Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2015    fiction    all issues


Cover Peter Rawlings

J. H Yun
& other poems

Colby Hansen
Killing Jar #37
& other poems

Melissa Bond
Freud's Asparagus
& other poems

Jane Schulman
When Krupa Played Those Drums
& other poems

Susan F. Glassmeyer
First Moon of a Blue Moon Month
& other poems

Melissa Tyndall
& other poems

Micah Chatterton
& other poems

Emily Graf
& other poems

Kate Magill
LV Winter, 2015
& other poems

Michael Fleming
Meeting Mrs. Ping
& other poems

Richard Parisio
Brown Creeper
& other poems

Jennifer Leigh Stevenson
Circe in Business
& other poems

Laurel Eshelman
& other poems

Barry W. North
Molotov Cocktail of the Deep South
& other poems

Charles C. Childers
& other poems

Ricky Ray
A Way to Work
& other poems

Cassandra Sanborn
& other poems

Linda Sonia Miller
Full Circle
& other poems

J. Lee Strickland
Anna's Plague
& other poems

Erin Dorso
In the Kitchen
& other poems

Holly Lyn Walrath
Behind the Glass
& other poems

Jeff Lewis
Charles Ives, A Connecticut Yankee
& other poems

Karen Kraco
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill
& other poems

Rafael Miguel Montes
& other poems

Writer's Site

Michael Fleming


Bangkok, and even the name reeks of it.

The girls in the girlie bars on Patpong

Road, they know that smell, they sell that smell—shit,

cum, curry, poontang, bodies at play, songs

they know you know, dances they know you know,

the English words on their bikini butts,

twinkling in sequins—WINK. FOXY. GO-GO.

The smell of dollars, baht, dong, roasting nuts—

they’ve known that aroma all their lives, who

the hell doesn’t? Really, weren’t we all born

knowing that smell? The monks, they know it, too,

silent, single file, first dim light of morning,

bearing their bowls, a little day-old

rice, a bit of fish—want reduced to this.

It still smells of suffering—in the folds

of their robes, that whiff of death, saffron, bliss.


My britches got bigger the day I met you

in a bamboo room, at a bamboo table,

sizing me up (I didn’t have a clue)—

so damn sure of a world that never gave

less than what you demanded or deserved

or just made true. Couple of redheaded brats

like us, in a war zone—where’d we get the nerve

and what gave us the right, rat-a-tat-tat

mai pen lai days, Mekong nights . . . we recognized

refugees as people like us: alive,

moon-eyed, bee-stung but still there in the fight,

in a world that needed us, needed our jive—

Khao-I-Dang did too, back when we were brats,

eating up the last of our baby fat.

for Miss Lola


They plopped him down (as we would later say)

like a big bag of potatoes, right there

on our long bamboo table, just the way

they (different they) plopped down lunch, right where

we were eating lunch, yes, that’s how it was,

right in the middle of lunch, rice with rocks

to break our teeth and stir-fried weeds and what

may have been chicken, or dog, and the docs

were there, and the nurses, and all of us but

the interpreters, just us and the buzz

of flies and the distant pop-pop that made

the border so exciting, good for our

stories, and then they burst in with that dead

kid soldier, Khmer Rouge, alive an hour

before, here for autopsy, just because.

The Voice of America

In Thailand, where it’s never cold, that one

day was cold, a bleak November day, raw, damp—

fresh misery to heap on sickness, guns

and hunger, madness, mud and fear. The camp

went quiet. Every stitch they had, they wore,

rags on rags. We had no more to give them.

We did have a radio, reception poor—

the Voice of America whispered, trembled

from the world we’d left, where election day

was ending, the polls were closing, Wyoming

clinched it: an old fool, nary a gray

hair on a head untroubled by wisdom,

would preside over perpetual morning

with a smile and thrilling hints of war.

Meeting Mrs Ping

Laughing, forty-two to my twenty-two,

and lovely, still the belle of Phnom Penh

even after college, marriage, kids—then

hell: the war that throttled the city, blew

in on rocket wings, the rumble and pop

closer, every day closer, till the city

fell quiet, faceless boys streamed in, no stopping

them, black clothes, tire sandals, eyes unlit,

jungle boys no bigger than their guns came

from darkness to empty the city, empty

everything, kill everything . . . and then

five years later here you were, tart-tongued,

smiling, sassy, the queen of Khao-I-Dang

Camp, reaching through the wire, to me, alone.

for Sunly

Michael Fleming was born in San Francisco, raised in Wyoming, and has lived and learned and worked all around the world, from Thailand, England, and Swaziland to Berkeley, New York City, and now Brattleboro, Vermont. He’s been a teacher, a grad student, a carpenter, and always a writer; for the past decade he has edited literary anthologies for W. W. Norton. Read more at

Dotted Line