Category Archives: Bernard Heise

Bernard Heise’s Flash

Near Nanaimo by Bernard Heise

We thank Bernard Heise for his photograph for this week’s art.

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Ascendant by Bernard Heise

On a whim, while taking a much deserved break from her efforts to hone her latest contribution to the metatextual emancipation of the downtrodden and unwashed, Samantha turned away from the laptop, fixed her eyes on the faded Magritte reproduction across the room, and made a concentrated effort to believe in the absence of gravity. To her delight, she discovered that this indeed lightened her step. She tried again and found herself hovering slightly as she walked, long enough to wriggle her painted toes with glee. Soon, she took to the air with such ease that she began having trouble keeping her feet on the ground. Her heart nearly burst with self-satisfaction and vindication, but then her enthusiasm suddenly waned, for the effect was, in fact, deeply disconcerting. Previously routine tasks like preparing her morning toast and coffee and performing ablutions now required extreme mental focus. It was difficult to keep her fingers on the keyboard. She was no longer able to concentrate when conducting seminars and the students started complaining about her teaching. Then late one night, she awoke in horror to find herself pinned to the ceiling above her bed, shivering with cold, her nightgown hanging limply from her body. At that point, she realized she would no longer be able to leave the house for fear of getting tangled in power lines or floating away into space. Worse yet, she understood that this latest development was probably all the university needed in order to revoke her tenure.

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Twinkle, twinkle, little planet by Bernard Heise

When the first incidents occurred in Cairo, Berlin, Toronto and Wichita, people mistook them for acts of terrorism. But the reality was worse. Eyewitness reports indicated that the individuals involved were not setting off suicide bombs but rather were the victims of some sort of fire that spontaneously flamed from within before making them explode. Certainly, the explosions weren’t nearly as powerful as a typical suicide bomb, but they could easily kill or maim anyone nearby, obliterate a taxicab or disable a bus. And, apart from a large sect of evangelical Christians who were convinced, despite biblical inconsistencies, that they were witnessing the rapture and eagerly anticipated their own combustion, most people found them much more frightening, for they were completely unpredictable and unexplained. As the frequency of such incidents grew, so did the probability that within any group an individual would ignite. Like the Black Death, the threat was indiscriminate, failing to honor the privileges of socio-political distinction. Explosions were taking place in homeless shelters, corporate boardrooms, at cabinet meetings, and family dinner tables. As they looked into each other’s eyes, friends, comrades, and lovers not only recognized their mutual affection but now also understood that they were the likely agents of their own mutual destruction. And so it was that people stopped working and playing. Instead, they slipped their bonds of sociability and fled the burning cities, seeking solitude in the forests and the hills, where they forgot their language and waited in silence for the fire within.

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Public Transportation, Ensenada by Bernard Heise

Public Transportation, Ensenada by Bernard Heise

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Urban Planning by Bernard Heise

“Damn you!” he roared, as if just learning that he couldn’t create a stone that he cannot lift. A flick of his finger sent the unfortunate urban planner through the atmosphere, his body tracing an arc like a shooting star. Then Yahweh turned to the next one. “And what about you, can you fix it?” For there was indeed a problem. When Yahweh had irrevocably stipulated in Revelations that New Jerusalem would be 1400 miles high, long and wide, he did so because of his aesthetic fondness for the perfect cube. But now that construction was well underway and the Second Coming was nigh, he realized that only those apartments on the faces and especially at the corners of the cube would have a view. The rest of the chambers within the cube wouldn’t receive any natural light at all and his own throne, which was obviously at the center, would be as dark and poorly ventilated as Mother Teresa’s armpit. “No, Lord, I cannot change the laws of geometry,” squeaked the quivering voice. “Then you are dead to me!” Yahweh shouted, bringing down his giant fist on the distinguished professor from Yale with a crash that toppled buildings in Santiago and sent tidal waves over Fiji. “Bring me more! I need more experts!” Yahweh cried, wiping the blood on his beard. Jesus slipped into his sandals and left the mansion, a sheaf of resumes in hand. In moments like this it was better not to hang out at home.

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Let me whisper in your ear by Bernard Heise

When I hold in the palm of my hand the life of someone like you, about whom I’ve learned everything I need to know from the pronouncements you have splattered across television, radio, and the internet, and whom I now have before me in the puffy flesh, sweaty and pale, wheeled by frantic paramedics into the soul-scorching lights of my operating room after a hell-bent ambulance ride because the cumulative effects of a bad diet, lack of exercise, and vitriol finally sprang the corroded springs of your blackened heart, knocking you flat and breathless just as you were raising a glass of expensive chardonnay to your thin lips to toast the jackals who have made and kept you fat in exchange for promises to create laws that will assure vast profits for the few by perpetuating the misfortune of the many, and I look into your predatory eyes, still very conscious, and glimpse a flicker of fear but also the demand that I save you, I suddenly become a man of faith, knowing that the good Lord himself has delivered you to this table beneath my scalpel, and I wonder whether I should say a prayer that my fingers might slip, which they never do, or that a random infection might take hold, which rarely happens, or if I should simply show my gratitude for the opportunity I now have to serve my country and fellow citizens and apply the blade decisively, remembering that God helps those who help themselves.

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Add it up by Bernard Heise

He was born in Berlin in 1933 – an unlucky year.  Yet one of his earliest memories was of his mother telling him that he had a lucky number.  He asked her a few times what it was, but she always told him that he needed to find out for himself.  So he stopped asking and started wondering instead.  Was it twelve?  For that was the address of their building in the working class neighborhood of Wedding which for some reason remained unmolested by both allied bombs and Soviet soldiers.  Or perhaps 53, the year they immigrated toCanada, where he worked off his debt to the government inAlberta’s sugar beet fields and later bought a modest farm in the rough country north of Edmonton.  When gazing upon his wife, he’d wonder if it was the number one, for their love, which ignited young, had matured but never waned.  Perhaps it was two, the sum of his daughters, both beautiful and well-adjusted; while unimportant in the eyes of the world, they were his inestimable treasure.  Then one spring, while fixing a wire fence, his 73-year old heart collapsed and he fell back into the snow.  Gazing up at the blue sky for what he knew was the last time, he observed his own death: painless, easy, and quick. Which made him consider the number three.  And so he died, never actually knowing what his lucky number was but having lived a life in which he’d always counted his blessings.

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