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

Barry W. North

The Molotov Cocktail
of the Deep South

I swore I would never

lie down with one of your kind,

and it was not even within

flying distance of possible

that I would ever let one of you

relive the slave days at my expense

by taking me from the rear,

although I must admit I had, on occasion,

used my vision of such a coupling

to amuse myself and others

with the image of a

modern-day wannabe aristocrat,

the color and texture of vanilla ice cream,

gone completely soft,

like so many of your tribe

have a tendency to do,

getting his rocks off

by mounting me from the posterior position,

in honor of his long departed heroes.

I pictured him

as a ludicrous caricature of his ancestors,

clad only in rolls of milky flab,

riding me, like one of his prized fillies,

while lashing my rump

with a tiny whip,

to match his annoying little node,

all the way to the finish line,

at which point,

wild-eyed and exuberant,

he raised his hand in victory,

as the Caucasian crowd,

overcome with generational nostalgia,

cheered for the triumphant return of privilege

as it was in the glorious slave and plantation days.

I must confess to you that

my unbridled enjoyment

in depicting of your people’s

moral corruption and physical debauchery

showed me how satiric ridicule of my own folk

might seem like great entertainment to certain

twisted members of your bloodline.

Then you,

white as a damn Ku Klux Klan robe,

came along, and

to hear my girlfriends tell it,

ruined everything.

Like a medicine man with a magic elixir,

they say you somehow managed to scramble

my little black circuit board.

They claim I am no longer myself

and with that I cannot argue.

I am so out of whack, at this point,

the only thing I know

is when I look at your face

I am struck colorblind

and at that mysterious

juncture inside my brain,

where animal meets human,

there is a fire raging,

sparking off boiling daydreams

of the two of us making what is still

the Molotov cocktail, here, in the deep South,

with me screaming,

like the fool I so clearly am,

as we burn old Dixie down.

The First Day

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. . .
—Charles Dederich, a reformed alcoholic and founder of Synanon.

The day after her

only daughter’s suicide,

she came out

of the upstairs bedroom,

dressed in white,

like a virgin bride instead

of a grieving mother

and now childless divorcee.

She hesitated at the top of the stairs,

and then slowly descended,

as though going once again

to unite with her man

and begin their life anew.

In an unexpected vision, she saw

the faces of her deceased parents

floating beneath her, their sparkling eyes

full of hope and love just as

they had been on her wedding day.

She stopped at the foot of the stairs,

stripped off all of her garments,

and trudged forward to the reality

waiting for her in the kitchen.

Inside the doorway, she paused

to take a few deep breaths,

and then started the ordeal.

With sponges, bleach, bucket, and mop

she cleaned the room for hours,

from ceiling to floor,

until, by mid-afternoon, the task was complete.

With her hands raw and bleeding,

she stood on the gleaming ceramic tile,

covered with her teenager’s insides,

her skin glistening

like the scales of a fish.

She left the kitchen,

went through the downstairs bedroom,

where her only child had been conceived,

entered the bathroom

and stepped into the shower.

She let the water flow over her

and watched what remained

of her fifteen-year-old daughter

swirl around and get

sucked down the bathtub drain,

at which she continued to stare until

she was looking at her three-year-old,

full of life,

waiting for her bathwater to disappear,

at which point, just like she always used to do,

she suddenly tossed her hip to the side,

flipped her hands out at shoulder height,

glanced up, and said:

“Look, mom, it’s all gone.”

All That Glitters

The trees at the edge of town

seek in vain to be heard

with every passing wind.

The crescent moon

and stunning array of stars

have not a single disciple

on the empty street,

but inside the pulsating nightclub,

women, wearing neon skirts

and perfume which smells like money,

sit cross-legged on high-backed stools,

sipping cocktails

not worthy of the name,

surrounded by men

whose clothes jingle

like pocket change when they move,

and whose eyes, when reflected

in the dazzling mirror behind the bar,

seem, at times, to flash

inside their heads like some sort of

genetic, next-generation bling

making its ghoulish debut

in the midst of a receptive crowd.



for the gift of life

because it doesn’t take a Nobel Prize Winner

to figure out that without it I would have been,

from the beginning of time

part of the black pall of absolute nothingness,

which, for some strange reason,

has just made Archibald MacLeish’s

stunning little work of art

The End of the World pop into my mind,

a gem, it occurs to me, I would never have had

the joy of reading for the first time,

or the pleasure of re-reading over the years

to remind myself that life is a circus

there is no way out of,

even if you try to play it safe

by being only a spectator.

And thanks, Dad,

for the unconditional love,

which I have carried with me

every single day of my seventy years,

like that little pocket knife

you always kept in your trousers

that seemed to be able to do more work

and get you out of more jams

than a truckload of specialty tools.

And thanks, God,

for letting us all die,

often in bizarre, unexpected, and brutal ways,

because without death,

life would just not seem so precious to us.

Funny how that works,

but I guess you would have to have your perspective

to fully appreciate the humor in it.

You Are Also What You Don’t Do

When my country went to war based on a lie,

I saw the face of my dear dead father

as he instructed me to always tell the truth.

When my country engaged in torture,

I thought about the astonishing irony

of every talk show host

and every concerned parent in America

condemning, with high moral indignation,

the act of bullying.

When my country said that the euphemism

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

had produced valuable results,

I wondered how it would be to

live in a world in which everyone believed

the end always justifies the means.

In spite of all that,

when my country violated its principles,

I did not take to the streets to protest.

Instead, I stayed in my comfortable

three bedroom house pretending

it was not being done in my name;

sat at my spacious dining room table,

enjoying the fruits of the land,

as though not a single thing had changed,

as though what was being

done on my property, somehow,

had nothing whatsoever to do with me.

Barry W. North is a seventy-one-year-old retired refrigeration mechanic. He was born and raised in New Orleans and presently lives with his wife, Diane, in Hahnville, Louisiana. Since his retirement in 2007, he has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, won the A. E. Coppard Prize for Fiction, and was recently named a finalist in the 2014 Lascaux Poetry Awards. He has had three chapbooks published. For more information please visit his website,

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