldn’t explain

the way some people lived. Memorial

cards and flowers came. Memorial

Day passed. The yard urned brown as dust

by Independence Day. She could explain

her sadness when she lost an animal,

her grief when surgeons left a puckered scar

in place of secret parts. And even mirrors

she found she could forgive—it wasn’t mirrors

that tore her life. St. Jude Memorial

Gardens. Machines that turned the sod to scar.

a few brief words, some prayers to ash and dust.

That was the place that made her animal

softness hard to bear. And who would explain

how tears can burn as well as freeze, explain

there’d be no toothpaste-spattered mirror,

no piss-stained floor, no reek of animal?

He won’t come back. Those words memorial

enough when she knew they weren’t true. Now dust

had settled everywhere. She felt it scar

the house the way asbestos fibers scar

the lungs. All dust. All ash. She could explain

his leavings until he left this dust

behind and disappeared out of the mirror

of her life, left rubbish as memorial

of what they had. She mutters Animal

today—not him, but every animal—

and stubs out cigarettes to leave a scar

on desks, buffets and chairs. Memorial

beer bottles and cans sit for days. Explain?

What explanation can satisfy the mirror?

What explanation cuts a path through dust?

She is an animal who can’t explain

new skin, new scars, or how the mirror

weeps in memorial, reflecting dust.


In the black and white universe

of 1943, any bad actor could hide

himself just by spelling his name

backward. In this way the son

of Dracula became Count Alucard

and no one was any the wiser.

In brains cursed by the love of

wordplay, a verb like lives becomes

nouns like Elvis or evils.

One of the evils of the Universal plan:

that the undead’s sperm

could vampirize an egg.

The Son of the Man of 1000 Faces,

Lon Chaney, Jr., ill-suited in a tux—

and what kind of vampire

wears a moustache?—tell tale

droplets, a crimson confession.

Black and white logic: we see no blood.

We’ve seen plenty of blood in our day,

Stillbirth. Miscarriage.

Yet Dracula / Alucard . . .

What bride would ever provide

the ovum and the path

to let such palindromic birth proceed?

Late fetal DNA-land—

was it a bat I saw?


don’t nod.

Devil never even lived.

Cigar? Toss it in a can. It’s so tragic.

Maybe that other undead son

was in on the joke when he said

The last shall be first and the first shall be last.

What kind of god—what kind of dog indeed—

grants the devil a son and drives stakes

through hearts like these?

On the Battlements

There’s a photo of a young girl and a man

on a fortress top in Old San Juan.

The meek clouds, the placid blue sky

seem like lies in the aftermath of storms—

las tormentas—that rocked them all the night before.

The sea is calm and picture-perfect,

the picture itself a perfect kind of lie.

You see a father and a daughter

on the battlements of the old Spanish fort.

The fort is photogenic, a tranquil postcard ruin

of conquistadores’ might. The father’s pose is casual,

grinning in the shadow of his cap.

The daugher’s face is pinched,

almost smiling in the sun.

What you don’t see is

the woman’s hands trembling on the camera,

the daughter fleeing after the shutter’s click,

screaming I’m scared, Daddy, I’m scared,

the father’s face contorting, shouting

Come back here right now.

You don’t see the blood stains

washed by centuries of storms,

dark clouds in the distance,

las tormentas yet to come.

R. G. Evans’s poems, fiction and reviews have appeared in publications such as Rattle, The Literary Review, Paterson Literary Review, and Weird Tales. His original music, including the song, “The Crows of Paterson,” was featured in the 2012 documentary film All That Lies Between Us. His first book of poetry, Overtipping the Ferryman, will be published in 2014 by Kelsay Books.

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