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

Writer's Site

Josiah Patterson Wheatley

I am from

the poplar tree at the creek’s edge

on my grandparents’ farm

where once my cousins and my brothers

wanted to see who could climb the highest;

my feet uncommitted

were rooted to the ground,

more like the poplar than my kin.

a place where my grandmother grew raspberry bushes

stretching from the dilapidated toolshed

to the dusty driveway, from which

she tasked us with collecting berries for pie—

we’d return ashamed, buckets nearly empty,

mouths stained greedy red.

the summers when I still slept between adults,

too scared of the dark and too fussy to admit

I needed a nightlight,

nudging my grandfather’s ribs with sharp elbows

until he roused and chased me back to my own bed:

a pullout couch in the oversized living room—

shadows in every corner.

but too, a second home, in leaner years

when my parents’ folly wounded us,

and they’d drive us past the butte and past the rye,

leave us at the steps of cracked concrete, unaware

the world I knew always grew a thousand times grander,

even believing the creek at the acre’s end

really did stretch on forever,

where grandpa’s charred burgers and lumpy potato salad

were an emperor’s feast.

a place that bubbles up first and fast

when someone might ask, “where are you from?”


in my grandmother’s homemade pies and

secret cigarette breaks when she thought we were napping,

in my grandfather’s snore during his,

in a house’s endless rooms of hide-and-go-seek

and in cousins who grew faster than me.

I am from

dust, from smoke, shadows and burnt meat,

from the juices of fruit, too sweet to not eat.

Cœur de Fleurs

Petals pink hurricane

a heady, maddening perfume

as we walk the storm swaths made by thorns;

stiff stems atlas the folded heads of silk

that rise from too-large vases,

ballooning like puff adders

to camouflage her coffin.

The light catches anthers, pollen golden,

though the sepal leaves are midnight dark

pressing upon the rose flesh

like wanton talons

desperate, unbecoming;

“stop weeping, stop weeping,”

I hear someone say.

There is one drying pistil

who draws my eye

who aged too soon, or emerged too eagerly,

whose withered head rests weakly now

propped up amongst the living,

the vibrant others, giddy white

or blushèd red;

and suddenly

I am inconsolable

to realize

she was the receptacle, I the bloom.

The bouquets decomposing now,

soft dead raindrop petals—

the adders molting skin.

The organ swells, a final dirge,

and we slither the same path out:

now the littered floor,

little buds unopened;

crushed under shined black shoes,

whole rose hips

bleed into the gray carpet like spilled wine.

Mother gives each vase away,

like prizes at the end, to

the puffiest eyes.

Clenched fists, the huddled mass,

nor flagged flowers are mine:

I am saturated

against the devastation sky.

Fucking Kierkegaard

Each time I come,

                                                             it’s my mind who escapes.

                                   I read somewhere—

                                                             in a library,

                                                             Kierkegaard perhaps?

—that life must be spent being filled up and not emptied out

                                                 not like a deflated balloon or dead flowers

                                   given at the end of a rotting relationship;

                                   they sit in a dark room

                                   for days, as ska plays, booming

                                   from somewhere in the apartment complex.

Every time I betray myself

                                                             my fucking heart on a crusted sleeve

                                   —no. The shameful roundness of my mouth   (yes.)

when my eyes roll back,

                                                             my hand between my legs

or braced against a cold marble bathroom stall

                                   I’m emptied. Empty.

                                                             When will I fill up?

                                   Once I stop asking questions I do not seek answers to


During college, Thomas used to let me walk with him

                                                             on days after class

                                                             after library hours had ended

                                   or when I’d find times when we would cross paths

                                   or create run-ins like a stalker

we’d talk and talk or I would just listen to his honey-words

                                                             to his thoughts about philosophy

down city blocks, down the path that led by his apartment

by the horse pasture hidden behind the hemlock bushes,

                                   the horses I swore I told myself I’d ride today—that day

                                                             (every day)

Some weird fantasy of being connected to them

                                   riding bareback

                                   feeling the sweat of their power beneath me


But I have passed the breakaway

                                                             Thomas is gone,

                                   my thoughts of him distracted me, and the horses too.

I go back now to find their enclosure empty

                                                             (just as I)

empty still

                                                             still questioning and deaf/blind


Kierkegaard compared the cries of a poet—the ones that now pass my lips—to beautiful music, though profound anguish existed inside.

                                                             I retort:

                                   my orgasms are my battle song,

                                   my barbarian screams to topple Rome

to go to war with my emptiness

                                                             (though still losing)

The blood-soaked fields repeat like dashes on my road home

                                                             and no more Thomas

                                   the horses whinnying behind me, from someplace I can’t reach

still I long to ride them, but

                                                             my passion is

                                                             and has always been

                                                             weaker than my actions

                                   my act

my acting

                                                             acting that I am full of

the moments when Thomas takes naps in the afternoon

like on that one lucky day

he let me come in after walking him home

                                                             (my puppy paw prints behind him)

                                   I could have listened to his breathing endlessly


But here I ache for release,

                                                             find myself in the same old places

                                   the hot breath

the cold tile

                                                             the shit-smell of a rest stop bathroom

                                                             hoping for someone to come in and

save me

                                   empty me

                                                             fill me

and though they do,

over and over and over and over (and over)

                                   I am still on the battlefield

                                                             still thinking of fucking Kierkegaard

                                                             and the horses unmountable

still asking my same questions

the question:

                                   If the borrowed me (waiting to renew)

                                                             without repeated climax,

                                                             the shot of neurochemicals

                                                             into a rotted brain,

can claim myself

                                   pull my tattered shell off the library shelf

                                   open the pages

                                                             and exist

as one who is filling up for something better

as one who could ever

                                                             one day


be whole.

Trans Formation

Perhaps some know the biting of their tongue

When it has swollen wide inside their mouth,

Imagine now the swell of body, soul:

The given name you wish to leave behind,

A voice of different timbre in the mind,

A rush of blood, a gnash of teeth internal—

              Those born inside a skin ready to shed.

Inglorious fight: To claw out through the husk,

To paint anew with bold and clashing brush,

Cocooned in rainbow sleep yet yearn for blooming.

Denied by those who choose a hateful cry,

Who’d rob a body of its phoenix rise.

When only stone is given for the shaping,

              The breath of lungs desires a molting form.

Though other bodies’ priv’lege recognized,

Prescribes no onus here for their demise,

Nor pity choices made by such cicadas.

Instead to grant by law this chrysalis,

To new-old souls, the freedom to exist.

At last, emerge the way an alate does:

              With wings and light they’d always held inside.

Born and raised in Montana, Josiah Patterson Wheatley has been a baker, guardian ad litem, special education teacher, and late night bus bouncer. He worries a lot, writes poetry sometimes, and possesses both a whimsical appreciation of nature and a healthy curiosity of the supernatural. This is his first publication.

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