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

Bill Newby

Warning Light

(Waiting Room Notes during Auto Repair)

Whether on my side or back

with a half-height or full pillow

the warning light in my shoulder

fires at the lightest touch.

It glows in the dark before sunrise

and flickers as I roll out of bed.

I dress with caution,

open the back door with care,

and turn each page of the morning paper

with a newborn caress.

But regardless if I sit, stand, rush or stroll,

it pulses down my triceps,

across my elbow and into my wrist.

I’m scheduled for annual maintenance

but might need some tweaking sooner.

I hope it’s just a bit of misalignment

or will respond to a quick lube.

I’m attached to the original equipment

and would rather not have to install

even the best replacement parts.

First Ladies at Ruby Lee’s

The first ladies stay there all night.

Their skin glistens red near the Exit sign,

and their eyes lock on the lead singer

as if taking vows.

“You are mine, and I am yours.

Take me now. Take me please.”

The floor crowds with dancers,

but they hold their turf.

One hip-sways and leans

into a shoulder shimmy,

then back in a syncopated pause.

The other bounces

in search of each rhythm

that her feet never find.

The decades pass in familiar choruses,

as we rock in our seats

and lip-read comments.

Swirls of energy devour our waitress,

and Sports Center replays populate the screens.

Hands shoot to Love Shack thumps,

as dancers twirl, jump and swim.

But when others drop, wet and exhausted,

the first ladies refuse to sit.

“He’s got to see what’s in this dress,

and I’ve got plenty of time.”


We step off the bus

lugging the Ten Commandments

and the accumulated weight

of western civilization’s struggle with brotherly love

tucked in our back pack

next to another plastic bottle

of cool, filtered, spring water.

Our Lowe, REI, and Merrell boots

provide arch support for our modern egos

and protect our feet from the dust, stones and debris

still lingering from Pol Pot’s house cleaning.

Far beyond the moat,

backlit across the skyline of harsh mid-morning glare

lays the silent silhouette of Angkor Wat,

small, black, symmetrical lotus bulbs cut free from the jungle

to provide power for a tourist economy

annually outpacing last year’s records.

Shaven, saffron draped, Buddhist monks

move wordlessly in the shadow of a neighboring pagoda

while we make electronic records of ornate stupas

then pause at the southern entrance for a group photo

before joining the flow of sweltering gawkers

walking the surrounding corridors

where thousands of patient artisans

chiseled stone reminders of the painful damnations

born of infidelity.

The actors wear different masks—

snakes, dragons, phoenixes and turtles,

farmers, fishermen, servants and soldiers—

but the plot is as common as yesterday’s Times.

Our shirts cling and sweat oozes across our cheeks,

but our air-conditioned bus is nearby,

and we can wash before lunch.

La Cuisine Novel

Tonight’s menu is freshly printed

on crisp ivory paper with a bit of weave,

and our waiter, Jackson, is pleased to be serving us

and will return in a moment to answer all of our questions

and get our drink orders.

The view from our seats by the window

stretches for miles across the Appalachians—

ridge lines and forest faces falling into hidden valleys,

mounds that say, “another, another, another”

and invite our imaginations to reach and roam.

And when Jackson returns,

we learn not only about his favorites,

but also the Italian village where Hunter, our chef,

honeymooned with his wife, Jewel.

Each dish is complex beyond belief,

but Jackson can walk us through each sauce

and around every chop, swirl, dip and dollop

that he describes as if watching an inner movie

that never fully projects on our screens.

And every dish triggers another story—

how Hunter experimented with Peruvian peppers,

butchering today’s whole hog,

the ice cream sandwiches Jackson’s mother awarded

so she could sleep when he and his brother rose early,

the punishing rainstorm last fall

when he first tasted Jewel’s escargots.

The room rebounds with stories and laughter.

Glasses are raised. Silver is replaced.

We wait and wonder if our meal

will live up to the press.

Pre-Concert Rituals

The tree frog orchestra tunes up slowly.

They refuse to play in the lingering twilight

and concede the stage to barking dogs, passing cars,

the birds’ ongoing conversations,

and a whistler baiting a hook for another try.

A distant ambulance wails its mission

and sings a fading aria in the wings,

but the tree frogs sit silently

and wait for the light to dim

and the breeze to take a seat

before they get going.

Bill Newby worked at Shaker Heights High School (Cleveland, Ohio) as a high school English teacher and administrator and at Cleveland State University as an academic advisor and instructor. He now lives near the ocean, golf courses and friends on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. His work has been published in Bluffton Breeze, Ohio Teachers Write, Whiskey Island, and the Island Writers’ Network’s Time and Tide.

Dotted Line