Alan Bernheimer, from (my well-worn copy of) Cafe Isotope





        This brilliant artifical knee, spring-hinged with small birds’ bones, is too late, and the books on metallurgy, hydroponic farming, and beekeeping were sent to the wrong country.
        The money belt is useless (unless a sailor will buy it)—the room costs 10 francs a day, with doctors, and I haven’t stood up in weeks. Huge varicose veins map my treks through the Sudan, where hot winds dry up white men from the inside. A year there ages one as much as four elsewhere.
        At night I smell the harbor and thick, yellow moon-light falls across my bed. I sleep no more than an insect.
        Give me the news.



Inside Cheese

The aged gouda had grown complex, its acoustics swollen to visibility, and the sunny complexion inherited from a northern polder was laced with the whispers of photons cruising the waxy mantle of layered gloss left by each demented glance that had fallen from eyes on the brink of sleep. The brink was lurid and echoed the roar of termites from a nearby windmill. Time and again the prodigious sails swooped out of the sky like an amusement park on fire, and with each revolution the lattice lost molecules to robot bacteria whose cousins had long since polished milk to a half life in the low gear rotunda.


Alan Bernheimer, Cafe Isotope (Berkeley: The Figures, 1980)



Camille Martin

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