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

Greg Tuleja


So many thousands of miles they have come

in a last great adventure of returning,

a miracle of navigation to find their home

and there to gather, darting and churning

beneath the one white-blue river where

as dainty fingerlings, they had descended

toward the waiting sea, tiny innocents who dared

to face a hostile world, they could not have comprehended

such grand dimensions, such a vast distance,

or this majestic assemblage, the invincible urge

to bring forth Life and Death, the first hesitant advance

upstream, and then a sudden, mindless surge,

a wave of twenty-pounders, packed flank to flank,

filling the river with pink and gold, a solid mass of fish.

And might we tiptoe on their backs from bank to bank

to dream a dream or make a wish?

Prowling along the rushing shore the bears

splash in swirling eddies, an ancient resolve, wild and deep,

they know to watch and wait for this urgent feast, aware

that soon the Arctic night must fall, and they will sleep.

A gravid female is plucked from foam and spray,

ripped apart in a brief, ruinous moment, the egg-sac devoured,

the bloody carcass flicked aside in a casual, careless display,

and three orange specks, shining, splattered on the black, black fur.

What is it that causes such glorious despair

for one unlucky creature that died so close to her destination?

Not that one, but that all had come to die, an infinite purpose shared,

and we are stunned and staggered, and without consolation.


I tossed a silver pebble toward the sky,

as if to find an exotic answer

to a plain question, how do eagles fly

with such indifference, never stopping where

we might intercept them with our dialogues,

our breathless insights into pitched updrafts

and orographic vectors, waves of fog

that rise and swirl, the sallow, sneering laugh

that shatters our highest expectations

and confounds this meagre understanding

of flight’s blue miracles, these orations,

these vibrant heart-songs that ease the handing

over of the stone, lightly caught with firm

surety, flung back to Earth, safely returned.


On the high slope that dips down toward the river

they are congregated, a thick stand of oaks,

humming their plangent oak-songs

in the still, mid-morning air of late summer.

Low on a damp swale the Salix twins

are drooping, shedding their willowy tears,

a probable overreaction to some

unintended slight from the others.

Above them, a row of rusty hemlocks,

their thousands, or millions, of tiny needles

precisely, miraculously matched in form

and color, dark green on top, striped blue below.

And in the steep glade, a single sassafras,

her mitten-leaves, and palmate and tri-lobed,

tinged with a faint September yellow,

an extravagant multiplicity of leaf-shapes

that once produced the pride of uniqueness

but now, in this bright season of waning,

a crisis of identity brings forth

the eternal tree-question, “Who am I?”

Distracted by these contemplations

she muses and frets, an oak leaf is an oak leaf

a poplar a poplar, and had three been one,

might I have found relief from such vexing ambivalence?


When the trains came in the Jews shuffled down,

sometimes in an orange light from the moon,

sometimes in squalls of snow, wind-swept and blown

across their hollow faces, as they swooned

and faltered, gliding gently toward the showers,

where we dropped in the thin spheres of cyanide,

with no recourse for debate, no power

to oppose, no place to turn or to hide.

I spent Sundays at home in Sienna Street

with Liesl and Katarina, who played

in the park and at the high stalls bought treats

of cherries, chocolate, and lemonade.

I didn’t sleep, they never knew, without dreaming

of black smoke rising through the air, and screaming.

A Stable, Telepathic Genius

One quite wonderful thing we learned today

was that Putin smiled on the telephone

when our exalted leader called, just to say

hello, and do you think we could use drones

in North Korea (or Belgium), or some

other country of your choosing, now that

this collusion thing has been excised from

the news. And by the way, F*** those Democrats!

He is the smartest, he has the best brain,

we know that, but a smile over the phone,

that’s extrasensory, like Houdini’s claim,

while strolling idly among the gravestones,

to have communicated with the Dead.

It just shows the high sphere where he operates

with such pure genius, taking on the Fed,

the long lines on Everest, NATO, tax rates,

he can solve any problem, great or small,

and with the shrewdest of Cabinet picks,

he’ll figure it all out—tariffs, the Wall,

infrastructure, things only he can fix.

I do admit to some mild reservations.

The Access Hollywood tape, for one thing,

the endless torrent of prevarication,

the blatant mendacities, (the lying).

And yes, his crude, childish inclination

toward ridicule, a hateful way of thinking.

But for his vain, boorish ideations

he’s earned a pass. After all, he’s our King.

Greg Tuleja was born in New Jersey and received degrees in biology and music from Rutgers University. He has worked as a professional musician, piano technician, and flute teacher. Greg lives in Southampton, Massachusetts with his wife, Frances, and is currently the Academic Dean at the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, where he has taught English and music, and for 35 years coached the girls’ cross country team. His poems and short stories have appeared in various literary journals and magazines, including the Maryland Review, Lonely Planet Press, Romantics Quarterly, Thema, and The Society of Classical Poets.

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