Synchronized Chaos September 2016: Sidewalk Literature

little free library 3

Sidewalk literature is what I call my habit of reading whatever I find lying on the sidewalk in my frequent walks about the city & its purlieus.

Among my recent finds & reads are a biography of Henry VIII, father of Queen Elizabeth I (Henry’s ambivalent response to Martin Luther’s more radical break from the Catholic church makes an interesting study); a hilarious & peculiar novel-in-cheek reportedly by Tom Robbins under a pseudonym called Fuck Yes!: A Guide to the Happy Acceptance of Everything; Cliff’s Notes to The Brother’s Karamazov (Dostoyevsky’s father was murdered in an uprising by the serfs on his estate!); Deutsche für Ausländer, which is helping improve my entry-level German; a book on how to build your own house in the woods, which is something I would like to do soon; & a bunch of stuff that didn’t look good enough to read. I don’t read everything I find—what torture that would be!—but I do go with the flow to a certain extent, within the bounds of taste of course.

This slapdash, serendipitous reading program reminds me somewhat of the “synchronized chaos” of submissions we receive here each month & the process of delineating a theme therefrom.

Our editrix-in-chief drew attention the fact my themes so far since tentatively stepping into the editorial shoes have been a bit of the dismal & dejected side. So this time around we tried to be a little less lugubrious… without dodging the dark realities around us, which would surely be un-writerly.

Some pieces strewn along this issue’s ‘sidewalk’ stand out for their color and design, catching our attention with their style, like artful magazines.

A charming essay from Pushcart Prize nominee & previous Synch Chaos contributor introduces us to an elder poet from the Beatnik generation, who “usually stays home with his African Grey parrots and Scarlet macaws,” who decides to dress up to the nines, or at least to the sevens or eights, one night & participate in a poetry reading for the first time. Read “A Gathering of Generations” & tell Donal that you love it.

William Blome evokes sexuality and heartbreak through plenty of local color and flights of fancy, with images ranging from flying a Cessna through clouds to an alligator at a wine tasting. While he seems to objectify his sexual conquests, Blome’s speaker also writes in such an outlandish, over-the-top way that he becomes almost self-mocking, implicitly laughing at himself.

Italian poet Gabriella Garofalo claims to have ‘fallen in love with the English language at six years old’ when she began writing poetry. Her ornate work revels in classical, natural and real-life imagery, conveying blue-dark winter and unfulfilled human desires through pieces that reveal more facets of detail after close readings.

Other contributions are more somber, like wet newspapers clumped together after a rain. Yet, even these express a bit of hope, even if only the possibility of surviving through endurance.

Laura Kaminski & Siraj Sabuke have given us a series of dialogic poems in which each poem responds to the one before it, between a mother on the verge of collapse who offers herself as a sacrifice to “ungrateful flesh-eating” vultures, and her reproachful son who urges her to hold on since he still needs her wisdom. The set of interwoven poems asks how we are “to stay sane & sober / after being intoxicated / by the fluids / of this oppressive darkness,” & finds our best hope is stoic patience. Emerging from the lachrymose mood & semi-apocalyptic imagery, from vultures & “termites of fear,” it seems the best hope we have is to “wait & stay wakeful” & try to stay alive.

Our friend Michael Robinson returns with a set of poems that evoke the imagery of shooting stars, a ticking time bomb, memories of being beaten with a switch “fresh from the tree” by his single mother as a child, and waking with a sense of grief for  those who have died
Without ceremony or fanfare.” He yearns for a home out of the endemic violence of the ghetto, asks how to become a kind & gentle soul when surrounded by “all of its shootings & stabbings,” but ends likewise on a hopeful note, clinging to faith in this universe whose inscrutable luck has spared him thus far & feeling “lucky to be alive.”

Patrick Ward comments on the plight of a tender soul caught up in the commotion of a public crowd, while another of the poems from this set revels in the joy of being mud.

Former literary agent turned fashion designer Lewis Mark Grimes comments on Linda and Charles Katz’ elementary school children’s book Peter and Lisa. The book, intended for parents with mental health conditions to share with their children, shows these illnesses as like any other chronic condition, manageable with care and treatment. A caring neighbor, along with doctors and medicine, helps Peter and Lisa to stabilize enough to care for their child and dog. Although there is no magic cure, this social support system enables the family to endure.

Jaylan Salah reviews Janine Canan’s new poetry collection Mystic Bliss, which celebrates womanhood and nature and laments violence done to women and to the Earth. Jaylan makes a point to say that Janine’s work ‘ends on a high note’ and points as much to the beauty of expanding compassion and consciousness as it acknowledges power, violence, domination and suffering.

Elizabeth Hughes, in her monthly Book Periscope column, encourages people to read Dr. Mary Mackey’s prehistoric adventure novel Village of Bones, which celebrates the survival and motherhood of a woman within a relatively peaceful, egalitarian Neolithic society under invasion from warriors on horseback.

Still more pieces convey unease, self-consciousness deflected through humor or other ambiguous coping mechanisms. These writings are like personal notes or shopping lists that have fallen out of someone’s pocket or been used as a bookmark and now left behind by mistake within a box of titles offered up for free to passersby. These stand out in the space between comedy and tragedy, which likely reflects much of the human condition.

A poem by Michael Marrotti that seems to hint at the feeling (or illusion?) of security conferred by carrying a concealed weapon, or otherwise escaping into one’s own consciousness rather than engaging with the world’s uncomfortable vulnerabilities and power relationships.

Poems by J. K. Durick satirize our obsessions with overanalyzing matters: political horse races, philosophical questions that get down to the minute details of our environments, even sinkholes in the road that at least look cool on television when the news anchors have to go on about them.

A short story by Wayne H. W. Wolfson captures the awkwardness of traveling abroad and working with one’s head when the locals carry out more understandable occupations on a regular schedule. His piece gets at the unease of seeming to have leisure time while others are busy, and ends with the speaker finding a small bit of companionship in the passing glance of a young child.

So, after reading this issue, perhaps go outside and take a walk down your own sidewalk. See what you can find in the way of free reading material from the universe.

Fiction by Wayne H. W. Wolfson

Melancholy Mystery of a Street

Wayne H.W Wolfson

 

Overseas, by the time my life was ordered enough that I could afford the comfort of a good hotel, that was not what I wanted.

I do not want to be a tourist. I want to become immersed in the local color, swim in the daily life of the neighborhood. If it were a short trip, four days or less, then I would capitulate to staying in a hotel; wistfully walking through the marketplace knowing that I had no kitchen to fill. Anything longer and I sublet an apartment.

The few cities that I always returned to, the same ones year after year. I had my near on permanent spots which were only slightly tinged with sadness as I did not own them.

Continue reading

Poetry from J. K. Durick

               Skin Deep

 

There should be a zipper in the back
So on days like this we could unzip
Step out of it, fold it carefully, then
Leave it on the kitchen counter, and
Out we go, without beauty, without
Race, just crisscrosses of pink and
Shades of red, some off whites, and
Greys, fat and bones, some muscles
And all those veins and arteries that
Keep us going; it’s easy enough to
Imagine, we’d go around like one of
Those biology class torsos, visible man
Visible woman, all our working parts
Exposed, ready to be pointed out, or
Pulled out and examined if need be;
There would be equality in all this
A new nakedness, a different sense of
Ourselves and others, of how we move

And how we should fill our space and time.

*****’

 

Continue reading

Poetry from Michael Marrotti

Whiteness Without The Guilt

Symmetrical
perfection
easily
concealed

Tranquility
in my
pocket
whiteness
without
the guilt

A bitter
taste that
contradicts
the bitterness
of the past

It lasts long
enough to
make it stop

For once
the clock
is my friend

 Michael Marrotti is an author from Pittsburgh, using words instead of violence to mitigate the suffering of life in a callous world of redundancy. His primary goal is to help other people. He considers poetry to be a form of philanthropy. When he’s not writing, he’s volunteering at the Light Of Life homeless shelter on a weekly basis. If you appreciate the man’s work, please check out his his book, F.D.A. Approved Poetry, available on Amazon.

Poetry from Michael Robinson

Tick; Tick; Tick,

That when the bomb inside of me was set.
At any time it may go off,
And then at that moment,
I would commit my suicide.
It’s been ticking for years,
It started in 1964,
Inside my mind is the bomb from 64.
Will someone defuse it?
Can it be defused?
Time is running out for me.

Tick, Tick, Tick.

*****

 

Star Night Star Bright

Shooting stars shooting past me,
Shooting guns shooting at me,
Shooting stars shooting past shooting guns,
A soul shooting past shooting stars,

There’s hope!

*****

Continue reading

Poetry from Laura Kaminski & Siraj Sabuke

PETALS OF LIGHT
Darkness has veiled us
In the heart
Of this labyrinth
In this season
Of no moonlight
How do we safe-shuttle
Our bones and flesh
From this vultures-ridden
Cemetery of a home
To the lit path
That leads to the garden
Of petals of light?

-Siraj A Sabuke

*****

FIND THE LAMP AND FILL IT
for Siraj A Sabuke
The moon is veiled that we might learn
to miss her face. She hides her light
that our feet might learn to find their
way by touch, learn to read the messages
left for us in the cemetery’s dust.
Just because the vultures perch upon
these trees around the graves does not
mean they will feast on us. But loathing
and fear tempt us to cut off our own
limbs, to offer them like money on top,
a bribery that lurking things may turn
away from ours, from us, go blind small
and let us pass in safety, unmolested.
But in truth, vultures will have their
feast. Should we wish them on someone
else instead of you and me? The moon is
veiled, not that we might stumble, not
that we might fail to find our way. She
hides her light so that we might stop
casting our own blindness on everything
around us, blame the darkness for being
so oppressive and misleading. Who picks
a lamp from the closet and polishes its
surface when the light around him shines
sufficient? Who, in moonlight, remembers
to take time to thread and trim the wick?
The moon is veiled that we might learn
to miss her face, veiled that we might be
reminded to fill our own hearts with oil.
-Laura M Kaminski

Continue reading

Poetry from Gabriella Garofalo

And that’s how she sees the East:
The blue hunger where a child fell asleep,
A theatre actor drank himself to stupor, maybe death,
A teacher misplaced his tablet, mobile and life,
A silent man gazed at her through fear and rioting cells –
Water, mist, who cares, it happened
When she was waiting for light to get a move on
And jet her branches, for days to disperse
In white hunger or nipped desire –
Do come in, please take a seat,
Shift branches from the table,
Shift fractious lights, I know, it’s the prophet’s fire,
Don’t ask ‘Souls get lost in blue, is it fair’,
Don’t ask ‘Are mothers risk or Lethe
When averse limbs and snowy manes invade’ –
Demise, the wind won’t listen if you run
Through white pages, through life tearing apart
Words, grass –
Even the moon halts in a truce wonkier than sunrise,
Green hunger where women sport
Sharp features or white doughy jowls :
Do they look like vipers or pancakes?
Whatever –
Each sunset deserves a long wild wake.

Continue reading