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

may panaguiton

i. honorata

my lola ends each call with the same farewell:

‘be good, remember to pray’.

my goodbyes are mechanical affirmatives that don’t bear truth

because i haven’t been to church since the last time she was home.

and honesty on my lips: if she was with me, i wouldn’t mind.

but the thick, hazy air; the heat and stick of waxed wooden pews against my sweaty skin;

the oversharp sibilants hissing like knives through

old buzzing speakers as the old priest proselytizes;

a sensory nightmare, a green headache born in between my brows that only dies

when i bury my head in her stomach and press my forehead against her chest.

i want to be eight again, i want to kneel by the blankets we called a bed,

i want her hands, too cold, thin and dry, to guide mine through the rosary.

my mouth shaping the automatic ‘i believe in god, the father almighty . . .’

before she leads us through the glorious mysteries.

her eyes were always sharp as my little fingers fumbled through the beads

hoping its colors could catch my attention longer than the monotonous red in hers.

I am with you all days” she would say before making me mumble out

a slurred ‘hail mary’ three beats too late.

it was like suffering once, reciting words i didn’t understand or believe—

promising myself between the countdown that i would never do this again.

and like she could read the growing vow on my face, she would slap my calf

to stop my slouching and continue when my back straightened.

my ire would fade by the fourth iteration and we would settle into a

call and response, her words sure and reverent echoed by my clumsy lips.

Blessed are you, daughter, above all women on earth

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee . . .”

she must’ve known i never prayed—that my servile days bedside

contemplating the mysteries of mother mary’s life were long over.

she witnessed the birth and death of my beliefs, cultivating most with her bare hands,

but this eden fell each time i waved goodbye to her plane floating back home.

the last call i had with my lola was tragic in its normalcy;

her mind going through tangents i couldn’t follow,

her slips and mistakes, unable to recognize my voice even after

years of choral repartee, weeks of midnight masses, and hours of passing

a worn bible between us.

but even this i was comfortable with, accustomed to my lola’s wandering mind;

oceans away, i tease and correct her, she laughs—still the call ends with

‘be good, remember to pray’.

and i hold onto that familiar sentence, careful and loving,

like she once cradled my face after i fell and scarred my knees,

young blood blessing her blue peas and wax plants.

when the corpse was buried, the body was stiff and wrong, an imitation of the cogent reality.

but in its hands, her rosary was red.

*lola—the Tagalog word for ‘grandmother’

ii. quiricus

a child martyr was perfected today,

a reward for cracking his head across the final steps.

for his love, for his mother, for the god who let him die,

for the men who stepped in red as they threw his body out.

but i heard his bird bones splinter and watched rigor mortis

set among the remains of murderers and thieves.

his eyes were open and held wide, leaving brands of guilt

to everyone who met its sightless gaze.

he laid like a small reminder as his mother sobbed with

hooks in her sides and the tip of a sword in her collarbone.

he died in the snap of a broken neck and she died

with a cut off choke, gurgling and begging.

one stroke and her head rolled to rest at our feet.

we looked into her eyes and held our lips firm.

that night, there are no angels, no forces of benevolence;

only bloodless faces and missing limbs.

we carried him with his mother’s head on his chest,

a last comfort we scarcely afforded in the morning light.

we kissed his eyelids before tucking him into the earth

and closed his mother’s screaming mouth.

“good night,” she said into his hair.

“goodbye,” i said into his palms.

iii. mama, give me time—i can make more space

mama goes to work, and i do too, a pail and knife in hand.

i don’t go into her room until they’re gone,

a dodging look over my shoulder i learned young,

and start filling the holes in the wall.

sheetrock breaks with eighteen pounds of pressure,

the momentum cracking drywall into neat divots,

into patterns of dust and paint chip polka dots,

and i’ve perfected the art of fixing mistakes in less than a day.

i did this for my father too—slipped into the garage and took

from his supply of sandpaper to perfect the look.

it was easy then to match the grain of the wall with the shade of the paint,

creating invisibility with tiny competent hands.

spackle would stick under my nails and dry out my fingertips,

and i would cough dust into pillowcases before i slept.

but it was a price paid for penny silence, gossamer peace for another week.

only, i was happy to stop smelling old paint and ammonia.

when the nausea subsided, when my eyes stopped its paranoid track

through the dark corners of my room,

i would sleep with the belief that this was a good deed.

at least, at least, at least, i fixed the break.

he isn’t my father but the holes are about the same.

and i cannot provide the same quality my mother expects,

i’m older now, my limbs are tired of the rote.

i’m sadder now, my lungs can’t handle the work.

but i can’t stop in the middle, not when the spackle takes an hour to dry and

the paint won’t apply, smooth and even, on an unsanded surface.

only once, i asked why.

“at least it wasn’t me,” she said. “at least it wasn’t me.”



i see me.

i see you.

but also i see you.

yes, i do too.

i don’t want to see it.

i’ve seen it since you were a child.

even then?

i knew it early too, saw it when you threw your tantrums, heaving rocks into the pond—your eyes were gleaming as you watched the carps struggle for their lives.

no, that doesn’t sound like me.

and yet, i can still hear your screaming; high and whetted, digging your fingers into the flesh of unripe mangoes. ripping, ripping, ripping.

i don’t remember that.

or maybe you wanted to forget.

no. i would remember. i loved that mango tree, i loved eating its fruitful harvests right at the base, safe in the twisted roots. i named those carps, knew their spots and speckles better than my own face, i fed them, touched their scales, i loved them.

your love guided them under, i buried three by your mango tree.

you’re lying to me, you’re lying. i loved them, i loved them.

you did and it wasn’t enough and it was immense and it was unrestrained. don’t you trust me?

not really, not anymore.

i see me again; we are like overlapping waves, back and forth, push and pull, crash and covet, returning into blue. i am my father’s child, anak.

then, he too -


then. me too?


then i will be alone. then i will be empty. then i will be barren.

you would stop the movement of the ocean?

i’ll kill the moon. i’ll kill it and the night sky will be dark, yes, but the ocean will rest while the world sleeps.


it’s all our family knows.

and selfish.

i don’t want to hear that from you.

it is your birthright, passed through fingers of the blood who came before me, we are a banking fire. your stone must be next.

i will die cold and stiff then, let the maggots eat my eyes and carrion birds pick through my chest. let the sun bleach my bones—it will be the only warmth i need.

stubborn. i see me again.

i see you too.

i see my father. bullheaded. obstinate.

i see my sisters. i see my brother. i see me.

perhaps they will—

you don’t exist in them.

and thus the line ends with you?

no, it will end with you.

*anak—the Tagalog word for ‘my child’

may panaguiton (she/they) was born and raised in the Philippines; they moved to the USA in 2000. Sixfold is her first experience sharing poetry with an audience made up of actual human beings and not just her two dogs. Their poetry explores dysfunctional family life, domestic violence, abuse, and grief. Their goal in 2022 is to write a collection of poems about love or a poem about yarn.

Dotted Line