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

J. Lee Strickland

The Music of the Spheres

Her disappointment makes them strangers.

In her voice he can sense the abyss

his lame attempt at humor cannot bridge.

Conciliating words spawn newer hardness in her jaw.

Her green eyes find another place to stare.

She knows him all too well,

as he knows her.

Galileo to her Bruno he recants

while she insists on burning at the stake.

She’s all inscribed in stone to him, the tale

as clear today as when the chisel struck.

Elisions of eroding years are glossed.

Time-softened planes fail of detection.

Recalcitrant remembering recarves

each faded line, each miniscule imperfection.

Inside the stove, the fire rails

against the glass (it would be free).

Outside, frigid air beats on the walls

(it would come in).

None would touch the theme of freedom now.

The one locked in, the other out,

their wheeling flings new mud

from ancient ruts.

High Tide

I found her at the water’s edge

kneeling in a patch of gravel.

Her hair had taken on the shape of sleep

and would not let it go.

The Tigris and Euphrates of her arms

joined at her hands,

which held a pile of smooth, clean stones.

Tears streamed down her cheeks.

“They’re so beautiful,” she said.

How To Know The Grasses

Mother knew the grasses.

As I crawled about she’d say to me,

“Don’t put that in your mouth,

Sweet thing.”

Saving me from certain death.

I knew the grass

against my butt

beneath a spruce

in darkness with

a girl named Fern

whose husky breath

smelled sweetly

of cheap whiskey.

Now grass seeds shed their chaff

and fill the cheeks

of tiny mice

who know the grass

that fills their nest

will be their sweet salvation


them swept up by hawk or owl,

the seed in spring

will sprout a riotous clump

of sweet lush blades,

a monument to missing mice.


I’m practicing to be

a sentimental old man.

Already there is practically nothing

that will not bring me to the verge of tears.

I’m practicing with too

much drink,

not to steam with anger,

but to simmer in a maudlin stew

of foggy reminiscence.

I’m practicing to love

my old, drunk, maudlin self,

and not, hating myself,

to be a hater of everything else,

jealous of all that will still be

when I am gone.

Anna’s Plague

Tiny bugs come to drink at his eyes while he sleeps.

One or two stop to graze on the salt paths that lead

From his eye, down his cheek, to the cleft of his ear

Before making their way to the well of his tears.

His deep, blinding sorrow, to them, is a fountain,

A treasure of rich, subtle flavors and scents.

They drink after crossing broad wastelands of linen

Unmindful of anguish and tormented dreams.

Sorrow-filled dreams evanesce with the dawn

Though he still feels her hands on his chest when he wakes,

His breathing made hard by that fading dream-touch

And a vaguely sensed movement around his closed eyes.

In the dim light of day’s edge he flees to the wood

Where crepuscular songs weave a dirge-like lament.

Such a threnody strung on the darkness within

Is, without, reinforced by the dank, clinging cold.

Spider webs wave like flags in the mouldering straws,

Festooned with the moisture of night’s fading damp.

Tattered leaves, like rags, limply flap in the breeze.

One, releasing its grip, sinks to ground.

In the bark of gray trees tiny lenticels wink,

Each a vessica pisces which hints at once-sacred

Geometries prized by the ancients, now lost,

Or the bright eyes of elves in a happier tale.

In his mind swarm ineffable thoughts of the past,

Crowding the images caught by his eye.

Elves become monsters, leaves become blades

Whirling sharp on brown branches like gilt-handled swords.

His legs fold beneath him. He sinks with the leaves.

At the edge of a whispering stream he succumbs

To despair-laden dreams in a sleep of despair,

While bugs vainly search for the eyes that they love.

J. Lee Strickland is a freelance writer living in upstate New York. In addition to fiction, he has written on the subjects of rural living, modern homesteading and voluntary simplicity. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sixfold, Atticus Review, Icarus Down Review, Latchkey Tales, Garlic Press, Countryside, Small Farm Journal, and others. He is a member of the Mohawk Valley Writers’ Group and The Hudson Valley Writers Guild.

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