Welcome readers to October 2015’s issue of Synchronized Chaos Magazine. Our theme this month is In and Out of Time. Our contributors explore how we relate to the dimension of time. What focuses us on the present moment, what helps us remember and causes us to forget, what gets us up and out of ourselves and our time-structured worlds.
Strong emotions such as grief can pull us out of normally structured time into a subconscious world of our own, where we go to process our losses. Michael Robinson and Sharifa Petersen eloquently illustrate the dislocation of mourning, either through literal visuals of bodies and hospital beds or more abstract images of trains and ghosts.
Unchecked anger, even when directed at legitimate social injustice, can cause us to lose our sense of historical and emotional perspective and violate commitments we’ve made, behavior essayist Ayokunle Adeleye criticizes in his homeland of Nigeria. We must not forget that we have created a society based on the rule of law and so even those we despise deserve impartial legal action and an examination of the facts surrounding their actions rather than a public witch hunt.
Romantic love and self-discovery can also draw us into another time frame, as Holly Sisson points out in her review of Patty Lesser’s new novel A Discerning Heart. Love can take us to a world all our own, as Rui Carvalho shares: a dale of flowers in our mind’s eye.
Rubina Akter depicts a longing for love which cannot be satisfied even through connection with another person, which she describes as a quest for the divine. Her speaker does not live according to his own timeframe, or even on his beloved’s schedule, but seeks something more eternal. Akter’s other pieces point out our vulnerability to pain and abuse as human beings by depicting the suffering of innocent and confused children.
Patrick Ward and Ash Gamble also call attention to our weaknesses. Ward writes of people who feel trapped in their physical bodies or by their mental states and emotions and Gamble creates a humorous vignette where our human concerns don’t translate well to other creatures.
Ryan Hodge, in his monthly Play/Write column, probes why apocalyptic and raw survival scenarios remain popular in video games and movies. He suggests that we actually crave reminders of our vulnerability. Through these scenarios we can make ourselves feel strong by vicariously rebuilding or triumphing through disaster and deprivation along with the characters, even when we don’t literally have to face starvation and gunfire. We know deep down that many live, and have lived without, many of our modern comforts and would like to think that we are also tough enough to survive without them. Having to find food, shelter and physical safety brings us out of our heads and our subconscious worlds back into the reality of our immediate situation, and perhaps we seek that refocus, that heightened awareness of what is most critical.
Ayokunle Adeleye shows another way to rise to the challenge and overcome one’s obstacles to build something enduring: start a small business and invest in land, leaving behind a legacy.
Rick Hartwell’s poetry illustrates encounters with nature that call us back into the immediate moment. Hartwell’s speaker focuses on specific sights and sounds around him, falling leaves, lizards and other reptiles. Nature operates according to seasons and cycles and creatures act differently during each season. We, too, can experience each one fully without getting too far ahead of ourselves.
Patrick Ward also describes different aspects of sound: scary, comforting and fun, depending on our mood. Listening to what is around us and paying attention to how it makes us feel can refocus us in the present. Ash Gamble also writes of the tension between miscommunication and breakthrough, memory and resilience.
Ajise Vincent shows how some acts of violence, such as the terrorism of West African group Boko Haram, shake us out of our reveries and bring us back to the moment, where we must face what has happened. Vincent’s work directly addresses and condemns brutality, exploitation, and injustice in strong terms without flowery language. Poetic grief can come later, but now is the time to speak up and be heard in the face of atrocity.
Elizabeth Hughes, in her Book Periscope column, reviews Peter Jacob Streitz’ new poetry collection Hellfires Shake the Blues. She points out how poetry can grab our attention, bringing us out of our own minds and into the world of the poem. This can happen involuntarily, arresting our consciousness like sudden sounds or motions on the horizon, and whether or not we consider ourselves fans of poetry.
Joan Beebe also gives us pieces of reminiscence and gratitude, calling us to share her fun and peaceful moments and also reminding us through her piece on the car crash how we are vulnerable to disaster and none of these moments are guaranteed.
Green Dale of Love
My life is a dale:
A mystery of green loneliness.
A swift breathing with flowers’ flavor,
that covers with gold petals, and scattered dreams.
And the cold of the night announces sleep,
the dark olive green, always classic,
the screech owl, always alone,
But not a new life:
an enchanted and colorful brier!
All this world is a stage of love’s complaints!
The POTENTIAL VIII: Acquiring Land
Every good business needs its own land sooner or later. Plus, land is an appreciative asset, unlike cars, and makes for good collateral, unlike shares. But when it comes to acquiring land, it is often a case of the same person not possessing a good head and a fitting cap. Why, those of us with the tricks and nice locations do not have the wherewithal, and those with the wherewithal are either too distracted or too naïve.
Two weeks ago, I was in Lagos sourcing funds for a piece I had finally gotten the keys to after years of hoping. I thought I was offering a
good deal, well, until my calls stopped being answered or returned. Money doth answer all things. And after a decade of yes-man-ship,
you’d suppose I’d be earning the big salary by now. Oh, that I have some! But money is not all that is required, as you shall soon see.
According to the Land Use Act of 1978, persons less than 21 years old, the age of majority, cannot acquire land, save by inheritance. So,
first things first: are you old enough? Then, are you ready for the trek? The other day in the Theatre, this Doctor had a call which I had
the privilege of being privy to as his hands were busy. Someone, apparently a land speculator, was offering him land. I just pitied him.
There are simple rules to buying land, and land speculators are not in a good part of my rulebook: If you are too busy to find your own land,
you are probably too busy to own it. Location is everything. And with it comes seasonality and exposure. With the latter comes implied
costs. As I shall now explain…
Swamps tend to be dry during dry seasons; so land is best searched out at the peak of the rainy season. (Half-word suffices for the wise.)
Lands by the roadside are generally exposed, and are not only relatively expensive but are also very competitive, spatially as well
as temporally. Encroachments are not unheard of, as are reclamations and multiple sales. I personally do not think it wise to buy land that
will take you to court (over and over) or make you pay over and over.
If you ever buy such competitive land, you must be ready to finance the implied costs: extra payments for Witnesses and other signatories,
homage to the local lords and land leeches, accelerated building with/out property demarcation, and sometimes, settlements for dissenting families (or family members).
Usually, here’s what I suggest: get a good surveyor, to avoid government-acquired land, as well as get cheap(er) offers; and a good lawyer to draft an ironclad agreement – my lawyer is the best there is. These added costs save you a lot of trouble. Be careful with surveyors though. I have learnt to measure land myself, and to negotiate with the owners before I bring in my surveyor. And that is not paranoia.
(If I told you everything here, the tricks and clauses and dangers and precautions, then what would you pay me for? Locations only? Offers
only? Meeting my lawyer is for free, anyway.)
And how much land do I have to have become a speaker on the issue? I’m still waiting for my big break ni o. Nyem ego, ka’o kudi, m’owo wa;
bring money… and I will gladly test these things effortlessly right before your very eyes. Right now, I only speak from experience gathered over the years. *winks* And I know the best lawyer for these matters, just saying.
-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 the Survival Genre Teaches Us About Existential Horror
A strange crop has risen to prevalence among independent titles. While the return of the 2D platformer in the forms of Limbo or Braid was welcomed, their reign was short-lived. There was something that seemed all the more intriguing to the indie dev: the Survival/Crafting game.
Many would probably argue that it all started with Mojang’s Minecraft (2011). A stark and graphically crude game, Minecraft nonetheless wooed players with its robust ‘crafting’ system. A ‘crafting system’, of course, is essentially just what it sounds like. Knock down a tree for timber; use that timber and a nearby rock to cobble an ax together. Use that ax to fell trees faster and create even more tools.
While it sounds simple on the surface; it gets surprisingly deep. From smelting iron to make steel to getting some friends together to build a to-scale model of the starship Enterprise.
With warmth of heart entering the scalded fall day,
kaleidoscopic drifts of leaves, Brown County, Indiana,
smooth sap runnels on firs, Coos Bay, Oregon,
taunting northwest snows, Missoula, Montana;
not the perversities of a winter foretold,
rather the rheostat of transformation,
seasons’ sliding dimmer switch.
Moment to Moment
Little bird tap, tap, tapping a third floor window,
trying to access The History of England, like me.
Too few Fridays at 7 a.m., almost too early to
connect the dots from Runnymede to Agincourt.
Facing a seventh decade, back at school again;
bird taps help refocus me on staccato note-taking.
Walking meditation at break; no monkey-mind, just
bird-rhythm thoughts, bloody horrors and heritage.
Being in the present, quarrels with learning the past.
From Within Reptilian Eyes
Amber leaves depend from ebony twigs,
wet bulbous nodules animate leafy emerald trees,
visually dazzling, these intellectual incongruities,
minor befuddlements, slowly ease into apprehension.
Velveteen crows glower from within reptilian eyes,
surreptitiously trickling Doritos from their beaks,
golden flashes flipping in the autumn breeze;
scavengers of the remains of the departed –
Nothing is wasted and nothing is lost.
Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school teacher (remember the hormonally-challenged?) living in Southern California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘TV screen after TV screen drives past and you realise: we’re going to reap just what we sow.’ The young man, eyes peering out curiously, nodded in response to his fellow passenger’s diatribe. Situated at the front of the coach, he stared resolutely ahead whilst the companion fated to him looked darkly through the faded red curtains, like a huddled up Dracula. Rain was beating heavily on the windows, the greyness turning everything outside two-dimensional. This, combined with the glass pane it was viewed through, reduced the pride of trees and the sporadic eruptions of birds and the dainty roadside graves to nothing more than a spectacle – a painting – whilst reflections faded in and out, synechdocic of magic apparitions being interrupted by returns to brightly lit life.
Why had she put her fingers in my mouth?
‘We’re going to reap just what we sow,’ said the man again, not moving from the window. ‘The hour of vespertide is almost upon us.’
‘Yes,’ agreed the young man. As soon as he said the word, it soaked into the grey background, lost forever before it could ever have meaning.
He tried not to look at the time but the digitally illuminated red light bounded into sight off every reflective surface.
The coach jumped and farted along whilst the rain’s anger became less easy to ignore.
The grey expanse brightened momentarily, wanting his attention with the blue wave of a ghostly hand: ‘Look here,’ it seemed to say. The hills, like a huge pile of shoulders, encircled sunken villages and jolly puffs of smoke billowed upwards as the old little building – knowing each other’s ways – chortled and rasped. And windmills splashed through the air, scattering the clinging droplets upon the dead leaves, only to be trampled by a magpie on his way to pull a juicy worm from the soil – whilst it was still wet. For a moment, the young man felt happy, his mood only disrupted by the shameful fact of its pathetic fallacy.
To Be Her Child
You need eyes opened to mayhem,
her oldest and newest lacerations,
ears that hear slaps of sorrow or shrieks,
a nose that detects her bleeding,
her hopelessness both of you can taste,
a body to witness all of it.
A thousand letters of love, was it a thousand?
Meticulously torn into a thousand pieces
thrown into a darkness, into angry rain,
cleansing almost, against her willowy figure
and hard obsidian filled waters.
In love with something he will never know,
refusing the pleasure of being with her.
On the brink, a cliff, not ready to be a man,
he turns to the God he so despised,
finds purpose, she will never understand.
He has fallen in love with the divine.
The child smiles,
Welcome, come in.
Perches herself on the lap
of a family friend,
his calloused hands explore her.
She doesn’t understand.
The child waits,
for Mother to arrive.
Young, naive, disbelieving.
tells her to stay.
God, she doesn’t want to stay.
Rubina Akter is an undergraduate student at Temple University. She has loved writing since elementary school when she was chosen to write a book for the Young Authors Conference. More recently, she was awarded first place in poetry for The Muslim Inter-Scholastic Tournament (MIST) ™. Poet Amy Small-McKinney, who has urged her to start sharing her writing with the world, is her mentor. She lives in Lansdale, PA with her family.
ECHOES FROM THE GRAVE
As I sit in my chair, in the late evening.
I heard a sudden tap.
I glanced over at the kitchen sink.
However, the Delta faucet wasn’t leaking .
So, by now, the spirit of being puzzled,
took over my natural senses..
The tapping has to be the,
result of a major malfunction. . .
And what could it possibly be?
Suddenly, the tapping sound stopped.
Then, I went into my living room to sip my,
freshly, hot, brewed, cup of tea.
When the peaceful sound of silence,
came to a screeching halt.
It was that same tap.
Only, this time, it was accompanied by a floating orb.
It bounced up and down all across the house.
A distant moan was heard.
It appeared to be coming from a bedroom window.
Overlooking an ancient cemetery.
I opened the window shade to see,
If I could detect anything unusual.
But there was nothing out of the ordinary.
So., the thought fled my mind for awhile.
Then, I was startled by a bloodcurdling scream that came,
from the front balcony.
And yet, again, nothing was seen.
The wind picked up ferociously.
The shutters were madly rattling.
The wind eventually stops.
But the rattling of the shutters continued.
The lost souls won’t rest
Due to a violent past.
The spirits linger on.
The sounds remain.
Echoing from the grave.
Peter Jacob Streitz’ Hellfires Shake the Blues
Hellfires Shake the Blues is a deeply moving book of poetry. It is filled with many poems that will strike a chord with many readers. I am very sure that anyone will find several poems they will enjoy, if not all of the poems. I highly recommend this book for all the poetry lovers out there. If you have never really cared for poetry, give this book a try and I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I have!
SAHARA BLUES X
They said my ancestors
wore sackclothes and raffias
of infectious nature,
that caused the outbreak
Of the black man disease.Polygamy.
So they brought chromatic strings
To beautify the nudity of our flesh
So men could dine with lust
And become dogs that are never satisfied.
SAHARA BLUES XI
I’ve seen homes
where dreams are lighted by poverty
and puffed out into oblivion
to cling to void air of nothingness. Homes
, where hopes are fed with smokes
pervading from ashes of bombed futures. Homes
, where foetuses seek to tango with death
even before the dance of delivery. These homes
are silent gladiators that inhibit the growth of posterity.
They are arsenals to kick start a revolution
at the demise of dusk.
MARABOUTS OF DOOM
Devious carnivores tieing turbans,
Tearing decorum of the Maghreb.
Heart steeled: dissipating mortals
With bogus pellets of martyrdom
Ancient caliphates they decimate.
Each dappled ruins tell gory tales
Of pouty vultures eating corpses,
Yet in their guts they still banter.
Hungry dust they solemnly satisfy
With remains of excavated graves
& blood of impeccable juveniles
Catalyzed by feral raids of impiety.
Innocent babies now motherless,
Drinking milks of their sly sisters–
Who now find daily nourishment
Betwixt the thighs of these carnivores
Ajise Vincent is a Nigerian Poet. His poem “Song of a Progeny” was a shortlisted poem at the Korea- Nigeria Poetry feast, 2015. His works have been published in London grip magazine, Kalahari Review, Sakonfa literary magazine, AfricanWriter, Indian periodical, Social Justice Poetry, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Afrikana ng, Poetry Pacific, The Poet Community, Whispers, Commonline Journal, Novel Afrique, Black Boy Review, Tuck Magazine and various literary outlets. He is currently finishing up a major in Economics at the University
Becoming Human: A story of enchantment and love
Holly Sisson, MA
A Book Review of A Discerning Heart by Patty Lesser
Fiction writer Patty Lesser has broken from tradition in this modern day mythological tale brought to life through an empassioned display of a man lost and blind by his own self-pity and desire for power and respect. The author brings forth from the depths a gentler compassionate love that transcends both societal norms and his own aggressive wounded heart. This tale of two lovers uniting is not without its fair share of turns and twists. Sex, lies, exploits and magic enchant and keep the reader turning the pages as the plot thickens like grandma’s stew with a secret ingredient.
A love story as old as the ages, this Romeo and Juliet-esque story is filled with bits of modern day social issues from gender roles and culturally accepted marriage to sexism and the objectification of women, the invisibility of disability, and the simplicity of natural living being overcome by ambition and progress.
The imagery of land and sea is breathtaking and will immerse the imaginative reader in a world of beauty, nature, fantasy and magic. From solid ground to open sea we journey through transcendental archetypes of love, power, paradise, illusion, paradox and the balance of feminine and masculine, mystery and personal reality. The principal protagonist, Dim Jim, develops a character both shaped by a loneliness amplified by social marginalization and a victim mentality that leads his eventual surrender to love and beauty through the alchemical power of falling in love.
This story has a bittersweet happy ending reminiscent of a fairy tale, yet without the perfect due justice falsely implied in contemporary fairy tales. The real life consequences of decisions made by Dim Jim and his counterparts are certainly not swept under the rug, and the difficulty of a life filled with choices and a veiled sense of what happiness is weaves both tragedy and liberation along the way.
A Discerning Heart is somewhere between real-life and fantasy, a novel filled with the depths of love and the shallows of self-pity. It will pull the heartstrings of anyone young or old who has a taste for the enchantment of magic found in real life situations. Patty Lesser is becoming more of an accomplished writer with each novel she writes.