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

Winner of $500 for 1st-place-voted Poems

Writer's Site

Debbra Palmer

Bake Sale

Don’t eat the wrapper.

Nobody doesn’t know this.

So when my mother ate the cupcake

paper and all, in one shoved-in bite and hissed

don’t you say a word,”

all the way home

from the Ockley Green Middle School bake sale

I thought about the paper in her stomach.

What if anyone saw her?

What would they say? Like my best friend’s mother

who taught us how to count to ten in Cherokee

and caught my father’s eye. I thought

it was because he liked her slacks

or because she worked part-time at Sears,

but my mother said it was because

she was petite and had a stick

up her ass. What would she say?

I carried my cupcake in both hands, its top

a coiled green snake with gold sprinkles.

To want anything so much, to devour it like that,

must be deadly.

In The Week Before Her Death
My Mother Hallucinates in Email:

I was thirsty. I walked to the yard shed

where the women were selling water. I had

no money. I was so glad

to see the only friend I had at church.

I held out my hands and she filled them

with sweet, cool water.

I was followed by a priest. She said

she could see my unhappiness.

I told her everything

right there in the yard

it poured like white words, gushed

from my mouth like a river of tumors.

The priest said, “Come with me, my dear.

I said the only thing I know

in Japanese, the word for pocket,

“ポケット, poketto”

and pulled from my own, a note

and unfolded it.

Just love them,” it read.

Two great white Pyrenees came to tell me

all of the beautiful things in dying.

When I asked them to walk me there,

they stood at my side and waited. This is why

I’m afraid to close my eyes.


The first time I kissed a woman’s breasts

I understood


how they root and paw

how they knead and pull

to prove they’re really here

how they suck a bruise

around the nipple

how they get completely lost

in between

how they smash and grab

apologize and hang on anyway

or, how they hold two birds so gently

they can only feel them

when they let go.

Late Bloomer

Mama had a baby and its head popped off.

The severed head of the dandelion

drops from my guillotine thumb

the yellow burst of weed

held under my chin

Do you like butter?

A little blonde girl whose parents are deaf

opens her mouth. “Talk like your parents,” I insist,

shoving in a cud of grass.

She cries without sound—so hard

that the daisy chain crown

shakes from her head.

I just want her to speak with her hands.

I Love Parasites

I love parasites for their barbs and hooks

for their many names & forms:

Tapeworm, Poinsettia, Blood Fluke,

Twin, Mother, Jehovah’s Witness.

I love them for their shameless

savagery & nerve.

I love fetuses—also parasites

who live off the mother’s body.

Then, as nature dictates,

the mother becomes the parasite,

depositing into her offspring

her tumors, hair & teeth.

I love my twin brother who stays

alive siphoning off my blood

& laughing about it from his lovely

teratoma mouth.

I love the Jehovah’s Witness ladies

who feed off my politeness.

I love to invite them in.

We take turns holding my mother’s upper denture

like a poison leaf. I love passing around

the bag that was my mother’s prosthetic breast,

the silicone pellets hissing inside.

I love the cup of my mother’s hair

the gray curls like smoke. Before we burned her body,

she asked me if I would wear her bones

around my neck.

I already wear them,

couldn’t take them off

if I wanted to.

Debbra Palmer’s poems have appeared in BLOOM Magazine, Calyx Journal, Pectriloquy (CHEST Journal for the American College of chest physicians) and The Portland Review. She recently returned to her birth state of Idaho after spending most of her life in Portland, Oregon where she studied writing at Portland State University. Now home at last, she lives and works in Boise with her wife and their little dog, Tennessee.

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