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

Stephanie L. Harper


The words from the dream are

Wisps in the air like broken

Spider webs wrapping invisibly

About my face and forearms

The fake sunrise tarp draped before me

Ripples like a summer mirage

Half-soaked into the rural street

And then   as if I were not supposed to

I step through and place my foot

Solidly into an evening of dark specters

Waiting outside of their existence

To become what I am


I am the cool turpentine

Wash of grays seeping over

A dusting of brown sand in the road


I am the night falling upon

Neglected pastures of weeds

Sputtering up about the silhouettes

Of tree stumps and old swing sets


I am the street lamps’ sallow illumine

Peering out sensibly from between

Foolish tree skeleton embraces


I am still the child

Twisting acorns into the asphalt

With the soles of her shoes

Squealing gleefully into the night

I, Your Progeny

I cannot get my mind

Around the meaning of your ninety years.

If I multiplied my age, my experiences,

My life’s richness—

Math not being my strong suit—

I would be making your age, events, and richness


As if you were simply

A larger, scatter-plot version of me,

Your number and density


With every cycle of rebirth and dormancy;


Over acre upon acre

Of variegated shades and shade;

Each of your small, too-subtle suffocations


Into anonymity

By your sheer enormity.

Even if my calculations were viable,

I would be entirely lost

In the matrix of your possibility.

But here,

Where my roots have taken hold,

Where this slice of sun streaks in,

In this cross-section of you—

I cannot count the leaves

That glimmer golden,

Or burn blood-red,

Nor plot each point of light

That breaches the canopy and reaches

The dank floor.

I am not one-third, not one-thirtieth

Of your richness,

Not even a quantum speck

Of your boundless soul,

Yet, dazzled here,

Neither am I invisible.

I quiver, here,

In your engendering light.

Wise at Thirty-five,
Revised at Forty

Preserved like wax museum sculptures,

Erected in their own, obscure enclave,

These two, distinct ages pulled off quite the

Elaborate spectacle—circling

One another in yin-and-yang-fashion,

Gurgling and sputtering dramatically

Toward a crescendo of neurotic

Self-consumption—until the violent

Vortex of their fervent dance dissolved in

A brief instant into oblivion.

Still, I relish the living left to do,

While constantly reliving the living

That can’t be redone, intently watching

Today’s waterfall spill over into

The uncertain basin of tomorrow:

“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace . . .”

Shakespeare was wise to the relatively

Insignificant fact that tomorrows

Keep coming, regardless of how we spend

Or squander, mete out, or justify them,

Forgetting their order, or which ones were

Real and which were dreaming, or whether there

Is quantifiably a difference.

I have tried and failed to live up to that

“Mysterious,” skulking expectation

Convinced it was my duty to perform

The scenes from a moral composition,

Which I now know I scripted for myself:

Whether I’d tried pink-nosed and dreamy-eyed

To face into an icy, winter wind

(To look like the cover illustration

Of the children’s book, Eloise in Moscow),

Or to bound—stripped down to nothing but my

Bare disillusionment—through the fertile

Valley beneath a sun-streaked, summer sky,

I’d always been shocked to discover the

Dance was neither beguiling nor beautiful.

How did I manage to cultivate and

Reap such a harvest of indignation?

For an age, I sulked in self-abasement,

Practicing absurd, measured detachment,

While swathed in a café’s lulling morning

Warmth, huddling with coffee and crossword.

I once watched through the glass as a curled, brown

Leaf flapped fitfully in the street, as if

It were some willful creature with purpose

And life blood coursing through its wrinkled veins.

Though I feigned amazement, as it darted

In and out of traffic and leapt anew

With life after each self-orchestrated

Brush with tragedy, I all the while knew

(Though I may have started at its final,

Quick, clever tailspin, as the wind blew it

Out of sight forever), and loved knowing

That on most days, a leaf is just a leaf.

If once I rather resembled a rock’s

Unmovable crest, emerging stubborn

And solitary, from a rushing stream,

My ceaseless shadow blotting out the sun

From the leaves cascading by beneath me,

              I now glisten and shiver in the

              Constant splash of cold humility.

Stephanie L. Harper resides with her husband and two children in the Portland, OR, metro area, where she pursues (among countless other interests) the following avocations: Home Schooling Parent; Poet and Essayist; 2-D Visual Artist; Soccer Player; and Promoter (together, with like-minded others) of social justice and of fostering the advancement and welfare of our collective human psyche. Stephanie aspires to become a positive literary voice in the global community.

Dotted Line