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  • Robert L. Giron

Issue 88 — Jackson Berkley, Michael Mingo, Sanbud Tehrani

Jackson Berkley

Sex on the Beach

I like my women how I like my coffee. Very hot.

At the beach it is easy to remember that women

are both very hot and very fat and it is fashionable

to sport pockets made for chapstick to get lost.

Warm coffee tastes bad. There is no such thing as a warm beach.

It is either very hot or cold and firm against your feet.

The body is always beautiful at night. It is not the moon.

It is the soft light. It is the soft sand and the cold water that makes it hard

to tell the difference. I have never been to the beach in December.

I guess it makes sense that there are so many Christmas stores.

Everything makes sense somehow, though I have never understood the appeal

of sex on the beach.

Everybody hates sand. That is a fact. At night the ocean opens up

and makes a pocket for joints to dissolve in. It is no place to hide

when naked. Everybody who wakes up there is trespassing.

Everybody who wakes up is born into something.

I don’t know what something is. I was born with a scar like a shark bite

on my back. There is nothing here for miles but places I am not,

and there is nothing in the mirror this morning but the wall opposite

and a sailboat on a wooden placard, reminding guests to leave.

I decided to stay at the beach. In the morning the east reminds me

there is still the west and what the first jogger left behind: a bed,

her shoes at the foot of the steps, a moment to admire her legs

before she looks up.

Copyright © 2016 by Jackson Berkley.


The line from Keats

On the back of the postcard

From Steamboat Springs: how lifeless

Italics can be,

The waterfall and bridge

And the tall conifers (impossibly green)

And the rocks and rapids beneath.

O everything,

Salida, Colorado, 1979, my father’s name

In my mother’s handwriting,

In the big cardboard box in the basement,

The olive tablecloth

And the white candle’s long, gnostic flame.

I have enjoyed it all, politely,

Like a season

Is printed and transformed

Into its likeness.

And breathless,

Up on St. Mary’s Glacier,

In summer,

All three of us together

In our likenesses

Became a sigh of relief and a descent.

O, sweet everything,

How gradually we notice

Our lives, how ink trails off

As a perilous line

Or radiates into a stain: patiently,

My mother explained to me

How she met my father, in a physics classroom,

At Mizzou, in Columbia, Missouri.

And how, on Sundays,

They would eat dinner at Aunt Tilly’s,

With Cousin Jim.

And how on their honeymoon

They drove with Uncle Doc

Through Mexico, and how

He was down there running drugs back then.

And how I was conceived

In August (I must have been)

And in Salida, Colorado, in the summer of 1979

It rained and rained and rained

And the air

Had a texture and a pattern

Like old beer cans

And bottles of Heinz ketchup

At a picnic

With my parents in their green khaki shorts

And their old friends

And the words from my mother’s pen

Fading faster

Than that damn Keats line

That, lovely, will never pass

Into nothingness.

Copyright © 2016 by Jackson Berkley.

Landscape with Beachside Properties

The moon — brilliant — climbs the stairs

of the black cornhusk heavens —

tonight it forgives,


in its incalculable sadness

like a speckled milkshake caulked into a cupholder,

and the sea

and his weird cousin desire are conspiring together,

again. The moon forgives

this — the warm, sloping winds, the chalkboard signage

disguising the menus, the porch swings haloed

in sports talk and the cell tower’s twin beacons

of grievance and redress. The black

shop windows. A kite suspended above the cul de sac

twitches in the breeze —.

The neighbors wait for it to fall or be shaken free.

It has been there for months, fading,

trying its best to decompose.

The neighbors wait as though for their children

to stifle laughter before falling asleep.

A figure moves

in the yard and a sedan is locked remotely from inside a home.

The blue, empty bleachers.

Copyright © 2016 by Jackson Berkley.

The First Thing I Have Ever Written On the Inside of a Stall

Love is always a true love

At least for a while. But it is never false.

It is not like a dog that dies

After eating a pound of chocolate,

But more like a mouse that patters

Behind the headboard at night,

Then one morning decides to try the rafters.

As the sun rises behind the mountains,

There is always someone there to watch it happen,

And another several construction workers

Below to mind the scaffolding.

Each morning, a public restroom

Is an experiment in negative space.

It may exist, but not truly be there

For anyone but the first person who comes in

And says I hate myself too many times

For it to come true. That is the problem

With truth: it is so often boring, and untrue.

People do not love each other unless they see themselves

In what they wish would bother them,

Like the faintly Canadian accent Virginians detect

In people from Maryland.

When something happens too often

To call it a mistake, we call it art.

Love is great art, and a big mistake.

It is an arc. The middle phase is miserable,

The end euphoric and that will go away as well.

What remains is a tidy black hole, a pause

That breathes life back into a phrase,

A plate caked with burnt hash

That shouldn’t need a cycle but will probably

Get one anyways. But it’s important to love that too

Because sometimes that’s all it takes.

Copyright © 2016 by Jackson Berkley.

Previously published in the Blue Bonnet Review.


Jackson Berkley lives in Portland, OR, where he writes, works, blogs, and makes art. Check out his blog, short films, and other musings at www.

Michael Mingo

Will It Play in Peoria?

The red carpet’s been rolled out

from storage, the marquee

polished, announcing

the premiere of King Lear:

The 4-D Extravaganza.

The Ford commercials

and coming attractions

finally stop, the lights dim

and Shakespeare takes the screen.

The seats recline for Act I

as Lear takes his throne.

That’s you, dear viewer,

reigning over England,

sitting on polish gold. But then

the daughters dress-down

their father and throw him

to the heath. You’re

beside him wandering

through the storm, water

streaming down your head,

over your eyes, past your lips,

through your windpipe.

Then: total blackout,

the gouging of Gloucester’s eyes.

The shrieking chorus

behind you is not

a sound effect. The seats

dip forward, then push you

to the tile. As you

pick popcorn kernels

from your teeth, Tom O’Bedlam

convinces you

that Dover’s cliffs

are not so deadly.

Copyright © 2016 by Michael Mingo.

When We Play with Model Trains

When we put together model trains, we

reconstruct the past. Vivien Leigh lies

enchanted, seduced, in Clark Gable’s arms

on posters plastered across the station

and dry goods store. When model citizens

watch, eyes frozen, the Technicolor scene,

the burning of Atlanta, they construct

the present: Europe once again gone mad,

asking for more American boys.

When put the model trains away, we

put away the past. What cannot be seen

can be ignored, neglected. No one wants

to watch china figurines pretend

to be content. We know they’re not content,

we know we’re not content, we’re just waiting

for the breaks, for the wheels to lock in place.

Copyright © 2016 by Michael Mingo.


Michael Mingo is a student at Carnegie Mellon University and attended the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in 2015. His poetry has previously appeared in Jersey Devil Press, 3Elements Review, and The Record.

Sanbud Tehrani

Some Morning in Los Angeles

Pizza as a breakfast course cushioning vodka

You wonder at the chittering cat bells of last night’s cease-to-be

Doors to rooms you can’t see open and close with frightening presumption, no longer unglued, the light is slowly fixing its fishnet and garter belt

These taxi cabs in Jell-O packed fish bowls don’t particularly care about your raison d’etre

But then again neither do you saxophoning hot smog steam on some pitch for a sport as yet unseen

I haven’t yet learned how to score, but offsides? . . . yeah buddy.

I’m packaging paper peanuts with my yellowcards, there’s a keenness there that doesn’t speak the language of your hair when you wake up in the morning with a bitter belt halo

You’d better bet yourself for the over and under in this dusk-ended amusement park

Just don’t assume a receipt means a refund

There’s no way out but deeper down these stairs, Lon Chaney’s there, and you don’t know why

Why is just the remnant echoes of payphone pests and flipped flapped pogs

But there’s no slammer but what’s in you


No whys or I love yous really manage to make it past the first casting call

They’re just emotions that never learned to emote, worse wheat to wit when you realize you’re entourage, crops sustained by could-have-beens and limp snake sirens, you were your own worse plague but never managed to write down the prim proper pursuits you arked forbidden

You were made noncanonical a long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long long

time ago

So don’t bother blushing when you burp with those butterflies, there’s nothing in it anyway, no one started keeping score and your peace is your penalty (it’s too early to rest but now you revise a snore).

Copyright ©2016 by Sanbud Tehrani.


Sanbud Tehrani is a young Persian American poet based in Southern California with a taste for surrealist automatism. He has composed and released two compilations of his poems thus far and is the lazy vice president of a local Orange County poetry club. His most treasured writers are Graham Greene and Thomas Hardy.

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