By Tyler Mobley

When in Mexico you may find in the town square those of their golden years seated on a bench, they’ll be there all day, at peace, muttering this or that to their peers on benches close by, but mostly just taking in the world as it moves around them. 

All we’d gone for was a wave check and a smoke. The barrel of the joint burned longer than any we saw at sea. Before the spark was applied we passed a female trio gathered around a telephoto lens pointed toward boyfriends hunting waves. From our driftwood seat a figure gains proportion down the desolate beach, a woman carrying a stick on a return journey from nowhere. She’d raise the stick then smack the sand without interrupting her conversation with God knows what. Continuous chatter with clothes of taters accented her unacknowledged pass. Best let her be. Suspicions raised, the joint passed, we heard the first cry. 

Heads twist to find beach lady in the faces of tripod girls. A second of assessment then, action! Going as fast as we could through the deep sand, one girl defended the camera as the others covered up from the stick she now lashed at them screaming profane nonsense. We interrupt her world ending rant by inserting ourselves between beach lady and the trio, offsetting the situation. We tried reason. 

“They weren’t bothering anybody, why don’t you just carry on.”

“You come to my town my beach with your fancy equipment and what do you do for me? You take your photos to show everybody but what happens to me?” 

The girl responsible for the camera spoke up, “we won’t take anymore photos we’ll put it away.”

“Oh sure, I don’t care about you, I don’t care about your camera, you people are all the same, you stay for a few weeks then you go back to big cities and jobs the hell with you.” She raised her stick and brought it down on our flank. 

One of the girls reached out and grabbed my elbow as she stepped behind for cover. I felt the tremble in her grip, the fear present in her touch. A pure and pulsating fear, a kind I’d known myself but never felt in another person. I looked down at my elbow caught off by the intensity her still gentle touch communicated. I knew exactly what she was feeling, the uncertainty, why won’t she just go away already? 

I put on my best smile for beach lady in hopes of easing her fury. She returned a mocking smile, her teeth few and far between, some pointed up the beach some down. 

“It’s all one love right, no worries, well fuck you.”

Just then her husband passed by machete in hand and yelled for her to leave us alone. This brings tears to her eyes, she blew him a kiss then continued her verbal assault. 

“Maybe for you my husband left me and now he won’t share his crystal with me no more.” 

Okaaaayyyy, time to go, with the tripod shouldered we gave up our position. Her curses followed us the few hundred yards back to town with vague pursuit. Finally one of the locals came to our rescue denouncing her actions and apologized, “she used to be normal, plump and happy then the devil drugs corrupted her.” 

Things were still tense, we were lucky no one was hurt. We learned that she and a few others lived in the jungle down the beach a ways and caused minor trouble from time to time. 

Emmie’s Sketch in real time

During our trip three of our five got sick from the water in Mexico, as you do. One day we drove South into Michoacán, clocking kilometers on the infamous Bandido Highway where many a tourists turn hostage if they’re lucky, the unlucky ones are never heard from, to a surf spot called La Ticla. A 20 minute hike through a river mouth, prickly grass trails, and across blistering hot rocks lead to a natural bay, coaxing south swells into its cove creating long wrapping lefts. Within an hour in the water one of our crew was overcome by waves of nausea retiring him the beach. 

In a fever he sought shade under the only structure on the beach, a small palapa made from materials in the abutting jungle. Our welcoming party was a mixed bag of travelers from France to New Zealand cracking coconuts and cheersing beers. A space was made for our sickly to stretch out, two of the girls left down a different path on a beer run. They returned and handed out crisp beverages which we applied to the neck and forehead of our sidelined surfer. A testament to Victor Frankel, it’s not where you are but how you are, some magic of the 8 ball, the internal supersedes the external. We smash open coconuts and savor its juicy flesh. A bunch of strangers brought together by a sense of place, bound by its beauty, cast under serine spell, why did it have to end?   

We left for the airport down a too straight road with nothing but palm trees on either side, the lone female of our group said what we were all thinking, “I can’t get over how big the shopkeeper’s breasts were, she must not be able to see her toes.” We all agreed on that.  “You never know my muffin.”

Road to Pascuales

Running with Turtles

Running with Turtles 

By Tyler Mobley 

Those feeling of ever after 

a torrent of butterfly kisses. 

Lazy grins bask in new moon 

shadows, conceiving a heaven

with table tennis tournaments.  

An elevator drops to a stop in shafts

lined with stuffed animals emitting 

a sonic coma of squeak to our fall. 

A mound of mountainous M&Ms 

with sophisticated mining 

operations probing their shells.

Look, this one has nuts. 

Gotta run my ninja turtles are waiting… 

Nonplussed Mussolini

Nonplussed Mussolini

By Tyler Mobley

A grandfather born in 1922 the year Mussolini seized control of Italy by uniting fascist groups in a march on Rome. Mussolini awaited the outcome of his command in Naples, however the capital siege went smoother than expected. King Victor Emmanuel III refused to sign an order given by Prime Minister Luigi Facta to impose counter forces on the attack. Instead the Italian government said if you can’t beat them join them and surrendered to the fascist, making Mussolini the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history. 

Luca Falcone grew up in the Adriatic countryside far from the piazzas where roaring crowds gathered to listen to their leader work himself up into a coronary of fascist propaganda. Mussolini’s charisma infected the masses with thin promises of empire at the expense of countless Ethiopian lives. 

By 1940 Luca had had enough, with his younger sister in tow he fled Italy for a new life in America. Arriving at Ellis Island aboard The Rex, an Italian made steam powered ship that in 1933, won the blue ribbon for the fastest Westerly voyage across the Atlantic. 

World War was underway, a pact with Hitler meant there was still hope for victory. Luca, nonplussed by a prideful Mussolini, when referring to politicians his quip that lives on today was, “they all the crook.” A philosophy that allowed him to see past the frantic crowds and smooth talk of his country’s leader, to follow his own dream to a new land an ocean away. Against the grain types listen to their heart and weigh out the options given by the head. 

Luca would go on to enlist in the United States Army and see battle in Tunisia and Sicily. Upon return Luca made a life for himself, he married, started a business and had a family. Last to the party was my mother.

I remember him holding me in his arms while he cooked zucchini picked from his garden. He loved to trim the roses in the front yard. He did it, he lived the American Dream. I am forever grateful for the courage it took to leave it all behind to step into the unknown. 

“Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”

– Joyce

My father was adopted, though not in the normal sense, his mother remarried when he was only 4 years old so his step father is the one he calls dad. Though the man he sees in the mirror is Ellis Jump, a cad of his day left my grandmother a few years after my father was born. 

When Ellis forfeited custody of his child there was no way he could’ve known that he’d go on to become an accomplished sculptor. He fled to Paris with a small black poodle where he’d stay for the next 5 years. Ellis bounced around apprenticing under giants of a booming art scene. He earned specialized skills he’d bring home to Ventura where he taught sculpture at the Community College for the next 37 years. 

I knew him as a storyteller, the time in Bainbridge traffic when he used his croc slipper as a urine receptacle and poured it out the window. He could make anyone laugh, any bagger at check out he’d leave in stitches. I remember his smile surrounded by a fuzzy white beard. 

If Ellis didn’t listen to whatever pulled him towards Europe where he was able to immerse himself in what became his passion, the world would be a different place.

Chaos theory accounts for the unrealized power of single events or decisions that bear no obvious correlation on later outcomes. Often it is fractional information that skews a system ever so slightly for things to fall a different way. 

A seed carried in a breeze.

Most Thoughtful Camper

Most Thoughtful Camper

By Tyler Mobley

Developing over time is how most things go, this collection was no different. Retrieving a blanket to be laid down in a starlit park I consider the stickers placed on the back window of my camper shell. As our minds do I created a story for their arrangement. She brought a blanket too, by the time things buttoned up we’d rolled our way onto the grass. Our next meeting I shared the meaning I’d seen in the stickers that night. 

“You see it’s really a college of human nature.” 

Here the central Octopus tentacles spell out “soul,” with nature on one side and the industry and creation on the other. On the nature side are two trees, one I bought myself, one given by a friend. Symbolizing Ventura’s Two Trees, the prominent landmark of my hometown. On the other side of the soul is an Iron & Resin sticker with a separate black n white anchor in the top corner. The new local brand whose market niche surfboards and motorcycles, their downtown storefront always full of the hippest crowd. These were the first stickers I’d stuck, now created a symmetry to my back window. Done without any deliberate thought I’d made a representation of ourselves in the world, caught between nature and industry. Our souls trapped in bodies bound by natural urges and needs complemented by the ability to manipulate our environment through our imagination. 

“Does that make sense to you?” 

“That is the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever said to me.” 

Not exactly the reaction I was hoping for, but kind nonetheless. Her phone rang, time to go. 

Photo by Lost Snorkel