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

Jamie Ross

Not Exactly

—Taller Servicio Automotivo Rafael Teniente

You have seen the mechanic. No,

you haven’t. You have seen his son, Rafi,

who knew nothing. Then you saw your pickup:

out by the fence, between a taxi and police car,

hood open, jacked high on its side. Just

to replace a loose timing chain? No,

not exactly. The engine’s in pieces—spark

plugs and wiring heaped on the cab, covers

on a fender, oil pan on the ground; bolts,

screws, nuts piled all over the place. Something

else has happened. Something other than

the timing chain has loosened, warped, torqued,

rattled away. Perhaps it was the valves. Where

are the valves? Or were they? What exactly

do they do, or did? Perhaps it was nothing.

Perhaps Teniente needed simply to look. To see

if anything else had occurred—to those valves,

and the guides, and the rods and camshaft,

and the tiny bearings that bob up and down

over and under the springs. When Aaron Chigbrow

disassembles an engine (he showed me once)

there are hundreds of these things, sometimes

chipped or corroded, yet often—when you wipe

off the oil, as smooth as the day they were born.

But a bad cylinder can drive you mad, trying

to even out scratches and gouges, with air-driven

dremels, sapphire bits, micrometers, steel wool

rubbed by hand; to get back the compression,

the purr of the rockers, like a fine-tuned Maserati

the first time it takes off. How my Toyota’s motor

used to sound, two weeks ago. When I knew,

at least, where it was.


Café Organica, S. Miguel de Allende

I was gazing at the blackboard

with the specials today, it was only

ten a.m., too early for lunch, though

the large butch woman with

stark facial hair and Sacramento State

was knocking down a salad, a giant

enchilada, plus a bowl of beans

her girlfriend hadn’t touched, they

were talking intently about a she

from Portland, I wasn’t that focused,

besides their thing was private, and

Lara at the register

had let her long hair down

and was speaking with Santos, Santos

was wearing a bright pink polo

with a little alligator

that wiggled as she laughed

and someone had put sunflowers

in the umber vases, like Vincent Van Gogh,

with a bouquet on each table of tiny

bright carnations, each petal striped

with different colors, just like

the ones inside a cast glass sphere

on Nanna’s cocktail table, that sat

by her lighter and her silver cigarettes

when Dad took our family

back to New York, all night from Denver

on the vistadome Zephyr

to pick up the brand new Volkswagen bus.

No one in Kansas on Route Thirty-six

had ever seen a Microbus before

and ran to the fences, stared

from the tractors, dropped their hay bales

simply to gape,

and here was I, in the back

with the seats reversed, my kid sisters

Betsy, Deedee, two-year-old Ali

and we all were playing

the license plate game, waiting

for a drive-in like Lula’s Dairy Dream

or the next rhymed, eight-sign

Burma Shave riddle, chocolate

milkshakes always were the best

on this trip, burgers in wax paper

dripping mustard as we drove

and everyone, including Dad

and Mummy, had a dark brown

moustache, a thick German accent

and no one wiped theirs off

until the next Texaco.


Do you remember how you felt

yesterday, when the giant hot-air balloon

swooshed down in front of your hotel window

behind the equally giant palm tree?

How it hissed, belched flame—suddenly

got bigger, encompassing the whole tree.

And then, without prediction, how it

rose, receded and shrank, little by little

until it was a satellite tracked by the sun,

finally a gum wrapper, blowing away.

Do you remember how you felt

this morning at Rafael Teniente’s lot,

finding your truck jacked-up by the fence,

its gas tank on the ground, a cylindrical part

dangling from a line. Was that

a fuel pump, the thing that pumps the gas?

Was that a float, that tells your gauge

how much? And when his daughter Eva,

ripe to marry, waiting her chance

showed you, yes, the float, in her hands

with its tiny mechanism, the contacts

that were bad, how lovely the apparatus

looked, the twelve brass ingots like notches

of a zipper, so beautifully calibrated

as she moved the sensor up and down.

Do you remember the elephant

on the cover of your child’s writing book?

How light in the photo, how round;

yet how massive, heavy, as it trumpets,

bellows, crushes trees and cars,

affirms the earth with no need to fly.

How the float was just a canister

that bobbed and fell on the tides of its fuel.

How day rose with the balloon, then

broke live. How the tank in the dirt

was a kind of death. How an elephant,

without trying, each year circles the sun.

How Eva’s hands, soaked black

with motor oil, opened, trembling,

shot up to grasp the rope

dropping from the sky.

We Are Rain and the Rain

does not discount us. It doesn’t put its garbage

in a black plastic bag dogs will rip apart.

It doesn’t buy toothpaste at Espino’s, just

to see María, six months pregnant. The rain

has been pregnant for many months, many times

and all of them are beautiful. My sister Deeds’

first child was such, everywhere this baby

broadcast over highways, cities fraught with fire,

in the Chico kennel every stray and starveling

gifted Haley as a Chevron gifts hoses to its pumps;

Deedee fueling passing engines, Haley’s

smile, her wisps of hair and dancing gurgle tiny

hands at every moment of a party Haley at my

sister’s open breast, the rain, how soft, expansive

for us all the rain adores the cucumber the sand

fleas at Los Cocos the waitress’ panty hose the

baby rain named Haley tapping at my window

roses sudden asters blooming all across the balcony,

the rain does not remove us from our slippers

or the metal eyelets of a silver vinyl tarp

lashed across a taco cart dripping into midnight

just outside San Marcos Market two men wet

in canvas trousers pitched sombreros woven

for this flavor while my sister glows

in every taxi Haley’s promised garden, every

petal spritzing the handmade wrought-iron rail, rain

does not contain itself or still sunlight after passing

women with the juicer in the hotel kitchen

laughing, sizzling bacon and their boiling beans

forever this aroma, we are rain the coffee

perks, burbles, my rain will not forget you

once your rain moves on.

Jamie Ross writes and paints on a mesa west of Taos, NM, spends much time in Mexico. His poetry has been published in numerous journals, as well as the anthology Best New Poets 2007. His 2010 collection, Vinland, received the Intro Poetry Prize from Four Way Books.

Dotted Line