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  • Robert L. Giron

Issue 57 — David & Clifford Bernier, Joel Collins Sati

David Bernier, photographer | Clifford Bernier, poet

The following work is from Mountain Suite.


Copyright © 2012 by David Bernier.

Verse 8

Spun from impact

moon circles an airless sky,

shifts orbits,

eclipses sun,

moves mantle and outer core like a sea:

iterative, compulsive, concentric.

Copyright © 2012 Clifford Bernier.


Copyright © 2012 by David Bernier.

Verse 7

And from the last.

Light composes a crust,

forges internal tides, solar winds,

electromagnetic fields,

rotates time like a red giant, a black dwarf,

what is known.

Copyright © 2012 Clifford Bernier.


Copyright © 2012 by David Bernier.

Verse 5

Pulled to the center

particles attract and converge,

pirouetting the sun, atoms,

appearance and non, metal and non,

over molten streams,

a bridge, a gravity, a core.

Copyright © 2012 Clifford Bernier.


David Bernier is an award-winning Colorado-based photographer whose work has appeared in Colorado's Black Canyon, the Montrose Mirror, and in shows and galleries in Colorado and Nevada.

Clifford Bernier, who won the Gival Press Poetry Award for his collection poetry titled The Silent Art, is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Earth Suite, The Montserrat Review’s Best Chapbook Summer 2010 and recently nominated for a Library of Virginia award, and Dark Berries, one of The Montserrat Review’s Best Books for Spring Reading 2010. In January 2010 he appeared on the National Public Radio show “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress.” He has published in the Potomac Review, The Baltimore Review, the online journals Notjustair and Innisfree, and elsewhere, and is featured on a CD of poetry duets, "Poetry in Black and White," as well as on two jazzpoetry CDs, "Live at IOTA Club and Cafe" and "Live at Bistro Europa." He is anthologized in the anthology "Ars Poetica." Bernier has been featured in readings in San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the Washington, DC area, including the Library of Congress, the Arts Club of Washington, George Washington University (where he is a member of the Washington Writer’s Collection) and the Writer's Center. He is founder and former host of the Washington, DC-area poetry reading series, Poesis. He has been a reader for the Washington Prize and a judge for the National Endowment for the Arts' Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net Award.

Joel Collins Sati

Click on this link for the You Tube video which includes Joel Collins reading part of this story:

Fifteen Days

In fifteen days, it will be ten years since that day in Detroit. This day is important enough that I will most likely take the hour-and-a half bus trip down to the Burger King on Veirs Mill and Randolph in Rockville, Maryland. I will order a Whopper with Coke; whether I can afford it, well that’s another issue. As a philosopher is wont to do, I will think about the past ten years, the life I thought I would have, the lies I have told and loves I have experienced and lost up until now. Maybe I’ll plan the next week out; the old adage does say that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I’ll tell myself to calm down, and then take a bite of the Whopper; and all of a sudden I’ll be in what could have been my last supper in the only good part of Detroit.

It was Wednesday, October 24, 2002, when my four-foot-six nine-year-old seventy-two-pound person walked into the Detroit Metro Airport; I was in a land of giants to say the least. I didn’t remember much before it, and quite frankly, I didn’t have to; all I cared about was that we had a Northwest Flight 123 to Atlanta in a few hours. On the other side of this flight would be my mother who I hadn’t seen since May, when she made her journey to the United States. Past the cacophony of busy businessmen, tourists, and waiting families, I could sense the apprehension that underlies their behavior, a year after 9/11.

I had arrived with a family friend, Mama Joseph and her two sons, David and Joseph. The boys were a few years younger, yet perfectly situated atop my very last nerve. Their mother was a pastor’s wife who had just taken her American-born sons to Kenya for vacation; she had received a call asking her to do a favor for one of her husband’s parishioners—I happened to be that favor. Her steadfast resolve kept us in line and kept us moving quickly; she had to put up with various requests for sweets and toys to achieve her aim. With that in mind, I figured this would be just like our first stops in Nairobi and Amsterdam; arrive, clear the security check, take a bathroom break, get food, board the next plane and leave Detroit in less than two hours. In retrospect, I was naïve; I mean 9/11 didn’t happen in The Netherlands. It happened in America. Naïve is something I think we all were–well except Joseph–-he was three and whatever was in his nose was too damn good.

We arrived at the security check line, when something caught our eye. A few officers approached Mama Joseph and asked that she take the children with her. One of the officers paid a disconcerting amount of attention to me, not the least bit because I was much darker than the other boys. He wanted us to walk with him to a more private place, “to ask a few questions.” I felt heavier and heavier as we walked, and my mind, with all the excitement within, slowly left my body from the sides of my ears.

I sauntered into a cold and damp interrogation room, and almost instantly I was left alone. I cried, with the whirr of a fan in the background. A portly gentleman, in his early forties–irritated about something, came to interrogate me with the intent to start an inquisition.

“Who are you?”

“Joel Sati,” I said.

“Where are you from?”

“Kenya,” I retorted, in what is probably the only time I was ashamed of my origins.

He fired off those questions in a manner that very well indicated he didn’t care about the answer. “We know the lady you came with isn’t your mother–-you’re most likely going to be sent back.”

I interjected, “But she’s taking me to see my—”

A figure appeared on the glass that surrounded the room. It moved toward the door, waving up and down the glass walls, stopping before it reached the door. There was a solitary knock. The interrogator stopped, acknowledged the figure, and was compelled to move toward that figure. He left the door ajar, and he and the figure had a conversation.

“London? Two hours? Alone?”

I don’t know who said what, but it didn’t matter; the death knell was sure to have been struck. My American dream was to wilt before my watery eyes and before I knew it, I was bawling – hard. The tears stopped in time to overhear Mama Joseph pleading her case. I was more than some kid being smuggled into the States; I was a boy who missed his mother. All this ‘thinking about my mother’ business had me sleepy and quite hungry. I fell asleep, head firmly on that metal table, mind certain of deportation. I then felt a touch, which turned into a bump, which matured into a raspy and industrious female voice whispering “Hey, bud, wake up!” I sneered at her, then at the clock- two hours had passed. “Ya feelin’ nervous?” she asked. I nodded, my mind having left the country by now. “It’s gonna be okay; you missed your other flight because we had questions to ask your friend. We’re just calling your mom in Atlanta and we’re gonna make sure everything is accounted for–-we just can’t be that lax anymore, ya know?” she continued. I was going to ask why not; then it hit me–-still does. To defuse the awkwardness, I looked for something and saw her gun, which looked cool. “Can I shoot–-uh–-touch it?” I hesitated, infantile impulse having been arrested by my better angels. “Fat chance of that happening” she shot back, the reply hitting me with bewilderment before I understood that it meant I was neither going to shoot nor touch the gun any time soon.

After a long pause, she got up and motioned to me as if I was to walk with her, and I reluctantly followed. We walked for what felt like two minutes, past a sign which screamed ALIENS, and into a room with a few chairs, a television and a solitary vending machine. I stared at the machine, and then I remembered that I hadn’t eaten since Amsterdam. “I sure as heck am hungry–how about you?” she said, having noticed my gaze at the machine. I nodded again, this time more vigorous than last; maybe my mind was returning to my body. “Have a seat, I’ll be back” she said before wandering off, with the television in the far end of the room booming “GIANTS BEAT THE ANGELS AND WIN GAME FIVE OF THE WORLD SERIES!!” in the background. Knowing nothing about baseball, all I saw these normal-sized ‘giants’ do was run around a diamond-shaped piece of ground. They somehow won, making an officer at the far end of the room curse his luck—so much the worse for his better angels.

The lady came back, this time with a sack and a bottle, a golden logo emblazoned on the sack with red text that read ‘Burger King.’ The ‘have it your way’ I quickly dismissed. She sat down next to me and dove into the bag. “Since this is your first time in the States, I got you the most American thing I could find—a hamburger!” I slowly divested the burger from its wrapper, careful as if I was holding the pride of a culture, all the while knowing that hamburgers come from Germany. I took a bite, and as my palate assimilated to this new taste, I became American in no uncertain terms; this was made no less so by my ear-to-ear grin. “I know” she said, recognizing the grin, “that’s the good part!” She then gave me a bottle of Coca Cola to wash all that assimilation into my gut, which has proven to have a staying power longer than chewing gum. Satisfied, I had thought that was the end of it–-again I was naïve. Her phone rang.


The voice on the other end I could not make out, yet it sounded dark—something a young child associates with obscure figures.

Yeah it’s me.” She acknowledged the voice

She reached in her pocket for a pen, then frantically looked for something to write on, tore off a piece of the bag, taking the logo with it. She hastily scribbled a few notes.

“Are you sure? He can go?” the frenzy continued

“What time?”

“Oh wow! We don’t have much time–-that’s in an hour and a half—Ten four!”

She hung up, thrust the phone into her jean pocket and motioned me to finish the rest of my burger.

The burger promptly disappeared, and then we rushed to the room where Mama Joseph and her sons were; she was barely awake and her children asleep—finally. We left, past the ALIENS sign; I thought to myself as to what that referred to, then I left it alone. In the hallway that separated us from the security checkpoint, I saw the interrogator, to whom I proceeded to give the middle finger. I then ran toward the lady I had my first American meal with; I hugged her, and then left for the plane—I never knew her name, she never knew mine. We ran to our gate, where another Northwest flight was boarding; we caught the flight, minutes away from departure. The plane then took off, the Detroit skyline being the last thing I saw before sleep. I was truly on my way to being an American.

Two-and-a-half hours later, we arrived in Atlanta. It was midnight, and the walk to baggage claim was silent, bar the hum of the escalator which separated us from baggage claim. Going up the escalator, I asked myself questions which were left unanswered: Why am I disappointed about the prospect of going back? Is this as bad as it is going to get?” I thought, before “Hey, Joel!”

I knew that voice. It knew me. There she was–-straight ahead, arms wide open.


Well, I’ll probably finish the burger and then I’ll think about my buddy Ray’s birthday. Whether or not I can afford a card, that’s another issue.

Copyright © 2012 by Joel Collins Sati.


Joel Collins Sati is a Kenyan-born college student at Montgomery College, Takoma Park/Silver Spring. He has hopes to become a philosophy and political science major upon transfering to a four-year institution. He currently resides in Silver Spring, MD. This is his first appearance in a literary journal, with hopes for more.

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