Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2014    fiction    all issues


Debbra Palmer
Bake Sale
& other poems

Ann V. DeVilbiss
Far Away, Like a Mirror
& other poems

Michael Fleming
On the Bus
& other poems

Harold Schumacher
Dying To Say It
& other poems

Heather Erin Herbert
Georgia’s Advent
& other poems

Sharron Singleton
Sonnet for Small Rip-Rap
& other poems

Bryce Emley
College Beer
& other poems

Harry Bauld
On a Napkin
& other poems

George Mathon
Do You See Me Waving?
& other poems

Mariana Weisler
Soft Soap and Wishful Thinking
& other poems

Michael Kramer
Nighthawks, Kaua’i
& other poems

Jill Murphy
& other poems

Cassandra Sanborn
& other poems

Kendall Grant
Winter Love Note
& other poems

Donna French McArdle
White Blossoms at Night
& other poems

Tom Freeman
On Foot, Joliet, Illinois
& other poems

George Longenecker
& other poems

Kimberly Sailor
The Bitter Daughter
& other poems

Rebecca Irene
& other poems

Savannah Grant
And Not As Shame
& other poems

Michael Hugh Lythgoe
Titian Left No Paper Trail
& other poems

Martin Conte
We’re Not There
& other poems

A. Sgroi
Sore Soles
& other poems

Miguel Coronado
& other poems

Franklin Zawacki
Experience Before Memory
& other poems

Tracy Pitts
& other poems

Rachel A. Girty
& other poems

Ryan Flores
Language Without Lies
& other poems

Margie Curcio
& other poems

Stephanie L. Harper
Painted Chickens
& other poems

Nicholas Petrone
Running Out of Space
& other poems

Danielle C. Robinson
A Taste of Family Business
& other poems

Meghan Kemp-Gee
A Rhyme Scheme
& other poems

Tania Brown
On Weeknights
& other poems

James Ph. Kotsybar
& other poems

Matthew Scampoli
Paddle Ball
& other poems

Jamie Ross
Not Exactly
& other poems

Martin Conte

We’re Not There

For Janet and her daughters

An injured spirit lingered in our town

            last night.

The air was thick—

He cast a cold pallor

            over our ground.

The next morning,

we woke

            to our first hard frost.

No one noticed the silver puddles of blood

            that he left

except for our third graders,

who went splashing through them in rubber boots,


He took with him

            our town clerk

            our pharmacist

            and a young father.

We pretended the spirit was

            heart failure,



But we knew better.

Our bodies recognized

            the taste

            of this spirit’s bitter breath;

our bones itched

            as he scraped

            at our cornerstones.

People gathered in the streets,

             just to cry.

Air too thick to—

We’re not there.

Instead, at school, miles away.

A friend from home messaged us:

             I feel like electricity is surging through the air.

My mother calls:

             The Island can’t handle

             another tragedy this year.

We’re all gone, but the spirit

demanded intercessions anyway:

tears thick as—

We mourned that day like doom,

like 9/11 or JFK.

Did the town fathers meet

            to ask of each other

            what happened?

Did they sense the spirit

            in the thick air—?

Did they put away

            the gavel,

            the bible,

and call on the old gods instead,

            buried for centuries in granite tombs?

Did the spirit sit among them

            listening to his trial?

Or did he pass beyond,

going first through your home,


            that stained fray of linoleum,

            that creak in the stair,

            that whimper from your sleeping brother?

We still speak of it.


They came to make a map

of my bedroom.

Two men, bearded, solemn,

with rolled up drafting paper

and thick black markers.

“You can stay seated on the bed”

one told me, carefully sidestepping

a pile of my laundry.

Both pulled out tape measures;

they measured everything:

the average width of my books,

the circumference of the bare lightbulb

jutting from the wall,

even the width between my feet,

toes kneading the blue carpet.

Then they set about drawing,

boxes and squiggles abstracting

the solids of my life,

turning the djembe I carried

from Uganda

into a circle,

the windows etched exes on the wall.

They used a labeling language

I could not discern.

I had to pee,

but one told me if I left,

they would have to start

all over again.

Finally, hours later,

they put the markers down,

rolled up their papers,

and shook my hand.

They said the drawings

would go to the Library of Congress

and be indexed with

the rest of my rooms.

They called me a patriot,

a citizen of the highest regard.

Then they left,

and their footprints

faded into the abstract square

of my carpet,

labeled ‘F7’ in the secret manual

all these men carry.



Four men appeared

from the war.

“Where should we meet?”

they asked.

“You will come to me

in a long, thin room,”

I responded,

thinking of the hallway

in the Rotary.

“Will our mothers be there?”

they asked.

“No, they died, each,

of heart failure,

when they heard the news.”


A man in Maine

has been beating a drum


for four years.

He says it is the heartbeat

of the Earth.

He has disciples who take turns

on the drum

in four hour shifts.

He is squandering

his inheritance.

I hear they may move

to a smaller house.

I wonder how they will drum

in the car;

if they go over a bump,

and the rhythm is interrupted,

will the Earth wink out of existence?

They must have

a contingency plan.

The End of His days

And every ozone sundown burned a braver creation
—Christian Wiman

Revelations settles

on the shoulders

of the blooming congregation.

Little eyes expecting

endings, wondering

at my cassock, at my

collar. Fear,

dear hearts,

in their little eyes.

For fear of what?

I let my brain

glide noiselessly

through the waterveins

of this bleeding Earth.

There is, hidden in smog,

destruction; fires

in homes of sand and stone

gut the lonely


wives ask

another god

for his tongue

back. I rake

my fingers

through my brain,

explaining how a discarded

Book is alive,

blood-spilled and hand

prints all over the margins.

Man’s thoughts smolder

of creation, embryos

swimming through rivers

of caution-tape into

a mother’s waiting delta.

God turns bright red

and America’s Lazarus, dead again,

(he was Kennedy,

he was Lincoln)


that his infinite

devotion to the notion

of one nation,

under God,

can raise him up.

My boat is drifting

through dusk.

My lambs are waiting

for slaughter,

for new life.

I ask

the third grader

what God wants

us to confess.

She, blest, imparts

intimately a

wisdom far beyond

her years.

I hear angels sing

praises: her God is near-

the end of His days.

Martin Conte is a student of English literature at the University of Southern Maine. He has published in the Words and Images Journal, and has won numerous poetry and playwriting awards. His current project involves the struggles that ensue when his narrator appears in his home, and refuses to leave. He currently lives on the coast of Maine, the most beautiful place to live, where he intends to stay.

Dotted Line