Back to Issue Eleven.

Unguided Tour of the French Riviera



There’s a parable about memory
in which memory is a boat
used for trafficking human cargo.

But it’s easy to forget here.
We could talk instead about how
the Mediterranean scatters

through the city, alleys as veins
returning each cobalt glint
to the shore, the eyelid at light’s

sluice. Darkness and its denizens,
then, are determined by vision.
It’s this splinter of daylight

we can neither see nor pluck
from our pupils: needle-
points tattoo the veins of a girl

whose throat was just used
for everything but her voice.
Couldn’t we, in such brightness,

just call the promenade our god-
canvas and thatch from palm trees,
white pergolas, and the terra

cotta shingles of smoke-singed
kebab shacks a new roof
for this world? Under it, sunrise

would be love’s kitchen.
The bronzed hands of beach-
drunk youths making meals

of each other’s mouths: all history
has time for. We could float on
our backs awhile, our breath

tethering us to the stone jetties,
our mouths filling with the salt
we become as we stop watching.


Benjamin Goldberg lives with his wife outside Washington, D.C. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ninth Letter, The Greensboro Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Salt Hill, The Southeast Review, Devil’s Lake, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for the 2012 Gearhart Poetry Prize, the 2013 New Millennium Writings Award for Poetry, and the 2013 Third Coast Poetry Prize. He is currently earning his MFA at Johns Hopkins University. Find him online at