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

Lawrence Hayes

After a Ten Minute Silence for John Lennon, Snow

Just as the silence

in Central Park ended,

just as the heavens began

quilting our sighs—

rare moment of presence

on this nervous

bastard earth—

just then

from the sky

an empty silent sifting,

the kiss of a quiet


who pities us our prayers,

white tears

setting down

on the cool bruised

cheek of the earth.

Walking the Earth


A path curving

Into deep woods.

A silence so thick and ancient

it swallows trees as I go.


The path twists

And thickens,

two-hundred year

hemlocks surround me,

a stand of native

beech saplings shiver.

In the darkest of these woods

I empty myself of seasons, turn

to the mute quivering lives

each silent step divides,

knowing myself neither

shunned nor needed here,

here in the depths

of a presence so strong

my breath is but a dampness

it takes back and gives,

a flower unfolding

each finger of grief,

unfurling in the mist

of whatever hush there was

before the earth knew itself

in my name,

before I walked these woods

carving myself in the wounds of an ancient tree,

relieved when finally the new healing

wood came to curl

over each slow

darkening letter,

knowing somehow it was

better this way,

wordless, covered,

walking the earth without a name.

Cousin Steve in Vietnam

for Steve Melnick


When the full dressed

soldier showed up

at your mother Mary’s

door that day

she lost God

in half a minute,

collapsed into

a grief so deep

the family priest didn’t dare

meet her eyes.


After the brutal burial,

after the empty echoes

of the gunshots

in the graveyard,

we reconvened at the house

where things quickly spun apart,

there being no center

to hold,

your girl bent

screaming in the kitchen,

animal anguish

so naked and pure

it stunned

everything into silence.


At 22 you’d left

the States

like many your age,

never to return.

The sniper’s bullet

took you

a week before

your tour was done.

In the only picture

we have of you from that place

you’re grinning lightly in full camouflage gear,

a small monkey chattering on your shoulder.


The black granite wall

in Washington holds your name now,

one among many

in the too long list of the dead.

Chiseled by human hands

your names will endure

perhaps a couple centuries

in the rain.

In the rain

another aunt, Eleanor, said

it looked as if the stone itself

was weeping.

Birth Song for Iris


In the face

of such stark naked miracle

Your folks

must have choked

on the utter

wonder of it all

That moment

they first saw

you crowning

from your mother’s womb.

The midwives

must have gasped

and danced in tandem

to your perfect beauty

that hour you first emerged

bloody and bawling

ultimate gift of the gods

themselves astounded

by all that pink

grasping flesh of yours

new blood-rich being

swimming startled into warm arms

Iris wet and welcome

Juniper there beaming in her own skin


The cold hard world

can be set aside tonight

that old bitter Dylan

put on hold forever.

Instead from his tower

Leonard’s calm hallelujahs

jai on endless repeat

your mama’s sweet milk

spilling on your tongue.


This morning you are the only

being here on earth

Your father’s loveliest poem

dreamt at last into flesh

baby borne swaddled

in soft arms forever

your memory that song

your mother hummed you to sleep

in the womb all those nights

you tossed on your inner seas

your old dog Sophie finally settling now

with a grunty sigh on the front mat

her long watch finally done.


Autumn, of course

is its season, dusk

its time of day.

Anything fleet

and vanishing,


the red fox

etched an hour ago

in the morning dew.

It ripens into

the darkest of grapes,

into the deepest merlot,

sweet tears spilling

on the banks of regret,

that blessing you forgot

to give or receive.

Nectar of the poets,

empty nest still warm

in love leaving,

night train headed

through our bones in the dark.

Thumbnail moon

against a cobalt sky,

distant buoys tilting

to a foghorn out at sea.

All we love

or have loved in this life

tugging its sweet sad saxophone,

each riff a play

on time past

and time passing.

Late Prayer

Sometimes late at night,

lying wide awake

with you on the far edge of sleep,

all at once I feel your whole body

shudder, shifting through the slipping

transmission of dream,

as if something

deep inside of you

were breaking.

At times I get suddenly

frightened, pull myself

to you a little tighter,

wishing somehow

I could wake you

or pray,

or that, closing my eyes,

I might open some secret

other eye.

Sometimes that day in the rain

returns, and I remember thinking how

this should be enough—

the matted leaves shining on stone,

our history a small black cat

that shivers and settles between us.

Tonight, after work,

let’s talk to each other,

huddled in the dirty afghan.

In the dim light let’s close

the tired book between us,

imagine a new kinder ending

we’ll work on tomorrow.

Lawrence Hayes is a writer, arborist, and deer fencer living in Pawling, NY. He studied with the poets Charles Simic and Mekeel McBride at the University of New Hampshire, where he received a Masters Degree in Poetry Writing in 1981. He has had his work published in The New York Times, Water Street Review, Aegis, and other small magazines.

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