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

Alix Christofides Lowenthal

Spring Passing

A mystery of frogs green but flat

silhouetted action-figures

all eight legs spread leaping

on slate edging the water;

dispatched carefully into

earliest spring still-sere grasses,

their bier a small shovel.


wash the stone and rinse

tang of decay, scrape skin bits

so no trace remains, only a

shroud of pond water.

Hoping for frog eggs.

Waiting at a busy intersection

directed by high-vis vested policeman

flashing lights and firetrucks

then line of lights-on cars

hearse escorted onto the highway

vanishing into noon’s glow.

Clearly one of their own fallen.


somber prayers for the heroic corpse.

Way back—clear road, no sign

that death ever passed.

Traffic flow wipes procession clean.

Hoping for peace.

That night, the moon waxes gibbous.

First peepers’ thready trills

ascend in delight.


for Tony Hoagland

Where it says delete

read small bird footprints.

Where is says dream read

small wooden benches painted in

bright gloss like hard candies.

Where it says message read pebble.

Where it says: “cough now,” read lighthouse.

Trees should remain trees until further notice.

Where we read misery it should say

fresh baked bread and a cool fountain.

For fingernails read sand

nesting slate stepping-stones,

and, for dried oregano, read memory

trailing along the heart.

What Part Does the Storyteller Play?

You know how stories go:

the princess must suffer or sleep,

the prince goes on a quest or is put under a spell.

Lovers must be separated and reunited.

Birds can speak, and trees can sing. Good souls

may be saved from evil or catastrophe.

People, transfigured, must turn

into rocks or horses or fish.

Loose ends snipped off, plots hemmed up

as if by the most skilled seamstress.

Once upon a time, in the middle of a story,

a jarring kh-thump! of glass striking feather and bone.

Atop its icy mattress, feet in the air,

black eye blinking intermittently

in disoriented code: picoides villosus,

black and white striped stylish perfection,

long beak faintly opening and closing.

Rushing out with a small towel,

I wrapped up the woodpecker and turned it over,

weight imperceptible in my hands.

Later it stood and soared, my heart reveling after

high into the snow-dusted maple.

One long ago night, a muffled thump, a crumple,

car overturned in the road below.

On the sloping bank in dry leaves, a young man trembling

sat with his knees up, arms wrapped like wings.

I hunkered next to him, pulling him to me while we waited.

He couldn’t speak, he just sat blinking, transfixed.

The paramedics strapped him in,

took him away, and asked me nothing.

Neat stitches with my sharp needle:

bird to sky, man to home, bird to man.

The end comes with a blink,

a denouement of branch and ambulance.

Abortion Clinic Waiting Room

The goddess Demeter welcomes them to her field:

faded festivity cocooned by wheat-sheaf wallpaper

forest green carpet marked out with a grid

asbestos ceiling tiles ringed by a rose-spangled border

sunny illumination from fluorescent panels,

while “Save the Last Dance” plays quietly on a wall-mounted screen

providing the choral parados.

A man in Yankees cap and shirt, his pigeon-toed mate in sneakers,

her long blond hair so many shades of sorrow over her lip-biting;

another, waiting for his girl Maggie in his Mustang tee shirt

nervously picks his pant legs, thinking there’s nowhere left to fall.

Two buxom, big silver jewelry, gum-chewing teary-eyed women,

maybe sisters—Ooh, say what? Say what? Say what?

Yankee guy gets on his cell phone,

the rest thralled by filmed catharsis

where despite challenges and death, dance generates love,

and love triumphs over adversity.

So many different reasons, but are they really true?

Some say the soul has no desire, only memory.

Some say the soul has no movement, only recognition.

Perhaps the soul is purely pneuma, breath of the cosmos

animating ferns, heroes, horses and olive trees.

The soul infuses into cells at the moment

           of conception. Or does it arrive later?

At quickening? When the microcosm has begun

           to build muscles and dance about the womb?

Just as the feather cannot fly without the wing

           just so the soul inhabits the body.

Blood is Heavier than Time

“What does blood do?” he asked.

We looked at each other

wondering how to explain to a four year old.

I tried to conjure up

that film that had fascinated me

in middle school: “Hemo the Magnificent”

animating the hidden mysteries of the body

through a stylish superhero.

I’d love to see that again,

but I wouldn’t want to be back in gym class

where I endured the agony of public showers,

the new hair on my body

like sphagnum patches on a moor,

and where only the fifth grade girls

got to watch the Kotex film on menstruation

as the boys snickered in the hall

rattling the locked cafeteria doors

in their excitement at being excluded from

“the natural processes.”

You say: “Blood is a system

that carries oxygen through the body,”

as I try to shush you, panicked that we

are somehow introducing blight into

the bud of unknowingness.

He looks up at us, a small frown appearing

beneath his curls as we all fall quiet.

“Blood is full of air that we need,” I try,

but I see that even the mere mention of air

in his body makes his eyes glaze over.

“Blood is like a river,” I say. “It travels

where we need it to go. It helps our whole body.”

Oxygen, veins, systems, flow—

none of these words have meaning to him.

We take a breath and decide what to have for snack:

toast with butter, or cashews and raisins

on the special blue and white plate?

As I push his chair close to the table,

I feel his earnest heart thrumming steadily,

another light on the strand of our bloodline.

Alix Christofides Lowenthal has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. Now retired, she was a teacher of English, drama, and art history at a Waldorf school in suburban New York for 25 years. Now she is relishing more time to reflect, read and write.

Dotted Line