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

Mariana Weisler

Soft Soap and Wishful Thinking

I’ve been poking at this old truth like it’s a dead thing,

lifelessly lying there like blood-matted roadkill,

a deer struck and splayed and ebbing out onto the highway;

I’ve been prodding it, over and over, my pulse

flickering in anticipation of its resuscitation, of

the vivid moment when it will leap up, revived, prancing away

on spindly doe legs across the black asphalt,

up into the thickened navy sky where it will vault

across each of those twinkling memories, those silvery specks of

childhood blessings, until it finally will nestle itself back

among them, back into the place where I first spotted it years ago,

deceptively downy brown and soft, again soothing those throbbing stars with its velvet tongue.

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”

—C. S. Lewis

Dear Megalomania,

I finally reviewed the dissertation you wrote on me when I was 18,

and yes, I noted your citations of all the most influential thinkers

as well as your commensurate references to empirical and dogmatic texts,

in which you concluded, naturally, that I was either an Einsteinian genius

or a Marian reincarnation, that I was indubitably deemed divine

from the time of my birth, which, of course, was confirmed by my

first angelic sighting and aptly augmented by my infantile

ability to read auras and Freud alike.

But—I must admit—I found a flaw, just there in the 53rd footnote,

in which you indicated that you appeared “due to my debilitating fear of failure”,

and thus were commissioned to carve out a future that would

suit my magnitude, throbbing idle and alone in my messy room;

and suddenly it was revealed to me, with clarion clarity,

that it wasn’t I who feared life but you:

too erudite to ever accept error, too mighty to muck through mediocrity.

It was you, so small and mousy, dull and dim, cowering in the crevices of my mind,

and it was always your cowardice that ever convinced me to believe

I was anything but human.

The Lament of Martha Kent

If you must go, then do so.

One foot on my porch and one on the moon

is too far a stretch, even for you.

I can’t say how long I’ve known about the questions

splintering inside you; I guess when I saw you glance at me then

up at the sky, gray eyes pleading who—where—how—why—

and fantasizing feral flight, all while still grasping at the old

minutes that sank through the sunlight, needlessly

swiping them into your sleeve. . . .

Yes, son, I know you hate to leave when the scent of your childhood

is still a tease of sugar in the air, with all the furniture lidded

in fresh dust: thousands of cells of my shed love and trust;

and I also know that you’ve prayed I could tell you

where to go, that I could somehow teach you your language

abandoned centuries ago, until at last you thought,

“In space? There, would it be possible to trace the

scrawlings of my misplaced past?”

(Much like my body, my heart, once fractured, recast.)

I can picture you now, on that day when you come back, with your

face set in chivalry, your hair knightley black, as

a man: draped and caped in cosmic hues,

and I will still be yours—to have and keep, or to lightly kiss on the cheek and leave.

My father told me once, “Questions are tried on, Martha, answers worn.”

So now I tell you, my son—true Steel is forged, not born.

Hope, Ms. Dickinson,

may be feathered, but it does not perch in the soul.

In these catacombs, aisled between stripes of skulls, death

crowning from the walls, it dug pitchfork feet into my shoulder:

a parrot, not bright, buoyant blue and radishy red but

brown like a mutt, like a mule in the mud, like

soggy cardboard and filthy kitchen floors.

On the loneliest days I’d stare into its black eyes like pearls

of briney caviar, and I’d wonder what’s its purpose here,

sing-songing away, the sound withering in arid blackness;

I’d wonder which god gifted me this grimy wingéd rat

in place of a rope, or a flashlight, or crowbar, or any old thing that could

be used to pry open that trap door looming like locked Heaven above.

So—I’ll admit—I did it. I popped the head off that warbling

fowl and plucked each feather down to the down, and then I wove

them into one fine strand to lasso that door and yank it off;

and oh how that sunshine melted down on me like hot, smooth butter,

slathering my skin, thawing me to the bone! And I saw then, the

blood on my fingertips, the white meat of the creature on the ground;

Hope no longer the flight of freedom, a flittering flag of future

peace, but dead, like everything else here, bleeding into the dirt.

In conclusion: Hope, Ms. Dickinson—I’ve realized—

is a rope.

My Most Existential Poem, Ever

Foreword: First, there are some things you should know about me. I don’t write this with quill and ink by the yellow glow of lamplight in a log cabin nestled somewhere in the deep woods of Vermont. I type this onto my phone with sloppy thumbs while my car chugs idly at a red light, misspelling every other word. For that matter, my spelling has always been atrocious, and I will certainly have to spell-check this before I submit it anywhere. Not that it will be accepted, because I almost never get things in on time. I’m not late—I’m unpunctual. On that note, I should admit that I can be rather lazy. Most of my writing days are actually spent on my cat-mangled couch, ingesting endless episodes of Law & Order SVU and mouthing Benson’s one-liners as my itinerary disintegrates like crumbs at the bottom of the Utz Salt & Vinegar bag. (Which is funny only because I’ve been on this same diet for the last seven years, cheating at least two meals a day—I happen to love McDonald’s and cream cheese.) So I always end up promising that tomorrow will be better, and I resign myself to stalking old friends on Facebook, watching Jenna Marbles on Youtube, and if I’m feeling particularly inspired, maybe a TED Talk or two. But more likely tomorrow will be exactly today, only varying in the variables, and I’ll be splayed out on my couch, sucking on a spoon of peanut butter, late to turn on the People’s Court, retyping this poem with one clumsy finger. And the day will end as it often does as I stroke my mangy cat in one hand and my stash of poems in the other, wondering what exactly it would take, how many more readings over how many more days, until one of us can finally make the other real. Anyway, I guess now you’re forewarned.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

If I called myself a poet,

Would it be true?

Mariana Weisler is a professional actress and singer, performing both locally in her hometown of New York City and nationally. She graduated summa cum laude from Hunter College and Macaulay Honors College where she studied Opera, but now works in the more intimate venue of Musical Theatre. Mariana’s foremost passion, however, lies in creative writing, with her first notable publication being in Sixfold. She is currently working on a collection of poetry and a novel.

Dotted Line