Issue 88 — 

Jackson Berkley(ArLiJo#88)
Michael Mingo(ArLiJo#88)
Sanbud Tehrani(ArLiJo#88)

Jackson Berkley

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 88

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

Visit this author's homepage at www.


Michael Mingo

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 88

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

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 88

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.