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

AJ Powell


Do you write upon delicate places?

Imagination is the storied underside of lepidoptera wings:

     scales seamed together—papery and trimmed

          to triangle arcs, graceful for flight,

                    wandering from thorn to blossom.

Do you feed upon surprising things?

Make meals from an insect’s food-stuff:

     fennel, milkweed, aster, daylily;

          find shelter in a hollow tree

                    and travel among tall, wild grasses.

Do you grow in stages?

Nothing is certain except metamorphosis:

     egg on leaf, caterpillar slinky-crawling,

          chrysalis dangling susceptible,

                    and bodies winging wonder.

Have you journeyed generations in a day?

Poems are pollinators, flitting

     across oceans, the migration always

          for a flower’s sake and

                    our survival.

Are you, like me, butterfly-minded?

Velvety in the dark, then

     all manner of speckled and variegated,

          and become emanations of alabaster, or

                    iridescent and sorrowful in blue.

Do you wish to unleash every fleet thought?

When the butterflies in your stomach

     stir a hurricane with their wings,

          churning fear and discovery, do you

                    wish to release them, through seppuku?


      I like

           to pick

           my way


              a trail

                  of rocks

                        and roots

                               a moving body

                               in the still earth

                                           wild wind

                                       companion creek

                             sun blaze

                               tree shade

                   lazy magpie

                            foraging squirrel

                               white noise of

                                     waterfall descending

                                                lichen-blanketed granite

                                    beside wildflower bounty

                                                          and scent of

                                                        dust and dry pine

                                                                     in the air

                                                   til afternoon



                                                                         dampening life

                                                           and my soul

                                                                     long buried in

                                                           paved tombs



                                                                                                 and feet


                                                                                                  their way


    Half the world is drowning;

    half the world is on fire.

    The earth is warming and

    our tempers flaring.

    The total eclipse of the sun

    marched across the length of our empire

    northwest to southeast,

    stunning us into silence,

    its corona a net to rescue us,

    stirring us to whoops and hurrahs,

    then gone, and

    a normal sun in the sky again.

The world is turning;

the world is ticking

toward some glory or menace,

slipping toward some

cliff’s edge—wanting

to see if we have wings.

We are sending our castoffs

to hurricaned regions

as our sun sets red

behind the haze of

trees turning to ash.

We are driving with our eyes on our phones.

We are dropping our eyes from

each other’s gaze,

for who can look and live?

Who can stand

beside our neighbors,

let alone reach a real

hand toward a real

forehead with a cool cloth?

    We are left alone

    and right alone,

    brittle and stubborn

    in our stances.

    Humility is exiled

    from our hearts.

    Too many or too few signals

    lurch out of the noise.

    We are sound, fury,

    friend, phony—

    naked under the sky.


Change is the invisible whisper

underneath everything,

the silent source of wild things—

green, growing, and filling

our senses.

Snow crystals become water drops and,

given time,

carve cleavage into mountain bosoms

to nurse life and wanderings.

Glacial blue ice peeks out

from a snow field’s farthest regions,

nether-caverns of ancient colds and

deeper freezes than the ones we’ve known.

When the road curves or the cliff climbs,

and the way is blocked,

then the only way forward is back.

Find the future in geologic past—

realize it is all we’ve ever had.

Rivers wash rocks and float salmon

up to birthing grounds.

Shrubs bubble viridian on slopes

toward frothy, snow-topped peaks.

Every valley is a respite

in a climbing world.

The mountains are outside of time and going nowhere,

filling everywhere with

what was and is and is to come.

The wild is beckoning,

watching for our willingness to howl.

Peaks tease us toward heights

which halve our reason;

we are passengers in time,

lasting only a blink of God’s eye,

too loose and shifting to last,

while the pack and density of mountains

adhere them to eternity.

Rain comes at intervals like a shroud—

a reprieve from wonderment—

dimming the displayed creativity of God.

I lift up mine eyes

to the hills.

I cannot look away.

They are on top of me and

I will bury myself at their feet forever.

Astonishment crashes like an avalanche

down to the highway of campers and

cars caravanning back to civilization.

The fools—abandon your vehicles!

Run for the hills,

walk until you must climb, clinging to vegetation,

to the highest holy places.

Holy is the variety.

Holy is the mutation.

Holy is the menace of predator.

Holy is the meekness of man in Nature’s maw.

Multiply the leaves and tree needles.

Multiply the grasses.

Multiply the raging and rambling waters.

Multiply the salmon and the bears they feed.

Multiply the pollinators and the honeycomb.

Multiply the rainstorms.

Multiply the mosquitos who know to drink deeply

the lifeblood in the place.

By Myself

I spend time with you when we’re apart.

Watch the sun drop behind the horizon from the back deck with you

sitting next to me in an empty chair.

Wander a mountainside, circumscribe a meadow;

I am a solo traveler and you’re by my side.

Sing along to old rocknroll as I drive down the highway—

you laughing at me from the passenger seat with no one in it.

Sigh inside a poem like a room unto ourselves

together as I sit alone.

Cry into my pillow and you place a warm hand

on my shaking back in my deserted bed.

Laugh at the joke you haven’t whispered in my ear.

Dance in your absent arms.

Nest my nose in your distant neck.

Dip our toes in the sea, ankles lapped by waves,

a wide and solitary beach the setting for our excursion

by myself.

AJ Powell is a once and future teacher who raises her children, serves on a school board, and attempts to write in the wee hours of the morning with varied success.

Dotted Line