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

Claudia Skutar

The Lords of Ocqueoc

are diving in water clear as rootbeer

as it foams over the rocks;

again and again the cannonballs,

three boys on the move to outdo and knowing—

knowing all the while the girls, tourists, babies are watching—

or not knowing or not caring,

the way they didn’t care about the filtered sun in the leaves

or about how the water poured and poured over the rocks,

grinding them, wearing them away, carrying them into the lake

two miles beyond, or about the faces of the tourists, droves of them,

thick as mosquitoes, and pasty in summer flesh,

the water a treat, a respite from factory or office or sewing machine or babies

and the dirty diapers someone was washing a little way downstream

where the water stilled its roiling;

the boys not caring in skin tanned, for now,

absorbed in the play of the water through the nose, mats of wet too-long hair in the eyes; this

was their river, their falls, their place, their lives,

lives born of the landscape where boys commanded the pool at the bottom of the falls,

all the visiting children circling around them in the water,

all of them eddies in the flow

and eddies are always carried away.

No moss, no fright, just the debris carried with them.

Homage II

A train of children, weeping, sent out of the devoured city.

At Eberbach, a farmer takes on the one with red hair because she will not cry.

They hide low in the wheat when bombers swoop.

It is some years before American soldiers will bring their chocolate and cigarettes.

Her favorite color is blue.

He courts her out of uniform and returns to the base each night.

Water is her liquid heart, a center spilling out to horizon.

She is gnarled, a red oak in the lee of shore.

Homage III

The beer is amber,

the Pilsner glass raised,

the moment a quarter lime of smile.

Oil in his white hair stains the chair back.

The daughter touches an arm, kisses a stark cheek, hides the spot with a towel.

It smears lightly across memory.

Weeks before her parents arrive, she scrubs grout in the tub with a toothbrush.

All will be clean, children will be clean, the wrong husband she cannot scrub away.

Photo of the now-old woman with the Grosstochter, their cheeks together above fresh Apfelkuchen; the girl is learning German. Another quarter lime of smile.

The next floor up she sleeps; her slow breaths still draw in air,

exhale what has been forgotten, or maybe left behind.

Energy Equals Mass Times
the Speed of Light Squared

A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest . . . a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
—Albert Einstein

Somewhere, the universe holds you;

your spirit perhaps has slipped into a black hole,

drawn you out like a piece of fine silver wire

into infinite singularity.

In this place that lets out no light

are many, like you, waiting.

They’ve swaddled your body in blankets,

me in gown, mask, gloves.

I am not afraid; I’ve known clostridium difficile

as I’ve watched your torn lungs smother in it.

Your eyes have been closed for weeks.

Only today they told me you are probably brain-dead.

I long suspected that you’ve already given your body the slip.

So much energy released as atoms come apart.

Yet Einstein told us nothing of the energy

released as spirit departs the body.

We circle your bed and pray.

The doctor opens one eyelid, and I see no light.

Later, after your last breath, alone

in the private waiting room, I ask you for a sign.

The restroom dispenser several feet away releases a towel.

Its motion detector has been activated.

I have said I am several feet away. It is 3 a.m.,

and they are preparing your body in ICU

for the hospital morgue.

I have said I was alone. I am startled,

but I don’t leave the room until called

by the nurse so I may wait with your body.

Something in time and space has changed.

I study the night sky outside,

the soft lamp light above the zipped bag

reflected in the window.

The Language Hidden in Skin

Unexpected glimpse, oedipal,

of maleness carefully kept from

view, seen at an age of bodies

fast growing into sexes.

A medical reference with drawings

in his library did show that.

A mother’s blush at questions

left me to puzzle out meaning,

to think long, long on the crux of it,

a preview of shapes and purpose.

Fast forward years, now, to his dying,

old man swaddled, and the gown

loose always as he shifted in his last pain;

studied, monitored, probed,

needles forced in, pulled out;

he, to them, a rotting bag of parts.

I remember touching his arm,

though he was gone already, by then,

and the pungent unwashed hair

not the least of that body’s growing offences.

There, again, accidental view;

nurses hovered, removed, replaced,

removed integument of sheets.

Primal, this view, but different;

parent as mammal, sleek, clean,

having sloughed his useless rind;

no longer hobbled by flesh,

new in shape and purpose.

Claudia Skutar is a poet, scholar, and English professor at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash, where she teaches creative writing, literature, and composition and co-edits The Blue Ash Review Online. She’s also been a guest poet at Michigan State University, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, and Wright State University.

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