Monday, December 6, 2021

Ubu - Absurdist poems

 A new rag is on the scene, Ubu for absurdist poems. I had one poem in the inaugural edition:

 A Series of Logical Associations Leading to an Indisputable
Conclusion — A Sectional

        1. That was the year they told her the truth
                        about Santa Claus

3. At first it was very hard to . . .
There was some difficulty with the . . .

                        4. “Trick or treat
                                    Smell my feet
                                        Give me something good to eat.”

            2. An apple a bugle a box of crayons
    Conclusion: All good things - even this –
    shall pass

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Review of Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune up Now!

 A very lovely review has been posted at Compulsive Reader today of my chapbook Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune. 

Here it is. Enjoy. And read the others there. Very nice publication. Thanks for doing this.

A review of Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune by Dotty E. LeMieux

Reviewed by Kim Zach

Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune
by Dotty E. LeMieux
Fishing Line Press
$14.99, paper, ISBN: 978-1-64662-379-2, Dec 2020, 36 pages

Dotty LeMieux is no stranger to poetry. Her writing has appeared in a number of publications, including anthologies, blogs, and online at Main Street Rag, Antonym, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Writer’s Resist, Gyroscope, and many others. 

LeMieux has also published three previous chapbooks in addition to her latest offering, Henceforth I Ask Not Good Fortune. This slim volume of fifteen poems over 23 pages demonstrates a variety of subjects that at first may seem disconnected. In a quick read-through of the table of contents and a skim of the poems themselves, I pondered: “What is the common thread weaving these poems together?” 

The poet identifies herself as a political activist; indeed, she’s been a politician and is an attorney whose interests lie with environmental law and progressive politics. This focus obviously has spilled over into her poetry. The first few poems reflect a sympathetic view of those who suffer from the world’s injustices. The strong images ring true, and we realize that Lemieux has observed these scenes first-hand.

In “Woman Her World on Skids” a homeless woman wrestles with the burden of her meager possessions. Lemieux writes: “Urban traveler at a crossroads/waiting out the light/weighted by the world on skids behind her/Arms bent back holding the plastic/reins of flattened cardboard.” The folded box will become a shelter and into black plastic trash bags, the woman “has crammed husband/House, children now grown, job/in a bank or a store/or a factory in another state.” She moves with unexpected grace underneath the “cargo on her bent back not a bit/of slack in sinewy limbs, face taut as a fist, eyes/tight against unforgiving sun, not an ounce of wanting/to be here but with steadiness.”

LeMieux’s advocacy is evident in imagery that lends dignity to the downtrodden. In “Solstice” she describes a man at a food pantry as wearing a “long brown coat like a cape/ swirling around bony shoulders.” He crosses the street “cape billowing out behind his slender frame/he is transformed into a Romantic poet,” and then “strides in front of my car/stopped now to let him pass, to watch/his coat-tails fly in his wake/like autumn’s last leaves/swooshing around us.”

In “America Sends More Thoughts and Prayers,” the narrator directs our attention to “poverty and injustice/inequality and crazy on every/street corner” both present and past. The poem itself becomes a prayer, as she recites a litany of maltreated groups: felons, children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, citizens of Flint Michigan, immigrants, and the Iroquois nation.

The most effective images, however, are when those groups become individuals. She speaks of “the lady in pink who sings alone in the park, surrounded by pigeons,” “the veteran in his chair beside the shuttered window,” and “Leticia who cleans my house.” The ending accuses and commands: “We know you’ll never be able/ to make amends—/But at least get down/on your knobby knees/hang your hoary head/and cry.”

The next poems are lighter and more playful, serving as much-needed comic relief. “For a Poet I Once Loved” is a tongue-in-cheek apology—”Sorry that I took your words/for mine; but I did leave/your silk purse with the rainy day/fund; and I refrained from drinking the new wine/you were saving for inspiration.” Another apology poem, “Just to Let You Know,” is a riff on William Carlos William’s poem about eating the plums in the icebox. Lemieux writes, “I polished off/the prunes in/the cupboard/which you were probably/planning to eat/for regularity/ Sorry, I needed them/more/.

Her wry sense of observant humor continues in “The Toothbrushes are Kissing.” With an extended metaphor, she compares the toothbrushes to two lovers. She writes, “On the ledge 

under the bathroom mirror, like they are passing each/other in the hall, like two lovers working different shifts, one coming/the other going.” She describes their “bristles stiffening, reaching/out and whisking by, barely touching—an air kiss like they might be/French then back again.”

The final third of the collection returns to more somber topics. “Ah Death” is a one-sided conversation with the grim reaper. The narrator reprimands him for being a “workaholic” with lines like “Death, cut it out/Can’t you give it a rest/,” “Death, I’m on to you,” and “Death, time to take a load off.” 

LeMieux’s knack for creating vivid images continues in “Salt Hospital 1.” The patient says, “Cocooned/ in a room of my own/but nothing like what Virginia Woolf imagined” and “like some old forgotten steer/dried to sun-bleached bones/straining to reach the last salt lick/on the plains.” 

The final poem “Skip to My Lou, My Darling,” is an exercise in word play, yet the light-hearted title belies the foreboding of the first line: “Skipping, you are bound to trip.” She deftly incorporates other phrases, varying the use and meaning of skip, like “The way your heart skips a beat” and “I skipped out on the check.” The last two stanzas shift from the general to the specific:

The girl with coltish legs crossing the parking lot
her arms like sticks, and tall as a young oak
How many meals did she skip to have that
disappearing look?

How long until she vanishes altogether, her mother hoping
her schoolmates just skip the funeral
no one could prevent, no amount of square dance tunes
karaoke or prom invitations could cajole her out of?

The view is sadly breathtaking and showcases LeMieux’s greatest strength—crafting images that compel us to see the world that she sees.The poet’s uncompromising attitude towards her subject matter is the unifying thread of her poetry. The reader eventually surrenders to the juxtaposition of seemingly mismatched topics and finally comes to appreciate the variety of ways in which LeMieux accomplishes this.

About the reviewer: Kim Zach is a writer whose work has appeared in U.S. 1 Worksheets, Genesis, Clementine Poetry Journal, Clementine Unbound, Adanna Literary Journal, and Bone Bouquet. Her poem ‘Weeding My Garden’ was nominated for a Pushcart prize. She is a lifelong resident of the Midwest where she taught high school English and creative writing for 40 years. She currently works as a book coach, giving other writers the support and guidance they need to complete their projects, whether fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.

Friday, October 8, 2021

I Remember: The Bin Laden Girls

 At MacQueen's Quinterly today:  A piece of real life.

I Remember: The Bin Laden Girls, September 2001


I remember our trip in a rental car: Ray, John Crawford, and me, just after September 11, to Lowell, Massachusetts, in search of Jack Kerouac’s grave, but finding instead a Middle Eastern Karaoke bar across the plaza from the Industrial Museum. There we joked about whether the woman might be Osama bin Laden’s wife in exile—the bin Laden family did own property in Boston after all—cooking barbeque with her small daughters, smiling for the tourists. Eventually we made it to the Jack Kerouac Memorial Park, thinking how much alike the words Kerouac and Karaoke are, yet so very different.

And years later, John is on the long-distance phone, asking: Remember the bin Laden girls? I wonder what they’re doing now? what language they speak? Farsi, Arabic, Pidgin English? Laughing at how insensitive we sound, but not caring, no one else is listening (except possibly the NSA)—and we have been politically correct for decades, back to when it wasn’t even a thing.


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Accident

 Thanks to Main Street Rag for publishing my poem, The Accident in its Summer 2021 edition.  

Here it is:




Wednesday, July 14, 2021

American Writers Review - Turmoil and Recovery

 Hi there, 

Just to let you know, three of my pandemic poem are in this wonderful anthology. See below the lovely cover:




Dotty LeMieux


In climates where the temperatures rarely, if ever, drop

below 50°F, the honeybee colony keeps working all year‐round.

Encyclopedia Britannica


This is the day I cut my own toe attempting

a clumsy pedicure at the edge of the tub, then

tumble backward, bashing a rib

into the edge of my fickle scale


my husband locks himself out of the office, calls

impatient—you don’t answer your phone

I’m down on my knees, bloodied

thinking about breathing in

and breathing out


How deep is the breath

in this old battered body?

No spring in this chicken

and the hair, uncombed, frantic


Bone, muscle gristle, what

is being born today is not me

or you, maybe a nation, or a notion

of decency after all, maybe a chance

to dream


Ribs will heal, skin be restored

with Neosporin and a band‐aid

keys delivered

But what of our Republic?

What of hope?


Will they wither and fade

like last season’s tomato plants?

Or blossom like a winter rose, translucent,

still attractive to life‐sustaining bees

who beat all odds by resolute

pumping of wings

to fly?


Like It Was Normal

Dotty LeMieux


On a Sunday night we go next door

to say goodbye to the neighbors moving

across the country


Like it was normal, we go

right inside the house

to share farewells


Like it was normal, a small

group has gathered

wearing masks and touching nothing


Suddenly the one leaving

grabs me in a hug

I want to hug back


like it was normal, but freeze,

stiffen against rudeness

to protect myself, her,


 the one leaving to care

for her newly widowed father

and the neighbors staying behind


the ones we see everyday

on dog walks, getting the mail, passing

never closer than six feet


Goodbyes are quick, we promise

emails, phone calls, run

back home, embarrassed


Like it was normal, we lock

the door behind us, wash

our hands for twenty long seconds


take our temperature for 10, 14 days

scour each other and the web

for unusual symptoms

put up talismans to ward off

evil spirits

like it was normal.

What Happens to Me Happens Also to



Never more apparent than in a pandemic

I reach for the door of the refrigerated case

in the supermarket and you reach for it too


Our hands meet, but only on cold steel

What I deposit there, you receive and carry

and pass on to the next item in the store

and your car and then take home

to your children


What you deposit, I pick up and carry

to the lettuce, the spinach, the Winesap apples

I reject as unripe

and home to rest on the doorknob

and the back of my husband’s neck


Even with a mask, with washing, with taking

no chances, I become you and you become me

We are mirror images of each other

even in the best of times


The multitudes within me are within you

They grow and multiply and so enlarge us

until there are no distinctions made

no boundaries formed,

no alliances claimed, shored up,

fought for


When even the dogs in their ignorance

join the chain of becoming infected

with us,

their eyes pleading

for touches

for treats

for any small reassurances

of consistency and love.