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

Jane A. Horvat

the sky is falling, LOUDLY

When I was hatched

my mom had to pick away the eggshells,

break the film between my oasis and the noise.

It were as if I knew beforehand how loud the world would be.

Even then, eagerness to be overwhelmed was not part of

my genetic makeup.

I had hoped my down feathers would muffle the sounds

or that my wings could carry me into

a vacuum of sorts.

Yet, one morning I woke up to the screech of

the rusty clipping shears

and knew I’d be walking to Radio Shack

to buy a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

I wished for hearing aids

so I could have the ability to turn them off.

I learned to speak with my hands

so I could stop listening with my mouth.

Once upon a time

they asked me

“What came first,

the chicken or the egg?”

but that question is irrelevant

when you were born a chicken

but identify as a deaf-leopard

hiding behind her spots.

Same shit different day

Today I told myself,

     “Hey, it’s just a day.

     You’ll put on a white blouse,

     Tuck it into your pencil skirt,

     And catch the metro.

     Some business man in an

     Expensive suit will upend his

     Gourmet coffee on your shirt

     And grumble, exasperated,

     About his bad luck

     Without telling you he’s sorry

     Because he doesn’t have time to be sorry

     And you won’t have time to change

     But you’ll stop by the Gap

     And rip the closest cream-colored shirt

     Off its hanger and it’ll be rung up

     And on you before you realize

     You needed to buy white not cream.”

All in all,

     today could be worse.

But I sighed

     because I told myself that yesterday.

Blank Stares Don’t Create
Fairy Tales

Is there a message to decipher or lines to read between

now that I’ve paused?

Before, everything was encrypted, sheaves of allegories lay strewn,

graphite and wood shavings littered the bottom of the basket.

I lived in tornado alley and new twisters swept through every weekend.

I would hide in the cellar, tie myself to a pipe, and create.

Chaos and angst spurred the gradual bulge of my forearm muscles.

The cacophony of never-resolving arguments was my vinyl-encased soundtrack.

I twirled ’round and ’round while maintaining the stunning lines ’rinas must keep

but only when the winds were whipping past at 70 mph or more.

I locked myself down there as limb-ripping gales tore through foundations.

Countless scribbles left ridges on the walls, the floor, my eyelids, everywhere.

Streaming hair fanned out mid-spin. Should’ve snapped photos it was so picturesque.

Perpetual despair looked beautiful on me. Occasional pleasure reapplied my rogue.

Now my mail arrives at a different address and contentment accompanies me

as the rungs of the high-backed chair bitingly remind me I’m stagnant.

I no longer pursue the same utensils.

My creations would weep if they weren’t already extinct.

Can’t craft a code or spin a yarn woven with illusion, not when I’m submerged in smiles.

What does that say about me?

My current queries don’t spawn stories or sonnets, just a frightened preponderance

of what this conundrum entails for a future in fairy-dust and freedom.

Is it even worth pressing play if there is nothing to watch?


When I find myself in the colors

I drown in a pool of lavender.

A pedophile skips stones

across the surface.

Each plop sends

a ripple of turquoise spreading out,

but when the jagged rock

scrapes my forehead, fuchsia

drips down the side of my face.

When the droplet collides with

the gripping lavender

a shimmering silver portal

opens and transports us,

the pedophile,

the Vacation Bible School group

decked out in matching

tangerine T-shirts,

and I

into a silent movie

where it’s raining black and white

and my mauve screams

meet the dead air

and my head goes under

the grey water

while the pedophile’s cream whistle

is mean to keep his mind

off the pink pigtails

on my side of submerged Saturn.

Mint smiles turn towards

the smoothness of his distraction.

I notice them

with my violet eyes

and they pass over my flailing

until everything fades to black

and we are all just swimming

on opposite shores of Lake Eerie.

Pretty in P!nk

Looking in the mirror is how you and I play Russian roulette.

Looking over our shoulders is how we take a break from playing dumb.

You twirl me around after to our wedding song,

But I’m wearing a blood-splattered negligée,

And you’re sporting a ripped oxford and multiple stab wounds.

God, I hate how much I love you.

When people ask us how we’re doing

We smile with our mouths closed and say,

“We’re so much more than fine.”

Never lying, just burning down and freezing to death in the same breath.

We were smart enough

To avoid purchasing the glass house,

Despite the realtor’s insistence of it having

The perfect backyard of sand and cacti.

We are not black and white picket fence people.

No, we are black and blue bruises people,

Pink and green-eyed monster people,

Purple hearts for bravery and run-through-every-yellow-light people.

We continue to try even though we’ve gone colorblind.

Your embrace is holding a hand warmer

And drinking cinnamon whisky apple cider until

Your embrace is fire ants colonizing under my skin

And tequila torching me until I’m a charred mannequin.

I’d leave you so fucking quick,

But my embrace is snuggling under down blankets

And having no obligation to leave the warmth of our bed until

My embrace is a chokehold with a side of asphyxiation via pillow

And your throat is the acrid dessert awaiting the monsoons.

We break each other and then practice our tourniquets.

You rip my clothes off, emphasis on rip,

right before throwing me on our broken mattress

and kicking my legs apart.

You trail soft kisses down my belly

As I pull chunks of hair from your scalp

And leave claw marks on top of the invisible scars

From years of verbal abuse in our brick house.

I don’t know why you haven’t left either.

We sling insults over breakfast,

Throw dirty looks during lunch,

Play hot potato with pin-less hand grenades between dinner courses,

And exchange kisses between bites of dessert.

I throw your clothes out the windows.

You throw chairs at the walls.

We throw our hearts down the garbage disposal,

And stand, front to back, looking in the mirror,

Wondering how we ended up here.

Jane A. Horvat is a poet and short fiction writer from Rockford, Illinois. An undergraduate student at the University of Notre Dame, she is pursuing a degree in English and Romance Languages and will be studying in Bologna, Italy for 6 months. She believes that the world’s various truths are best expressed through creative writing, and she is currently working on a collection of poetry and short stories.

Dotted Line