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

Writer's Site

Ryan Flores

Language Without Lies

We resuscitated music,

we rescued it from the icy grip of the cosmos.

It was stillborn, from a cloud of dust in a silent vacuum.

We refined the ancient sequence

of building tension to create resolve.

We defined the colors, the math, the geometry of sound.

Now music is our only language without lies.

Now we’re all playing different parts

of the same song, in which countless beats

of countless hearts provide the rhythm.

Now music is our ghost dance, our communion, a sanctuary

in which we’re all kneeling to kiss the ground,

a temple in which we’re all praying for a miracle.

Music is our echolocation—

a ping bouncing around in the dark,

singing, “I’m here, can you hear me?”

Music penetrates armor

and holds a light up to each and every face,

looking for something honest, something real.

Music makes order out of chaos, makes us feel like

we’re not just spinning around a star,

that’s spinning around a star, that’s spinning around a star.

Music helps us trust our ignorance

as much as our instincts.

Music prepares us for love and loss thereof.

Music aligns us with empathy and gratitude

and defines the lives and times of the human experience.

Music is the human soul thinking out loud.

The Future for the Present

We traded the warm Earth

beneath our feet

for designer shoes

on linoleum

fashioned to appear

as natural as stone.

We traded the old growth forest

for posters of athletes and pop stars,

for catalogs and celebrity magazines,

for tables and desks on which to write

checks with which to pay bills.

We traded the benevolent shade

for a well-placed arbor,

the dense undergrowth

for perfectly manicured lawns.

We traded a spring-fed stream

for a stagnant cow-pond,

naps on the riverbanks

for sleeping pills,

a seashell for a cellphone

a library for a TV guide,

a full moon dance

for a fitness center,

candlelight for a lump of coal,

a stable of thoroughbreds

for a barrel of oil,

a ceremony for a simulation.

We traded the winding trail

for the static grid,

a thunderstorm for acid rain,

fresh air for smokestacks

runways and boxcars.

We traded a conversation

for a keypad,

a sunset for a soap opera,

an orchard for a house plant.

We traded wild buffalo

for happy meals,

an ear of corn

for a laboratory,

a corner store

for a corporation.

We traded a hallelujah

and a hug,

for a website and a blog,

rituals for garage door openers,

a community for a computer,

skin for plastic,

landscapes for landfills,

handshakes for handguns,

stars for streetlights,

pyramids and kivas

for office buildings

and strip-malls,

a vision quest

for a universal

remote control.

We traded smooth curvatures

for right angles,

circles for squares,

spheres for boxes,

fenceless horizons

for corners and borders

dollars and flags.

Guess Who?

(an exercise in lateral thinking)

to my mother I am son

to my father I am hijo

to racist hillbillies of the Midwest

I am wetback, spic, and beaner

to cholos at Armijo I am gringo

to officials at the State Department

I need proof of citizenship

to la gente de México I am güero

in the Southwest I am coyote

at the university I am Latino,

Mexican-American and Chicano

to the Census Bureau I am Hispanic

or “more than one heritage”

to mis abuelos I am mezclado

to those who hear me speak Spanish

I must be Argentino or Español

because of light skin and green eyes

because of maternal Bohemian ancestry

I muse as being Czex-Mex, Czexican, or Czecano

I could be the United States of existence

I could be America

I could be your neighbor

your boss, your teacher, your student

I could mow your lawn,

cook your food

I could be you


(or: The tiny, impending, commercial, homogenous, laughable ceremony)

I have known the inelegant madness of cubicles,

plastic cells in a sterile hive, maelstrom of time cards,

every tiny crisis surrounding copy machines and swivel chairs,

the impending dread that lurks in break rooms

and on sidewalks during the last drag of a smoke.

I have known commercial wallpaper,

packets of sweetener, the demands of staplers,

the homogenous ridicule of fluorescent lighting,

laughable music of printer, keyboard and mouse,

the ceremony of hands, the black and white oppression of clocks.

And each day I have witnessed expressions,

faces settled by routine, dripping histrionic courtesies,

controlled, tedious, hungry faces evaporating into landscapes,

disavowed through rush-hour traffic and prime-time TV,

mechanical, compartmentalized, alien faces

detached from their owners.

Bad Poetry

(an experiment with cliché)

by weighing the hidden meanings of red

interlaced in clouds at dusk

and the fresh wound,

and by reading skin,

icicles, stones, thorns, and feathers

like love letters etched in braille

I have tried to align my senses

with the merciless concept of perfection

perhaps even to pursue the rose,

or the crimson moon,

or just discover an untainted expression,

because not even bad poetry writes itself

Ryan Flores is a writer, musician, producer, and designer from the California Bay Area. He lives in Colorado and has a degree in Spanish literature from the University of Colorado. Flores is the founder of the independent record label Heart Shaped Records and is in several bands, including Moonhoney, Ondas, Leopard and the Vine, and Love Water. He is currently working on a novel and his favorite fruit is the mango.

Dotted Line