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

Kimberly Sailor

The Bitter Daughter

My father

never says Thank You.

A family fish fry for his 60th:

bronzing jukebox songs and a hotel stay and grandkids in swimsuits

fuzzy on the bottom, fizzy drinks in hand,

steam from the winter water

and made-to-order eggs on the other side of the night.

Result: one photographically documented half-smile.

Exhausted daughter who tried.

A hilltop gathering for his 65th:

noodle soups, crisp salads, pizza for fifteen,

and a custom cake with a wide-mouth bass.

Leaving work early, grandkids packed in the back,

harrowing January roads, cars in the ditch,

but not ours: we arrived, with candles too,

and that fancy party hat I wanted to burn

after he snapped the little string and said,

“Get this damned thing off me.”

His face was red like a cardinal’s back.

The grandkids made the hat their bugle.

Result: we’re only gathering for the descendants now,

these milestones better left unrecognized.

My father

feeds his yard birds dutifully each morning.

Black oil sunflower seed for the showier singers,

yellow millet for the tiny fliers,

kernels for those who forget to

or would rather not

leave during winter anymore: too old, or too well-fed at home.

No thanks there, either;

but under his care, the birds stay.

In his kitchen,

a clock with birds instead of numbers

starts the bluebird song,

chirping mechanically as I make his morning coffee.

“Too weak,” he decides, emptying it down the drain

before grabbing his bird seed bucket,

straightening his hat,

and sliding the glass doors open to leave again.

She Won’t Know

I carry the dead bat with a shovel.

My husband, working in Missouri,

my daughter, asleep, her old baby monitor just in range

as I move the bat from driveway to woods.

“Intact?” my husband asks.

“Yes. Probably still warm,” I say. “Just fell from the sky.”

The woods are slender but useful:

the neighbors drag over dead leaves on tarps,

abrasive and crunchy over the road’s asphalt.

The city keeps a pump house behind the ash trees,

pleasantly humming as it cycles water on a schedule:

loud and quiet, loud and quiet. Hasn’t broken yet.

I won’t tell my daughter about the bat,

the same kind she visits at the zoo

next to the sugar gliders in their little huts.

That’s part of motherhood: not telling.

Fancy church shoes clipping down the pavement with a dead bat,

or a run-over cat, or the worms she gathered and left too long in the sun:

should have been fishing bait, now just stringy compost.

The next morning, we are smiles and cereal,

wondering what to do with our day.


My mother died in her early 50s.

I am careful to say “died” and not “passed away”

because when you kill yourself, language matters.

The first time didn’t work.

She asked if the hospital had a bookstore, or a library,

something to do, something to read, please,

while I watched Oprah between vital assessments.

The second time took.

I received her old earrings,

an odd photograph of myself that printed poorly

(don’t know why she saved it; can’t ask now),

and a snow globe that works if you shake it hard enough.

I like this last trinket, because she lived in the desert.

But all of this only reminds me

that I never received anything after my grandmother died.

So in love with her, I would have accepted

anything at all: a blanket from the linen closet,

a souvenir magnet from the fridge, a bent fork from the drawer.

But from her, I just have the last memories her daughter gave me.

Josephine’s Garden

We bought a delicate sign

for my daughter that spring.

Josephine’s Garden it says, a metal oval on a stick,

butterflies behind the letters.

In her garden

poppies bloom, low to the ground for a child’s eye,

and irises too, taller than her (“taller than me!” she sings).

And while the tenderly collected rocks sleep,

twigs stuck in the ground fall down,

bits from her lunch decay for the birds,

and puddles from her watering can hands fill again,

I pose her for another photo, filed away by year.

After the flash

her eyes search for more cherry tomatoes—

her favorite, eaten off the vine, not even washed;

in the organic assault of Perfect Mom, I have made peace here.

In the corner

a farmer’s market is underway: pumpkins double in size,

giant looping vines tickle their striped watermelon neighbors,

looking like summer footballs

getting ready for fall kick-off.

From age one to two, three to four, five to six,

I watched her in the weeded rows;

she’s finally taller than those flowers we first planted.

Josephine snaps open too-small peas,

pulls up tiny carrots too early

and says: “Everything is still growing in my garden.”

And I am water, sun, and heat,

thinking about my next child:

a small turnip growing within.

Deep Sea Fishing

My line of pimples

is shaped like a Caribbean island chain.

The Bahamas maybe,

where we sail next to stingrays slapping our boat.

“Life is precious,” I say.

“Sure is easy to die,” he says.

The stingrays head north

and we thread our poles.

It’s winter back home,

where the cardinals and bats play,

my snow globe re-dusts unshaken

and the perennial bulbs are hard underground.

Down here, my family is old enough for a boat ride now,

and this salty trip erodes many pains.

But in the ocean spray, I’m months away,

maybe days,

from someone realizing I’m a fraud.

Faker wife, infertile mom,

dramatic daughter

who can’t even cast my line far enough in calm waters.

But I carry on with all of these,

because pretending, trying, is still doing.

We have two daughters:

one looks like me, one looks like him.

And if they look up to me

then I’m authentic

and forgiven


Kimberly Sailor graduated from the USC Creative Writing program in Los Angeles and also holds a Master’s in Library and Information Studies from UW-Madison. She is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Recorded A Cappella Review Board (, authoring over two hundred published music reviews. Her flash fiction has appeared in The Bookends Review, and her novel The Clarinet Whale is available on Amazon.

Dotted Line