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

Melissa Tyndall

For Our Children, Not Yet Born,
I Preserve the Images of Animals

They are nearly gone: the black-footed ferret,

gloved and bandit-masked, last leopards

fading into Russia’s northern forests. You’ll never

see a nighthawk’s forked plumes and gaping mouth,

watch the Dusky Darter swim Tennessee creek beds,

hear the jumping meadow mouse chirp or its tail

drum against the earth. One night, the woods will empty,

the howl of the red wolf forgotten like a sudden storm—

a strong wind that wails briefly, then dies

in the dark. Here once were 600-pound cats,

fanged and orange as cinders,

and foxes—yes, Fox, your last name—

with wide noses, rufous-colored ears,

and long, black-tipped tails. I hold

them here, until you arrive.

Postcards from the Amer River

A trip to Alaska prompted the first—

backed with near-blue landscapes,

silver-tipped ice whorls, concentric shells.

Last summer, your script spilled past

lined margins, threatened the spiny

bones of sea animals, birds in watercolor,

beachfront sunsets brushed in gold,

lavender and dusty pinks, trapped

the way icebergs entomb volcanic

fragments, carry it for years, before

the black rock ripples, peeling back snow,

upheaving it into crags along the water

the local paper described as God-sized

snowmen melting. At Christmas,

your letters come thrust against Dutch

postmarks. You write of beer and spiced

black teas ripe with honey and cinnamon

and bayberries; how climate or distance

can reframe a place, remove doglocks,

allow migration. Words rise in waves

like relief-maps, from this new country,

set us adrift in reverse, cotton us to memory.

At the first hint of spring, the grass will green

again, grow back into itself, shake off the frost

and black smut whips. In Tennessee,

green foxtails, wild and weedy,

will shatter and scatter their seeds,

and I’ll feel the need to write to

you, but there’s nothing I want to say.


Scientists say we never truly touch—

despite any sensation we might feel,

our electrons begin to push away

the moment we move toward each other.

This is the unquestionable nature

of our universe and its elements,

and we’re no more than a collection of

atoms encased by an invisible

force field that allows us to overlap

temporarily, but repels those who

venture too close. It absorbs the shock of

others, protects us from risk. Science claims

contact is just an illusion caused when

our energies brush against each other.

They argue touch is no more existent

than a memory of you—how blue your

eyes look in the dark, the way your long,

dark hair falls into your face when you lean

over the neck of my guitar. No more real than

morning after bruises, evidence of teeth

on my breasts, hands on my throat—than

the recollection of the first time we met.

You cross the room, talk about the summer

storm that rages for hours. You smile. Then,

a low rumble of thunder, a hot vein

of lightning, the rain like a high hat beat

just on the other side of the window.

Film Studies

Ever the Southern gentleman

in your indie film,

you ask before kissing her

on the front porch.

I wonder, if we kissed,

if you’d do it this way

off-screen. Later, you lift

her onto the sink of a hotel

bathroom, your hands running up

her thighs and under her skirt.

I imagine myself in her place—

countertop to pantyhose off,

in one of two double beds, wonder

if your face would look as it did

when you said you loved her.

But the first time you lean in

is during a lull in conversation

on the deck of an East Nashville

bar, the string of lights twinkling,

the fans humming, spinning

like a film reel. I find myself wishing,

not for the crescendo of night sounds,

or our flash forward, but for a loop

of this instant, for the infinite

playback—to preserve the still

moment no movie can capture.


After the separation, the first man

to sleep in my bed does just that—sleeps,

fills the vacant side. His long, blonde hair, even

longer than mine, spills across the pillow,

fine as cornsilk strands. Our bodies mirror

each other, hearts flailing against our ribs.

During the night, he pulls my arm over

his torso, grips my thigh to draw my leg

between his, presses my front to his back.

When he shifts, a tribal tattoo licks past

the collar of his white T-shirt and up

his neck. I know the ink runs the other

way, too, almost dips into his waistband,

and it conjures up the memory of him

peeling a shirt over his broad shoulders—

how, after a party, he pushed me down

gently, pinned me back-flat on the carpet.

How he laid on top of me, grew harder

when we kissed, and he fisted the fabric

of my shorts when those kisses dipped

under my shirt, his hair grazing my flesh—

but we stop ourselves.

He wants to pursue

friendship only, he claims, but that’s undone

each time our eyes meet across the bartop

and he refuses to look away, nights

we lean against each other on the couch,

our fingers interlaced. Is this what friends

do? He walks the apartment and cleans up

bottles, empty glasses, locks the front door,

turns off any forgotten lights. I lift

up the corner of my blanket for him,

an invitation he accepts

when he climbs in without a word.

Melissa Tyndall is a writer, bibliophile, caffeine addict, professor, and Supernatural fangirl. She holds a Bachelor of Science in English, a Master of Arts in Corporate Communication, and Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Her poems and award-winning articles have appeared in Number One, Prism international, Red Mud Review, Words + Images, and various newspapers. Her work is forthcoming in an essay collection examining The CW television series Supernatural. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

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