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

Alexandra Kamerling


In lieu of collecting rocks or coins or stamps, she collects places and hands them down to me. When I ask her what she can still smell and hear from her childhood in Kansas, she says she can smell the engine of her father’s Plymouth and hear the wind as it traveled over nothing.

How Long She Walked

The house I walked towards was graying and frail. It sat alone in a sea of wheat, collecting wind through the open windows. From a distance it was barely there.

Inside the house sat my grandmother at 19, playing Solitaire at the kitchen table. She wore work clothes covered with dirt but her nails and lips were both a deep crimson, and her red hair was carefully gathered and twisted like a conch shell at the nape of her neck. We greeted one another, and she went down to the cellar for an extra chair, coming back instead with a bag of potatoes, a record player, and two pieces of chocolate wrapped in wax paper.

A year must have passed and then the house shook us out and dissolved in a pool of dust and copper kettles. My grandmother put on her work boots and marched towards the road. I don’t know how long she walked, but I do know that in this place the vastness swallows and the road is straight.

I left with the powder blue bathtub, which is what I had come for.

What Did You Learn
When You Spoke to Her?

This small thing—

That she liked to sleep

with her hands on her ribs

so that her fingers fit

into the shallow grooves

and would rise and

fall with her breath.

That she’d always felt

there was an

old and low music

within her

and this was the proof


pulled breath carving the tide

into her body


In the car with my mother

we speed along the straightest road

I have ever seen

the thin thread of asphalt

never wavering from its route

to the end of the earth.

Here in western Kansas we feel alone.

This is where my mother’s love of vast space

was planted

and so sifted down to me

we are both unable to breathe

in the density of forest.

A few cups of

bitter gas station coffee

later and we’ve arrived

at the farm house with its

whitewashed walls and

powder blue bathtub

and the oak that coats the porch with shadow.

It’s empty now

the house where my grandmother lived

and lost her own mother.

Trailing my fingers along the kitchen counter

I wonder if the dust still has a lingering particle

of these women

I watch my mother

climb into the blue bathtub

and rest her head on its cracked edge.


If I could


your bones pick

them up

piece by piece

so that they

became not

wrist or sternum

but driftwood


left by water

a last impression

of a passing life

Alexandra Kamerling grew up in the Alaskan interior and currently lives in Oakland, CA. She is a writer, dancer, and choreographer. She received her B.A. from Mills college in English Literature.

Dotted Line