Dotty LeMieux

Dotty LeMieux’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in in Rise Up Review, Writers Resist, The Poeming Pigeon, Ekphrastic Review, Gyroscope, Solo Novo and the anthology After/Ashes,  among others. I have had three chapbooks published and edited the eclectic the Turkey Buzzard Review, in Bolinas California in the 1970’s and 80’s. I studied with poets Joanne Kyger, Edith Jenkins and Thomas Centolella.  My passion is running political campaigns for progressive candidates, mainly women, and I live in Northern California with my husband and two dogs. 




No one has to tell her Henry Miller makes better reading

than the Boston Globe

No one has to tell her she was born too late

for beatnik desires


These things we learned together

calling it “identity crisis”

Born under the same sign,

we are twenty-two years old




When I’m not feeling well

she reads me Ferlinghetti over the phone

buys me coffee without sugar

And sometimes at bus stops in winter

we hug each other like victorious Russians


In spring we go to the river

We go there to be disappointed

and disappointed we come home


Elaine makes tea and omelets

and we read poetry to jazz records from the library

Sometimes there’s wine

Then we dress up in turtleneck sweaters –

Elaine closes the curtains to shut out the traffic   


And we dance


There are no calendars in Elaine’s house

and no five o’clock man to stop us.



For a Poet I Once Loved



“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” T.S. Eliot; The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, 1920

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


and the coveted red cowboy boots which were tempting

and so much more practical than ruby slippers


I could have taken those abstractions of yours

that pay the rent

and keep the lights on

and the gas flowing


the common household necessities

that fuel the body and the mind      

and keep the blah blah blah dripping

from your oh-so-ripe-for-the-plucking




Stealing the Souls of Strangers   a Haibun



We are strangers in this diner, 1971 Alabama, a group of Northern journalists on vacation. With my borrowed camera, I have been charged to “document the trip.”  But maybe those words were not to be taken seriously?  The South is a timeless place of fog and moss and molasses rivers, bathrooms in filling stations reading “white” and “colored.” The journalists try to fit in, smile sweetly, politely praise the canned cherry pie, accept more coffee. Everyone in this place is white, it goes without saying, even us.

The waitress’ name is Crystal, embroidered on her cap. She holds a bottomless pot of coffee. Men she knows, big rig men, ranch hands, hangers on, call out—Hey Crystal”—or —Hey hon!  or just grunt and incline their heads toward their empty cups.

time ticks or is stopped

faces blank and pale gaze within,

feign obedience


I ‘m not sure you should—starts one of the journalists, as I click, shoot the dark haired man at the counter under the sign reading “Grade A Everything.” And click, at Crystal, who doesn’t notice or doesn’t care or doesn’t want to antagonize. And click, at the other man I think looks like Woody Guthrie if Woody Guthrie was still alive and out of work, and out of luck. The journalists worry, but no one shows anger or pleasure or even surprise.

alligators with eyes closed  

look like logs, submerged, still,



We leave, not hurrying, as we pile back into the red van. The journalists will take notes tonight in their tent, camped someplace safe, if such a place exists. If not – and how can you possibly know? – they will find a motel or drive through the night to New Orleans, where the streets are crowded and no one is from there. My film waits, safely tucked in its black box, until we reach the Berkeley darkroom where I will unspool and release the souls of all the strangers locked inside.


birds like small airplanes

lift from the murk, ascend toward branches

of trees that are not there