Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Winter 2021    fiction    all issues


Andrej Lišakov

Laura Apol
I Take a Realtor through the House
& other poems

Rebekah Wolman
How I Want my Body Taken
& other poems

Devon Bohm
The Word
& other poems

Gillian Freebody
The Right Kind of Woman
& other poems

Anne Marie Wells
Gravestone Flowers
& other poems

Laura Turnbull
& other poems

Andre F. Peltier
A Fistful of Ennui
& other poems

Peter Kent
Reflections on the Late Nuclear Attack on Boston
& other poems

Carol Barrett
Canal Poem #8: Hides
& other poems

Alix Lowenthal
Abortion Clinic Waiting Room
& other poems

Latrise P. Johnson
From My Women
& other poems

Brenna Robinson
& other poems

may panaguiton
& other poems

Elizabeth Farwell
The Life That Scattered
& other poems

Bill Cushing
Two Stairways
& other poems

Richard Baldo
A Note to Prepare You
& other poems

Blake Foster
Aubade from the Coast
& other poems

Bernard Horn
& other poems

Harald Edwin Pfeffer
Still stiff with morning cold
& other poems

Nia Feren
Neon Orange Tree Trunks
& other poems

Everett Roberts
A Mourning Performance
& other poems

Alaina Goodrich
The Way I Wander
& other poems

Olivia Dorsey Peacock
the iron maiden and other adornments
& other poems

B. R. Foster


A good party is a fishbowl

on the high shelf. Hungry

tom cat pacing the pine floor below.

You have to remember to open your eyes. Have to remember the walls

are still there. You can use the glass

to pull the pruning tips of your

fingers tight again.

This room is a stock pot. Hear the clicking

clicking, clicking. The whoosh.

Everything is warm. The air hangs on our shoulders. Presses. Flattens. Kneads.

Relax. Relax.

Everyone here is blush & bashful. Everyone is gilded paper dolls

skin stretched thin by

lapis & opal & emeralds. Everyone’s a satin teddy bear. Bedroom tearstained—mommy sutures on the foot. Across the throat.

Right down their bellies.

It’s too hot here—too hot.

Everyone here is gorgeous

no one here is ok. The air thickens, sour smoke

& pheromones

fill lungs like sweatshirt cotton,

silent smiles fall to the floor.

The room is a barbecue pit—smoked thighs,

spare ribs, briskets, bellies, wings. Meat.

Are you the herb or the brine? The acid or the incisors? Gristle & tendon & bloodline.

Everyone here is small plate

shareable. Full of dirty, double dipped, quick

piss—unwashed finger marks. Everyone here tastes like unbrushed teeth &

cowboy killer mourning breath.

Everyone here is gorgeous.

& no one is ok.

Aubade from the Coast

I read once that time & gravity have

an inverse relationship. Don’t confuse

this for magnetism. The 2 sides of every coin

are opposites. Forever.

But it makes sense that when you compress

the calcium & marrow &

muscles of your fingers into a fist—the daylight

goes skittering behind the horizon.

Clock hands chase their tails. It’s almost cute.

But I guess that’s what makes the butterfly

beautiful. In the end, it ends. There’s no

returning to the warm gooey center

of its chrysalis. There are limits to milkweed

& honeysuckle.

But, I’m not saying this is a cocoon, or that I

am in any way a king. I’m saying I like

the light & the heat—the ghost story in me

feels at home by your campfire.

But when I look in the mirror I see a lighthouse.

& it’s always raining.

& I lose track of which way the tides are

going. I just sit here with the rocks

& the rotting rib cages

of shipwrecks, singing my stupid little song,

stay away stay away stay away

But when the film comes back from the

darkroom. Those same fingers, clenched fist

from before,

are a crab claw—clamped on the top bulb

of an hourglass. Did I tell you how I read about

time & gravity being the opposites that don’t attract?

But what if I’m strong enough to break this glass—

spill a million galaxies worth of seconds

across the ground & make a beach right


Aubade in the Mist Ending in a
Practical Lesson on the Surface Tension of Water

After Hanif Abduraqib

There’s a rule in stories that says, if you

put a gun on the table in the beginning—it

has to go off before the end. Here,

we can start in the middle. In this ramshackle house they call friends.

The first rule of a footrace—take off running after

the gun goes off. This is that middle

of the pint melodrama, where they try to convince you every ending is a

beautiful beginning. The last sentence closed

with a period.

The next beginning with illuminated filigree, open & hungry

like a venus flytrap.

I didn’t think you’d run so fast. Never thought I’d taste

the dust kicked up in your wake & wish

for the texture of sludge clogging my throat. You know,

with enough mud & sun & time

I can make bricks?

& those bricks

will build a house that I will call me. While the person

frying eggs in the kitchen isn’t you.

I’ll take a walk along the beach.

Do you want to know what kind of gun was on the table?

It’s small & cold & fits

in almost any pocket. It can shoot 5 times before

giving out. It’s never killed a man.

I point it at the sun. I count to 5.

There is no coughing. No thunder clouds. The puffins stay in their nests.

Instead, I skip a stone into the tideline. It

takes off like a flying saucer & I

turn before the crash landing.

Did it sound like a gunshot,

to you?

Litany of the Best Ways To Be OK with Everything

After Jamaal May

Look—what’s this in my hand? Playing card

ace of clubs. Shed snakeskin—broken

condom, book of matches. It’s empty now. See

what it says here? I wish I knew you


you ripened.

Fold it over.

Now it says,

can you tell me how it feels to be a flower?

Fold it again, pop of black powder spark &

whisper of smoke, it’s

gone now.

Once upon a time, I met someone who said

she should have been born

an ocean. Said, she was sick of the

ash & soot in her feathers. Sick of the

stale air up here, sick of the greasy showers, sick

of the cold

eggs & potatoes & onions.

Imagine, swallowing a


every night for dinner.

Giving it back to the world every morning. I told her

that in a past life I was veal.

Served as sweetbreads to monsters with green skin

& no mouths. In a past life I needed to be

deep fried to be enjoyed. In a past life I fell from the branch, tart &

ready to be reduced. To be compote.

Look—what’s this behind your ear? Gummy

bear, piece of candy

cherry cough drop. The garnish at the

bottom of your cocktail.

Once upon a time, in a past life,

I would tie

myself into knots. Thinking there’s something

settling about sailboats on a smoothe ocean

at sunset; & something

sexy about a stem tied between

your teeth.

Water Moccasin

After Silas Denver Melvin

The first time I walked on water

each step

felt like building a sandcastle

on a slack tide—there’s a full moon tonight.

That is to say I’m sitting here in

a litter box packing clumps of

ammonia & cat shit into a

cracked hourglass. That is to

say—this too can’t last. Did you

hear the one about the old man &

his bologna sandwiches? Sat at the kitchen table, chatting to his potato chips, side

of pasta salad. He says, this too

can’t last. A boy sits at a small bent legged

card table, he giggles, he

rattles his pockets. He asks his bologna

sandwich, do you have

the time? That is to say, a boy

makes himself into a rattlesnake. Turns

every hourglass on its side, & laughs.


is to say, a boy

makes a sandcastle on

a slack tide, under a full moon, counts the seconds in his pockets &

thinks to himself, I

can make miracles.

B. R. Foster lives, works, and writes in Portland, Maine. Foster graduated in 2016 with a bachelors in literature from Central Michigan University. His work is largely informed by his experiences surviving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis in his mid-twenties, and often focuses on the transformative qualities of both overwhelming grief and resigned optimism. His work has previously appeared in Sun & Sandstone and Train River. His debut chapbook Shriek, was released by The Midas Collective in 2017.

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