Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2016    fiction    all issues


Cover Joel Filipe

Alexander McCoy
Questions to Ask a Mountain
& other poems

Alexandra Kamerling
& other poems

Debbie Hall
She Walks Into Starbucks Carrying a 2 x 4
& other poems

Michael Fleming
& other poems

Jim Pascual Agustin
Sheet and Exposed Feet
& other poems

Melissa Cantrell
& other poems

Martin Conte
& other poems

AJ Powell
The Road to Homer
& other poems

Paul W. Child
World Diverted
& other poems

Michael Eaton
& other poems

Lawrence Hayes
Walking the Earth
& other poems

Daniel Sinderson
Like a Bit of Harp and a Far Off Twinkle
& other poems

Sam Hersh
Las Trampas
& other poems

Margo Jodyne Dills
Babies and Young Lovers
& other poems

Nicole Anania
To the Dying Man's Daughter
& other poems

Lisa Zou
Under the Parlor
& other poems

Hazel Kight Witham
Hoofbeat Heartbeat
& other poems

Margaret Dawson
& other poems

James Wolf
An Act of Kindness
& other poems

Jane A. Horvat
& other poems

Bill Newby
& other poems

Jennifer Sclafani
Hindsight Twenty Twenty
& other poems

Michael Eaton

Silence Is Quiet

When I attended

the poetry reading

at William Blake’s

coffee house, no one

showed up; drinking

my caffe latte,

I rehearsed, under my breath,

reading magnificently

to a wilted white daisy

in a dirty green glass vase.

However lonely,

there were certain benefits:

no one to critique

or blow raspberries,

no anxieties, no stuttering,

no misreadings and

starting all over again;

imagining twenty appreciative

listeners, applauding loudly,

(no, make that fifty),

the music of one hundred

hands clapping, one hundred

trees falling in the desert

with no one to hear.


I’ve always felt a bit off-kilter;

not in the same world as others.

A child trying to seesaw with himself

while the others played on swings.

Afraid to go to church because

the congregation prayed for

the final Rapture of death.

I believed that prayers came true.

I always felt my nose was larger, that

I had on different colors of socks,

the right one brown and the left one blue;

as if the rear of my pants was torn,

as if my DNA came from alien worlds.

Perhaps I was a foundling

brought in from the forest,

having been raised by animals.

My thoughts stroll on different paths

than ones where others are jogging.

My hot air balloon is blown out to sea;

the rescue ship has sprung a leak.

I am locked in a space capsule when

it explodes, seeing only

blue sky, flames, and angels.

I should sneak off and hide somewhere,

before they realize there is a wolf

loose in their holy places.


They only exist in the

corners of the room now,

like repossessed spider webs,

the tenants gone,

unable to make rent;

dusty strands of silk,

fading threads of memory,

offering only glimpses here

and there, sneak reviews

of life already past, or recollections

of that bare sight of thigh

above a woman’s stocking,

before she lowers her dress.

All things you do

become memories and

attach like mistletoe,

needing a host,

slowly draining you,

sprouting white berries;

lovely to kiss underneath,

but dangerous to eat.

Or, perhaps they are like

the wispy ends of dreams

as you awaken,

not telling the whole story,

but letting you remember

just enough to keep you

from going back to sleep.

Naked in Dreams

Poetry is just too damned embarrassingly personal;

airing your own dirty laundry in public,

or writing unpleasant truths about your friends,

praying they won’t see themselves in the poem,

hoping they will see themselves in the poem,

trusting they won’t kill the messenger.

Reading a poem aloud is like

coming out of the closet to your parents,

like standing red-faced in the bathroom

with your pants around your ankles,

like loudly breaking wind in the middle

of your onstage plie’.

Poetry doesn’t always smell like roses.

The audience stares with blank gazes,

yelling, “Take it off. Take it all off.”

looking for their money’s worth,

wanting to see the poet’s naked soul,

even when they know that souls are invisible,

even when the poet thought

he had it lit in flashing neon.

Poets will continue to be caught and embarrassed

putting their hands down unbuttoned blouses,

sneaking back in their windows late at night,

slipping the magazines under the mattresses,

trading quick kisses with other men’s wives,

walking naked in dreams while others are dressed.

But, poets go on with their singing—

eccentrics in their own home towns—

with stains on their shirtfronts

and their flies unzipped,

wishing their voices carried better,

wishing for the silver tongues of gods,

reading poems with pebbles still in their mouths.

How to Start a Fire

Looking at you ignites

lust; you are dry kindling,

during a drought,

stacked underneath the wood

pile, carelessly left unguarded,

your incendiary qualities

quite forgotten by your

husband, a negligence

that allows homes

to burn to the ground,

destroying families inside,

batteries dead in their alarms

with no advance warnings

of the coming conflagration.

Fire burns in your hair

and flames play between

your slender fingers.

If we take the next step,

and lie in the next bed we find,

the mattress will alight

without a dropped cigarette.

Neighbors will flee the condos

in pajamas and bare feet,

as a blaze of red trucks,

bringing water and hoses,

siren their banshee wails

through the dark wet streets.

They will be too late.

There will be nothing left

but glowing red ashes,

the woody smell of smoke,

and exposed, scorched plumbing.

The inspectors will suspect arson;

they will pinpoint the flash point

of ignition, will discover the

images of two smiles melted

into the blackened sheets.

Michael Eaton grew up in Littlefield, Texas, and ran around with Waylon Jennings little brother. He writes poetry to stay sane in a sometimes insane world.

Dotted Line