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

Lisa Zou

How to Begin a Song

Begin with sight: the electric blanket of a sky in the seconds

          before a storm. This time you leave the umbrella at home,

surrounded by the antiques your grandmother left; you learn to

          knit scarves. The whole day through, just a sweet old song.

Begin with smell: the blood vapor of rusting metal. How you can

          sense dust before it exists. The earthy aroma of old

bookstores; the essence of a child’s room. This time you’ll forget

          to spray the perfume on your jacket, leave the door open.

Begin with sound: the sewing machine’s melodic hum,

          the light switch in his apartment. The crackle of thunder,

the buzz of bees with Sinatra in one ear, and Elvis in the other. The

          spilling of apologies. This time you won’t listen. Georgia.

Begin with touch: the structure of the human body—the way

          skin becomes a rainbow of pink, purple, green. How

your veins stretch like roads, bumpy and convex. The viscosity

          of honey, the weight of wrapped vinyl records.

Begin with taste: the syrup of summer, the lemons you saved

          for winter—now overripe! Oh, the bruised peaches—

how nothing worth keeping will last. The snow does not show

          signs of melting and you knit. The road leads back to you.

Forget the distance between the missed and the mist.

          This begins with you—my road has always led back to you.


You grow a beard, check the mirror,

          notice you are forty years old, the next

morning, you shave it off, find you are

          sixty. But life is like that, suddenly

everyone you know is dying and they

          still visit you with your back turned to them.

One day, you took the school bus

          and you earned a gold star for answering

the last question right. Now, the nurses

          on night duty ask you something which

you can’t open your mouth and respond to.

          All you know is that someone switched

off the light and you don’t know how.

Under the Parlor

Under the Q-switched laser, the dragon

blisters from skin to dough. The navy blue

having stayed with me for decades—

I got inked too young, too full of hell.

How the lines resemble

well trodden roads, now burned by the

side of banana peels and the newspapers.

How the therapist said I was a slave

to perfection, suggested I wear

my mistakes like a crown.


The boy took

the other road and

stopped by

the bookstore and

purchased a book—

of any cover. The man

he would have

become is now dead.

Blind Mammal(s)

Scientists in Honolulu have uncovered

a primeval tortoise long alleged as extinct.

The blessed creature stumbled out of my sink

in the company of toothpaste patches

and last Wednesday’s soap suds but

now this no-eyed sea resident with three fins

is on a trip to the lab in Maui, traveling on a boat

rather than below it. This morning, the newspaper

announced that he is not native; how many miles away

from his motherland we clearly cannot fathom.

Lisa Zou currently studies at the University of Pennsylvania and has previously been recognized by the Poetry Society of the UK, National YoungArts Foundation, Sierra Nevada College, Johns Hopkins University, and Rider University, among others. Her writing is forthcoming in the Lindenwood Review.

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