Issue 83 — 

Sudeep Adhikari (ArLiJo#83)
Kevin Carey (ArLiJo#83)
Sven Geir (ArLiJo #82)
Lenore Weiss (ArLiJo#83)
Sudeep Adhikari

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 83

These are poems from a collection titled Nothingness Is Fractal.



(Art by Sven Geir)




Gaia-Nothingness

You,
the super-soul
are the inconscient infinity
sinning with
stellar quiet
weaving the
cosmic embroidery
of celestial yearn
and terrestrial pain.

Myriad souls
spectral flickers
from eons past
desirous and thin
reach out
to kiss you
the prodigal sons
of lonesome otherworld
and heartful,
turbulent tears.

Unity-agony
self- immolates
on the altar
of desire-ember.

I fell in love
with you
before I was born;
it was just my body.
Unborn
is my soul;
residing
in this naked now
permeating every
conceivable
rupture and rapture
of time.

I am just
an infinitesimal speck
of lilac red
on your
fractal-graffiti
painted by Van Goghs
from alien
underworlds.

Co-pilgrims
we both are
to the same
primordial womb
dancing co-rhythmic
to the same
spirit-noise.
Innumerable awakenings
and multiple cycles
of nested dreams
during those countless lives
where we
have caressed
passionately
each other's
genitalia of hearts.

That ever-meandering
dynamics of
Amazonia nymph
that lush green
canopy of
Sierpinski silk carpet
gravite the lust
of aqueous
gorges, deep;
soul-lit crevices
shelter the life-monads
incessant alchemy
to procreate
the homebound souls
with amnesiac head.

Is all
just your
play of delight
to see oneself
in innumerable many
with divine visage.

Copyright © 2015 by Sudeep Adhikari.





(Art by Sven Geir)

ONE-Nothingness

Underneath the
entropy canopy
my psyche breathes
poised beautifully
between non-equilibrium
and delirium
between chaos and cosmos
a relentless cartographer
of arcane maps
contours of trance-graffiti
it colors.

And it dreams
of thousand headed hydra
sculptured on
mount Olympia quartz
with eyes
radium red.

A dilapidated underworld
with vestiges of
fractal mandalas
impersonates
a curvaceous witch
half-naked,
her crimson
aerosol breast.

Like a noise nymph
she pervades
which you can hear
but not with your ear
amidst
the infinity of mute
just one among
the countless spectra
of that
reverberating ONE.

Copyright © 2015 by Sudeep Adhikari.






(Art by Sven Geir)

Moon-Eyed Nothingness


Velvet silk dreams
nothing aches more
than the lonely moon;
An amethyst pearl
a silver-shape
of trance and transience
of absence and abyss
of dance and denial
and the innumerable
fairytales
of you
thee, stranded enchantress!

And, of course,
the innocence
the inconscience
and the ignorance
of your sleepy eyes;
dipped in
infinity Aphrodite plasm.
Duped!
siliceous Sapphire sadness
desirous yet daunted
with invisible
rose ghosts.

A multi-faceted
Himalaya crystal
with uncountable radium
on its bosom; undiscovered
thus
rises from
my collapsed infinity;
me
a sleep-walking
soul-walker
on your distant
crimson cloud.


Copyright © 2015 by Sudeep Adhikari.




Biography:
Sudeep Adhikari, from Kathmandu, Nepal, considers poetry to be an impersonal act, largely deriving its content from unconscious psychic undergrounds. He holds a PhD in Structural Engineering and is currently working in Nepal as a Structural-Consultant / Part-Time lecturer. He loves to spend his leisure time traversing the space between the profound and the nonsense. He can be contacted at adhikarisudeep0@gmail,com.
 
E-mail this author at adhikarisudeep0@gmail,com


 
Kevin Carey

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 83


Get Thee to a Nunnery

I drive five hours to a convent in New Jersey
where a nun tells us about her disabled pets
and the smoke alarm, and how the doors will close
electronically if there’s too many crumbs in the toaster
and she reminds us to bring our cell phones
if we go walking in the woods because one retreatist
got stuck in the mud and had to call for help
and we write poems all weekend from prompts,
poems about our children, our husbands, our wives,
our dreams, our fears, and I realize sitting at a wooden table
under a statue of St. Joseph (someone said looks like Tolstoy)
that I don’t have a poem about my penis like some
other folks had the night before, or a poem about
anyone else’s penis for that matter and suddenly
I feel inadequate.

Later that night I sleep in St. Bridgette’s Room
(we all have saints above our doors)
with a hooded sweatshirt on like I’m camping
in the White Mountains, and the radiator outside
my door is silent and staring at me like some quiet kid
I knew in grade school and I dream, in between shivering,
of an undefeated seventh grade basketball team,
and in the morning I look out the window at the snow
expecting a deer to peek out from the forest
and I think, get thee to a nunnery
if you want to write a poem worth anything.


Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Carey.


Looking at an Old Man in The Pleasant St. Tea Room

He holds his hands against his chest.
I just got a haircut, he yells to no one
and no one answers. There are moments
when he smiles, almost chuckles at something
that flashes across his screen.
I know that will be me someday (if I—m lucky).

What will I remember?
—a game of spin the bottle,
catching frogs with my first dog,
a snow fort as big as a house,
a slow dance in high school,
my Dad holding my hand at Fenway park
and a man I can’t see yelling popcorn.

My mother remembers things
she can’t tell me,
she says did you hear the good news?
and then grows quiet trying to think of what it was.
The other day she wrapped half a sandwich
in a napkin and asked me
to give it to the man on the television.
She doesn’t know it’s hard to see her this way.

Is it wrong to want someone to lie down
and go to sleep forever?
I make that wish
with the idea that she’ll be with my father again,
the two of them on some tropical island
dancing after dinner, a jazz trio killing it softly.

We all wish for something—the other choice
that Socrates says is not the long dreamless sleep.
Maybe she is already there,
one foot in the water,
connecting to that place
where we can feed our TV heroes
when they are hungry,
that place where everything we remember
is just happening.


Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Carey.

Biography:
Kevin Carey teaches in the English Department at Salem State University and Endicott College. He has published two books: a chapbook of fiction The Beach People (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and a book of poetry The One Fifteen to Penn Station, (Cavankerry Press, 2012). He has recently completed a documentary film about New Jersey poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan, called All That Lies Between Us. A new collection of poems, Jesus Was a Homeboy, (CavanKerry Press) is due out in the fall of 2016. Visit: Kevincareywriter.com
 
Visit this author's homepage at www.Kevincareywriter.com


 


Sven Geir

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 82



 

 


Lenore Weiss

Featured in ArLiJo Issue No. 83


Ghosts in Our Lives


Down a driveway of cement cobblestones, I talked to her about ghosts. Cam was my height, which means short, mostly black hair gathered in a ponytail, silver and grey on top bordered by red and blue streaks. She was Asian, maybe Vietnamese, renting a basement room, which at various times had served as my son and daughter’s living space. On this particular day I’d pulled up to the house where I’d lived with my husband for twenty-five years, the same house where he had died, the same house where I’d raised my children, where we’d eaten meals together at the kitchen table and stepped on the porch at night to look at stars. But on this particular day I was feeling nostalgic. I slowed down at the curb of my old house about twenty minutes from where I currently lived, wanting to catch a glimpse of the garden where for years I had waged a battle with ferocious weeds, transforming patches of Bermuda grass into stays of Pacific Coast Iris, a wisteria vine, an herb and vegetable garden, daffodils in the spring.

Bay Laurel trees in my new neighborhood were beginning to tease the air with spikey leaves; it wasn’t yet quite spring. I wondered if the apple tree I had planted in our backyard was still there. I wondered if I’d see any daffodils with two-tone cream cups. I’d recently returned to the Bay Area following an almost three-year sojourn in the south. I think my unplanned visit was part of a reintegration, reacquainting myself with the path I’d traveled in the hope of creating a new one.

She said it was okay for me to look at the garden even though Lester, the man whom I’d sold the house to, wasn’t at home. I only wanted to look at the garden, I said to her, not go inside the house, and while I was standing there, recognized the rosemary bush I’d planted, remembered walking down to the garden with a scissors to snip a bunch to use in dinner preparation. I saw a crowd of agapanthus, Lily of the Nile. The original plants were small pots I’d originally brought back from a Lake Merritt Garden show, purplish-blue and white blossoms. She nodded and said it was okay and opened the gate. I stepped inside. There was a gazebo just beyond the backyard stairs, a raised garden bed filled with kale, collards, and lettuce (this may have been Lester’s winter garden), succulents with thickly padded leaves, a clipped grapevine that twined around the back stairs (possibly the one I had planted in another section of the garden), an area with roses, fuchsias, jasmine, a brick walk-way possibly built with the ones we had left in a pile following the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, a pergola near the back fence, actually a stone wall that my kids and their friends had decorated with drawings. I recognized my Pacific Coast Iris in the same spot where I’d planted them. But I realized that this garden was not mine. Still, Lester had used the plants I’d left behind, and in that way my design had flowed into the garden. I clicked pictures with my cellphone and stepped back outside through the gate.

“Can I ask you something?” said Cam. She had allowed a moment for me to ferry my thoughts from past to present.

“Sure.”

“How long did you live here?” She held a small notebook and a pencil in one hand. She seemed like she was about to take notes.

“Have you ever seen ghosts in the house?”

My mouth dropped. Never had I expected her to utter those words. “Yes,” I said, feeling an immediate kinship with a woman who was standing in front of me on the cement pavement at the bottom of the driveway of my old house where I had raised my children and where she now lived. “When we first moved here,” I explained, “for the first three years or so, the house had a bad feeling. Something foul. There was an ooze, something ancient that didn’t care for our intrusion. My husband used to hear chains rattling at night in the basement. But I wasn’t sure if I believed him. He used to dress up as Richard III for Halloween and recited Shakespeare on the front porch standing before the spider webs we wove around the banister. My son said he saw the ghost, a heavy presence like a water balloon about to burst its skin. All I know is that I had a feeling of discomfort. I’d always look around before I placed my foot on the last step to the basement.” She seemed relieved, nodded for me to continue. “But after a while,” I said, ”the ghost went away. We were happy for a time living in this house, raising our children. Maybe that made the ghost happy.”

Cam had stirred up twenty-five years inside me. I thought the ghost must be Woody or Forest, which had been the name on all official documents, husband of the woman whom we had originally bought the Oakland house from for $65,000. Some said he had committed suicide, died in the bathtub; neighbors revealed the story more than six months after we had lived there. “He was an alcoholic,“ said some. “Killed in a car crash,” reported others. His wife, Jane, as I recall, taught at the University of California at Berkeley, or maybe it was the other way around; her house was filled with artwork, vibrant colors, paintings with a Mazatlan sensibility; outside she grew cactus. Living there, I came to believe that there was something clinging to the foundation. But after I had replaced the green Kenmore that never worked well with an antique Wedgewood, and also listened to a dream where my mother instructed me to hang my family’s photos in the kitchen, the creepiness disappeared.

“I don’t think the ghost was your husband. He bounced up and down on my bed and pulled back the covers. He scared me. That’s why I put Buddhas all around the windowsill.”

She pointed to the bronze and wooden statuettes. The fact that she didn’t think the ghost was my husband, interested me while at the same time, I was happy he was’t messing with her mind. His own mind occupied a world of special relationships, mathematical probabilities especially about chess, an analytical cast inherited from his royal Russian forebears as well as the winter snow blowing across the taiga, a cutting sarcasm. But the fact that Woody was still rattling around in the basement saddened me. I was sorry he had been unable to find peace. Or maybe the ghost wasn’t one particular individual, but a collective history putrefying in a basement divided into a catacomb of dirt cells. We’d covered the largest section of the floor with cement. Smaller areas were repurposed into a writing room, an area used for my son’s hobbies, a storage area that on occasion became a Haunted House, and the rest, a place for lazy cats to do their business.

After my husband died of congestive heart failure, I sold the house, moved away, and raised my daughter. I met Jenning years later through a dating service. Casual dating had allowed me to reclaim my social self. I wasn’t expecting a great romance. But when I met him at the movie theater, he hugged me warmly. It felt easy and natural. He was a self-described “boy from the South,” new to the area and wanting to be introduced to the sights and sounds of San Francisco. I was a single mom proofreading essays for my daughter’s college applications. We watched Spiderman 3, touted by critics as one of the best in the series, great special effects and acting. When the evening was over, he opened my car door and closed it softly. For our second date, we went to a pinball arcade. I watched him work the flippers, his moves. And as we got to know each other, I looked forward to his phone calls, our dates in the car driving anywhere, listening to music, laughter, eating at our favorite pizza joint, taking walks along Leona Canyon, being together in bed. But after seven years, our relationship fell apart.

I left Louisiana in the early morning. It was still dark. My boxes were packed along the back wall of the garage waiting for a trucking company to pick them up at a later time. It rained all the way through Texas. I stopped for breakfast in Canton outside of Dallas at a restaurant that was half “World Famous Hamburgers” serving beef, duck and elk burgers, and half a “World Famous Dairy Palace” serving 32 flavors of hand-dipped ice cream. I was glad they also served breakfast and poured coffee. Both were excellent. At the cash register they gave out emery boards imprinted with the restaurant’s name. Plastic poinsettias were stuck inside boxes of plastic philodendrons. I’d been driving for hours and sat in a red-padded booth. Seating areas were packed close. In front of me sat a couple; a woman faced me, her hair carefully coiffed. She looked to be all about business. “What do you do on the weekend? What kind of chores do you do?”

The man answered without hesitation. He was prepared. “Oh, I like to relax, not do much. Sit around and listen to music. Putter. Fix things. Sunday I go shopping, laundry. Things like that. Like to pour myself a beer. I watch football, but I’m not an addict.”

Satisfied, she volleyed with, “Are you a thrower? Are you jealous?” He discussed his relationship style, no, he preferred to talk things out rather than hurl plates through the air, “I’m a communicator,” and while he was capable of jealously and hated to see someone he had loved go out with another man, he tried not to be a total asshole. They both seemed satisfied. From there, the conversation drifted to real estate and politics. At first I thought this woman was a real loser; I’d never heard of anyone interviewing a prospective lover about relationship style. But after I thought about it, her approach made perfect sense. Maybe they were considering moving in together. Maybe she wanted to know what to expect. He didn’t ask her any questions. At least not right then.

My husband was emotionally unavailable. Jenning also was unavailable, but in a different way; he worked anywhere from five to six days a week in a city hours from where we lived. During the week he slept on a friend’s couch, driving back on weekends. I couldn’t build a life based on absence. There were other issues. . .

I drove in my Camry along Highway 20 stopping to sleep in Abilene, Texas on to Las Cruces, New Mexico to Tucson, Arizona where I stayed with cousins and hiked. I told my story to the sentinels of the desert, the saguaro cactus, before catching Highway 5 to Los Angeles and then to the Bay Area. I tried to understand why as an older woman I still found myself involved with unavailable men. Then I met Cam.

I never wanted to acknowledge a certain ghost, the memory of a boy who took my virginity without love, feeling or even excitement, just a brutal savage embarrassment. It had been a fundraiser for a political group at Manhattan’s upper west side, an art show. We had volunteered to sleep overnight and ensure that none of the paintings were stolen. I became aware of his presence on the floor below, heard him slowly, deliberately climb upstairs. Afterward, he looked through me, would not talk to me, turned his head away, my first experience with intimacy. Many years later when rape became openly discussed, I considered that I had been a rape victim. On some level, it felt like rape. Something had been taken away from me, something I tried to get back.

Intimacy with the important men in my life always has been preceded by difficult circumstances: as a young woman, my first husband and I had been married in a hospital a few months before my father died of cancer; the father of my children had a mental breakdown when we first started to date, ambulances screaming up and down the street, and Jenning, who fell out of a tree and smashed his entire left side bringing me running to Louisiana, our life together different than the planned honeymoon trip across the country. Maybe all along I just wanted my ghosts to look at me, to tell me they were sorry, maybe the violence would’ve dissipated, allowed me to feel differently about myself, to know that intimacy was not the same thing as pain.

Now I know that I am the only person who can make myself feel differently.

I asked Cam about the neighborhood, asked if there was much drug dealing going on in the neighborhood. Back in our day, there was a crack house across the street presided over by the Hawkins family. Lou had worked for the school district doing food prep in the cafeteria. She had eleven children. One of the boys had committed suicide in the house. Others bounced between the street and prison. Daughters went homeless, sometimes in shelters, sometimes back to their husbands. Every Sunday Frank, their father, went to the horse races at Golden Gate Fields dressed in a green vest and a cap pulled over his close-clipped hair. Lou eventually lost her leg to diabetes and would sit on the top front step in a wheelchair. Once they caught a possum that was scrambling around in our basement, cooked it for dinner and brought us over a plate. I heard that the Hawkins family had eventually moved to Las Vegas where their cousin Evander Holyfield lived, a World Champion boxer in two divisions.

”Now the neighborhood is quiet,” she said.

We almost shook hands, but had established an intimacy that went far beyond a handshake. I had helped to validate something about her experience. She had helped me to take a step forward. We hugged. I smiled. Her hair was red, white, and blue like a rock star’s.

“Can I ask you something?” I said.

“Of course”

“Why were you so sure that the ghost was not my husband?”

“I asked if he had children.”

“Just like that?”

“I thought if he had children, he wouldn’t want to hurt me.”

“And what did he say?”

“He said nothing.”

We hugged each other again. I walked up the driveway to my car.

###

Copyright © 2015 by Lenore Weiss.



Biography:
Lenore Weiss completed a master’s degree in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. Her work has been published in many journals including San Francisco Peace and Hope, Cactus Heart, Ghost Town, Poetica, Carbon Culture, BlinkInk, The Portland Review, Kindred Magazine, La Más Tequila Review, Digital Americana, The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Nimrod International Journal, Copper Nickel, and Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal. She serves as the copy editor for The Blue Lyra Review. Her books include: Cutting Down the Last Tree on Easter Island (West End Press, 2012) and Two Places (Kelsay Books, 2014). You can find more of her work at www.lenoreweiss.com.
 
Visit this author's homepage at www.lenoreweiss.com