Synch Chaos April 2023: Wandering the Wilderness of the Soul

First of all, we invite all of you to come out to our next literary gathering, the second annual Lit Hop in Hayward, CA.

All are welcome to attend this multi-venue literary event on Saturday April 22nd, starting at 2pm in Heritage Plaza across from the library. As it’s also Earth Day, we will begin with a group of poet laureates from the East Bay giving environmentally themed readings and then move to a selection of different downtown venues before re-congregating for the afterparty at the Sun Gallery. Several Synchronized Chaos contributors will read from their work.

This month, Synchronized Chaos’ contributing writers and artists map the inner journeys many of us embark on as creators or simply as human beings.

Christopher Bernard reviews William Kentridge’s Sibyl at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, a production evoking humanity’s continual search for answers we may never find. Jaylan Salah interviews Jim Frohna about Apple TV’s show Shrinking, which confronts mental illness in a unique way by showing a character’s search for truth and his life’s purpose. Maja Milojkovic renders internal journeys between people and within oneself through esoteric and painterly metaphors. Graciela Noemi Villaverde expresses the inner passion and turmoil of someone in the depths of romantic attraction through her dreamscape poetry.

Robiul Awal Esa celebrates his country of Bangladesh by reflecting on its founder’s creative work of statecraft. Wazed Abdullah also honors his Bangladeshi homeland by singing of its natural and human history.

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal reflects on where our minds wander when we stare out our windows. Jerome Berglund observes everyday objects – scoreboards, prickly pear cacti, chia planters – in ways that are unique and uncanny. Noah Berlatsky finds enlightenment in a single moment: a computer chatting from an algorithm with no biological past, a tiny house with no room for hoarded objects from the past, a sailing ship, and a spiritual meditation on the present moment.

Barbara Gaiardoni superimposes words onto closeups of plants to encourage people to think and contemplate our place within nature.

Philip Butera writes of his creative process, search for inspiration, and the loneliness of art-making. Scott Thomas Outlar’s poems also explore psychological questing, artistic creation, and his soul’s evolution. Jerry Durick writes of individual identity from three different perspectives. Ivan Jenson alludes with humor to how intimately intertwined technology has become to the processes of finding and creating ourselves.

Photo c/o Ken Kistler

Stephen Jarrell Williams sends up a post-apocalyptic fantasy sequence about holding onto one’s truth and identity in hopes of recreating a better world. Roodly Laurore speaks to finding hope in the midst of desolation and violence in Haiti.

David Woodward evokes through surrealist poetry the history of broken treaties and legal stratagems used to remove Indigenous people from their lands. Clive Gresswell peers into the underbelly of modern British society, unearthing poverty and decay. Faroq Faisal laments human greed and environmental destruction. Michael Ceraolo satirizes power relations of all sorts, political and professional.

Chimezie Ihekuna’s song lyrics relate how he remains open to the possible need to question everything he’s been taught. Henry Bladon’s humor probes the meaning of life and death and explores the limits of nihilism.

Nilufar Ruxillayeva reflects on how the path to happiness can be different for each person.

Mehreen Ahmed reminds us that our bodies and psyches need recharging as much as our devices. Mahbub Alam finds renewal through peaceful retreats to nature, imagining himself loved and encouraged within his sacred space. Don Bormon wishes he could bring happiness to the world like the sun as it returns at the end of winter.

Photo c/o Tanya Hall

Some people’s work looks into how we grow as we pass through different stages of life and common experiences.

Richard Simac’s story of male self-discovery and bonding during puberty echoes with references to the garden of Eden and the maturation of humanity.

Shelby Stephenson reviews Stephen E. Smith’s poetry collection Beguiled by the Frailties of those Who Precede Us, a book of poems addressing family relationships and the pain caused by prejudice and racism. Z.I. Mahmud examines Alexander Pope’s famous poem that satirizes his society’s expectations for high-class women.

Duane Vorhees speaks of physical and cultural evolution, how we are all inevitably shaped by our pasts. J.J. Campbell shares how he relives memories for comfort and excitement amid the slow passage of present-day time. Norman J. Olson, in a letter to a friend of his on the occasion of the passing of poet Steven Richmond, reflects on what it means to have had a lifetime of literary success.

John Grochalski illustrates the world-weariness of a returning traveler and points out how many people share that feeling looking at today’s American society.

Linda Gunther captures place and time while recollecting a high school romance, tied to her past while tiptoeing into adulthood.

Abigail George’s essay probes the journey of heartbreak, compounded by the sense that her past partner viewed their whole relationship as a mistake. We see how grief elongates time and heightens perceptions as the narrator processes strong emotions and seeks to reclaim herself, drawing on literature and history as touchstones.

Chris Butler explores another type of heartbreak in a different way, through a horror tale of a mother and daughter’s doomed search for connection. Az Emina Krehic writes of the slow fade of memories of a departed person, another source of grief.

Photo c/o CCO Community

Other contributors illumine care, connection and compassion for others as a pathway towards spiritual growth, how relating to others changes us.

Taylor Dibbert’s speaker devotes himself to care for a sick dog, while Mesfakus Salahin illuminates the gentle renewing power of love, and John Culp finds peace in the natural rhythm of a long-term relationship.

Cheryl Snell crafts moments of tenderness between fragile, mortal humans, as Ann Christine Tabaka celebrates love shining through a dark wilderness of broken souls and bodies.

Finally, some art and writing turns outside the human psyche to explore the world.

Russell Streur chronicles haiku poetry’s 1950’s cultural moment in the United States while questioning whether anyone could truly create authentic haiku in languages other than the traditional Japanese.

Photo by Ken Kistler

Mark Young’s poems consist of sentences that make sense individually and fit together structurally, if not content-wise. Michael Barbeito’s photographs are lush, complex renderings of scenes with several layers of detail. Maurizio Brancaleoni’s drawings focus on line, shape, shading and color.

Channie Greenberg’s natural and artistic representations of birds illustrate how beauty can be found in both nature and in human-crafted artwork. In the same way, Daniel De Culla juxtaposes images of dogs and statues, clowns and Santa Claus, the real and the crafted.

This issue encompasses a variety of human thoughts, quests, and journeys, and we hope it inspires you to ask and seek answers to your own questions.

Poetry from Graciela Noemi Villaverde

Graciela Noemi Villaverde


 What will I do after receiving
 the gifts of poverty,
 and the clarity of the strings
 that fall on my skin
 Like an old perfume?
 Everything is placed on you:
 the reflection of the moon,
  your indefatigable eyes igniting
 the sunset that falls into the depths
  Of my soul/
 If I had the solution of this love
 I would wait next to the pieces of pain
 But it's impossible to find you... You're so far away!
 The snow falls on your landscapes,
 while time vanishes in a kiss
 Everything is placed on you:
 I can't find the words to
 describe you,
 you are an active participant in my dream
 through the curtains of memory/
 undress me in that open place
 as your desires/
 While I remain here immobile/
 Sometimes I try to run away
  is unknown
 that place where the gods are born/
 And I hide behind the humble offering
 of my letters,
 or the scattered books
 next to my bed...
 Open the chests of imagination
 So that you can understand,
  this madness /
 I have cried your absence,
  on the reflection of the tide
  Everything is placed on you:
 Now I can confess to you
 I live under the light
 of the moon,
  like all your thoughts

Graciela Noemi Villaverde
 Argentine poet writer based in Buenos Aires
 She has a degree in letters, author of 7 books of the poetry genre. She has been awarded several times worldwide. She works as the World Manager of Educational and Public Relations of the Hispano-Mundial Union of Writers UHE and World Honorary President of the same institution.

Poetry from Michael Ceraolo

Letter to a Departing City Official

January 27, 2022

I read in the weekly paper today
that you will be leaving at the end of next week,
moving from our inner-ring suburb,
only a handful of employees under you,
to take a job in the big city
where you will oversee hundreds of employees
and tens of thousands more housing units,
offering you the opportunity
for illegal and unnecessary demolition
on a much greater scale

Legalities be damned!
Environmentalism be damned!
Homelessness be damned!
Keloization forever!

Congratulations to you
Condolences to the tens of thousands
of your future victims

A Speech

And in conclusion,
                            once more
                                             from our leaders:

"We've polished up the American dream"
"the legal right of the millionaire to his millions"
"Sure, I'm one of the fat cats"
"I'm the fattest cat"
"What kind of society isn't structured on greed?
"Forget loyalty"
                        "an oft-invoked ideal
that applies to fewer and fewer people"
"Liquidate labor,
                        liquidate stocks,
                                                 liquidate farmers"
"our scheme does not ask any initiative in a man
We do not care for his initiative"
"How come when I want a pair of hands
I get a human being as well?"
"This isn't rocket science"
"It's the economy, stupid"
"it is an existing evil"
"and we must endure it
and give it such protection
as is guaranteed by the constitution"
"Greed is even more contagious than fever"
"Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess"
"I have,
            I fear,
confused power with greatness"
"Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac"
"do not let so great an achievement
suffer from any taint of legality"
"A man always has two reasons for what he does---
a good one and the real one"
"If I am to speak for ten minutes,
I need a week for preparation;
if fifteen minutes, three days;
if an hour, I am ready now"
"a virtually limitless supply of bullshit"
"God ordained that I should be
the next President of the United States"

Thank you, 
and good night


Though not yet named,
and with no diagnostic criteria, or treatment,
it is the most common mental defect in America:
thinking everyone else is as stupid as you are

Too Close to Home?

The editor said he enjoyed reading the poet's poems, but he wanted more personal work for his journal.

So the poet sent a piece about his misadventures with a different editor.  And the editor, perhaps thinking the poet was referring to him, never bothered to respond to the submission.

Michael Ceraolo is a 65-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet who has had two full-length books (Euclid Creek, from Deep Cleveland Press; 500 Cleveland Haiku, from Writing Knights Press) published, and has two more in the publication pipeline.” 

Poetry from Maja Milojkovic

Maja Milojkovic


I give you a secret sign, follow the white rabbit.

My tattoo on my shoulder speaks.

Yes, I forgot, we are not in the Matrix movie.

I want you to be my companion,

but you don’t know how to read signs

set by the Universe

through numbers and in the child’s speech.

There is a celestial draftsman whose pen prints horoscope signs.

It’s  all as clear as the future,

in response to prayer.

But instead of watching,

you sleep and dream of me in a silk nightgown,

and you don”t realize I”m warm on a hot night,

not to provoke your senses.

I give you the way you walk without material desires

and to head to the Himalayas

where we will look with different eyes.

We will dive into the mountain of snow,

in whose interior there is a world of abundance.

Close your eyes and follow me.

I’ll take you, companion,

when you learn that tattoos speak,

when you know the signs written in gold pen,

we will not need a body of earth.

Follow me, I’ll take you to the abundance of dreams come true.

And when you step in there, you won’t want to go back,

but he wanted it first.


Simple clothes

Colored locks of hair

Brush in hand

I draw strokes with a brush

Because of the winds in my soul, I draw windmills

With crying tears,

I thin the yellow paint to paint the sun

Due to sadness, the faces in my pictures are smiling

I create my own world

because this one is not to my liking.

I am complete in my imagination

I walk through fields of sunflowers,

the wind caresses my hair

people from the surrounding fields wave at me

And they call out

Good morning, barefoot girl!

And I open my eyes in a dark room,

lit by moonlight

And I look at the pictures of lies

thanking God that I am alive!

Maja Milojković was born in 1975 in Zaječar, Serbia.

She is a person to whom from an early age, Leonardo da Vinci’s statement Painting is poetry that can be seen, and poetry is painting that can be heard” is circulating through the blood.

That’s why she started to use feathers and a brush and began to reveal the world and herself to them.

As a poet, she is represented in numerous domestic and foreign literary newspapers, anthologies and electronic media, and some of her poems can be found on YouTube. Many of her poems have been translated into English, Hungarian, Bengali and Bulgarian due to the need of foreign readers.

She is the recipient of many international awards.

Trees of Desire” is her second collection of poems in preparation, which is preceded by the book of poems “Moon Circle”.

She is a member of the International Society of Writers and Artists “Mountain Views” in Montenegro, and she also is a member of the Poetry club “Area Felix” in Serbia.

Epistolary submission from Norman J. Olson

thoughts on artistic success – letter to a friend
By:  Norman J. Olson

thanks for the chapbook about Steve Richmond…  about whom I knew pretty much nothing except that he was mentioned in Bukowski’s biography and was apparently an admirer, emulator and to some degree sycophant of Bukowski…  reading this got me thinking about fame, celebrity and artistic success, whatever that is…

in my many years of involvement with the small press, I have seen many poets come and go…  when I first started publishing, I found it amazing to just be in print…  to have an editor think my poor words worthy of publication…  later, I tried to get into more “prestigious” journals (i.e. those published by university creative writing departments, or respected independents like the Chiron Review)… when that happened, I thought of having a poetry book published…  it seemed to me kind of an exercise in futility to self publish…  but, I did self publish several very small runs of chapbooks including “15 Image Poems”… etc… anyway…  but, I knew these were worthless reputation wise because they did not undergo the scrutiny of an editor…  so, I simply printed twenty or thirty of them and passed them out to acquaintances in the literary press world who were interested in my work…  I must say, that I never had any thoughts of making a living from art/writing… or indeed, any money at all…  

I decided that I would not do a poetry reading unless someone asked me to do one and I would not publish a book of any kind unless an editor asked me too… needless to say, I did few readings and no books…  until a few years ago when a French poet and publisher who liked my work asked me to put together a book so, I did and he published it on the print on demand site LULU…  where it still is, if anybody wants to buy a copy for $4.50 (of which, I get nothing…  LOL)   it is called “44 Image Poems”… I was also asked to put together a book of prose writing which I did for publisher in India and the result is “Writing about Travel and Art plus a few Memoirs of My Rural Childhood”… which you can find at Amazon or Barnes and Noble…

when I first started publishing, I noticed that some of the poets were older and as they started dying, I had the amazing, to me, realization that these poets dropped from the little recognition they ever had into a complete and total oblivion as if they had never existed…  this is even more true today when so many of the journals are on line…  when the journal folds, it disappears like a drop of tar dropped into a black and bottomless abyss… so, when a poet died there was not even the survival of some coffee stained mimeographed journal with his/her words, unread on the shelf of Brown University Library to note the poet’s brief tenancy in this vale of tears…  as the cliché has it, fame (in the literary press world) is indeed fleeting and will not survive the passing of the poet, or even the electronic dissolution of the on line journal that published his/her work…  

Richmond, like so many artists, seems, in spite of his disclaimers, to have had some notion of the importance of art and more especially his art as being some how a big deal…  well, whatever gets you through the night, but during my years of making art and writing poetry, a great many poets and artists have made a lot of art, nearly all of which is mostly worthless as anything other than a brief bubble of artistic ego expansion…  and pretty much all of which will cease to even exist within a few hours of the expiration of the artist/poet, and/or the literary journal in which it was published…

when I was young and wanted desperately to have the local museum of modern art accept my work and put it in an exhibition, other artists, in my case, mostly conceptual artists and identity artists, were having big shows in the spacious white painted galleries of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis…  well, those “successful” artists from those years are now mostly forgotten and now about as well known as me…. which is to say they are complete failures… and have disappeared from the public eye as if they had never existed… 

but wait…  maybe is success in the arts, some ineffable quality unrelated to celebrity or notoriety or even survival in the public eye?  is it a something that does not need the validation of an editor, gallery manager or indeed any audience at all…  is the true genius like my great uncle who made up symphonies on his guitar while sitting alone in his room, and never performed them in public??  are we all geniuses waiting to be discovered, whether we are discovered or not??    

well, if so, it seems obvious to me that in that case, artistic success is of about the same value as closet masturbation when considered vis a vis the society at large…  this is the nihilist view, I guess and if I really believed this, I would encourage those who attend my passing to celebrate with a large bonfire of all my works…  okay, and I do sometimes think that is what my art will come to and I guess I am okay with that…  I have lived to a ripe old age, have had the rich experience of making lots of poems and paintings that have found a small audience…  so what if I am not a celebrity and so what if my work does not outlast me….  the apex of fame and success in my lifetime career as an artist is the interview of me that was done by the Wilzig Erotic Art Museum a year or so ago which is still posted and which you can see at: 

the Richmond article mentions that he was an acquaintance of Jim Morrison, the famous rock star…  more than one person I have personal knowledge of, in the poetry world, delusionally  thinks that he/she should have rock star fame and fortune…  maybe Richmond wanted that kind of fame for himself…  apparently, he tried to earn money from his art, even though he was wealthy and managed to piss away a pretty substantial inheritance… but, in all honesty, almost nobody in the poetry and art world makes any money at all from their efforts much less achieving fame and fortune…  yes, music/poetry artists do achieve fame and fortune if they are talented and lucky enough to become stars…  but, even in that case, despite their wealth and fame, I have lived long enough to see the big stars of my parent’s generation all but disappear…  who listens to Frank Sinatra today??   I was talking to a young person recently and when I mentioned “The Beatles,” she said, “who”…  a very small number of poets from the last fifty years are still studied in creative writing and/or literature programs at colleges and universities, but how many of them are actually bought and read by ordinary readers???  remember that even Bukowski only started making money when he started writing novels and as novelists go, he was certainly never a best seller or a household name…

so, like Richmond and thousands and thousands of our peers, I am an artistic failure…  I never had an actual paying book contract, never had an art show in a big museum, never was paid for a reading…  my work and myself will be forgotten when I am gone except by my loved ones and when they are gone the work will probably all be long since consigned to a dumpster…  I would like to be more successful, but have to admit that the quality of the art and writing probably warrants about the degree of success that I have and at this age (75) I am on the downhill slide and whatever success I would have in this life, I have already had…  (I have read enough artist biographies and autobiographies to know that artists usually overvalue themselves and their art as well as their talent or ability to create “great” art and I refuse to partake in that fallacy!!) 

perhaps the only consolation I have, if any, is that even the most successful of artists and poets are virtually unknown outside of the literary world in one case or the art world in the other… and that we will all, Bukowski, Morrison, Lennon, or Ginsberg…  Huffstickler, Richmond, Jones or Olson …  etc. etc. etc.  be as forgotten as yesterdays bad news, in the case of the famous, in a generation and in the case of the rest of us, the day that we drop over dead.

Poetry from Ivan Jenson

Letter in a drawer

We wanted to be there
for you but being
only kids ourselves,
we got caught up
in the riptide of living
in that technicolor
time of sexual
revolution and
tie-dyed, platform shoe
evolution and so
when it came to raising
you and your brothers
and sisters,
there were no
easy solutions
so we let you
go barefoot
and free as the
Santa Ana winds,
knowing that life
is more fun
when you open
the windows and
doors, put on
Peter, Paul and Mary
and let the breeze
blow in
anyway, forgive us
if we weren't the
picture perfect parents
straight out of Life Magazine
that you wished we were
just have some
compassion for our
passion and know
your mama and your papa's
actions might have been
crazy as our family pet
Capuchin monkey
yet our intentions
were always pure

Brushed Shoulders

I always knew you
had that certain something
that can't be taught
or even guided
and that your temperament
was tailor-made in the shade
and that if given the chance
you would harness the forces
of good with a dash of evil
for good measure
and that you would bring
pleasure to the king
and queen and the court of
public opinion
and that for you
the stars would all align
I also knew that when
you reached the top
you would no longer
you were once
a friend of mine

Me of little faith

You'd think by now
I'd live comfortably
without the need
for a great deal of hope
but I still play Lotto
read fortune cookies
as well as dabble
in unanswered prayers
and I often ask others
if they still believe
in the lord
or a lover
and they say
"yes, implicitly"
yet I wish they'd
elaborated explicitly
but I have a respect
for privacy and don't
push it any further
and accept that
people like me
end up
alone in a room
with nothing
but a crucifix
and a rosary

Drunk Text 

I can honestly say
I knew you were lying
to me and next to me
at the same time
I was falling for
the character you
were creating from
scratching my back
while putting up a front
of always taking
the middle ground
most of all
I liked having you
around and around
the time we stopped
getting along
I didn't exactly
stop loving our song
I just no longer
needed to sing along
as I drove myself
sane after going
crazy over you
and your quirks
and all the perks
that go with
being in love with
nothing more
than a what if
and so what if
we will never
know what might
have been
because we could
not get past
the future that
will never
ever be seen
look, I didn't mean
to confuse
or use you
I think you know
deep down in
your broken heart
exactly what I mean

It's on me

So much
has happened
since we fought
over who would
pick up the bill
at that five-star
time of our life
and I still have
my head up
in the iCloud
and would rather
Google old loves
than actually call
because I'm
ashamed of being
mortal after all
that buzz around me
back when I was so close
to the big money
I could almost
spend it
anyway, I'll pay
the tab
if you pay
the tip
with one
of your debits
and we can then
stay past the end
of our story
to watch
the credits

Discounting Sheep

This is my story
though I can't
really claim
to be the author
because it was all
as unpredictable as
the weather or a lover
or someone or other
who said something
that discouraged or
encouraged me to
try or give up on
things that might
have made everything
not necessarily
wrong or right
but at least
better than this
mix of happiness
and loneliness
that keeps me
up at night
wondering what
could have or
might have been
better or worse
I think having this
hypersensitive mind
is a blessing
and a curse

Content Discontent

I've held on
to the promise
of a dream
within a fantasy
of a vision
as a wish
while meditating
upon a vision
of an ambition
and I have yet
to see it
into something
in the 3D
within the
context of
the day in
day out
that I am really
trying to do
something about
but what bugs me
the most
is that this
leaves me with
absolutely nothing
to post


Ivan Jenson is a fine artist, novelist and popular contemporary poet who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

His artwork was featured in Art in America, Art News, and Interview Magazine and has sold at auction at Christie’s. Amongst Ivan’s commissions are the final portrait of the late Malcolm Forbes and a painting titled “Absolut Jenson” for Absolut Vodka’s national ad campaign. His Absolut paintings are in the collection of the Spritmuseum, the museum of spirits in Stockholm, Sweden. Jenson’s painting of the “Marlboro Man” was collected by the Philip Morris corporation. 

His novels, Dead Artist and Seeing Soriah, illustrate the creative, often dramatic lives of artists. Jenson’s poetry is widely published (with over 1000 poems published in the US, UK and Europe) in a variety of literary media. He has published a poetry book, Media Child and Other Poems, and two novels, Marketing Mia and Erotic Rights. 

Mundane Miracles, his critically acclaimed poetry collection, hit number 1 on Amazon in American Poetry.

Ivan Jenson’s website:
Twitter: @IvanJenson