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

Writer's Site

Megan Skelly


For those of us who live at the shoreline

(curve of a water-starved globe)

is it the sea you hear in me,

under sleep, where all the waters meet?

They lie like stones and dare not shift. Even asleep, everyone hears in prison.

I lock you in an American sonnet that is part prison—

America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world—

what happens to a dream deferred?

Nights were not made for the crowds.

I have come so that, tugging your ear, I may draw you to me.

The moon tugs the seas,

where waterless bones move

from floods that are to come.

You protecting the river                                     You are who I love.

With loving acknowledgment to poets (in order of appearance): Audre Lorde, Anne Waldman, Sylvia Plath, T.S. Eliot, Jericho Brown, Terrance Hayes, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi, Ntozake Shange, Sonia Sanchez, Adrienne Rich & Aracelis Girmay.

Puzzle Box Ghazal

Four walls hem in what some call a room,

what does it mean when someone asks for room?

A longing for wingspan within my womb

I beg red rivers to run, make room.

My parents’ house holds caverns of silence,

bruised tongues. Mother sleeps in my old room.

I cannot shake the habit of living

feet feathers to flee to a new room.

Mrs. Woolf, it is not true, I can live

on much less—a crescent moon of room.

My call to write, muddy tracks of words coat

wide meadows, blank page an empty room.

Snails have it best, cradle fertile darkness

upon their backs, pockets of hushed room.

Content with air between joints, belly as

balloon. Breath tiny sky dense with room.

Within clasp of shells is how a pearl blooms:

pressure warping space conjures room.

frayed (a villanelle)

you’ll never guess the pain that’s kept hidden

the stitching that unravels first—the seam

the piece that comes apart slowly within

purple patches, red lines a map upon her skin

she walks the streets around you, quiet as a dream

you’ll never guess the pain that’s kept hidden

the bitterest of pills swallowed with a grin

she smiles at you, her eyes betray a gleam

the piece that comes apart slowly within

muted words on paper the only story she’ll begin

for if she tried to speak, she’d only scream

you’ll never guess the pain that’s kept hidden

the lies she shares all day are close to her as kin

yet secrets leak free in the night’s moonbeams

the piece that comes apart slowly within

the energy this act demands wanes her soul so thin

her frayed grip on her life part of the scheme:

you’ll never guess the pain that’s kept hidden

the peace that comes apart slowly within


Time passes as molasses here

sighing, I count my wounds

thumb them like craters

three cuts, a sore neck, a hollow womb . . .

When my eyes & limbs feel heavy

crushed by the weight of empty rooms

I remind myself of the women 

& then I know what to do.

Chandra, Soma, Luna, Moon

I’m on my way; I’ll see you soon

I creep over to the window

the sky outside a velvet bruise

gleaming from it, the pearl of my sisters

its rainbow aura leaking streaks diffuse

I make a bath to prepare for the journey

humming softly a dreamy tune

water steaming, I add rose petals

for tonight we are luminous full.

Chandra, Soma, Luna, Moon

I’m on my way; I’ll see you soon

Cleansed by the Sea of Tranquility 

I laugh about all this Earth abuse

the gravity used to be so limiting

before we remembered this way to choose.

Dancing, screaming, crying cackling

silk light continues to pool & infuse

my movements made fluid as shadows

dripping gemstones, the milk of the muse

Chandra, Soma, Luna, Moon

I’m on my way; I’ll see you soon

My spaceship consists of:

blanket, candle, journal (the usual tools) 

quartz, amethyst, jade

singing bowl, beads worn & grooved

I pack up, take a deep breath

lift off quivering, a gentle balloon

my kindred goddesses await me

returning home to my roots.

Chandra, Soma, Luna, Moon

I’m on my way; I’ll see you soon

When I have to come back for Earthwork,

it’s time now for the new.

With hurts healed & spirits high

by the gathering of souls who love me true,

I wait for the birth of the sign

from my body, a red flower blooms

I smile & give thanks for all mothers

our cycles forever attuned.

quanta: a theory of touch

i need my love.

not so i can hoard it up in the

pursed-lip safety of padlocked boxes

pried open only with knobby knuckles

of skeleton keys,

but to pour out soft

share the secret of keeping downy feathers

in a constant cracked-shell world.

i knew something was missing when

i began to fiend for the

faint thumbprint of the moon

early in afternoon skies

& passersby

holding the hands of children

everything became a prayer.

i need love

so I can paint breezes on concrete corners

of gridlock streets become cages

braid it through muscles, smooth sinew

caress hoarse cords into lullabies

til my cupped palms take the shape

of the saltwater of every lake

dreams coursing down from soul’s windows

upon each & every face

you see

i thought i lost a piece somehow

but pieces got edges,

they clunk & jumble.

i wanted ripples to stream from

my fingertips

knead my love into the caramel of your skin,

ribbons never to harden with time

but stay pliant, silent to

hear whispers

as cells sigh into

each other.

Megan Skelly is an emerging poet completing her second year of the MFA Creative Writing program at City College of New York, where she teaches freshman composition. Committed to cultivating the arts in education, she also serves as a mentor for the Poetry Outreach program and substitute teaches in the NYC public schools. In her free time, she practices and teaches yoga, seeking the balance between freedom and form that poetry too invites.

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