Synchronized Chaos December 2022: The Thin Veneer Over Wildness

Welcome to December’s first issue of Synchronized Chaos Magazine!

Image c/o Jean Beaufort

First of all, we encourage you to come on out to Metamorphosis, our New Year’s Eve gathering and benefit show for the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan and Sacramento’s Take Back the Night. This will take place in downtown Davis, CA, at 2pm in the fellowship hall of Davis Lutheran Church (all are welcome, we’re simply using their room as a community space). 4pm Pacific time is midnight Greenwich Mean Time so we can count down to midnight. Please sign up here to attend.

The theme “Metamorphosis” refers to having people there from different generations to speak and read and learn from each other, challenging us to honor the wisdom of our parents and ancestors while incorporating the best of the world’s new ideas in a thoughtful “metamorphosis.” We’ve got comedian Nicole Eichenberg, musicians Avery Burke and Joseph Menke, and others on board as well as speakers from different generations.

Second, our friend and collaborator Rui Carvalho has announced our Nature Writing Contest for 2022.

This is an invitation to submit poems and short stories related to trees, water, and nature conservation between now and the March 2023 deadline. More information and submission instructions here!

This month, our issue explores the often quite thin veneer between ourselves and the world’s wildness.

Photo c/o Vera Kratochvil

J.K. Durick’s work looks into time, memory, and the fears humans and animals bring into the most mundane encounters. Daniel DeCulla, in a more humorous vein, writes of people who embrace dog poop as part of our world.

Nathan Whiting’s concrete poetry reflects layered physical sensations of nature: intimacy, hibernation, and composting fruit. J.D. Nelson points out a few of the hidden natural encounters people may miss in a suburban neighborhood. Christopher Bernard illustrates a mysterious character who forms a deep bond with the ocean.

Rose Knapp’s pieces reference theology and cultural history along with the natural world. And Thomas Reisner’s artwork reminds us that the natural world can be one very wild place indeed.

Jim Meirose highlights the “wildness” of the general public by illustrating one type of distinctive character clerks encounter while working at a store. Jaylan Salah analyzes the film Emily the Criminal and suggests that the main character is perhaps more of a regular person facing the gritty reality of life rather than a villain. As in Meirose’s shoe store, the workplace can be as harsh and uncivilized as any natural landscape.

Lisa Reynolds suggests that there can be more drama than meets the eye within a simple family scrapbook.

Emdadul Hoque Mamun contributes a sensual ode to the beauty of raucous Parisian nightlife.

Photo c/o Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan

Our problems, the unpredictability of our lives, are another aspect of “wildness.” Alison Owings describes a gathering of Native American people for dinner and a drum circle in a piece that touches on their everyday struggles and society’s inequities.

Jalaal Raji references Greek mythology in his piece on the possible instability of romantic love. Christina Chin and Uchechukwu Onyedikam’s collaborative haikus capture moments of connection and loneliness.

J.J. Campbell describes the ferociousness of our modern highways, along with glimpses of bravado and defiant cheer in the face of illness.

Our own minds can be as untamed as any wild place, and several contributors’ work represent that reality or efforts to manage it.

Fernando Sorrentino posits a seemingly ludicrous situation, a man repeatedly hitting the narrator with an umbrella, which becomes a meditation on how we can get used to just about anything and then become anxious about any change, even a return to normalcy.

Ivars Balkits evokes how our minds wander while watching blue screens on old television sets or staring out the window. Debarati Sen probes the restless and absorbing nature of memory.

Aisha MLabo writes of the hidden passion burning within her creative mind. Z.I. Mahmud analyzes various narrative techniques behind the structures of internationally recognized literary works.

Photo c/o George Hodan

Poet Shine Ballard arranges words on a page, then trims them down to fit certain poetic structures. Mark Young crafts experiments with language that approach an internal logic.

Channie Greenberg exhibits a diverse collection of photographs unified by the color beige.

Some writers explore how and where we can experience the world’s wildness, or assert and defend our place within it.

Sayani Mukherjee suggests that tattoos on adults are a natural part of the process of claiming one’s physical body and identity that begins in childhood.

Clyde Borg stares intently into a painting, imagining and interacting beyond the flat canvas with the living woman who served as its model.

Gaurav Ojha points out how we can claim mental and psychological freedom from the world’s pressures. Gerard Sarnat points out the give-and-take needed for a marriage to stand the test of time, along with the many “subtle absurdities” of aging and educational pursuits.

Image c/o Gerhard Lipold

Christina Chin and Matthew Defibaugh collaborate on haikus of autumnal scenes, reminding those in the Northern hemisphere that most of December is still fall. Meanwhile, Chimezie Ihekuna continues his Christmas countdown.

Finally, Mesfakus Salahin offers up a gentle blessing for those who live within the many layers of our world.

Poetry from Debarati Sen

A Rendezvous with Memory

Memory is a linear equation
joining dots on the graph of reminiscence.
Memories, moments and a rendezvous with tales of yore!
An emotionally turbulent jigsaw,
perambulating through life's shores.
Surfing through the ocean of samsara,
memory is the grass sprouting on the gravestone.
On a lonely winter afternoon, it keeps you warm
It acts as an amulet in the race of life.
 The colour of memories is lilac.
It spray-paints our lives with its incandescent hue.
Memories shine like fireflies on gloomy days.
 I am in love with the memories that didn't love me back.

Like the wind sketching the afternoon,
memories draw life's portraits with acute finesse.
Memory is the sawdust gradually settling on the old wooden furniture
That lies untouched in the corner of a room.
Memory is like a drunken lullaby
That puts the moon to sleep on a low-tide night.
Memories are footsteps to the cosmos
Bearing the chalice of yesteryears.
Memory is like the mist settling on the leaves on a winter morning.
Like a rusty evening immersed in carmine bohemia!
Memories leave your unfinished stories on the bosom of the sky
Very often memories make you fall headlong
 Into the mire of wistfulness.

Essay from Z.I. Mahmud

What is narration? 

Narration refers to the action of performance as in chronicling story-telling and choric odes or hymnal recital in the form of episodic events, anecdotal antecedents, incidental reportage; that embody, portray or sketch different genres of narrative such as tragedy, comedy, romance, satire, folklore, folktales, myths and legends, lyrical ballads and metrical romances. Narration is prolifically effective method of commentary delivery of emotions and conflicts through dialogue and action associated with film and movie adaptation, television sci-fi documentaries, sitcoms, drama serials and theatrical performance or stagecraft. 

First person narrative is autobiographical in accord with author's temperament, sentiment, personae as in noteworthy Dickensian Victorian classic fiction David Copperfield, therein heroic bildungsroman protagonist, autodiegetic narrator, David recounts the treasure archival of nostalgic reminiscences, memories and memorabilia. While the second -person narrative is interpreted by unspecific characters' (imaginary literary voice) or specific characters' point of view to the audience. In Emily Bronte's classic masterpiece novel, Wuthering Heights, Elis Bell acquaints readers with different point of views as narrative techniques fostered by first person diarist Lockwood and third person narrative tone of Nelly. The epical and alliterative narrative poem, Beowulf, is told from a third person-omniscient narrative point of view; therein the narrator encompasses the interior feelings and thoughts of the cast and crew including the mythical dragon. 

Frame Narrative or narrative within a narrative pioneered by English Polish novelist, Joseph Conrad, is incredibly fascinating narrative technique to expose the power dynamics, immorality, colonial exploitation, imperialism and racism. A fallible or unreliable narrative emanates the perceptions, interpretations and opinions of the narrator which does not correspond or coincide with that of the author, who is or purports to be the controlling force in the narration. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the American novelist, Mark Twain employs dramatic irony through adopting unreliable narrative technique, wherewith, Huck's misreading of situations juxtaposes with the cynicism and hypocrisy of adults. 

In Wikipedia and the dictionary, illustration of a novel refers to the fictitious prose narrative of book length and typically representing character and action with some degree of realism as in the novels of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. 
The authorship and publication of the literary canon today emerge with the printed paperback  or hardback ;and as best-sellers novels possess the most adaptable of all literary forms.  Novels cater as the harbinger of ‘a piece of news’ and literally heralds the genre as an extended work of fiction in prose and romance. Origins of novels trace hallmark of 16th and 17th century in the chronicles  of the history of English Literature.  Henry James pointed out, “What is character but the determination of incident?” and “What is incident but the illustration of character?”.  In aphoristic maxims novels encompasses characters, incidents, actions and perhaps a plot distinctively and holistically. 

“The subject-matter of the novel eludes classification, for it is the hold-all and Gladstone bag of Literature”. The quotable quote excerpted from the treasured  archives of Penguin Classics A Dictionary of literary terms and Literary Theory; therein J.A. Cuddon illustrates a survey of novel as a genre through voluminous encyclopedia.  A literary genius like him showcase a mammoth of sub-divisions or categories in this ‘novelty’ realm “….. epistolary novel, the sentimental novel, the novel of sensation, the condition of England novel, the campus novel, the Gothic novel and the historical novel; we have the propaganda, regional, thesis ( or sociological), psychological, proletarian, documentary and time novel; we have the novel of the soil and the saga (or chronicle) novel, the picaresque novel, the key novel (see LIVRE A CLEF) and the anti-novel; no.t to mention the detective novel, the thriller, the crime novel, the police procedural, the spy novel, the novel of adventure and the novelette.” [pg no. 620] 

Short stories were the pioneers and forerunners of modern novel because of their method of narration and development of characters. Epical and romantic novels intended to portray entertainment literature in the form of pastime preoccupations and leisurely indulgences. Eventually verse narratives supplanted prose narratives and amalgamation of diversification soon dawns. If romances work wonders then the feat with novels delight. In highlighting the traces of evolutionary strains of novels, we should engross envisioning of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719).  

Pilgrim's Progress is quintessentially an allegorical novel satirizing Christian Salvation through manifolds of microcosmic biblical allusions echoing theological fables and parables. Christian epitomizes Everyman and struggles lionheartedly through the trails and tribulations whilst he undertakes a toured force entourage through the City Destruction towards the Slough of Despond, the Interpreter’s House, The House Beautiful, the Valley of Humiliation, The Valley of the Shadow of Death, Vanity Fair, Doubting Castle, Delectable Mountain and eventually the Celestial City. In the second part of the narrative Christian’s family journeys the Celestial with the accompaniment of noble, virtuous, tenderhearted souls and graceful personified characters such as Mercy and Great Heart; Mercy and Great Heart shields the wrecks of deplorable monsters such as Legion Apollyon.  

On the note of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe curates the adventuresome stories of Desert Island Fiction.
Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott are prolific fiction novelists of their heyday having annus mirabilis accomplishments and achievements. Jane Austen fictionalized the English society in rapturous vigor and splendorous witticism. A plethora of drama adaptations, movies and films resonate theatrical production as interpreters and critics of novels alike cherish passionately the timeless classic ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and the universality of the dramatic irony in “It is a truth universally acknowledged that single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Furthermore Elizabeth Bennet’s blind, partial, prejudice and indiscriminatory attitude can be heartwrenching when Mr. Fitwilliam Darcy proclaims, “In vain have I struggle. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Similarly the lyrical and metrical romance ballads of historical fiction authored by Sir Walter Scott fascinates audience as in the case of Ivanhoe. The Era of Victorian England undoubtedly reigned to glorify anonymity governess feminist novelists as the Bronte Sisters: Charlotte, Emily and Anne and their classic masterpiece “Jane Eyre”, “Wuthering Heights” and “Agnes Grey”. Afterwards regional and picturesque landscape novels springs to life with the Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. 

Tolstoy, whose epic novels War and Peace (1865-72) and Anna Karenina (1875- 6) remained unsurpassed in Russian literature. This demarks the migrational drift of European phenomenon concerned with associated novels. Picaresque and bildungsroman genre such as the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Adventures of Tom Sawyer have paramount significance in the revolutionary American antebellum popularized by the father of American narrative novelist Mark Twain. In the twentieth century remarkable crises notably World War and the Great Depression have centered the thematic discussion amongst existentialist admirers of fiction. Journal entries, dairies, travelogues, memoirs, biographies and autobiographies have been printed in voluminous paperback editions including Samuel Beckett’s stalwart masterpiece “Waiting For Godot” and Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl”. 

In farewell noteworthy accolade  of alchemy and magical fantasy of the world of Hogwarts wizardry coalesced in communion with the realists family of maggots, J.K. Rowling is the surreal incarnation of spatiotemporal and time travel science fiction; if children and teenagers panel’s  verdict of nomination and votebank for the Nobel literature laureateship assessed, it  will spellbindingly cast in the Harry Potter collection.                         

Short story from Christopher Bernard

The Man Who Talked to the Sea 
By Christopher Bernard

            He stands, hour after hour, at the edge of the surf, staring at the sea.
            In an old battered suit and scuffed shoes, he looks as if he just walked out of an office on Main Street. He sometimes wears a hat, a businesslike fedora, though usually his head is bare, the tufts of thinning whiteness stir like grass in the sea breeze.

            His eyes are watery blue, his skin pale despite hours in the sun. Every so often he takes a deep breath of air briny and ion-charged from the churning waves, then slowly exhales with a look almost of happiness.
            At times he focuses on small craft: a sailboat, motorboat, jet-skiers, wind surfers. Or surfers near the beach’s heaviest waves, a quarter mile off: he watches them with detached interest as the young men – and increasingly young women – lurch up on their boards and shoot the swells as they rise and collapse one after another, hour after hour.

           Or he gazes at the sky: a biplane with a banner advertising hair dye or a new movie, a police helicopter like a spider swinging down from the sky’s rafters, a commercial air carrier lifting off from a local airport like an aluminum cigarillo, a high-flying air force jet leaking a contrail over half the sky – that disappears in an instant or spreads across the azure, becoming an ice cloud as it expands until it looks like the wing of an enormous dragonfly.

           What he most loves are the freighters and cruise liners coming and going from the mouth of the nearby harbor, piled with oblong containers like boot boxes, or tall and white, striped with balconies or spotted like a colander with portholes, keeping their grace despite all attempts to ruin it for the sake of profit. They even retained a little of the old-fashioned romance of sea voyages, as they appeared on the horizon, small points or dirty smudges, and slowly grew, their bows sharp and high, their bridges straight and cool as a captain’s gaze, their smoke stacks saluting as they passed down the shoreline like the bodies of great whales – or leaving the coast at whose edge he stands and, heading out to sea, their sterns turning toward him as they faded to dots, the smoke turning into rust and ash on the horizon as the ships disappeared over the horizon.

            And of course, there are the birds: terns; sea gulls; crows flapping up now and again like black flags of anarchy; sandpipers nibbling nervously; ragged lines of pelicans, with their awkward bills and heads cocked like triggers and wings angled for either a long, leisurely drifting or a sudden plunge to surprise a fish for dinner.
            He never tires of watching the sea’s commerce: infinitely various, never the same yet always the same: sea and sky like an old married couple with the same quarrels and the same needs, even the stars and moon over the night sea reflections of shells and sand, foam and flotsam that lay at his feet. Just as they seemed reflections, as in a small mirror, of moon and stars and sun.

            Sometimes, after taking a furtive glance around him, he talks to the ocean. He speaks quietly, almost caressingly, for a long time, sometimes nodding or shaking his head or shrugging, as he might when speaking with a friend, and sometimes he pauses and appears to be listening for a response.
            After a time he turns away with a vague smile and quiet look of satisfaction, as though he has gotten whatever it was he was looking for and, his face bent to the sand, slowly walks away.

            The local children sometimes watch him while playing fort or catch, digging wells in the beach or dribbling sandcastles. They stop and stare, wondering briefly to themselves or passing rude jokes before going back to their games.
          More than once a few crept up behind him and tried to hear what he was saying to the sea. They crouched down and listened, hitting the one who threatened to giggle. But they couldn’t catch his words, soft as they were against the noise of the surf, and they got bored and crept away. One time they beat a retreat in full cry, and the man turned to them, a look of surprise on his face that turned instantly into a rueful smile. He shrugged and glanced back at the sea as at a wise and sympathetic friend, as if sharing a quiet joke and relishing it, even if the joke was at his own expense.
          One day a young couple was walking barefoot down the beach. They were silent, avoiding each other’s eyes, their faces grim, a wide distance between them. The beach was otherwise empty: the sand showed only their footprints, parallel lines of spoor disappearing in the distance. The waves fell with unusual quietness, and the tide was out leaving a wide swathe of bright wet sand.
            A breeze stirred the hair of the young woman, slender and soft, though angry and hurt. She let the wind pull the hair across her eyes as though wanting to hide behind it, from the light and the young man beside her.

            He looked exasperated and glum, his mouth twisted, and walked with exaggerated emphasis, his footprints emphatic, like gashes, the woman’s softer, as if she hardly wanted to touch the ground.
            She seemed to want to disappear. He seemed to want to hit something with all his might.
            They walked in silence beneath the morning sun and an almost cloudless sky.
            Neither of them noticed the man gazing out to sea till they almost walked into him – or rather, the young man did, who was walking near the water.

            They stopped, a little disconcerted. The man didn’t seem to notice them. He was staring intently at the waves, his face full in the brilliant sunlight, his eyes seemingly blind in the glare. He seemed far away, in his own world. And he was speaking, softly, and – given the quietness of the waves – just audibly. They listened.

            “Thalassa, thalassa,” the old man said, “sea, o sea, you who murmur across the world’s seasons, who bear life in the cup of your seabed, who bore life from the beginning, who crash and swirl along every coast, who are both thing and symbol of the thing, of being and destruction, life and death and love and birth, of joy and suffering, ecstasy and despair, ephemeral, perpetual, in change and permanence, water and crystal and gold and ash and mud and wine and earth and sea, o sea, thalassa, thalassa, you are the comforter and destroyer, the ever-kind and ever-ruining, lover and demolisher, betrayer of promise, builder of promise, creator of hope, betrayer of hope, image of the eternal, image of God, thalassa, thalassa, o sea, o sea, speak to me with your tongue of many voices, chant to me your music, and grant me ears to hear and know, with love and awe and patience and faith, as you give me being and take it away, thalassa, thalassa, o sea . . .”

            And the old man murmured on in the same fashion, and the young couple stood there listening and wondering, the man is crazy, he’s talking to the sea, astonished and a little repelled but frozen to the ground. He paid them no heed. He spoke to the sea as if he were, as usual, alone, as to an intimate friend.
            The couple, almost despite themselves, turned to look to the sea as well, and listened to the waves 
And it was almost as though they could hear words in the ocean sounds, as though the old man and the ocean were speaking together, even though the old man never stopped to listen; they seemed to have an understanding, seemed tender together, one might almost think they loved one another, and the young couple was curiously moved. 

After a time longer than they knew, as the sun rose higher and the wash turned back at the turning of the tide, a wave rushed up and crashed against their legs. The woman stumbled, cried out, fell . . . 
The young man leapt over and tried pulling her away, but the wave yanked her from his hands and dragged her, choking in the foam, down and out toward the ocean. He dove after her, slipping, falling in the wash as a second, even bigger wave, crashed over him. He bobbed up, spitting and choking, and saw her arm flailing a dozen yards away in the swirling foam as more rollers swept toward them. 

He lurched again toward her, grabbing her hand just as it disappeared under another wave, and reached out just in time to catch the elbow of her other arm and, managing to get a grip on the sand, pulled, almost lost his hold, then pulled and dragged again with all his might in a brief lull between the backwash and the next wave. The young woman appeared out of the water, sputtering and frightened, like a naiad, half drowned as she was born from the waves.

The two struggled and stumbled up the slick tract of sand just as another big wave raced in pursuit of them. 
Once back on dry sand, the couple, drenched to the skin and shivering, turned to each other, their frightened eyes darting, opening, deeply, each into the other, and a moment later they fell into each other’s arms.
“I almost thought . . .”
“I know . . . “

They slowly caught their breath, then wiped the water out of each other’s eyes, and, still wrapped in each other’s arms, walked slowly away, keeping just out of reach of the tide as it washed up the beach like a violating hand or an invading army.
“Where did the old man go?” the young woman asked, stopping and, smoothing back her wet hair and peering across the now empty shore.

	The young man shrugged. “Who knows? Maybe he was just a hallucination!” He laughed, nervously. But the woman kept peering, worriedly, out to sea. . . . 
	Perhaps he had been caught in the same waves they had. The riptide here, at times of the tide’s turning, was known to wash the unsuspecting off the beach, sweeping them a mile out to sea, drowning them and sweeping their bodies miles away down the coast. 

Or maybe he had walked away just in time. Maybe he had grown tired of staring at the sea and talking to the waves. All good things come to an end, they say. 
Or maybe he had accomplished his task and he could go home with a good conscience. It was the right time for him to move on. 
For whatever reason, he was never seen again after that day. 
But according to some, if you listen closely to the surf, you can hear the words, “Thalassa, Thalassa, sea, o sea . . . .”


Christopher Bernard is a poet, novelist and co-editor of the webzine Caveat Lector ( His books include In the American Night and Other Stories (where this story first appeared in a slightly different version), A Spy in the Ruins, Meditations on Love and Catastrophe at The Liars’ Café and the award-winning poetry collection, The Socialist’s Garden of Verses.

Art from Thomas Riesner

Danger from Heaven
Caught in the Crack
Be Trapped
Catch Up
I was born in Leipzig in 1971 and I still live here today. Already in elementary school I often painted "abstract "instead of the given concrete drawing. I later retained this style or changed it to "abstract figuration." painted a lot at home, always without professional guidance, I didn't have any specific role models. When I start a picture, I only have a certain idea, but often something completely different emerges. I would describe myself as an outsiderart artist. 

Width:30 cm

All painted on Paper with ink 

Poetry from Aisha MLabo


Here is a debutante 
Burning on a hungry fire
That is sparkling and searing 
Chewing the nerves in her chest 
Gulping the blood in her spleen 
Though not satiated 
The fire is hissing like the sound a snake might make
Symbol of hungriness written on the wall of her hub
Designed by blue flames 
She feels the hungry fire burning and burning 
The fire to flow like water that flows in the ocean 
The fire to glow like a candle that glows in the dark 
The fire to sparkle like freshly fallen snow that sparkles in winter 
This fire is felt not seen 
I feel hungry fire burning in me too.

Aisha MLabo writes from Katsina,Nigeria,and is a Law student of Umaru Musa Yar'adua University Katsina Nigeria.

Poetry from J.D. Nelson

a football party
at a house across the street—
yellow moon grows full

chickpeas & brown rice . . .
a spider climbs down a thread
to investigate

leaves are blown from trees—
the driver with a flashlight
asks for directions

in the chicken coop
a few mice scurry away . . .
the cold autumn wind

bare tree silhouettes
against the cloudy night sky—
the dog sniffs dead leaves

crescent moon at dusk—
the squirrels’ nests are revealed
in the bare branches



J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. His poems have appeared in many small press publications, worldwide, since 2002. He is the author of ten chapbooks and e-books of poetry, including Cinderella City (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). Nelson’s poem, “to mask a little bird” was nominated for Best of the Net. Visit for more information and links to his published work. His haiku blog is at Nelson lives in Colorado, USA.