Synchronized Chaos’ Second May Issue: Human Sensibility

“Matters of the heart make your world worth occupying.”
― Benjamin Percy, Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction

Image c/o George Hodan

With the state of the world, we’re inviting Synchronized Chaos writers and readers to support various charitable and mutual aid- supporting projects, including efforts to support international writers and anthologies to benefit organizations. Please feel welcome to send in your writing, to purchase these anthologies, or to spread the word on social media.

Support Ukrainian Writers (listing of living authors from the country and their books which can be ordered)

Where to Donate Baby Formula (not literary per se but worth sharing anyway)

Snow Leopard Publishing’s call for short story submissions to anthologies benefiting different nonprofits related to justice and equality, care for veterans, healthcare, and wildlife/ecology.

Amazon wishlist for an organization led by Afghan women (nationals to the country who want to shape their own destiny free of warfare and imperialism and with equal educational opportunities and safety for all).

Beaupre Anthologies (seeking submissions of work related to indigeneity, neurodiversity, or horror, for separate anthologies).

This month’s issue attends to matters of the heart.

Abdulquadir Ibrahim Worubata’s work expresses sorrow at a deeply felt personal loss, while Ian Copestick renders the angry stage of grief, indignation at loved ones’ being taken. Aloysius S Harmon renders the extreme emotions of mourning in his grammatically understated piece.

The two protagonists in David A. Douglas’ short story dream their way into connection with deceased siblings, finding peace at last over their passing.

Sidnei Silva’s piece explores the varied and beautiful dimensions of rain and draws upon them as a backdrop for love between two people. Mahbub also turns to nature as a metaphor for romantic, familial and spiritual connection among people. and pleads for interpersonal peace and understanding.

Image c/o Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan

Ahmad Al-Khatat’s work also cries out for an end to violence among nations and people groups, while also reflecting on love and insomnia. Steven Hill issues a lengthy literary clarion call for racial justice while Chimezie Ihekuna relates the story of an impoverished Nigerian boy determined to get an education. Pathik Mitra explores and advocates for gender justice in a creative short story while Kellie Scott-Reed probes the extent of our responsibilities to protect others in danger as well as our assumptions on the sources of the danger.

Allison Grayhurst’s poems speak of places where we find spiritual nourishment: through practicing faith, compassion, and mindful care of the land and its inhabitants through gardening. K.J. Hannah Greenberg contributes some gentle photos of animals and natural scenes.

Christopher Bernard pokes fun at the popularity-driven culture of social media to contrast with his low-tech, undying love.

Image c/o George Hodan

Norman J. Olson describes his artistic creative process, most poignantly how his subjects become portraits of people he cares about, seemingly of their own accord.

Robert Fleming writes of love in an unusual way, in a piece where he juxtaposes romantic attraction and calculus. Another of his pieces links the earth’s rotation with that of a disco ball.

Jim Meirose contributes an intriguing tale that consists of internal dialogue and captures place, character, and time. J.J. Campbell presents a photograph in words of middle age and his speaker’s philosophical attitude towards his decline. George Economou reminisces about hazy past days of heavy substance use, old movies and ill-fated romances.

Steven Croft reviews William Walsh’s young male coming of age novel Lakewood and Federico Wardal offers up a preview of the historical film he’s creating about Cleopatra. Wardal’s intent is to portray the ancient queen as an authentic woman of her time with real human feelings and desires.

We hope you enjoy this month’s issue!

Short story from Kellie Scott-Reed


Bulletproof Glass Smeared with Grease

He checked his watch. The face of it scratched from the repetition, the in and out, of his hand between the bullet proof glass of the KFC cash out window and the silver dish where the money was exchanged. Three years of unstable employment had landed him in the fast food giant’s bowels. Taking “an alternative career track”, he would explain to those who knew him as a 45 year old, recently divorced, up and comer.
Sometimes, between customers, he would forget where he was. He’d be a long way back with a girl he thought he’d had a chance with (but didn’t). A job he was offered but gave up (never happened). Maybe a he should be a lawyer. Why not? He was smart enough. But he knew the discipline he lacked was what pushed his raft further and further from where he thought he was and more towards exactly where he stood. Behind bullet proof glass smeared with grease, and a taste in his mouth that had become almost unbearable. 

The place was empty, still early. Yet he barely noticed the woman when she walked in. People’s features and orders ran so seamlessly together, that they became a premonition. The sound of the voices became white noise, an atmospheric suggestion of a need. She set a bee line right to his window. 

“Yes m’am, welcome to KFC how can I help you?” She raised her eyes to his. They were deeply sad with a glassiness that seemed permanent. There was a crust, he could just see it, just at the corner of her eye, driving him mad. 

“Help me.” Her lips trembled as she spoke in halted English. He couldn’t tell if she had an accent, her voice barely above a whisper. She reached into the right pocket of her overcoat. Her hand seemed to reach down endlessly until she finally hit the pocket’s bottom, elbow deep. She pulled out a white and pale pink slip of paper. He recognized it as a lottery ticket. He waited for her to reach back in to get what she really went in for. Instead, she hesitantly slid the ticket into the hollow belly of the silver dish, her fingers slightly going under the glass. “Read”.

“I’m sorry, did you need a menu?”

“No!” She shook her head violently side to side, sending her loose grey curls springing out from all sides. Medusa, Hydra, he couldn’t pinpoint the ancient creature that she most resembled in her frustration. She pushed the ticket in deeper. “READ!”

The ticket in hand, he looks down at the numbers and reads each slowly. He whispers for no reason. She imitates the movements of his mouth with hers . She isn’t asking him to read these very rudimentary numbers because she doesn’t know the language or what the ticket says, it’s that she wants confirmation. “Thirty six” she is moving her fingers over and over each other; “Fifty, six, fourt-nine”. He continued on at a steady and careful pace, until the last two numbers, which he said quickly, as to barely register the impact.

“I win…..” she hissed and leaned forward pressing her forehead to the scratched and flighty glass. She rocked her head back and forth, relieved. She suddenly reached her hand back into the silver dish for her ticket’s return. 

He hesitated for a moment. He held the ticket in both hands now. He shifted his eyes between the woman and the ticket. Caught in the fantasy of camera angles and culpability, he felt the suck of air that comes when the double glass doors open at once. Two men, wearing Ronald Reagan masks, slide just inside the door. Dressed in cliche black with coordinated shoes, they don’t make a sound. The woman whips around like she was electrocuted, then stands stock still, curles making a halo around her head, still moving. The two men initiate motion towards her with synchronized steps, and grab the woman under the arm.  She looks at one and then the other, as if one would suddenly realize that they had it all wrong. Someone would realize the mistake. They drag her silently away from the counter. Quietly forgotten behind high metal shelves where the heat lamps popped and hummed, the cooks' heads had popped up like prairie dogs, one by one standing on their toes to catch what the hell was going on.  They lowered their heals and slowly walked away from visibility. Maybe to call the police, maybe to save themselves.  

As the woman was finally dragged to the double doors, she craned her neck, lifting her chest and heaving her tiny body backwards . She was saying something to him but he couldn’t tell what language she was speaking. Then she gave up on direct communication, and in her helplessness, let out a yelp. 

Those men looked like they came in for a reason and found it. What had been secreted into his possession, those men wanted. From all appearances, they think they have found it. They’d probably shake her down for it out of public view. She would insist she didn’t have it. They wouldn’t believe her. She would plead and tell them she gave it to him. They would never believe someone would give their winning lottery ticket to a stranger. They would interrogate her for hours. A smile crept up behind the face he showed

Maybe they would kill her. 

Of course, he understood that she could use his help, but she had asked a lot of him already and so he felt no obligation. They locked eyes, the urge to wipe away the crust in her eye appeared once again.. With his smile no longer hidden, he turned away from her terror and walked to the back office. He took his coat from the hook, punched out, and headed out the back door with his future in his pocket.

Kellie Scott-Reed is the AEIC of Roi Faineant Press. She writes songs for the band Fivehead that can be found on ITunes or Spotify.  You can find her work all round, scattered about. She is a very happy person, and therefore loves dark things. 

Poetry from George Economou

a Night long gone, forgotten, erased 

with the substance-abuse of years gone, 
it’s a wonder I’m still breathing; a miracle I
still recall precious little moments from imperfect
nights of snow and glacial gusts penetrating the room
through windowless frames on crumbling walls. 

dozing off next to strangers of the night, fallen angels 
dissipating with the first ray of sunlight; spending
months hidden in attics and shooting galleries, 

struggling to maintain the few traces of soul left alive
by putting it in airplane bottles of booze. 

acid-eating time-travelers visit dreams and hallucinations,
spaceships land atop tall buildings dwarfing skyscrapers and human shells. 

early morning hours never were, lost in the crepuscular mist of yesteryears,
hollow moments vanishing inside drained (and broken)
bourbon bottles—forevermore, the eternal broken promise of hundreds of lying lips,
falsifying experiments in the grand scheme of today’s societal degradation;


erased, forgotten, completely and utterly
dead. dead
like the night, like the morning, like the
sun and the galaxy, like the dream-
less nights.
 
Emily

we effortlessly drained a fifth of bourbon while
watching old movies on the television;
we could barely follow Citizen Cane, and laughed with Casablanca,
then had a blast with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. 
in our high, we discussed future travels, how we’d
become, too, treasure hunters and adventurers.
then, we cracked the second bottle and the moment the glasses were filled,
we forgot about exploring Bolivian jungles. 
it was alright, we told ourselves during hangover mornings
and cruel early evenings; we were still young (merely 20) 
and had the whole world sitting at the palm of our hands. 
every night the moans of pleasure kept the neighbors awake
and I’d use a kitchen knife and my crazy look to drive them away
whenever someone bold enough knocked on the door to whine. 
we’d never step outside the door before 7 in the afternoon, and when
we did, it was only because we had run out of booze.
I can’t even remember how long it lasted; I remember her name all too well:
Emily. both foreigners, both belonging exclusively in the most lugubrious voids 
of permanent midnight. bottles emptied, broken, and we fucked amidst the glass. 
how long ago? when did it all happen? 
here I am, swilling bourbon nightly and, sometimes, I see
her smile painted in the stars and a tear runs down
my thick beard. I lost her,
lost it all; she liked my stories when I read them half-drunk, now, I can’t
find solace in the yellow pages residing under the worn-out
mattresses of the cheapest brothels. 
it’s alright, I keep lying; I was too drunk at her funeral and cannot even
remember the spot she rests. I wish to go and leave a rose
on the ground, all I have is this lowly poem, insufficient as it may be to do justice
to what she could have been. took me a week of
constant drinking to come back to life after her premature demise, 
I’m still drinking and recalling her radiant smile; she’s the only one I wish I had taken
a picture of when I could. I didn’t, my memory deteriorates one glass at a time. 
she, I, the world, ashes waiting to be tapped in a dirty ashtray.
nothing remains; only the smile painted in the stars. 
the empty bottles on the floor remind me of former nights, when history
no one will know of was made;  the first poems written only for her,
masterpieces hurled over the coffin; true words no one needs to hear.
I can’t remember them, too drunk, but I know, one day we’ll reunite, even in the absolute nothingness, and she’ll forgive me for all the others that lay on the couch
she once used to call bed; I watched Casablanca recently and laughed.
for one magnificent second she was there, laughing with me; I had to
drink for two weeks without a pause just to forget the soft
sound of her giggling, the kisses she planted on my cheek whenever 
I was too hungover to breathe.
 
down by the creek

we swilled fortified wine and stared at the putrid moon; 
we had nothing else to do but

hold each other, assassinate the 
sickness with strong wine, annihilate the
hangover with powerful junk. 

you used to say we’ll make it, you claimed 

the future held grand things. 

wonder if you ever glimpsed at the bleak reality;
if you saw the
monsters lurking 
right around the corner. 

we failed to evade them; succumbed to 
everything. you left 
early, no chance for your
future to withhold great things. 

as for me, I still sink well liquor, using rotgut to destroy

whatever’s left of my soul and hopes. dreams already dead, 

the pallid moonlight’s forever gone, even the creek
’s all dried up and dead

like you and the 
future you once envisioned during the drug haze. 

I’m at other creeks, with new bottles and the same old cigarettes. 
chasing down the blue dragon all around its flaming meadow 

with nothing but my trusted butterfly net.
 
Sea of Empty Bottles

harrowing nights of a hollow past
I can’t forget, nor wish to erase;
every sin is repeated as
I try to maintain sanity 
by crawling through
the empty broken bottles scattered on the floor
searching for a place to vomit. 

the wails of former ghosts reach my ears
every night, turning me into a somnambulist;
I don’t care when I wake up 
holding the kitchen knife. 

one day, I’ll do what I so many times thought of
during cold turkey nights of suicidal desires.

the mornings are always the harshest, until the first two
lowballs are poured and drained, when
the beer is still warm and tastes like a sick fox’s piss. 

it gets better, for a while;
darkness returns,
encapsulates the world like an impenetrable veil, 
the garter belt of a virgin princess and the
moments I remember are scarce and vague, nothing 
substantial except for that rainy afternoon at
the graveyard where I saw the love of my life
lowered into the ground, therein to remain 
forever. 

in acid hallucinations I encountered colors
and during a junk OD I was in the Bar. 

I hunkered down on the barstool, almost had a sip; brought back to
this world by the second, and
last, woman ever to drill a hole in the
stony exterior of my heart. 

the keyboard always dances, 
it barely works, it’s
alright, the dance is loud and wild and meth-fueled.
21st century junkie and alcoholic, 
the new millennium did not make me extinct.

for now, I’m on coffee, cigarettes, and novocaine
(sometimes, I go vintage, searching for dead spirits of the damned).

the night falls, gin is poured.
someone’s making margaritas
wearing nothing but a tiny sheer dress. 

she smiles, we drink, 
we smoke pot and pop some uppers. 

we’re here, there, everywhere,
nowhere; no more dragons for tonight,
I’ve put them to sleep.

she kisses me, I refuse to obey,
still a couple of lines to finish; 

I won’t polish the cruel words,
won’t edit the mistakes. 

let them be, 
remind you some
hone their skills by endlessly typing,
drinking rejection slips away,
fucking the nights and injecting the mornings to oblivion,
before returning to the keyboard so the dance can
commence all over again until one
lambent sunny day

darkness engulfs them and they
gain admittance to the Bar.

Short story from Pathik Mitra

GOD VS FEMINIST

Pathik Mitra


Neera opened her eyes slowly. The buzz in her head had ceased. There was a strange sense of peace and tranquillity around her that she had never sensed before. The sense of pain and the deafening sound of blasts, and ambulance sirens all were surprisingly stopped. She blinked her eyes twice and looked around the empty room. A warm white light seemed to gently pacify her nerves. A piece of soothing music was comforting her tensed mind. She could not guess the source of this soothing light or music though. The room was empty other than a table and two chairs placed at the centre. What is this place? Where has Neera landed? Is she kidnapped? As she got back on her feet and started walking toward the table she started remembering her day.

She was on an assignment to cover the riots at Marufganj village in Uttar Pradesh. Two days back communal riots broke out at Marufganj as a Muslim girl was stripped of her burkha in the village school. Soon communal tensions soared high and by the evening there were 5 deaths and an imposed curfew. People were in a panic, antisocial elements ruled the roads, shops were burning and supreme hara-kiri reigned. Working for her independent news portal Neera visited ground zero. In the course of her investigations, she discovered too many dirty secrets of the local political leaders and how they had meticulously planned for the riots. But then they also found out about Neera and her findings. She was chased by a gang of thugs before she took refuge in a deserted building. The last thing she could remember was one of the thugs hurling a hand grenade at her. There was a deafening noise. But after that it was calm. Supreme calm. Trying to arrange the random chain of thoughts in her mind, Neera pulled her hair behind her head and tied it with the band.

Then a sudden realization dawned upon her. There was no escape. Her leg was injured and she could barely move when the grenade was hurled at her. So where was she? Is she dead?

Before Neera could further streamline her thoughts, she saw a lady approaching her. She was dressed in a very formal black suit and knee-length skirt. She wore black high heels and dark lipstick. The top two buttons of her shirt were open. She had a silver metallic briefcase in her hands. Just like her she had done her hair and also wore black frame glasses. With beaming confidence, she trotted towards her in her high heels. Neera could not help but admire her dressing sense and demeanour.

“Welcome, Neera! Welcome to Judgement stop” announced the lady formally.
Neera seemed to be least bothered by her presence. Being her usual self she casually asked, “So I am dead?”

“Yes Madam! Technically yes. But it will be confirmed after you get the tickets for your next destination?” She replied pertinently.

“That means I am neither dead nor alive? Kind of in-between?” Neera enquired again.

“You are in transit. Just like if you have done the check-in but not boarded the flight yet” The lady explained patiently with a smile.

“Ok Ok. Let it be. But who are you? God?” Neera asked.

“I wish I could be someday. But for now, I just keep accounts for Him. I am Chitra Gupta.” She replied.

“What you Chitragupta? But I read he was a guy, but you seem to be a woman” Neera looked confused.

“He is Chitragupta. I am Chitra Gupta. There is a space character. You see it's all about perception.” Replied Chitra.

“Wait wait. What did you say you're being a man or a woman depends on my perception? This seems to be pretty confusing. Care to explain?” Neera was excited now.

Chitra had her modest plastic smile pasted on her small lips.

“You are a true feminist Neera. You presume the world would have been a lot better if women were in charge. So how can a man be in charge of your accounts? Perceptions and notions are very powerful you see, at least over here.” 

“Ok fine. So you are just the accountant! Where is the Big boss? Where is God? I have a few questions for him?” Neera replied curtly.

“Generally it’s the other way round madam. But I presume your case is unique. God had warned me earlier. Plus you are a journalist, that too an honest, unbiased one. You represent a very rare endangered species on earth. My data says you are more endangered than the Emu or the platypus in the present day. Probably that’s why God is taking so long.” 

Soon there was a squeak in the door and they could see a silhouette stealthily walk toward them.

Chitra cleared her throat and pulled the chair. As the silhouette materialised into a human shape, Neera could not help but laugh. The man who had approached them was barely 4 feet at least 1.5feet shorter than her and had a bald head with surprisingly just two streaks of hair standing tall on his head. He wore a yellow Bermuda with red socks and pink oversize jogging shoes. He had nothing but just a floral printed violet tie on top which was resting on his paunch. He had a disgusting Hitleresque butterfly moustache hanging on his lips just below his flat nose. Even Neera felt bad for his catastrophic fashion sense.

“Welcome, Neera! Sorry to keep you waiting. I hope Chitra madam has already briefed you.” Spoke the man in a heavy voice.

“Don’t tell me you are God?” Neera asked trying her best not to laugh.

“I am afraid that’s what most people call me. But please don’t laugh at me. The way I look is nothing but a perception. Your perception.” 

“I am sorry I am an atheist. I don’t have any perception of God. I always thought it was a convenient hoax” replied Neera defiantly.

“That’s precisely the point. The cumulative summation of your ideas of me, your curses, and allegations overall culminate into this poor fashion sense of mine. This is how you perceive God. I am sorry I never thought you were so mean.” God was almost weeping.

“Wait wait so you don’t look like how they show in our serials?” 

“I know you underestimate me and my capability. But trust me I don’t have such wretched fashion sense that I will put tonnes of old fashioned gold jewellery on my bare body for nothing. Again it's their perception. A perception that I quite hate.” God replied.

“I am sorry. But still, the confusion exists. If your clothes or lack of them is proportional to my faith then you should have been naked. Not that I want it though”

At this Chitra giggled which earned her a stern gaze from God. Then He forced a smile and said, “That's not funny madam. We have some decorum and minimalist dressing guidelines here. It’s not a nudist colony you see.”

This jib kind of aroused the feminist in Neera. She had not subscribed to the idea of God from an early age and God himself was in front of her, she was in no mood to spare him. 

“You are sure this is no nudist colony? Then what about the concept of 72 virgins waiting for a pure soul, the concept of dancing Menkas & Apsaras, and the concept of seducing sorceress. The very concept of heaven objectifies and belittles women. If the idea is to reward a pure soul with virgins then it should be gender-neutral at least. You are a torchbearer of patriarchy.” Neera was excited.

“You just called God Male Chauvinist” Chitra blurted.

God opened his specs and adjusted them. He looked sad. He took up the glass of water from the table and took two sips.

“You are a feminist madam. I get it & I don’t have any objections to that. But the grave accusations that you thrust on me are unjust and unfair. Have you seen any of the so-called virgins or dancers around here? Chitra my respectable assistant is dressed modestly and I offer her my utmost respect despite her ridiculing gestures. So can you kindly reconsider your allegations against me?” God seemed to be hurt.

“It’s true I can’t see any around. But you only told me whatever I see is my perception. So how do I become sure that it's real?” 

“Precisely madam. There is no reality here. Reality is all down there. Here it’s all your perception. So if lust is what all your men perceive, then their heaven indeed needs virgins, fairies and nymphs. You can’t blame me for that. I am in no capacity responsible for that.” God replied.

“Even if I buy your argument that all ideas of heaven, swarg, Jannat, religion as a whole is man-made and all reality is on earth, still that does not help your case much,” Neera argued.

“You just said man-made and not woman made?” God asked.

“Ahh, that’s just a general figure of speech. Come on” Neera looked irritated.

“But I did not generalize it. You did. You people generalized everything. What a woman should not wear, how she should talk, what part of the body she should cover, when she should fast, which temple or mosque she should not enter, whom she should not marry! I have no role in it. All this generalisation is done by Mankind rather than humankind.” For the first time, God looked satisfied to have pushed Neera on the back foot. He looked up at Chitra expecting a smile in His support. But sadly Chitra did not oblige.

“So just like our elected government, you take no blame for the bloodshed going around in your name. You put all the blame on the poor public. You can’t just sit and watch the mad circus. Then you are not fit for the role of God.” Neera said sharply.

“Did she just question the competency of God?” Chitra could not resist. Again God exchanged a fiery glance.

“Do you believe that you all are just puppets in hands of God? All is pre-destined”.

“Surely not I take my own decisions. My life, my rules. When I am not sure what my life will be like in the next hour why will You be in charge? I want to be free. Free will, free spirit” 

“I too want the same. That’s why I have given you all the control. Then when you mess up on your own you blame me. Yet to assist you I have given you the power of thinking, sense of good, empathy, joy, happiness, poetry, music and whatnot. Yet ignoring all that you resolve to bloodshed. You blame me for that?” God was almost in tears.

For the first time, Neera felt bad for God. She was a bit too harsh on the poor fellow. He must be under a tremendous workload. It is not bad to break down at times. Even men do cry and women can console them.

“Just a moment, so you say the raging lust leading to rapes and brutality among men is also developed by them? But if lust is a basic instinct then indeed you are responsible.” Neera was not giving up.

God blinked twice & replied slowly, “Now again this is my problem. When I created man and Woman I never gave them any guidelines for not eating any apple. I wanted my creation to self-create and take civilization forward. The conjugal instincts were given to all creatures for the same reason. But for humans, I decided to spice it up a bit. Rather than being a mundane repetitive process, I added lust and love to it. I wanted the process to be an experience to be enjoyed. It's just like a pizza bread with tasty toppings. But how would I know that the humans will eat the toppings out of turn without caring for the base.”

Neera was impressed by the Pizza analogy. But she was here to combat fire with a fire extinguisher.

“But in your great process, women to suffer menstrual cramps, women to go through unbearable labour, while men will just enjoy the pizza? And you say you are not partial?”

“Did you just call God...” Chitra could not complete this time.

God snarled at her, “Yes she called me Partial. We all can hear that without you repeating it.”

Chitra bit her lip in apology and put her head down.

“See Neera I had entrusted the superior species with the greater responsibility. Naturally, women deserve to have it. The Period thing is just a part of the process. Period. Just as ATV vehicles are designed with superior suspension mechanisms I designed the woman bodies meticulously so that they can sustain the pain. Women are way stronger than men you see” replied God.

“I caught your bluff sir! Women are stronger than men. Are you in your senses or on marijuana?” Neera retorted relentlessly.

Chitra was ready to repeat if Neera called God an addict. But realising the gravity of the situation she ate her words.

“Neera I did not expect this from you. Do you think physical strength is the greatest power? I am afraid in that case Dinosaurs, gorillas, crocodiles, and elephants would have ruled the earth. Strength is in the mind and Women are designed with greater mental strength. I can bet on my creation. It’s your empathy that makes you powerful” God replied with diction.

God is Smart. Not as dumb as she thought. Neera was searching for her next question.

“So if you put all blame for violence and worldly disturbances on humans, what about natural catastrophes like Tsunamis, earthquakes and cyclones? You like it shaken, not stirred?”

“I am no James Bond, Neera. But first, you tell me what happened to your scooter last week?” 

“The air pressure was not accurate in the back wheel and the brakes were not serviced. It skidded.” 

“So can you blame the makers for the same?” God paused.

Neera realized she was stumped.

God had just delivered his glory lines with panache.

“You humans ticker and disturb the wonderful nature designed by me with pollution, global warming, hazardous chemicals and your overall Greed. In place of doing the regular maintenance of nature, you relentlessly exploit my system. Now you blame me?”

Neera could not reply. Chitra clapped in appreciation. God was happy. Finally, he made sense.

“Just a small clarification if you don’t mind?” Neera asked sheepishly.

“Again? Shoot” God thought he had nailed it but still some action was left.

“Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Jains all perceive you differently and shade blood for the sake of their difference in perceptions. Yet you don’t clarify them? Does the devil play his cards?” Neera asked.

God pulled out a box from under the table & put on a pair of black aviators & a pair of cheap lighting horns on his head. “Talking of the Devil, the Devil is here”. He grinned. Then he looked seriously into Neera’s eyes and replied.

“I told you I am not their controller just their creator. The diversity in thoughts is what makes them so beautiful and colourful. Just imagine Cakes for Christmas, Laddoos for Ganapathy, Biryani for Eid- it's all their creativity. If there was no diversity or difference in perception world would have been a boring place. I know they are stupid. They treat me often as a traffic constable whom they bribe every time they break the signal. But I ignore them. They can love and that’s the secret ingredient that helps them to fight the hardest of challenges.” 

“Huh, love is too overrated for me” Neera shrugged off.

God smiled and exchanged a glance with Chitra.

“Ok, I guess your questions are done with. I so wish your prime time TV news anchors borrow a page from your guide to fearless journalism. Time to get back to work. So Chitra Madam what do we have for Neera?” 

“She has an impeccable spotless sheet, Sir. It's confirmed Heaven” Chitra replied with excitement.

“Then Heaven it is” declared God.

Neera was silent. Her head was bent down and all of a sudden the excitement to have defeated the God in an argument seemed to die down. All the euphoria in her seemed to mould into a lump that had settled in her throat. Her nose felt heavy & her weather forecast was cloudy skies and rains. Before she could realize the first teardrop left her eyelids and landed on the ground.

“I miss mama, papa and that idiot too! I don’t want Heaven. I want to go home” Neera spoke trying her best to hold back her tears.

“And you say love is overrated my child,” God spoke softly.

There was awkward silence & God broke it.

“Chitra send her back! Convert the grenade hurled at her into a rotten egg. Delete the timeline.” God announced.

“But that is not as per protocol” Chitra reverted.

“Then understand that she has just forced God to break the rules” God smiled.

Neera was very happy after a long. But even at this moment, she was a lady after all.
“Thanks, Sir! But cant you change the rotten egg. It stinks & is bad for hair and skin” requested Neera.

God and Chitra just kept staring at each other.

Meantime the poor thug who had hurled the hand grenade could hardly believe his luck as the rotten egg crashed beside the journalist & police sirens approached them. 

Poetry from Aloysius S Harmon

Threnody

i have felt my heart weighing down in me
the other day it held the  silence of a cemetery.

some wounds will crack your bones & escort you in the mock for cremation,
but boys were taught not to fall when they are heavy.

i held mine in my chest
the water faucet in my kitchen leaks water the same way my eyes do.

i witnessed tears leaving holes in my cheek bones & each day there were
 maps that broke through me.

all i have ever felt was learning to die with my eyes wide open.

Aloysius S Harmon Jr is an emerging Grebo Liberian writer and poet. Many of his poems have appeared on Eboquills, Eve Poetry Magazine, We Write Liberia, Synchronized Chaos, and elsewhere. He is one of the co-authors to the 'Breaking the Silence Anthology', Thoughts In Words, and 'Weep No More Liberia'. He is the winner of the Thort’s poetry competition.

Poetry from J.J. Campbell

Author J.J. Campbell
Author J.J. Campbell
failure after failure
 
this endless display
 
a woman still acting
like a child that needs
attention
 
trying to figure out
how to attract the
man of her dreams
 
hard to sit back and
watch failure after
failure
 
the sheer inability to
get her shit together
 
too old for games
 
too old for loose
ends
 
too old for more
chaos than is
fucking needed
 
best that none of
us think about what
could have been
--------------------------------------------------------------
the lobby of a hospital
 
watching porn
in the lobby
of a hospital
 
tempted to turn
up the volume
just to see if
anyone is
paying
attention
 
the woman at
the desk gives
me an evil stare
 
she'll probably
understand when
i ask where is
the bathroom
--------------------------------------------------------------
loved dancing in the rain
 
you always wanted
to be the carefree
soul that loved
dancing in the
rain
 
instead that rain
triggers all the
arthritis slowly
killing you and
leaves you
crippled in
a chair
 
the alcohol only
helps so much
 
the pills don't
do much anymore
either
 
there's a bent spoon
and a needle on the
table beside the bed
 
just enough to take
the edge off
 
hopefully soon enough
 
it will be more than
enough to carry you
to the other side
-----------------------------------------------------------------
nowhere to be found
 
i was asked to take
an honest look at
myself
 
so, i did
 
five foot nine
339 lbs.
 
moderately depressed
morbidly obese
 
arthritis from head
to toe
 
a failing liver
 
a love for alcohol
crazy women and
a passionate lover
of sports, music
and the word fuck
 
the doctor then asked
where is god in all of this
 
as usual, i said
nowhere to be found
-----------------------------------------------------------------
dance between the dull moments
 
after hours in medical facilities
always gets a little creepy
 
you used to be one of them
perverts on the cleaning crew
 
you know what kind of thoughts
dance between the dull moments
on yet another boring ass day

J.J. Campbell (1976 – ?) is old enough to know where the bodies are buried. He’s been widely published over the years, most recently at Horror Sleaze Trash, The Beatnik Cowboy, Black Coffee Review, Terror House Magazine and Cajun Mutt Press. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (https://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Poetry from Robert Fleming

Elf Emergency
when calculus is enough 

x = woman 
y = man

Theorem 1

derivative man and woman equals
woman or
man or
woman join man or
woman join woman or
man join man or
many men join woman or
many women join man

dy
--------    = x ∨ y ∨ xy | x2 | y2 | x2y | y2x ∨ x2y
dx

Theorem 2

integrate from not love to love equals
you and i are a set

  love  		
∫ {u i}
  love

Theorem 3

integrate from love to not love equals
you are i are not the same elements or
you and i are not a set or
we are null

  love  
∫ u ∉ i {u i} {}
  love
 
now fails me

y? O y?
y pushed out of mother’s birth canal?
lava lamp save me
lava not volcano spewd
lamp spews that save
iris light spectrum
ooze green river / river of lava / ooze on
my lava lust flows on 
like green garden snakes slithering 
4 lava heat
now / another now
lava ooze clean my blood
kidney green red blue filter my

lava oozes on

**

Light Zuppai

remaining temple oil
can just light light for one day
oil lights for eight days

green kryptonite
unzipped sleeping bag grass
flash light reader reads

a teepee needs lite
book pages under wood lite
a log cabin lights

where the city shines
upward bright white lights all night
the stars shine blackness
 
The day the rotation died

before days the earth maker dropped a globe into an axis
the 1st degree of west to east rotation rotated
on the 1st day light was created
the motor rotated earth 180o to dark

before disco balls only mirror balls rotated
after the 7th day the 1st 487 mirrors were glued on a 12” sphere
projected in Die Sinfonie der Großstadt from a Berlin nightclub
in 1927 mirror balls became disco balls

on day 4,541,000,000 a pale blue Antarctic ozone hole is born
the earth’s rotation speed increased by .001 mph
day light reduced 1 second a day
human body clocks stayed at a 24-hour schedule

disco balls lost mirror reflection from spot lights
demanded dark breaks & no more fucken Bee Gees
fucken night fever on endless repeat
the DJs never give the disco balls a dark break

on day 5,541,000,000 the earth’s rotation speed increased by 1 mph
day light reduced a minute and a half per day
the equator sea level rises 2 inches waving 2 the poles
human body clocks stayed to a 24-hour schedule

at half-time of a White Sox & Detroit Tigers double-header
disco died July 12, 1979 at Chicago's Comiskey Park
70,000 disco demolitionists burned 10,000 Donna Summer Bad Girls albums
disco died, but not disco balls

on the last day the earth rotates east to west
the disco ball rotates counterclockwise 6 to              
the human body clock is a 22-hour schedule


Robert Fleming lives in Lewes, DE. Published in United States, Canada, and Australia. Member of the Rehoboth Beach, Eastern Shore, and Horror Writer’s Association. 2022 winner of San Gabriel Valley CA broadside-1 poem, 2021 winner of Best of Mad Swirl poetry and nominated for Pushcart Prize by Ethel Zine and FailBetter and double nominated for best of the net by Devil’s Party Press. Follow Robert at https://www.facebook.com/robert.fleming.5030.