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

Michael Hugh Lythgoe

Titian Left No Paper Trail

No sonnets, nor letters like Michelangelo.

Still we feel the oblique motion, the atmospheric

colors of his martyred St. Lawrence, his Assumption;

landscapes with river valleys and Alpine peaks,

ancient Roman myths, a sumptuous nude goddess.

Dawn is uncertain, pagan, shadowy.

Sudanese killers and thieves

are poachers in Kenya, for tusks of ivory.

A mammoth bull elephant pushes trees

down, forages with body guards to survive.

The vulnerable fade like ivory magnolia blooms.

Everything is fragile. Whole forests burn.

Antarctica is the most stable continent.

Titian’s frescoes last. His late works show rough

loose brushwork: St. Jerome in a barren desert.

Art appears impotent to face down violence.

Marsyas played a double pipe but lost

his hide—flayed by a jealous Apollo,

King Midas watches. Ovid says so.

To study topography and meteorology,

is to feel baroque fault lines tremble at night.

Beside me in the dark my lover labors to breathe.

I listen to learn, labor to believe.

Titian expires during the plague. He paints allegories.

His self portrait does not look us in the eyes.

Buddha In Brass

A sleeping Buddha occupies my mind,

and half-obscures its whole religion

by mere presence, contemplative and blind,

the intolerable comedy goes on.

—Peter Levi, Water, Rock & Sand

Buddha did not come to me on the Silk

Road but in Saigon. A Chinese merchant

sold him to me. The war was still young.

I was young. Buddha is well-traveled, a veteran.

His figure fattens in meditation, brass zen.

He knows Indo-China, wars, the French,

now the Americans. Buddhists set themselves on fire.

We bleed; Vietnamese bleed; we leave brass shells,

bomb holes, poison in rice paddy, napalm on jungle.

Buddha waits in temples, reclines in Thailand. He shows

his teeth, forged, formed in a desperate foundry, weighed

down with lead & iron, polished shiny—like brass

army insignia, buckles, .45 caliber bullet casings

recycled for art, joss sticks, a zen garden, a vet’s

bookshelf. Tibetan monks light themselves ablaze

in China. If Buddha is happy, rub his ample belly

for good luck. I pray to God. Buddha

is no god. He was a rich prince

who gave up his soft life to roam and beg.

Burmese Buddhists visit violence on Muslims.

Buddha & I have a history. We each have

a war or two to wear like a hairshirt. We each

seek peace. We sit & stare in the study.

I feel like Buddha, contemplative & blind.

White Dove In The Desert

Nine miles from Tucson, some Pilgrims

find the Church; it stands alone: White

Dove of Sonoran Desert. The rez

is a troubled home for the tribe living on the border,

on both sides. The Papago met Fr. Kino, who rode

in Jesuit robes, on a mission: prayer.

The missionary made a space for prayer,

in a dry place not far from Tucson, for pilgrims.

Franciscans followed the Jesuits, who rode

away leaving order in prickly pear paste, adobe white

walls old as suffering saguaro cacti. The border

is bone-dry; Rio Santa Cruz, on the rez,

runs dry. Illegals pass through the Papago Rez,

flee mayhem and madness to trade terror

for peaceful prayer in the White Dove. The border

is brutal, metal sculptures, homage for pilgrims:

the Nogales side in Mexico is hung with white

crosses, migrants killed crossing. Mormons once rode

by in a historic brigade. Franciscans rode,

with knots on cords, around robes, around Papago rez.

The cool White Dove, walled in white

wears a cord in the facade. Pray no predator. No terror.

No beheadings, Mules, Coyotes, cartels. Pilgrims

eat fry bread at taco stands near the border.

Feel the heat: afterburners above the border;

patrols with night scopes. Where blackrobes rode,

ICE finds torched holes in the fence. Pilgrims

pack prayers; smugglers pack weed, pass the rez;

illegals on the run are prey; the predator is terror.

Prey seeks prayers, under clouds dove-white.

The Pima Air Museum preserves war planes white-

hot, bone-dry; A-10 Thunderbolt pilots train. Border

in infrared sights—dehydrated souls journey in terror.

Migrants die with empty water bottles. A blackrobe rode

to bless St. Xavier del Bac, Arizona icon, on the rez.

The landscape is trashed with plastic. Pilgrims

revere a statue in glass sarcophagus, a blackrobe,

uncorrupted saint in his grave. White church on border

thirsty, contrails over rez; pilgrims pray, flee terror.

Aleppo Looks Like Hell

Rubble & ruins: a bottomless well.

Well, reports of the here-after

are here—heaven appeared to a doctor;

he was in a coma. Aleppo is hell.

Hell is a war with cluster bombs.

Keep your eye on the balls, lethal.

Not toys. Mortars fall over borders. Ask us.

St. Paul had a fit on the road to Damascus.

A ten-year old girl was murdered in Colorado.

There was a killing in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The Taliban just shot a school girl. Terror

on a school bus in the Swat Valley. Refugees

come & go talking of Aleppo. The wounded

girl is also in a coma. What does she see?

Drones have a Gorgon Stare.

It is presidential to order a kill, pick

the hit list. In Revelation, horses breathe fire.

Seven seals. Like helicopters in Abbottabad.

Getaway? Up a ladder? Angels are utility workers.

The ancients used ladders to climb closer

to heaven, up levels of adobes, Canyon De Chelly.

Mud roofs. Artists like to sit on roofs. So do snipers.

They paint the stars to stare in minds’ eyes.

Or, sight a human heart in their cross-hairs,

or, roll barrel bombs down on Kurds & Christians.

A priest told us the special machine

outside of church could lift us to heaven.

It was a joke. We knew it was to lift

workers up to the rose window, to fix

the stained glass, part of the Bible’s

parables to elevate all souls to heaven.

What of Evil in Aleppo? Does the Devil do

the killing? No. It is human gunmen. Who helps

the wounded? Who buries the dead? Who kills,

who cares, who executes, who shoots on a bus?

Is it us? Is Damascus full of men & women like us?

How do we get away from here? In wind and fire.

Pick & choose. Win or lose. Be bulletproof. Wear Kevlar.

Ascend in a hot air balloon fiesta, above Albuquerque.

Sheba’s Trees Bleed For The Magi

A scent of Sheba’s fragrance lingers in the souk: incense.

The lines in the sand are drawn by caravans.

Arabia & Yemen share a jihadi desert waste.

Once the Queen of Sheba grew thirsty.

Water is more prized than gold, seek an oasis.

Caravans move phallic blades & bombs from Yemen

besieged by jihadis in uncivil wars between Yemeni

tribes, in Sheba’s kingdom; she gifted incense

to King Solomon in his wise oasis.

Sheba ruled a kingdom of caravans.

Her scraggly trees in the desert thirst.

Thorny myrrh trees endure in desert waste,

The Magi follow stars they do not waste.

Today jihadis learn explosives in Yemen.

A reddish-brown antiseptic mummies those dead to thirst.

Herodotus wrote it is hard to harvest frankincense

from bushes guarded by tiny winged snakes; caravans

pass seeking to trade & rest at an oasis.

Predator drones prey on jihadis lurking in an oasis.

Thorny myrrh trees bleed when cut in desert waste.

Tribesmen trade ivory, African cargo, arms, in caravans.

Ramadan moon, with a Jambia dagger’s curve, hangs over Yemen.

A dagger smith creates blades to bleed out incense

trees—”yellow tears”—near the Red Sea; thirsty

goats eat seedlings near empty wells, thirsty.

Black flags fly for a new caliphate, no Islamic oasis.

Sap hardens to rocks scrapped into baskets—incense

traders travel on dromedaries, burdens over waste;

myrrh rides in leather bags to a souk in Sana, Yemen,

trades like RPGs in Djibouti, or coffee in caravans.

Trucks & camels round the African Horn in caravans.

Muslims wash in mosques, kneel facing Mecca, thirst

for holy war, behead the infidel in Syria, Yemen,

Iraq. Sheba first, then Silk Road trader, a Prophet in an oasis—

all breathed in incense; the more cuts the sweeter the scent, waste

not sacred smoke for monks in holy places; rituals require incense.

If jambias with old rhino horn handles bleed out incense trees

near thirsty Gulf of Aden in dry Yemen,

who will caravan like the Magi, pilgrims in the waste?

Michael Hugh Lythgoe was one of three finalists selected for the 2012 poetry fellowship by the SC Academy of Authors. Mike retired as an Air Force officer and earned an MFA from Bennington College. He teaches for the Academy for Lifelong Learning at USC in Aiken where he lives with his wife of 50 years, Louise. His chapbook, Brass, won the Kinloch Rivers contest in 2006.

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