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

Henry Graziano

Last Apple

Dawn lures her each morning

where she stands barefoot

on the splintered deck.

Steaming cup warming

her hands. A brown fleece

blanket wrapped about her when the chill

demands. She watches

southern tree line of box elders and mulberries

bird sewn in summer’s end

along the unused track of the

old county lane.

Grown to eat the sun. Deer

track from the west

to mill about the base of the

crab apple tree apart from and older

than the tree line,

trunk leaning north. For this season

out of the reach of the scrub tree

shade. Almost horizontal

base for the upward reaching boughs

growing back to the light.

In spring, she smiles at the does balancing on hindquarters

reaching up for the flowers

or later tiny green bulbs,

front hooves running

in the air. Fawns

bounding between sun and shade.

Far from the starving of winter

Now, one boney limb stabs back north in October’s wind,

an odd compass needle bobbing beyond the shade.

Bits of twigs standing out.

Static arm hair.

Leaves long fallen

from beneath the final fruit,

a dull maroon dab

absent this morning her waiting ends.

Before the groundhog begins

its daily search for windfall and the

deer return this evening,

she hurries inside for her long stored cache

and throws several apples under

the tree to keep herself from starving.

Behind the Winds

November wind spins the tire swing from the unmoving firth of an oak branch. Grass has overgrown the gravel drive of the abandoned house. Covering the doors and windows on the lower floors, silvered plywood has begun warping. Deeper than the whispering of tall grass in the wind, the swing rope eats away the bark of the limb.

Outside Altoona, eastbound I-80, gouges in the snow lead from the shoulder to the crumpled road sign—Iowa City 98 miles. Yellow plastic emergency tape secures the cab, already blown over with snow. The driver would have had to climb out of his door like a submariner must emerge from a conning tower.

Along the bike trail at 7 am. A rabbit warms itself in the new sun edging into the opening of hedge branches. Night frost evaporating from its coat.

Sunset on the patio of Caribou overlooking the UHAUL sign—the light for ‘A’ has burned out.

In his garden, an old man turns his soil. Jamming a boot to the edge of the garden fork. Across one row and back, blackening the earth. Remnants of pepper plants, hoed and buried. Chopped tomato vines turned into the widening plot. He cannot dig deep enough. The earth does not feel the scar.

Sunday morning, a young woman enters the door of the coffee shop at 7 am. She wipes at her eyes smearing the muddied mascara. Patterned flats grind sidewalk salt into tile as she approaches the counter, orders coffee, pulls some bills from her coat pocket. She props her chin on the cup, warming her hands. Outside against the piles of snow, cars line up in the drive-thru, stop, and drive on.

In his back yard, near the budding crab apple tree, a little boy holds a Mason jar of fireflies up to the sickle moon to watch them disappear as they flash.

On a bed far into the night, a dog flinches in its sleep. Lying on his side, chest rising and falling quickly, pawing the air. A hand reaches out from under the quilt. The woman touches her dog’s shoulder. Runs her fingers down his flanks until he breaths easer. She closes her eyes believing that dogs dream only of running in spring fields.

After an hour, the lights were switched on. He looked up from where he had parked to the shaded window of the apartment. Tire treads clapped across the brick lines of the cobbled street. Several people smoked on a dark covered porch. It was too early to call her. He could taste fall’s coming.

Rain. A late spring rain at dusk, straight falling. Tender. A little girl with a backpack on her deck in rain boots making paths through the Silver Maple helicopters. A treasure map leading to the edge of the world.


The closest we got

was a 2 hour car ride to

camp at the lake

some Fourth of July after

I had dropped out of college

before I crawled back.

Sprawled in the seat of my LTD

Marlborough ashes blown in the

highway wind, he dozed

sweating tequila on my upholstery.

Camping meant sleeping

in the car at night

for an hour between bottle rocket fights

and water skiing

behind a fat-assed pontoon boat.

He worked double shifts for AMF

making more money

than my father ever would.

“Do you remember the day

our draft numbers

were first read on TV?

I would have died first,” he told me.

We were only sophomores in high school

that day we watched

in 1971. We didn’t follow

anyone to Asia.

Catholic school brought us all together. “No, Sister. I don’t speak Spanish. I speak Mexican,” he told his second 1st grade teacher. She was the only one who smiled. Together.

My mother warned me of them later, when we shared a little league team. He taught me to swear in his tongue. I shared the Italian version. Sister never knew.

An old aunt once told me that Disneyland opened the year I was born . . . the closest I would get to that world was watching Mary Poppins at the Paramount where mom sent us to avoid being blinded by the lunar eclipse. He couldn’t afford to go. I met him later at the park to shag flies. Together

That Monday, we served early Mass for Monsignor. Latin Mass for the old women who spoke their rosaries in whispers, rising and kneeling in arthritic unison, accepting bits of host on shriveled tongues. Leaving the church with wetted fingers signing themselves in some hope.

He passed out in the sun on the 5th.

“My people don’t burn,” he announced

to the rising moon.

Sweating beer on my upholstery

heading home from our last road trip.

A woman loved him in Arizona

It shocked him, I heard.

She named their son after his father

so he cried in his pride, “Bless me Father

for I have sinned.”

But Sister was dead then and the


He came back one last time

We met at a bar so many of us

that August, where my own daughter,

working as a barmaid for the summer,

brought drinks to us. He didn’t know

who she was until he

touched her cheek, her neck,

and she bent to his ear


while he looked me in the eye

until he could no longer stand it.

Even she knew he would be the first to go.


I find you in the bathroom

watching the depths of the sink cross-legged atop the

counter beside your reflection.

“I don’t want to have this conversation again,” it tells me.

I wonder how you have folded the length of your legs into that bundle leaning forward, head tilted to hear the echo of the drain? The whisper of a May breeze circling the sink?

I expected tears.

You tap the sink with the end of a brush. It is a hollow sound. “Can we

talk about something else?” you ask.

Four of us, still as porcelain.

You unfold a leg. Stretching it to the yellowed tile floor. Like blowing out a

match, you exhale into the sink. “I can.” I see the side of your face staring at me in the mirror.

“I hate spiders,”

And you blow again into the sink, forcing the spider closer to the drain.

You might kill it there, and leave it like the flies on your

Mother’s walls so long ago.

Left them to harden, too insignificant to be fed upon. She could appease you in

youth. Now there is no one.

My silence

channeled you to sleep splayed over the couch, feet bared extending

beyond the worn blanket. Your face in its nightly pose, the color of lily petals

folded up for the night, the color of the empty sink.

Standing on the Bridge

No sunrise yet. From the bridge rail

a lightening sky

reflects in the crawling river darkness

I wonder how streams of fog rise out of the waters

hugging the bank—a gauzy shawl

my grandmother wore on late summer nights

when she sat alone on her porch. I felt I could see

olive skin beneath it.

A solitary egret, shadowed in the darkness,

seeking breakfast, stands

one foot on the sand bar

the other in the river

with tiny twigs of legs

scratching drawings in the sand.

Her head, the hood of a cobra

unswaying as she waits.

Autumn nears with the coming sunrise

breathing cinnamon through the trees too low to

melt the fog. Looking down

the egret has flow. I missed its fishing story.

It saddens me

that the trees have yet

to turn and molt. I hope to notice that day,

and when the egret strikes.

Henry Graziano Unless one would count a single effort my freshman year in college many decades ago, I am unpublished. I have spent most my years as a high school teacher, business owner, and traveler on the edges of Midwestern society. I am writing now after those many years of merely reading the work of others.

Dotted Line