November is a fall month for many of us, a time when those in the United States come together to celebrate and show gratitude for the blessings of the past year. This month’s submissions form a Thanksgiving potluck, as they, like the various dishes of the shared meal, each illustrate aspects of unity, how different people or things come together to form a whole.
In Jason Ascerno’s poem “My Skateboard” the narrator looks at his broken skateboard and misses the joy of riding it. He’s developed a relationship with the vehicle where it’s not just a tool, but part of his life and who he is. Neila Mezynksi’s piece “Both” illustrates the beauty of a close bond between two people in her short piece about an intertwined couple.
Christine Murphy’s piece “molten blue and amethyst” is a reflection on loss, and healing as acute grief becomes longing. Like the sea nymphs she speaks of, our pain fades away along the axis of time, and we emerge from our mourning to re-enter normal life.
Loretta Siegel’s poem “This I Believe” affirms the value of life and everyday beauty, of simple pleasures and basic goodness. Things that might seem inconsequential, including each of our lives, have meaning and worth, and by appreciating them we can form a healthier society. In his essay ‘Pride & Joy,’ Tony Longshanks LeTigre relates his experience celebrating pride, community, meaningful activism and family and connection at the San Francisco Pride Parade.
Debra Giuzzi’s gentle, reflective poetry collection references Western and ancient Egyptian spirituality and then moves to vignettes set in modern society, suggesting a broader, more timeless context to our world. In a similar vein, Michelle D’Angelis brings the language of cosmology to the world of human relationships and personal identity. Her speakers feel lost and mediocre as they confront the ‘dark matter’ of their psyches during times of loneliness.
Ryan Hodge illustrates the confusion created by the loss of a cohesive identity in his Play/Write column. Some video games have heightened the narrative tension within their storylines by killing off the supposed protagonist or having players discover near the end that the character with whom they identified was confused about some fundamental aspect of the game’s world. Although interesting during entertainment, this experience would likely represent a terribly alienating experience in real life. So we can work towards becoming the protagonists of our own lives, staying present and making conscious choices as best as we can even while we learn and grow.
Roy Huff talks about personal growth and maturation in his poem “Roots,” and his narrator embraces his destiny and becomes strong enough to provide shelter to others. Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope column presents various novels and a memoir (Derrick Randall’s A Soldier’s Thoughts, Zoe Zorka’s Turn Our Eyes Away, Jordan Acker’s The Shadows, Patty Lesser’s Locker Rooms, Louis Villalobos’ The Stranger’s Enigma, and Andrea Carr’s Family Tree The Novel: Family Tree) that look into how our personal pasts and family heritage can influence who we become. Our lives aren’t isolated incidents. What sort of society we have today, and what our young people experience, strongly affects what sort of world we’ll have in the future. In Huff’s metaphor, the roots we grow today bring about the leaves and fruit of tomorrow.
Joe Klingler’s novel Mash Up, reviewed here by Bruce Roberts, explores the delicate balance between music fans, creators and labels represented by copyright law, as well as the partnership between an older detective and a younger police officer. Roberts, while intrigued by each of the novel’s plot threads and the questions they raise, suggests that the complex story could have been strengthened by tighter connections among the story lines.
Ayokunle Adeleye discusses the need for and possibility of integrating people living with disabilities into normal society within his home country of Nigeria. His next piece criticizes megachurches which have selfish values and don’t build community the way these institutions could.
Christopher Bernard’s piece “The Choice” asks what sorts of tradeoffs are inevitable for different societies. Does modernization and the increased material wealth it brings have to involve greed, materialism and environmental destruction? Does harmony with nature require medieval living conditions? Or is there some sort of balance conscious and thoughtful people can strike, integrating sustainable values as we grow and evaluate our ‘deal with the devil?’
We invite you to consider who you are, what you can bring to the table, as you read through this issue of Synchronized Chaos Magazine. And we wish a very happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate this month.
***San Francisco Bay Area folks:
Synchronized Chaos Magazine ‘s next event, ‘Orphan Thinksgiving ‘ will be Thursday November 13th at 6 pm at Adobe Books in SF’s Mission District. Casual potluck where you are encouraged to bring something to share, such as food, writing etc. Or just bring yourself, that’s wonderful too! Please feel free to post here if you’d like to bring something, although showing up with food the day of the event is great also.
Event is free, all welcome, please bring family, friends or interested strangers! And right near the 24th st. BART. Facebook invite page here, RSVP encouraged but not required: https://www.facebook.com/events/293367420850340/ ***
Commercial announcement from our magazine’s partner, software developer Rui Carvalho:
*** If you are a writer or a poet and dream to show your work to the world, then we believe we have the best of opportunities to share with you.
For a small donation you can have your book presented as an e-book app for Windows Phone or Kindle.
Details are the following:
Windows Phone or Kindle with up to 40 poems – (donation 40 USD)
Rui M. Publisher ISBN – (donation 10 USD)
Annual maintenance – (donation 10 USD per year)
Revision of the text – (donation 50 USD)
Part of the funds will go to Rui Carvalho and enable him to continue the work he does creating apps for health and environmental nonprofits, and the rest will go to Synchronized Chaos Magazine. ***
I lay awake wishing to skate
My board is cracked though it seems
Our futures had a diverse fate
Bolts, nuts, and bearings work as a team
Rails and ramps so much fun
A rock is simple yet so dangerous
Little did I know our time was done
Always on my mind I’m so anxious
Even when you’re far you are so close
Your beauty has no bounds like an art
You’re my parasite and I’m the host
I hate you at times but you won my heart
I know no matter what you do
Someway somehow I always come back to you
By Christopher Bernard
By Christopher Bernard
The modern world, that devil’s bargain …
The devil came to a man one day
and told him: “I will grant to you
undreamed of knowledge, wealth and power;
every hope mankind has known
will real become, or seem to be
on the verge of reality
tomorrow or, at the very most,
the next day, marvelously.
You will dominate the earth,
take your first steps toward the stars,
walk on the mountains of the moon,
touch the sands on the plains of Mars,
weigh the ice on Saturn’s moons,
on your fingers wear her rings,
weigh the universe itself
in the scales of your great mind,
measure its length, its breadth, its age,
its time to come, death and old age,
you will be so sage.
You’ll count the smallest elements
that make it up – the quarks, the strings,
the genes, the chromosomes of all things –
and play with them
to make new worlds, new life, new minds –
the origin of space and time,
the source of life, the cause of thought,
everything that can be known
you, and you alone, will know.
Await the zenith of the sun,
across the clay-courtyard beckoning;
barefoot I walked, heartstring undone;
Oh Lord, there’s love, no reckoning.
A soundless clarion of tears fall
toward absolution’s bright blessing;
within the domed sabil I call;
Oh Lord, there’s love, no reckoning.
The fountain’s dry, but not my eyes,
sounds of grace rebound, soft staying,
Amazing Grace sang such as I;
Oh Lord, there’s love, no reckoning.
We are but one beneath the sun
for all our fears and wandering;
all creation our companion;
Oh Lord, there’s love, no reckoning.
Let spirit rise on minaret
and phantom penitents come hieing;
all is well, we are God’s get.
Oh Lord, there’s love, no reckoning.
MASH UP: A Review
Joe Klingler’s mystery novel, Mash Up, is a page turner. Anyone who has read Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code knows that it just flows on and on, from one action to another, so that it’s almost impossible to put down.
Mash Up is the same way. Beginning with a small piece of gruesome—a severed finger mailed to a friend of the victim—Mash Up explodes out of the starting blocks into a 600-page dash, where each contestant is a different strand of a convoluted, but exciting, mystery.
The severed finger is the springboard for demented killers, skimpy bikinis, an Eskimo detective, marvelous classical music, shipboard sexpots, wild car chases, Machiavellian computer viruses, exploding iPods, beautiful musicians dancing naked on remote beaches, and more, and more.
All of which commends Klingler’s writing ability, because the story flows smoothly all the way through. The writing never allows the plot to slow down.
PRIDE & JOY
Or, How I Learned to Stop Hating and (Sort of) Love the Pride Festival
By Tony Longshanks LeTigre
For my first five years in San Francisco I talked shit about the Pride Festival, without ever once attending it. This past June of 2014, during an inspirational phase of getting back on my feet after a long spell in limbo, I decided to give Pride a chance & accepted an invitation to march in the parade with a protest contingent led by ceaseless agitator Tommi Avicolli Mecca. An epic day ensued; it turned out to be tons of fun, enough to make me rethink old prejudices.
My distaste for Pride came second-hand from friends of the more radical persuasion. I’d heard much criticism of the festival, and its governing body, the Pride Committee, whose heavy-handed refusal to grant honorary marshal status to the conscientious objector formerly known as Bradley Manning in 2013 resulted in a firestorm of controversy. This year we had something to celebrate, for the Pride Committee had apologized & belatedly honored Chelsea Manning (as she now prefers to be known). This victory was enough to overpower doubts & premonitions I had, in the weeks leading up to the festival, that a terrorist incident like the one at the Boston Marathon might disrupt Pride.
My cousin, whom I call Cousin, had graciously agreed to put me in hair & makeup for the big day, being a professional makeup artist & more gifted in these areas than my poor self. Sunday morning I arrived at his fab flat in Pacific Heights & we spent two glittering hours transforming ourselves into creatures of glamor. We were assisted by Cousin’s charming, civilized Persian lover of many years, who took the pre-makeup photo of the two of us together on this page. (Am I really that tall?) Girl drag hadn’t been my first impulse, I’d wanted to put together a sort of sexy super hero-meets-glam rocker outfit of my own design, but that didn’t happen in time, so I went with the path of least resistance: trying on things from Cousin’s magic closet, finally settling on an American flag dress & wig. I managed to punk-ify the outfit by pinning the dress up scandalously high, then decking my lower body in torn fishnets & old Converse sneakers sprayed with green paint. I was marching with protesters, after all; it would be unseemly to appear happily patriotic.
As you can see from the pics, Cousin did a marvelous job on my hair & makeup!
-Ryan J. Hodge
For someone who enjoys a great story, is there anything better than a narrative that engages you from the very start? Imagine a world so rich you can almost smell the scents in the air, a delivery so clever it forces you to think in a way you never thought you would. I’m Ryan J. Hodge, author, and I’d like to talk to you about…Video Games.
Yes, Video Games. Those series of ‘bloops’ and blinking lights that –at least a while ago- society had seemed to convince itself had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. In this article series, I’m going to discuss how Donkey Kong, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and even Candy Crush can change the way we tell stories forever.
What video games teach us about subverting a protagonist
In a conventional story, a protagonist is not just the main character in the story; he is our window into the universe the artist has created. Whatever his raison d’être in the story may be, it is ours to see him through to the end. For the story to move on without him is to beg the question why he was the protagonist at all. So it is with video games as well. Usually, when the game begins with a realized protagonist; it will end with that very same protagonist. It’s a position that the audience members (and even authors) often take for granted…and will often fail to realize how vulnerable a position it is.
‘Raising the stakes’ is a near-ubiquitous narrative device when telling a story. Usually it means that something about the status quo has changed for the protagonist to make his task that much more urgent/vital. In a classic ‘Three-Act’ structure, the stakes will continue to rise until the protagonist reaches the ‘lowest point’ (i.e.: the period where ‘all seems lost’). It is at this point that the audience is meant to sympathize with their hero the most and wishes to see him overcome the final opposing obstacle. In terms of gameplay, this might be translated into a sudden spike in difficulty where valuable equipment, companions, or powers have been taken away from the player.
However, even if he may die, the hero must always overcome his obstacles, right? According to the ‘monomyth’ theory detailed in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949); of course he will! Campbell himself summarized the monomyth thusly: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”(The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 2nd ed.,1968)
This is what I believed as the second Act of one of my favorite games, Chrono Trigger, drew to a close. After having spent hours besting horrors from across space and time, surely a hastily sprung trap from some just-introduced villain would simply be a bump in the road. At any second, we were going to figure a way out of this.
But we didn’t. My character was blasted to atoms, and rather than a ‘Game Over’ screen; the story simply continued.
Never know they come from her, round his ankles, hanging on dear life across the room screaming in glee. Short squat, long lean between them they made complete. One.
POSSIBILITIES FOR PLWD
The Clinical Pharmacy Clerkship in OOUTH, Sagamu runs for some 6 weeks
and allows associate pharmacists to receive clinical training and
garner experience in clinical settings, to hone their skills –
especially in the area of drug therapy, and to experience pharmacy as a profession (of humanitarianism) first-hand in contrast to Pharmacy
as a course of study.
Like many things scholarly, it is compulsory- and necessarily so. Yet,
several occurrences make this experience worthwhile despite the
compulsion: the dizziness from standing for so long during the rounds,
seeing consultants gb’ara le (unnecessarily rebuke) registrars and
medical students, witnessing patients take offense to the frequency of
students’ examinations while smiles yet light up the faces of
recuperating patients, and particularly the vast knowledge available
for grabs during rounds.
One fateful morning found me in pediatrics, again on rounds. This
time, the memorable moment was not the gb’ara-le of the consultant or
the stupefied look on the (helpless) recipient, it was the sight of
three infants with cerebral palsy (CP). And after the consultant in
charge had questioned each mother and examined each child, it was
glaring that the ignorance, poverty and poor practices of the mothers
disabled these bundles of joy. I remember asking the soul beside me in
hushed tones, “Should we not give birth?”
Prior to this memorable encounter, People Living with Disabilities
(PLWD) were a much unknown existence to me, save the occasional
encounters in motor parks where they have become a norm, begging for
alms from all who cross their path. Yet, whenever I was that one in
their path, I rarely gave out money for security reasons. Yes, that is
so convenient. And, no, I ain’t that bad. I give them money once in a
while, usually to get them off my back but sometimes out of pity as
TORCHING the Anointed
In recent times, our society has become more chaotic, yet more
predictable, especially if you understand the basics: we have become a
society of impunity and impoverishment, immunity and immutability, and
yet of constant change.
In recent times, for even time has changed, the gods of our land have
finally ordained impunity for the froth, and impoverishment for the
dregs, since we are beer, a fermented society that we have become. So
that the cabals continue to haul protuberant tummies off us, alcoholic
hepatomegaly immune to the hard times that the common man faces, while
the poor, as the Lord had said, continue to be amongst us…
In recent times, it starts like this…
The nomination form for Presidential aspirations is nearly thirty
million naira, and you usually don’t get chosen the first time. So you
must have romanced the government for quite a while. From contractor
to Ward Councillor to House of Assembly to Local Government Chairman
to House of Reps to Senate to Governor. Then you must be re-elected,
by hook or by crook, deservedly or not, and whoever stands in your way
must fall, physically or metaphysically. You must have saved up over
the years, in money, in goodwill, in friends, and in crimes. And
something changes in you: you are never quite the same.
You must have worked hard over the years, plotted, schemed. You must
have lied, confabulated, signed unholy deals, and been to scary
places. Maybe even (be rumored to have) decapitated a few neonates.
All so you must be invincible, immutable, immortal. Your word must be
law, your image must be flawless, and whoever dares to call you
controversial must be detained, in this world or the next; you are the
upgrade of impunity: Mbunity. And if you are lucky, Baba nominates you
for VP and orchestrates your Presidency.
But since there is more to being resident than buying the nomination
form, your committee of ‘friends’ rallies round, raises the money,
makes the calls, gets the thugs… anything for His Excellency, yet
nothing goes for nothing: you become a means to an end, their means to
be heard, powerful, untouchable; to be Mbuious, Amaechiphobic,
anointed from above, to issue the trending “orders from above”, since
constitutionally guaranteed immunity no longer holds…
They hold rallies, organize kerosene and import rice. They walk the
length and breadth of the land, comb every nook and cranny, stopping
to greet every monarch and G.O., settling the baba isale’s of each and
every adugbo, abandoning their private jets and Banana-Island houses
to play shoeless and deprived. Yet, there can only be one president at
a time, even if your friends make the land ungovernable for the chap
that outwits you all.
When we left the earth
we left ourselves
a dark matter of our existence.
That dark matter exists
does not preclude me
from destroying myself
because if we are universes upon universes
what will explain eternity?
Will I be
this imploding shell forever
Let’s pick up speed
and make a dash towards eternity
towards the ultimate boundary
the eternal mark.
You exude an obscure virility
that doesn’t quite capture me
but I will measure the immeasurable
as we scuffle and scuff the dark
wearing its edges away to gray.
Empty space foams with energy
enough power to blow away the stars
like leaves in a wind storm
nothing could live there
but nothing and nothing equals something.
“Of course, I remember you.”
What is worse?
I am always amazed
anyone even remembers me
I don’t even remember me.
Who needs more than one universe?
I miss the idea of the Big Bang
ripping our order asunder
I miss me
an unassailable closed circle.
The cost of space persists
even when you have removed yourself
from the equation.
Explode my memories
ignited by infinite perceptions
it only matters what others think of me.
I am only a universe of leaves wavering
before an intense storm to be shredded
I was swirling and upended even then
a perpetual nonentity.
I cannot live here
for there may be no secret within
no deep meaning
the vacuum is just that
empty, I am only
who you tell me I am.
For how do you chart
the astronomy of the invisible?
Andrea DeAngelis is at times a poet, writer, shutterbug and musician living in New York City. Her writing has recently appeared in Tin House, Angle and Poppy Road Review. (www.andreadeangelis.com) Andrea also sings and plays guitar in the indie rock band MAKAR (www.makarmusic.com)
This I Believe
I believe in life.
I believe in love.
I believe in goodness.
I believe in nature.
I believe in rambling in the rain and sloshing through the snow.
I believe in chasing rainbows and butterflies.
I believe in riding on carousels and caressing camellias.
I believe in petting dogs and stroking horses.
I believe in singing to the stars and dancing in the dark.
I believe in watching fish act funny and watching funny boys catch fish.
I believe in swimming in the sea and sunning in the meadow.