Friday, May 21, 2010

Specular Highlights

Copyright 2010 rbb/apostrophe, all rights reserved
by Riccardo Berra

Naomi was with Sean, an A-list soundman and personal friend that Riccardo hired whenever he could. Riccardo adored his friend, but had always had the hots for Naomi. He kept this to himself. Then Sean left Naomi and New York for a NPR staff job in New Orleans that Riccardo with his contacts, had helped him land. In Sean’s absence, shortly after the birth of his daughter, Riccardo began a desperate affair with the 26 year old waitress and aspiring veterinarian. That’s the simplest chain of events, but chronology is where all simplicity ends.

Sean’s departure was quietly orchestrated to cauterize the raw end of a love affair that had careened from bad to worse most years, now headlong toward a crash into multiple flair-ups of physical and emotional abuse. Riccardo had been a patient intermediary and confidante to both parties. It was so indescribably hard for him to reconcile what he felt and what he knew of this couple. Most nights that the three of them were together, it was the Sean and Naomi show, starring Sean who could tear a Nagra down blindfolded with a live joint in his mouth and make you laugh to the point of pissing with his Don Rickles send-ups of stars and scenes from his photographic recall of classic film and TV. Then there was straight-man Naomi, broody and impulsive, with her whip-smart mouth and soft bleeding heart, this patroness of stray dogs, cats and all pitiful creatures. Strange, contradictory outcast souls, but then so is Riccardo.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010



I’ve taken this path so many times before
I pass people who in contemplating sunset over the river
Reveal their silhouettes
In such stark contrast to the subtler shades of dying light
Rich burnt gold, pedestrian brick red, these waver and fade
To magenta and violet,
My meditation, my motion is past them
The song of blood in my fingertips
The pump of my footsteps on pavement
My steady heart, my fickle head
Rare in truce, constant in opposition
This quivering, uncomfortable asymmetry
So much to regret, such as
That I
Recall all my loves
But forget my best ideas
Rising, slippery, Excalibur bright,
But graspable only by the razor edge of the blade
Before they slide under the surface line
To settle in the silt of oblivion
Only to tease hint
Of their outline
Even then
If I could only stop and look
The delusion I can rescue what was there but once
But I couldn’t and I can't

To late
Gone now.

My most familiar refrain
That now I grasp
Not at the original, but at its rusted iteration
The real treasure
Sleeps untouched
Shells of a man
Shells of notions
Litter shorelines under alien stars
I’ll never see.

This August night
This propagated parkway
This illuminated diagonal
Radiation beneath my feet
As the sun long set and Moon new risen
Takes up her rondo with Mars

In a tight line round the mark of the Blue Cross
Never closer in the millennial memory of men
He Mars, the larger, so removed, so bellicose
She Moon, the smaller, imprisoned, reflecting all, saving so little for herself
But a broken, fixed half-smile

Yet here on the Parkway,
They are improbably tight in the sky
Their proportions inversed
Their attraction shocking but irrefutable
Does he mean to steal her
Rape her.
Kidnap and dash her in his bloody orbit?
Doesn't she know

His red red love isn't kind. It's bestial
Doesn't she know
That if she could but go to him, or he to her,
Calamity would follow
Tides would still

Mountains would groan and bulge like pregnant cows
Earth herself would split
An episiotomy birthing the end of
All tiny antlike Lovers who croon
And make sad songs for Sister Moon.

Don't you ever wonder
What care these two
For the abstemious license of Earthbound lovers and losers
For our offkey songs and lust spluttered lines
For if they who dance in this August sky
Can never claim their truest desires

What care have they of ours?

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Whatever That

Whatever that has you but wants you
Wants that longing of adjacent flesh impatient
You cannot move fast enough
to cover all of me that needs all of you
Mothman flickers of fluorescent envy
You under me legs yawn like a hungry mouth at which
I’ll feed till my love declines to corruption
Wet by friction bound by its opposite
Kisses rain like glasses falling from a high shelf
a soft tinkle
a dimpled promontory
a deep cleft
I made my way with you when cooler counsel said fool not
I should’ve shuffled on to the hollow steady thrum
that was my life, my late life, my dying life
and now it is too late for anything
but spin and fall and sin and fall
Awake your mouth moves on me
An impression
Of twin tunnels met in an airy illusion of endless bounty
The salt sea scent of sin
Confederate arms
Desperate eyes
Empty hearts
It won’t be our bed tonight
Not without me in it.

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Yesterday’s shirt
Still has your smell on it.
I rub myself
And my hand to my face declares
That it held your apple sex
My lips confess your taste
How can the world be so unaware that we’re lovers
When six ounces of fabric tell the whole story?

An afternoon with you and I feel my skin again
Everything glows
The scaled surface scrubbed
Pumice raw
Sand devils scuttle cross sun-blind fields
Cracked crust, thistles, bleached bone, tumbleweeds

Make the language larger
Make the hair stand up
On the back of my neck

How did the world not see me?
The biggest invisible thing in the room
Fine with it, till now
God as my witness
I will make a mighty splash
Before I jump
Out of my skin

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Effective Dreaming

by Riccardo Berra
(c) Apostrophe/Riccardo All rights reserved

“Welcome to the Nepthys Institute for Advanced Chronotherapeutics … Mr. Jack Fischer. I am Hovington Lee your intake coordinator, and I am here to assist in collecting your intake history.  Before we begin, do you have a timepiece in your possession?”

“No,” I type.

“Please place any timepiece in one of the certified possession pouches on your left.”

“Fuckin’ already said, I ain’t got one!” I shout. I don’t type. The screen in my lap flickers and resets.

“Welcome to the Nepthys Institute for Advanced Chronotherapeutics … Mr. Jack Fischer. I am Hovington Lee your intake coordinator, and I am here to assist in collecting your intake history.  Please follow the prompts on the NetPad and when you are finished with each page, press submit to update your chart. Press the call button if you need further help or explanation. When you have completed the questionnaire, press “Submit Final” and your chronotherapist will escort you to the sleep study suite.”

Thank you Miss Hovington fucking Lee. Twenty percent of the good citizens of this formerly good country are good and unemployed. A swank joint like this should pop for a flesh and blood receptionist instead of a Virtual.

When you called yesterday I thought we were having a real conversation. Fool me once. Not that it’s all your doing. My addiction counselor warned I’d lose all sense of time and what did she call them, certain “social radar skills.” Two handy little fuck-you bonuses of Nex tox. A watch becomes your new best friend. Your old best friends go away. Chronic insomnia—yup, that’s the third bonus.

You’re cute Hovington and I’d love to get cozy and tell you a happy tale. I suspect this won’t be it. The guy don't always get the girl and honor between men always plays second fiddle to lust for a woman. But I’m getting a bit ahead.

Why don’t I start with the Departmental Healthy Audit that flagged my insomnia. Yeah, insomnia. I ain’t shitting. Not so long ago it was a lifestyle, not a medical condition and certainly not some broke-dick TMC (treatment-mandated condition). Mind, nobody forces you to do nothing in the CivDiv, but if you don’t seek treatment in six months or you do but you don’t get cured in 5 years, then you get dunked in the “Unhealthy Pool.” That’s no pool you want to swim in these days. Insurance pays for everything until you’re Unhealthy 10 years. Then they ship you to the Chronic Pool and drain the water. Essentially they pay for you to die. So what the fuck?

It sucks being an “Unhealthy.” Tossing and turning all night, never zoning before 4, 5 in the a.m. There are days when the only thing gets me out of bed is the promise of a cup of black joe and a contraband smoke. Don’t help none always being late for work—walking around, day in day out, like a zombie. But I ain’t gonna get frog-marched into something that’s gonna drug-fuck my head. Seen enough of that. I don’t trust them and their designer pills no more. Last year, a guy I sorta know in router maintenance got a script for a new monoclonal impotence patch and now he has some rare dick cancer. His po sprouted two extra inches overnight and stays rock hard twenty-four seven. Until they cut it off next week. Ain’t near as funny as it sounds. Poor Unhealthy fuck.

Your flier promised “Return to Healthy—A Drug-free Choice! Hovington, baby I’m all for choice. I just don’t know how you fit all that on a NetPad. No use delaying the main event.
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