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

Writer's Site

Michael Fleming


Evolve? We’ll evolve when we want to. We’re

reptiles—we decide. No mother love, no

promises—that’s the rule. Don’t get too near,

don’t think too hard, don’t think, don’t think we owe

you anything, cause we don’t. Where were you

when we hatched? God, you should have seen our shells,

one perfect world piled on another, blue

shells, green—it’s true: we made our way. To hell

with your nipples, your kindergartens, your

wedding bells, your rings—oh, we’ll show you rings.

We’ll show you claws—remember those? The more

you hurt, the more we—nothing. Go ahead, sing—

we don’t do music, don’t do memories—

why, when we’ll outlast you? We don’t do fair/

unfair. And we don’t do thermostasis.

Go ahead, cry—we’re reptiles, we don’t care.


Be admonished: of making many books there is no end.
—Ecclesiastes 12:12

For making books, you need to have a certain

appetite, a certain longing, you

need to look, to be quietly alert,

not quite earthbound. It helps to have a few

ideas, to be sure, and to know the rules,

exceptions to the rules, movement of tides.

So many books! But then, so many fools

adrift without them, mapless. Darkness hides

from light, muddle fights with meaning,

illness sleeps with ignorance—it was

ever thus, and so little time between

reckonings, just love and books to shield us

from the rough, mindless elements as we

set out for adventures on sun-drenched seas.

for Fannie Safier

The Importance of Vowels

Luxenberg tries to show that many obscurities of the Koran disappear if we read certain words as being Syriac and not Arabic. . . . In Syriac, the word hur is a feminine plural adjective meaning white, with the word “raisin” understood implicitly . . . not unsullied maidens or houris.
—Ibn Warraq,
The Guardian, January 11, 2002

The maître d’ is sharply groomed, in tie

and tails, he greets you warmly, Welcome, sir!

We’ve been expecting you! And as you eye

the virgins at the bar, selecting, certain

of your righteous consequence, a waiter

approaches with a bright, blinding smile,

and on his fingertips, elaborately

wrought, a silver tray with something piled

beneath a silken napkin. Sir! he says,

plucking off the silk, Before we begin,

your seventy-two raisins! Let us praise

Him! With that, he vanishes in a thin

blue wisp of smoke. The virgins are gone. You

invoke your god. A low voice answers, Who?

Traffic Stop

It’s just these glasses, officer, I swear—

they’re progressives and I’m still getting used

to peering through this tube of startling clarity

amidst a blur of color—blues

like this undersea mountaintop, these reds

like bloody marys, these greens like Vermont,

like forests suddenly summer, like dead

presidents, like love—out here where we want

to be beautiful, here where it’s just me,

you, and the universe, a voice to say

that all is well, everything’s fine, you’re free

to go now, ma’am—you can be on your way.

Hot Cherry Pie

I always stopped there, the Madonna Inn—

that pink and copper shrine on the way down

the missionary coast, along the thin

thread of mother church’s outpost towns—

San Francisco, San José, Santa Clara

rosary beads a day’s walk from one

to the next, or now an hour by car

but still with sacramental purpose. None

of that franchise crap for me. I pulled off

the freeway, San Luís Obispo, hungry

for hot cherry pie and hot black coffee,

body and blood for a soul wrung

out and wasted. Then that one time I spotted

those kids—a boy at the men’s room door,

poised to push, his eyes fixed on a girl not

quite his age, maybe a bit older, or

a little further along in the game,

obviously the one in charge, standing there

at the women’s, stock still until she aimed

her eyes at his and whispered: Go. I dare

you. With that they were lost for good behind

those doors—or for better or for worse, who

the hell knows? I paid up and continued my

mission to Santa Bárbara—to you.

for Ellen R.

Born in San Francisco, raised in Wyoming, Mike Fleming set out on a long, winding path: undergraduate work at Princeton, teaching English in refugee camps in Thailand, a graduate degree from Oxford, teaching high-school mathematics in Swaziland, work as a carpenter, hospice volunteer, and college composition teacher in California, living as a writer and editor in New York, New Hampshire, and now Brattleboro, Vermont. You can see more of Fleming’s work at

Dotted Line