Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2020    fiction    all issues

Cover of Poetry Winter 20


French silk sample book

Paula Reed Nancarrow
Morning Coffee
& other poems

Jill Burkey
& other poems

Oak Morse
Boys Born out of Blues
& other poems

Beatrix Bondor
Engine Ode
& other poems

Monique Jonath
a mi sheberach
& other poems

Lisa Rachel Apple
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Human Condition
& other poems

Kirsten Hippe-Rychlik
and we are echoes
& other poems

Devon Bohm
& other poems

Jeddie Sophronius
I Rest My Mother Tongue
& other poems

John Delaney
Poem as Map
& other poems

Elizabeth Bayou-Grace
Fire in Paradise
& other poems

In Utero
& other poems

Michelle Lerner
Ode to Exhaustion
& other poems

William French
I Have Never Been
& other poems

Josiah Patterson Wheatley
Coeur de Fleurs
& other poems

Karo Ska
womb song
& other poems

Robyn Joy
& other poems

Han Raschka
Love Language
& other poems

Rebbekah Vega-Romero
The Memory in My Pinky
& other poems

Gilaine Fiezmont
Europe, too, Came from Somewhere Else
& other poems

Scott Ruescher
At the Childhood Home of Ozzy Osbourne
& other poems

Emily R. Daniel
Visitation Dreams
& other poems

Lindsay Gioffre
Toxicodendron Radicans [Sonnet 1]
& other poems

Robyn Joy


This is my body,

    but I am not here in it,

    and you don’t know me enough to know this.

I am quietly rolling the boulder

    daring the shadows of splintered effigies

    to tell my secrets.

Your gaze is icy, and I am frozen

    repeating an old story.

I feel small, much like I did then,

    before I knew you existed.

But I am not here in it.

Awful things could be happening,

    but I will only capture flashes and blips.

When we meet again in a new format,

    my body will have a quaking memory.

My throat will burn my words hot against my tongue

    and I won’t be able to shake out of it,

    or tell you what you did.

The pressure of your hands

    will infect everything in me

    silently rotting from the inside out.

But I invited this,

    when I laughed at your joke

    and touched your thigh

    while drinking myself dull.

My well-deserved Samsara.

Heavenly Places

My feet are bare

    sinking into a carpet of lush green moss.

There is no liquid apple here to tempt me

    or replace inherited shame

    with an insatiable sexual appetite.

When he sees my unconscious body before him,

like a birthday gift,

already partially unwrapped,

he does not continue to remove the paper.

He does not insert himself into my DNA

where his wants will echo ad nauseam

letting everyone see what a whore looks like.

Because it isn’t his birthday

and this gift isn’t his to open.

His Hair

In the middle of it all

he asked me to help him

wash his hair away

as it completely fell out

all at once

I stood behind him in the shower

and I loved him

so delicately

like a wife who had been by his side

for 40 years

not just six.

Cancer makes you age,

even when it isn’t in your own blood.

It’s in your family DNA.

Hail Mary

(A Migraine and A Stem Cell Transplant)

The noises coming from the floor grate

of this hotel room sized apartment

have become the soundscape

for my migraine nausea dreams

The slow hum crescendos

into rhythmic waves

like a giant metallic swamp bug

splayed on the basement floor

rubbing its legs together

in a private performance

This is perhaps what basements do here on weekends

I am new to the neighborhood

while we throw a Hail Mary to the cancer gods

and I’m not staying long enough

to become familiar

You patiently live in an inpatient bed

twenty minutes away

I am learning the street names

while you learn the names of

your nurses and medications:

This one makes the dog park appear on the right

This one makes your blood cells grow while you sleep

Hail Mary

full of grace

Making up prayers from tidbits I’ve heard

because I don’t really know what I believe in

I only know what I’ve ruled out

The sockets in my skull throb

behind a silk mask

just the right pressure to lull me to sleep

to become one with the siren song from below

listening for clues

understanding the telekinesis of the current situation

Maybe I will tell it as a story later in my life

where I am pinned to my bed like a specimen

and you to yours,

tubes needled in and out of your body—

but the conclusion has yet to make itself known.

Never Go Back

We have seen behind the thin curtain

and if you haven’t,

you are not paying attention.

I wade through every day now,

treading water,

but it is the mucky kind

and my skin feels dirty.

I am wearing the deeds of people

who came before me,

people who are here now.

Clearing the yellow crusty bits

from the corners of my eyes

trying to meet each day

with a little more clarity.

I knew it before

But I did not KNOW it

And it is quite a privilege

to have swam in the crystal blues and greens

of complacency before now.

I have always been afraid

when I couldn’t see the bottom

and often chosen to stay out of it.

But now when I revisit

the headlines from my childhood,

I see the venom that fed them,

the ignorance of my colorblind upbringing.

It’s on the faces

of others

who already knew.

There is no going back.

Robyn Joy has been published in two volumes of One Imagined Word at a Time, The Hippocrates Initiative’s 2020 anthology and by West Trade Review as an Online Exclusive. She was also a finalist for Hunger Mountain’s Ruth Stone Poetry Prize in Spring 2020. She lives in Vermont with her husband and cat, while enjoying assembling art and delicious food, dissecting dreams and thoughts, communing with animals, and practicing yin yoga.

Dotted Line