Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2019    fiction    all issues


Cover Florian Klauer

Meli Broderick Eaton
Three Mississippi
& other poems

Andrea Reisenauer
What quiet ache do you wear?
& other poems

Alex Wasalinko
Two Dreams of Vegas
& other poems

AJ Powell
The Grammar Between Us
& other poems

Emma Flattery
Our Shared Jungle, Mr. Conrad
& other poems

Nathaniel Cairney
The Desert Cometh
& other poems

Sarah W. Bartlett
& other poems

Abigail F. Taylor
Jaybird by the Fence
& other poems

Brandon Hansen
& other poems

Andy Kerstetter
The Inferno Lessons
& other poems

Michael Fleming
Space Walk
& other poems

Richard Cole
Perfect Corporations
& other poems

Susan Bouchard
Circus Performers
& other poems

Edward Garvey
Nine Songs of Love
& other poems

Mehrnaz Sokhansanj
Sea of Detachment
& other poems

Jeffrey Haskey-Valerius
& other poems

Claudia Skutar
Homage II
& other poems

Donna French McArdle
Knitting Sample
& other poems

Megan Skelly
Puzzle Box Ghazal
& other poems

Tess Cooper
& other poems

Greg Tuleja
& other poems

Catherine R. Cryan
& other poems

Sarah W. Bartlett

Last Rhumba

On the day he stopped eating, she

arrived. To say goodbye, yes. But also

to share a song she would have liked

them to dance to at her wedding—with

no date, place or partner in mind—but the wish

to have had that final rite of passage

with her dad. He crawled from his bed

grabbing hold of the moment, her hand.

Her song was one he and I had danced to

under star-studded Westport nights on the deck,

recalling ballroom floors from VT to PR, a dusty

college stage for rueda salsa, local studios

sliding with Argentine tango. Weddings,

bar mitzvahs, reunions—even hotel lobbies—

where Latin beat or swing drew out our dancing feet,

our swaying bodies always drawing looks, asides

those two are so in love, year after year after year.

Barefoot, in high heels, whatever I wore, he

chose his soft black leather Italian shoes.

As now. He rummaged in the closet to pull them out,

dust them off, and slip them slowly onto his waiting feet

his final steps shuffled across the carpet as he leaned

into the strong arms of our youngest. Cheek

to cheek they lurched side to side, the steps slowly

returning to his memory, leading hers to reflect

as she held tight to her father, her dream

made manifest.

Remember These Words

he mouthed, barely

audible through lips

that hardly moved

yet the intensity

of his intent

was clear, hand

clutching mine, eyes

pleading against time

running out. Calm

but insistent, he

wanted to help

everyone he met

even now, late

as it was.

His final words

of advice, promise

and gentle urging

hung in silence

while I strained

to grasp them.

Although I don’t

really know what

he said, I’ll

remember those words

meant for me

at the end.


he walks toward darkness

as surrounding sky deepens

into night, his path unclear without

the familiar to guide him; yet within

his spirit blazes alight with trust

in what lies ahead.

Shrinking World

The day came when he said, my world has become very small

my bedroom, bathroom, the toilet. But that was spacious

compared with the day, not so long after that

he struggled for the last time onto the bed.

This is where I’m going to spend

the rest of my life, isn’t it?

Less question than fact.

And it was. The rest

of his life lasting

but three



Cooler than expected, the air

gives in to the sun. Distant

traffic muffles in breeze rising

above the silence of dogs.

A lone seagull pierces inland twitter.

A neighbor speaks, red car passes by.

Ordinary moments of a weekend

in a quiet city enclave.

But I feel what is missing, the lurch

of your uneven gait beside me.

Smile instead at you striding up Sunset Ridge

as I scramble to catch up, perch side by side

to share water, gorp, laughter as the dog

drink-swims the icy stream . . .

Looking around, I see your absence

and my not-yet-coming-to-terms

that our plans are no longer; yet

I go on. I return from my walk

deadhead the Nova Zemla by the door,

snip a newly-bloomed peony for the house,

enter the silence I have just left to find it

alive with sun, comfort of the familiar

and your gentle presence still

warm in my heart.

Sarah W. Bartlett’s work appears in Adanna, Ars Medica, The Aurorean, Colére, Minerva Rising, PoemMemoirStory, Mom Egg Review, Wellesley College Women’s Review of Books, and several anthologies, including the award-winning Women on Poetry (McFarland & Co. Inc., 2012); and two poetry chapbooks (Finishing Line Press). Her work celebrates nature’s healing wisdom and the human spirit’s landscapes. In 2010 she founded writinginsideVT for Vermont’s incarcerated women to encourage personal/social change within a supportive community.

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