Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2018    fiction    all issues


Cover Elena Koycheva

Bryce Emley
Asking Father What’s at the End
& other poems

AJ Powell
& other poems

Faith Shearin
& other poems

Claire Van Winkle
& other poems

Sarah W. Bartlett
Summer Cycles
& other poems

Nooshin Ghanbari
& other poems

Meli Broderick Eaton
The Afterlives of Leaves
& other poems

Jeddie Sophronius
& other poems

Paula Bonnell
In Winter, By Rail
& other poems

Addison Van Auken Waters
& other poems

Daniel Sinderson
& other poems

Andrew Allport
All Nature Will Fable
& other poems

Marte Stuart
What an Insult Time Is
& other poems

Matthew Parsons
My Father as an Inuit Hunter
& other poems

Emily Bauer
Gently, Gently
& other poems

Bruce Marsland
A once lovelorn bard’s final journey
& other poems

Beatrix Bondor
Night Makers
& other poems

Isabella Skovira
Lawless Conservation
& other poems

Juan Pablo González
Colombia, 1928
& other poems

Molly Pines
The Pillbug
& other poems

Jamie Marie
On the Lake
& other poems

William A. Greenfield
If You Show Me Yours
& other poems

Bill Newby
Tuesdays at The Seagate's Atlantic Grille
& other poems

Elder Gideon
Male Initiation Rites
& other poems

Joel Holland
Dear Gi-Gi
& other poems

Martha R. Jones
How Lewis Carroll Met Edgar Allan Poe
& other poems

Beatrix Bondor

Night Makers

Imagine the assembly of nights.

A zodiac conveyor belt tightens all their bolts

and tosses them across Mayan squares.

Everything must be exactly in place, precise

every nose, beaded bracelet, pair of gray

vans, limit. All ambition hardens in drizzle,

Thursdays left out to dry in the sun

stretched side by side with loose teeth and used condoms,

peace of all the body’s cells, streetlight circles

lining the way home, the desire to break,

and other things that will vanish by morning.

This night isn’t done, they may frown

before adding a walk alone

through rain prickles that fall only

between one and two AM, a stanza.

The finished nights must come out golden

brown, perfect pies with swollen bellies

and crusts puffed just right, the perfect resistance—

although I will never know,

not being a maker myself.

I consume nights passed to me

one after another, as they are dropped

into my round and hungry palms.


This is how you get a woman to tear her body apart,

not by crooning or cookies, but by the time to title.

Give her unlined. Mean it.

It isn’t the carrying she’ll do it for or even the lifetime

of doorways opening and closing with curfews and college,

white paint peeling a little but holding.

It isn’t for the memorizing or finishing or slimming,

the coolness of a hand or season, not for the shower,

green park benches nor the railings penning

them in from the East river, not for being strung

or doing the stringing, hopes, fears, and meals

softening in a wide milk bowl placed on a weekday wooden table.

It isn’t even for the release of something heavy.

This is the kind of pain that is worth it.

This is for the setting down, observing

footsteps down a long carpeted hallway, for learning

and fattening and heat, basketball courts and cobblestones

and wildness that hangs just above bicycle handles

and December dew. This is for the bath,

the cleaning, decades lined up like bowling pins

and brimming with the mystery of the place behind them,

somewhere only strikes and gutterballs know,

a place to push toward where speed is good.

This is for the naming,

the grace hung on the lips of a life

as it puts another into words.

Red Telephone

I think the green bananas are a kind of street

sign, and that the wind behind

the lens is misleading.

Polka dots are classy, in a way

only salt crystals could understand, and

this striped world could learn by not hanging up

the phone—the world could learn

a lot by pronouncing the “tele”—and twisting

its coiled cord like the ’80s, or the curls of a girl

before straight was the style.

Seventeen failed

relationships darken my mind

tonight, and so does one successful marriage.

So does the right choice, and so do

the peppered canyons between the seconds

before my very first

kiss. I hope the words don’t learn

about caution. I hope they’ll tumble forever,

without searching for another time. I hope

you’re awake right now to share

the night with me, because someone,

somewhere, is tasting for the very first time

champagne, crayons, red canyons,

saltshakers, the bravest sand dunes,

and the bladed bananas

in all their terrestrial tartness.


Here is the problem. An unbalanced equation

is your banner, your alphabet. Today

is shiny floors and backpacked crowds;

you don’t know your schedule.

Your shoes give you blisters, a growth

spurt is on its way, the bus pulls up.

Faces and pencils sharpen.

This is the stage of questioning.

Now is learning forms, names.

Here is the during. You are stumped.

Something won’t balance, or the plugging was flawed.

Word stacks are crooked. Draft four takes hours.

This is when the boy doesn’t like you back

and lab goggles begin to print red

on the bridge of your nose. There is no sleep.

This is combustion. The bus is on the Deegan,

you have fallen in love. Boyle’s law

makes sense of pressure. Things heat up.

Nick Carraway has turned thirty.

We use machines to see through flesh.

People put themselves into tubes and call it flight.

The SAT is next Saturday. You move to a new city

and spend afternoons alone. Your brother leaves home.

The dog begins to forget old faces.

This is the Experiment. You’d give anything for more.

Objects are in motion; forces are unbalanced.

Here is the conclusion. You factored

correctly. Carvings around your eyes run deep.

Goggles are back in the lab cabinet, finals

are over, sneakers have molded to your feet. Bus

doors swing open, it is May. Now is for printing,

sending away, recycling. The good guys win.

Romeo and Juliet have separate funerals.

We have named the elements. Prom

is dancing to a song you know all the words to,

and your ears ring in darkness remembering.

He will be in a different time zone. You are over.

Forces have acted. The system is at equilibrium.

This is at rest.

55 Minutes in America Today

—Thomas Hart Benton

I. City Activities with Dance Hall

My head lay in your lap in a feed-me playground

when I realized I would never leave this planet.

It starts on the right foot, ten cents a whirl

between trapeze artists and cigarettes over sidewalks,

the only place where concrete steps

back, stilettos of mica

and chewed gum boots. Yellow dresses

are not my style, my grip was a strength

you wanted. We hadn’t made landmarks.

Our ground was ordinary. My mind

had nowhere to go

other than here. Before reasons,

there were “why-nots.” Because we wanted

to live, we called this instinct.

II. City Building

This is the part where I fall

and you mock everything I believe in,

then face it beside me and bear upon your back

the blueprints, paintings, pavements,

the making of nights and cities.

These were conversations that you needed

to be excused from. Our fingers scrabbled

through broken glass for an earring

in the dark. The art of losing

excited you and the shards

we left behind. The people who built this spine

knew power, or at least got lucky.

Here where they dug the tunnels

we can only imagine how it felt to lay the tracks,

the makers of Sin City and electric lights

scraping the sky, escaping into the bowels

of the earth because this is their beginning,

they’ve been here since ours, and in the darkness

before traffic there could have been

only ambition and a mind to move.

III. Steel

Silver pushes us forward.

This is what we hold between stops, our rails

and our tracks and our turns, your shells,

my speed, something we both rode

and wrote. You think of steel’s dense breath,

I hold mine high, this night

like the time we danced on the platform

coming home from Mulberry Street or the Oculus,

and this is what I think of when I see a rat.

I discovered your back, an alien swan

rippling with April inhales and chords, solid

as a moon pebble heading home.

Nobody had constructed this spine I wanted.

We pass our thundering words

from palm to palm, triumphant in our roar.

IV. Coal

This is what we’ve avoided, the dust

that clings to curved bones

where something straight once stood.

Your letters on a sheet scream

that you were here and thinking,

maybe of your pidgeon fear

or the caverns between their coos.

Tell me about Basquiat, his scribbled skins.

Faces eat each other in neon red

and green, your colors. Mine are missing.

All I can rely on are green bananas,

the ones I explained to me years ago

standing in front of a painting in a white

walled room that taught me everything I know

about love and slipping. You were in the background,

busy with musicians whose figures didn’t fit

together, just the way you like bodies.

Ripeness was off with yesterday’s dusk. We were green

and peeled before our prime.

V. Instruments of Power

We have so many: plastic combs, fearlessness,

promenade walks, goldfish, the sputtering

of one La Croix to another, stamina of self,

our own. We have pages, fish that spin on the scarlet

ceiling, and the blessings of Mother, Father, and Pa

who will be coming home just as soon as the panes

are there or not at all, our outlets sideways

and the rugs have all become carpets.

This floating sinks to skinning, the small loves

shifting into all our nights in warm socks, sunset,

cucumbers discs sprinkled with salt,

your pupils pooling into puddles of iris

with a tight black yolk at the center, 100 Barclay Street,

our freedom and lips of the buildings

speckle sky against the cold

even though you aren’t here tonight.

Yesterday we inhaled those minutes,

standing in the shower in pajamas and clarity

under scalding water cradling our ankles,

the ink river that takes you home every time.

I must be cracking your eyes against the rim

of my metal bowl or your collarbone,

this smooth countertop and the tracks of my ribs,

and under the lamplight your breaking

looks more like magic, the kind that turns this

into something worth saving for last.

VI. Changing West

Do I know your handwriting?

VII. Midwest

Saint Louis in the sun of the continent, starry

eyes blinking like hideous eggs

into orbits of day. Tell me

how it feels to recognize the smell of storm

before it comes. Show me your precipice.

What was it like when you named this “rain”?

VIII. Deep South

A place we’re happy to be out of,

just imagine all the dove to be tasted

and all the feathers that will interfere.

IX. City Activities with Subway

At first, I held my breath and plunged,

gorging myself on the grime, battering

again and again. The shame

scraped deeper than I’d like to admit.

The city doubled and I crusaded alone,

certain of speed. I am on my own,

for my own, the ownership

of occupancy. The man across from me

has a square face—has he been here, have I

had this since the beginning? It’s been here.

I wouldn’t call it love. It was triumph

without anyone to pull me back

from the yellow line that replaces the white.

The track splits road and we meet

in the middle, shifting our weight

from foot to foot, street into sight

into home that never needs balancing.

X. Outreaching Hands

Finally, the palms it always comes back to, the palms

that cup the seconds between our doors and our lips.

Certain that this is prayer, all the mornings

will be like this: 83rd and York the harbor

of our goodnight, the back of your neck bobbing

home, my anchor.

Our first and only, summits and telephones

make sense of our Picasso conversations,

our masterpieces framed in color and light,

shapes that come together.

Beatrix Bondor is currently a freshman at Princeton University, but grew up in (and hopes always to live in) New York City. This is her first appearance in print outside of work from her high school, Horace Mann. She could not be more excited to continue studying English and creative writing in the coming term!

Dotted Line