Jeffrey M. Bernstein

I Dream that Santa Barbara Closes the Beaches

Cells waiting to invade the stream,

sharks congregate at the bell buoys

that mark the outer harbor entrance.

Bored, they troll for excitement, find none.


Dorsal fins ply the ocean and, like stars,

slight changes of position cede no ground.

The swells are glassy and gray, slight chop

broken by rhythmic peals of rusted chimes.


Back in the sixties, I failed to charm

a sailboat becalmed in the narrows

of a coastal pond. I hopped into the shallows,

started to tow that boat through flat water

as the dread flag sliced the surface

an arm’s length away.  My neck hairs rose

and I struggled over the gunwales

in time to see five-foot flash of blue glide past.


Today a shiver of great whites off ruined coast

of Japan adds atomic poison to its arsenal

and I wonder whether, years from now,

a middle-aged Chinese-American woman

in San Francisco, shown a spot

on her liver, will connect the dots

to that finned broth she loved so much.



A lifelong New Englander, Jeff Bernstein divides his time between Boston and Central Vermont. Except on summer days when his beloved (now bedraggled) Red Sox are at Fenway, he finds back roads preferable to the city. Poetry is his favorite and earliest art form (he can’t draw a whit or hold a tune). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ballard Street Poetry Journal, Birchsong – A Poetry Anthology (Blueline Press), Best Indie Lit New England Hobble Creek Review, Loch Raven Review, Main Street Rag, San Pedro River Review and riverbabble. His chapbook, “Interior Music,” was published in 2010 by Foothills Publishing. Jeff’s writer’s blog

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