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

Jennifer Leigh Stevenson

Honey I’m Headed West

On the night I was born,

my daddy played a gig

at a bar called Cowtown.

So it’s right I’ve got me

a warlike mouth,

a honky-tonk heart.

I’m heaps of trouble, smoke

Benson and Hedges

like a lonesome locomotive,

drink bourbon from a truck

stop coffee cup. My soul’s

just some no-tell Motel

with most the neon shot out

of its shivery sign. Or a mirror

that’s lost some of its silver.

When we met I told you

I’m a dead end on a dirt road.

But you didn’t pay any mind.

This summer stands

as the wettest on record

but nothing’s getting green.

June bugs throw themselves

at the bare bulb on my porch,

trying to hump it to oblivion.

Cicadas preach white noise

from blue ash pulpits, but

none of us are wise enough

to hear their truth—

that the world will end

before the evangelists do.

I, too, call and holler

for you, a small town

Siren with an ivy crown.

Load up the truck with all

you can fit, I tell you—

it’s time to go. A sparrow

nested in the awning over

your front door, and some

cold-eyed crow’ll eat those eggs

one at a time. But hey, you

and me both know: wild

isn’t the same thing as free.


We open on an unmade man

sleeping artful in an unnamed bed.

A gentle ribbon of sunlight

sighs through the blinds

from his shoulder

to his hip

to the sheet

like some kind of ceremonial

sash and sword. He didn’t mean

to be here.

A fly buzzes frantic in the window

and the ceiling fan clanks.

We now part the steam

to visit her in the shower.

Over the pedestal sink hangs

a mirrored medicine cabinet

with a slot inside to toss old

razor blades. Her pale skin gleams

cream. She slicks her palms

over her hair, blinks, her wet

eyelashes dark and heavy.

She hums a lonely melody,

one that has fluttered

unfinished at the edges

of her for weeks. She picks

and picks at it and when

it comes to her

it just

opens in her hands.

Last night, his fingers brushing the barest

paisley on her neck, he kissed her jawline

with such cinematic longing that she climbed

onto him and said, Stop keeping yourself from me.

The Dangers of Prose, Love

I lick my finger,

flip the page,

“fray to fight

fray to unravel”

so I have some choices.

Either way it all comes apart.

Your work is shining, methodical,

blown glass turned from a molten

thing into tender tiny creatures

that fit in my palm.

I can almost see them breathe.

Not my poems, though.

I want to write

blunt force trauma

with a gauntleted fist,

smashing reckless,

jaw aching with anger,

wrecking everything.

But Baby, I never can conjure

you. Something phrases

should curve around light

and easy: your wicked

mouth, your cinnamon smell.

You rhymed and dined me

and dug in my dark

trying to find me a muse.

I got nothing like that in me.

So I take my forearm, sweep

it across all you ever said before

but it doesn’t matter. The sound

of 100,000 crystalline words


can’t cover up the echo

the thrill of your voice

Circe in Business

I wear all black, a high-necked frock,

and a straw hat to thwart the southern sun.

My plants, such lovelies, in rows

taller than I, bow now in summer

breeze. They forget how deadly

they are in their beauty, waxy

berries bright, leaves trembling.

I’ve made quite a name for myself.

Flowers in high violets, yellows and other

likely hues, (those colors are suspect

those colors are a bruise.) But no

matter. I wear leather gloves,

pinch those flowers and berries

at the base. Apply a little heat to help

the harm along. Women come to see

me when rage vignettes their vision,

walk along my wares, smooth their hands

over the glass bottles and decide just

how he should go. I don’t do gentle,

so you won’t find any soporifics.

Hemlock, certainly, if you’d like

to watch him gasp, or belladonna

to sink him into a delirium, dilate

his pupils as though he were tumbling

in love again, but by then could

you bear it? Wolfsbane hurts,

as I understand it, stirs up the belly,

sends saliva to froth in his mouth.

I don’t need magic anymore

so it’s lucky I don’t have it.

This, my dear, is true,

for every one of you

who seek me and weep:

Later in your Paris Green parlor

you’ll look in the mirror

and see a face tight with triumph,

wild eyes dark and bird-bright.

Mark me. Not more than a drop

to stop his heart. And don’t get

caught. Get even.


Why do you want to talk now?

I’m barefoot, dusty and bleeding.

I replenish my stones.

I speculated so long in labored silence . . .

When I realized the weight of all these words unsaid,

when the chasm growled between us, filled with cruelty

and doubt I still couldn’t shout

and I couldn’t scream or say anything true or fraught.

I tossed a rock down into the yawn below

(where our pressure broke the yard),

watched that rock fall and gather pebbles

and momentum and felt bored. You rendered me

irreverent, chained to a shrug and a hum.

You once whispered kindness but

now you are a wooden placard

hanging haphazard over my front door:

“Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here”

burned into the grain.

This morning my back porch opens into this canyon.

It’s not powerlessness, or fear, but rather an

unbecoming. Eyes burning across the crisis

until they fade into embers of distance. ‘Til

calamity supersedes life and you and me

and we failed to be.

All this earth over our bones.

All that time.

We replenish our stones.

A born and bred Oklahoman, Jennifer Leigh Stevenson loves the backroads. She began writing poetry in ninth grade, studied music and theater at University of Central Oklahoma and wound up (somehow) in banking. For years she scribbled lines on napkins and wrote rhymes on the back of receipts, until she realized she wanted to be a writer more than anything. This marks Jennifer’s second time to be published in Sixfold.

Dotted Line