Synchronized Chaos Mid-September issue: This Mortal Coil

First of all, an announcement: I (editor Cristina Deptula) am going to be providing accessibility support on Zoom for Art and Mind 2023, which is an amazing virtual showcase of art, music and writing centered on BIWOC creators and how their art helps them heal themselves and others. All are welcome and this is Thursday, October 5th, 6:30 to 8:30 EST (New Hampshire time).

The poster is a digitally drawn sunflower field. These sunflowers are a mustard yellow with orange highlights. The centers of the sunflowers are brown and black. The sunflowers fade into the background, leading to green and grey mountains with an abstract curly pattern at their bases. The mountains are rounded at the top, and fade into a whitish green. The sky is blue with white paint splotches and swirls as clouds.

Three mustard yellow circles are lined up in the middle of the poster with white outlines. Inside each is text about the event. Under the left circle is the Sistas Uprising Fund logo

At the very bottom is a white bar with the Brain Arts Org logo & Dancing Queerly Boston logos. It also states info about accessibility at the event

The graphic says at the top:
Sista Creatives Rising Presents: Art & Mind I Know Who I Am! Journeys of Women of Color & Femme-Expressing Creatives. Virtual Fundraiser & Film Event.

The Art & Mind logo is hand drawn white text with a black outline. It’s slightly curved. Green vines are intertwined into the logo, with two large sunflowers at either side of the logo.

Left circle: Sista Creatives Rising
A Black Owned Project Fundraising For Our Sistas Uprising Fund. 100% of proceeds become grants for BIPOC artists.

Middle Circle: A Virtual Disability Centered Documentary Event. Showcasing 5 Creatives Utilizing The Healing Power of Art & A Disabled Black Woman’s Journey Through The Pandemic & Cancer.

Right Circle: Featuring Black Speakers - Covid Conscious Therapist Amanda McGuire, MC and QTBIPOC Therapist Journee LaFond, Disability Activist & Poet Jacquese Armstrong

Bottom left corner says: Thursday October 5th 6:30 - 8:30 PM EST. Donations Optional. Get free tickets and/or donate:

Asl by Pro Bono ASL
Open Captioning
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“Art & Mind,” is a virtual Zoom disability-accessible film event series supporting creative marginalized women and marginalized genders to share their journeys. This event uses short films, documentaries, entrepreneur features, and speaking engagements from professionals such as therapists and activists to raise awareness about social issues these creatives face.

Tickets are free but they accept donations towards the fund they are developing to give artist grants to low-income BIWOC artists. They have a $1000 fundraising goal and so far have reached $711.

I’ve known the mother and daughter pair, Amaranthia and Claire, who are organizing this show, for several years through the art and writing world. They put a lot of heart and thought and research into this, and I encourage you to come see it!

Also, our October issue will have the theme of Electronica: Sound Medicine, edited by Kahlil Crawford, and will encompass themes of electronic music, music in general, the intersection of music and writing and other forms of art, and writing/music/art/technology. Submissions related to the above themes that touch on Indigenous People’s Day in mid-October are also welcomed. Please submit to with “Electronica” in the title.

Red and black graphic with the words Sound Medicine in white and all caps surrounding a yellow and black vinyl record.

Third, our contributor Mantri Pragada Markandeleyu seeks a songwriter with whom to collaborate to set his Bollywood-style lyrics to music! Here is his information if you are interested.

Finally, we at Synchronized Chaos Magazine acknowledge that as well as artists and writers and creatives, we are members of the broader human community. And right now the community is affected by the earthquake in Morocco and the flooding in Libya. We express our sorrow at the loss of life and property and encourage people to contribute if they can towards the relief and recovery efforts. Information on how to do that here.

This issue’s theme is This Mortal Coil. A reference from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, where the titular character considers whether to continue his life, the phrase has come to signify the struggles and complexities of life.

In this issue, our contributors illustrate and grapple with various physical and psychological aspects of existence, or nonexistence.

Hexagonal tunnel descending down to a black hole. Wallpaper lined with squares. Abstract images.
Image c/o Piotr Siedlecki

Lilian Dipasupil Kunimasa shares a basic universal statement: how we all face death and need love. Maja Milojkovic’s pieces call us to remember who we really are, at a personal and universal level.

Mark Young ponders physical aging and mortality in a piece inspired by a lizard, which he wrote as a teen and reflected on in his older age. Grzegorz Wroblewski reminds us to enjoy life while we can, as it’s impermanent.

Shamsiya Khudoynazarova Turumovna encourages faith and trust over the ups and downs of life. Mirta Liliana Ramirez asserts her existence and place in this world while acknowledging her Creator for animating her spirit.

Jim Meirose’s surreal story conveys the unease of losing control over one’s body and mind during surgery. Filip Zubatov relates a common struggle, failing in one’s best-laid plans to wake up early. Ari Nystrom Rice narrates an experience of insomnia.

Skye Preston’s poignant piece on a flightless bird speaks to how disabilities can cut to the heart of our identity and self-perception. Kendall Snipper presents a person’s spiritual death due to their self-doubt.

Closeup of an ostrich head with a large open eye. Whiskers and feathers and a hazy natural background.
Image c/o

Cody Tse’s speaker compares himself to a floor covered by a decorative rug: useful rather than ornamental, but often overlooked. Mary Acosta speaks to the pain of being forgotten and unheard.

Celeste Alisse writes of the struggle to be heard and seen, the lengths we go to in performing and sharing our pain in order to be noticed. Zofia Mosur expresses her rage at being trapped in a world not of her choosing and blamed for problems not of her creation, as well as the common artist’s angst at not meeting her own standards.

Daniel Aondona relates his physical, embodied grief at living in a war-torn country. Zahro Shamsiyya looks outward at the multitude of sorrows concealed by night within her city of Tashkent, and the whole world.

Taylor Dibbert describes confused, alienated travelers just returning to the airport after long periods of isolation, playing the role of clueless Americans. Sayani Mukherjee’s poem shares her love for Paris, spring, and the color pink.

Brian Barbeito sketches his observations of Vegas, focusing in on various individuals at a physical and spiritual level. In his photography, he evokes the spirit of places with basic natural elements, clouds and water and light.

Orange and white sunset and blue sky and a few wispy gray clouds over a watery swamp with cattails. Florida Everglades.
Image c/o Jean Beaufort

Mahbub Alam writes of growth from the refreshing natural nourishment of rain. Vandana Kumar recollects the endless rain of last winter in her lament. J.D. Nelson notices the imminent passage of summer into fall.

Don Bormon illustrates the glory and majesty of trees. Channie Greenberg splashes the screen with her colorful flowers.

Isabel Gomez de Diego contributes somewhat domestic scenes of cows, pans, and fish. Daniel De Culla’s photographs, which include taxidermied boar’s heads, juxtapose reminders of wildness with indoor calm and prettiness.

Marley Manalo observes nature closely, wanting to be seen at the same level of detail rather than just enjoyed as a pretty object.

Alma Ryan’s poem speaks to the simple joys of surfing and togetherness. Kristy Raines evokes a deep and emotional love connection while Graciela Noemi Villaverde expresses the hope of reunion with a loved one after long absence in pieces laden with nature imagery. Anindya Paul’s love for nature and for other people meld into one and the same feeling, while Gustavo Galliano exalts the mystical and physical communion of lovers amid the clouds and the deep night. Annie Johnson also describes long term communion with a partner and with nature. Mesfakus Salahin encourages a lover to return so they can together bring light to the world.

Two figures in a boat with oars off in a lake at sunrise or twilight. Land off in the distance, everything is blue or shadowy black.
Image c/o Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan

Fay Loomis’ Bali travelogue shares how she started to let go of rigid expectations (her own and others) and embraced a softer, more dreamlike and natural schedule.

Hongri Yuan, in poetry translated by Yuanbing Zhang, also escapes the rigid counting of minutes and seconds to find spiritual transcendence in the past and the future.

Patrick Sweeney’s little vignettes also slip the bounds of rationality, merging the familiar with the outlandish or cataclysmic.

Jerry Durick conveys the surreal experience of reading, of imagining oneself as someone else, shifting one’s sense of time and place. Gabriel Flores Benard illuminates the flickering and transitory life of a fictional character, existing only in our imperfect memories. Monira Mahbub wishes for a variety of natural and fanciful things in her short but evocative poem.

Peter Cherches’ stories probe the familiarity and mystery of neighbors. How well do we know the people we think we know, whom we see every day?

Surreal nighttime watercolor-ish image of a city, white, red, and blue from streetlights and shadows. Buildings are several stories tall and close together, six people walk off into the distance.
Image c/o Ken E.

Grant Guy’s nearly nihilistic black-and-white humorous pieces point out the potential absurdities in artistic expression, in contrast to the often explicitly meaningful and message-centric art outlined in Alec Dunn and Josh MacPhee’s Journal of International Political Graphics, reviewed here by A. Iwasa.

Mykyta Ryzhykh’s modernist, absurdist lowercase poetry reminds us there is life in the midst of death, ugliness in the midst of beauty.

Robert Ronnow’s poetic speakers peruse their complex natural and human landscapes, classifying and observing, speculating on their place in the world and how they should live.

Muhammad Ehsan Khan suggests in his essay that compassion and wise and considerate actions begin with empathy.

Nurujjaman writes of the development of character, will, and perseverance. Iftikhar Zaman Ononno talks about what it takes to be a good citizen. Tanvir Islam describes a deep connection with a true friend.

Silhouettes of six people of varying heights walking off towards a sunrise or sunset on a sandy beach. Sun is slightly shielded by a middle person.
Image c/o Omar Sahel

Mantri Pragada Markandeyulu shares wisdom on developing character and inner peace. His story “Vishal and the Evil King,” reminds those in power that duty to those they govern is more important than their own fleeting sensual pleasures.

Pascal Lockwood-Villa’s poetry illustrates how one’s childhood experiences cast a long shadow over who we are. For this reason, several authors highlight the consideration we should show for children and young people.

Tasirul Islam looks into how to be a good teacher. Mustafayeva Feride urges teachers to show care and dedication for students. Abdullah Al-Mahin reminds us not to underestimate the contributions young people make to our world.

Abdullah Al Mamun offers love and thanks to his mother. Mr. Ben’s book The Darn Things Kids Say includes children’s candid thoughts about their parents. Rasheed Olayemi puts out a call to help struggling widows, especially those with young children.

Sabrid Jahan Mahin illustrates the personal and intellectual growth that can come through reading.

Two light skinned people using laptops at desks not facing each other. Both have lightbulbs for heads and electricity is passing between them. Brick wall in the background.
Image c/o Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan

Andrea Carr encourages young adults, and all people, to follow one’s dreams and carefully select those who will advise us. Asadova Sabina highlights the importance of setting goals in life.

Ali Haider’s story demonstrates how laziness and revenge can have evil consequences. Stephen Bruce wryly points out how we escape responsibility by blaming our choices and circumstances on others and bad luck.

Guzal Botirova reminds us that the highest profession and calling is being a good and considerate human.

Akhlima Ankhi’s poem is a lament over global climate change and human degradation of the natural world. Nahyean Bin Khalid’s time travel story illustrates the risk of technological advancement without parallel advancement in our humanity and conscience, including our treatment of the environment. At the same time, Adhamova Laylo Akmaljon qizi reminds us that technology, when properly used, can be interesting, with her description of how a television set works.

Mahmudul Hasan Fahim’s horror story poses the existential threat of zombies, and probes what dies inside of you when you become the kind of person who can easily kill them.

Green fingers of a monster with red nails grab a woman's face from behind. She's got lighter skin, brown hair, wide open eyes and a sad face.
Image c/o Lea Leani

J.J. Campbell writes of his isolation, his inspirations, and how memory can be a curse. Jerry Langdon’s poetic pieces reflect his speakers’ desire to escape their lives and free themselves from memories of past violent trauma.

Sukhrob Saidov also deals with historical memory, reviewing the documentary “Before Stonewall” and its articulation of LGBT history and journey towards equality.

Diyora Umarkulova explores the history of the English language and its borrowing from other languages. Nadira Oktamavna and Umrbek Ibragimov trace the development of Uzbek historiography.

Z.I. Mahmud traces Jane Eyre’s character development in the eponymous novel, which, unusually for its time, highlighted the journey of a regular person as having literary merit and being memorialized.

Elmaya Jabbarova’s piece comes from a one-time lover urging a former partner to remember the good times they shared. Ahmad Al-Khatat’s romantic poems also commingle love and memory, mixing loss and grief, reconnection and longing.

Duane Vorhees speaks to romance, wisdom, aging, learning, and spirituality.

Tolipova Zebuniso Ulug’bekovna concludes the issue with a simple poem with her wishes on how she would like to be remembered. We hope that this issue provokes and inspires thoughts of a similar nature for all of our readers.

Poetry from Akhlima Ankhi

Young Central Asian woman with a peach headscarf with decorative jewels and a pink top standing outside in front of trees.
Akhlina Ankhi

Encumbrance of Beings
Being hot the Earth is melting like a Candle;
Again being ice somewhere!
Nature is restless by unwise deeds
So, humans how will you be tranquil ! 

Man, Be careful.
Today, your show-off civilization is disconsolate.
Europe is almost naked by heat wave.
Often  and often America stays in cold ICU.
In Asia flood fest is going on
Reasonless diving and swimming here and there.
Embracing drought and hunger Africa is on palpitation.
Amazon or Australia is on wild fire. 
Please, tell me.
Whose fault?

What do you feel?
Laments of the rotten heart of Earth
Throbbing like a raped girl.
Carrying the punishment of this sin in your mind and brain;
Pulmo with hundred prick marks 
Sobbing with intense fever–
Because of humans fault.
Yeah, only because of the sin of humans fault.

Being a child of this world how do I forget the sins of Agnate. 
Taking all of responsibilities on my shoulder, to live and to save from the curse of innocent Earth.
Singing hymn for the healthy World.   

Aklima Ankhi, poet, storyteller and translator from Cox'sbazar, Bangladesh. Born in Mymensingh, Bangladesh. She has a published poetry named "Guptokothar Shobdochabi" written in Bangla.She is a post graduate in English Literature. As a profession she is a Lecturer in English.           

Poetry from J.D. Nelson

dried-up sunflowers
in front of the house next door—
last week of summer


early autumn dusk—
the dog turns his head towards
the honks of the geese


the trees at the park
beneath Jupiter & stars—
a cool, moonless night



J. D. Nelson is the author of ten print chapbooks and e-books of poetry, including *Cinderella City* (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). His first full-length collection is *in ghostly onehead* (Post-Asemic Press, 2022). Visit his website,, for more information and links to his published work. Nelson lives in Colorado, USA.

Essay from Muhammad Ehsan

Empathy: The Last Refuge of Human Suffering

In a world where divisions and disputes often characterize our interactions, empathy is one of humanity’s most fundamental and defining characteristics. It is a massive force, a sort of refuge, that crosses boundaries and provides comfort to people in need. Empathy or the ability to understand and share the emotions and feelings of others, is undeniably important in easing human suffering, making it not only an appealing but also a deeply essential topic for discussion.

Empathy is a universal language that transcends beyond linguistic, cultural, and geographical barriers. It acts as a link between people, enabling us to see how our common human experiences tie us all together. It is the thread that runs through the fabric of our shared existence.

At its core, it brings comfort during times of personal disturbance and suffering. When we feel understood and supported by others, our suffering becomes more manageable. It’s the soothing knowing that we are not alone in our troubles, a reminder that our pain is a part of the human experience shared by many others.

Empathy is a bridge builder, uniting people who would otherwise be isolated. It promotes connection, building relationships of understanding and compassion. We can reach across racial, religious, and ideological barriers with empathy, finding common ground even in the most difficult of circumstances. It serves as a reminder that we are all human beings with our own worries, goals, and dreams.

In the face of trauma and unfortunate circumstances, empathy is critical to the healing process. It gives survivors the affirmation and support they need to process their experiences and move ahead. Therapists and counselors acknowledge the transforming potential of empathy and use it as an integral component of recovery, providing a safe space for people to address their pain.

However, empathy is not a passive force; it has the potential to generate substantial change. We are driven to act when we empathize with the suffering of others. It motivates us to give our time, donate to humanitarian causes, and fight for policy reforms that reduce human suffering on a greater scale. It is a positive change catalyst, motivating us to make the world a better place.

Empathy serves as a reminder of our shared humanity. It reinforces the idea that, at our core, we are all vulnerable imperfect humans going through the complex landscape of existence in a world that frequently highlights differences. Recognizing our common vulnerability fosters empathy, compassion, and a shared commitment to alleviating suffering.

Finally, empathy is the last refuge of human suffering. It is a guiding light for us as we face challenges in life, providing a means to connect, heal, and make the world a better place. It is the ultimate refuge for human suffering, reminding us that even in the face of hardship, we have the ability to inspire and encourage one another. Let us celebrate empathy as the power that brings us together and allows us to rise beyond our collective difficulties.

Bio of Muhammad Ehsan

Muhammad Ehsan, a dedicated Pakistani educator and researcher, wields a profound influence in education and empathy. With extensive teaching experience in secondary education and a research-focused mindset, he molds young minds and contributes as Freelance Venue Staff at the British Council, excelling as a Fiverr content writer. 

Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at the International Islamic University Islamabad, Ehsan's research delves into the integration of microcredentials into degree programs in Pakistan, building upon his M. Phil research exploring the impact of teacher's classroom behavior on students' learning at the secondary school level. His scholarly achievements shine through six published research papers in reputable journals. 

Additionally, Ehsan's international exposure includes participation in the prestigious Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) program at Virginia Tech, as well as completing an Online Certificate in Advanced Writing from the University of California, Irvine. He has expanded his knowledge through various online courses in higher education and governance, financial education, marketing, and AI tool utilization. 

Beyond academia, Ehsan serves as a co-founder of the Pakistani American Teachers of English Network (PATEN) and holds the position of Director of Outreach and Accessibility in PATEN, where he fosters collaboration and mentorship among educators and professionals, underlining his unwavering commitment to fostering positive change in education and society.

A. Iwasa reviews Signal: 01 A Journal of International Political Graphics, edited by Alec Dunn and Josh MacPhee

Signal: 01 A Journal of International Political Graphics

Reviewed by A. Iwasa

The first issue of Signal starts with the words, “SIGNAL is an idea in formation. “It is a response to the myopia of the contemporary political culture in the United States, our blindness to most things beyond our national boundaries, and our lack of historical memory.”

When Signal first landed on my radar, I assumed the editors were just going to phone it in with a well curated, coffee table style art book full of sexy Leftist propaganda images like those from the Spanish Civil War. That written, I was still amped about it but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Since its inception, Signal has been an examination of how the arts play a prominent role in enforcing the status quo, though also serving a similar role as part of social change movements attempting to undermine the way things are. It’s exactly the sort of material I was practically dying for in 1999 as I pivoted the focus of my creative work from making music and writing lyrics to do doing ‘zines.

I’ve found a great deal of the material printed on questions about the role of the arts in social change movements to be lacking for the most part. But folks with Signal hit the ground running, by framing some of these questions in larger contexts, such as in this issue by interviewing a Xicana print making project’s three members, the Taller Tupac Amaru collective, interspersing their artwork with photographs.

“I think about it in terms of evaluation. I’ve been asking, ‘Is my work really making an impact?’ And then I’ve been taking a couple of steps back and wondering if I’m even asking the right questions,” said Melanie Cervantes, a member of the Taller Tupac Amaru collective as their conversation moved from arts education, work under capitalism, social movements both mass and highly localized, and much more.

This was followed by an interview with a long time Dutch punk vocalist and comic artist, Johannes van de Weert.

Black and white pencil drawn cartoon image of a mouse slapping and nearly knocking over a pig.
Art from Johannes van der Weert

Afterwards is a photo essay of freight train graffiti, something I’ve long enjoyed as the merger of two of my favorite things. It’s all art by IMPEACH from the crew ALB, that took its name from the Communist Party’s Abraham Lincoln Brigade who fought the fascists in Spain during their civil war. This is actually the second time the Spanish Civil War has come up in the text: Johannes van de Weert did a comic called No Pasaran about Dutch anti-Fascist volunteers who fought in the war.

The following interview adds to Signal’s internationalism, but also even further depth by bringing in a veteran of the 1968 Mexican Student Movement, Felipe Hernandez Moreno, a printmaker who had been involved with Grupo 65. The interview is heavy for a number of reasons, but I think perhaps most important are his descriptions of Grupo 65’s organizational forms as they produced posters that were illegal, and put themselves at tremendous risk posting and distributing them, themselves. It’s not hard to imagine a future US where this sort of information will be invaluable. Here I can’t emphasize enough, all of the interviews and articles are interspersed with top notch visual art and/or photographs. It’s sharply laid out and engaging.

Next is an essay about adventure playgrounds, child built playgrounds that emerged in Copenhagen during the German occupation of World War II, with the Emdrup playground started by the Copenhagen Workers’ Co-operative Housing Association. The essay compares and contrasts how children relate to the formal settings of conventional playgrounds vs. the DIY aspects of adventure playgrounds.

This issue closes with an interview with the primary cover artist of Anarchy: A Journal of Anarchist Ideas, Rufus Segar. The journal went from 1961-’70, so as you can imagine, Segar has some good stories about working in the era’s art industry, volunteering for the journal on the side, printing, and the creative process in general.

When PM Press sent me the complete run of Signal, I originally thought I’d review #8 standing alone since it was new, and try to do an overarching deep dive about the first seven. But these journals are too good and need individual attention.

They can be ordered here from PM Press.


Poetry from Kendall Snipper

Mold Internal

The ultimate image of self-doubt:

The glass separating me and my reflection

Is shrinking my skull ever-so-slightly

Removing the inversion from my retina-like delusion

My pupils widen as they do not recognize

The molding sponge in the mirror

I pulled off my skin in the mock and ate it

Underneath were wrinkles shaped like varicose veins.

The mirror shattered as I bit it with crooked teeth

My stomach acid rose, beginning to digest 

A parasite in the glass shards

I felt decomposing skin flakes floating through my intestines,

They repopulated in my body becoming

An umbilical cord, pulsating in my uterus

Watching my stomach grow in disgust

As Aconite bloomed in my carbons.

throwing myself down the skyline, belly first. 

Eukaryotic cells bled from my body like defeat

Scorching the pavement with toiled stems

The Aconite pieced itself together 

Atop my coked body, with bruised and torn buds.

Poetry from Filip Zubatov

A Moment of Hesitation Named Warmth

A moment of hesitation named warmth;

I found myself in this cradling cocoon

The night before’s promise bounces around my head,

“Wake up at 7:00”

I watched the hands on the clock 

Tiptoe past the hour

I lay netted in my bed

Good intentions for myself

They slip through the strainer of wakefulness

like grains of sand

I didn’t wake up at that time.




A moment of hesitation named warmth;

The cocoa sits in the depths of my stomach

“Don’t drink it. I drank it.”

The cup poured like an hourglass

Ticking into my body

I was aware

But I guess I didn’t care.

Like silk threads

Wants weave through my mind.

More sleep, more cocoa, more problems

But my judgment is clouded

Self-doubt continues to rise

And planes rise through those clouds 

Casting shadows over my resolve

I doubt I’ll ever make the sacrifice

Do what’s best for me

I’m unreliable

I guess I don’t want change enough.