Synchronized Chaos May 2018: The Uncanny, Incongruous, Eerie and Unexpected

Welcome to May’s issue of Synchronized Chaos – The Uncanny, Incongruous, Eerie and Unexpected. 


JD DeHart’s writing deals with the past, and the familiar rendered as grotesque: memories, bones of extinct mastodons, perpetual adolescents without purpose in life, and the working poor, who are literally compared to ‘bones’ in a piece that suggests that it’s a problem that they have to struggle as much as they do, rather than a natural part of life’s course.

Sanjeev Sethi renders common emotions and life experiences – visiting loved ones, feeling taken advantage of, romantic love – through elevated language and tightly crafted metaphors. This makes readers stop and think about the different layers of thought and feeling that we experience.

Ken Dronsfield takes themes and places that might seem prosaic in poetry – graveyards and death, flowers, love/deep friendship, and the beach – and shows their undersides in a way that is unexpected yet still poetic due to the choice of language and construction. He conveys the emotional impact of unrequited love through a violent rendering of the experience of cutting lilacs and he illustrates, rather than vacationers or idealized nature, the life of a transient who scrambles with the seagulls for scraps of food.

Alex Johnson intertwines his personal physical and mental suffering, from withdrawal from psychiatric medicine and from the judgements of others for not being as productive as people expect him to be despite his illness, with a world that’s toxic with violence, pollution and a general lack of compassion.

Wordsmith Cheeta Born2dv8 Lachender makes comedic social commentary out of ‘updated’ movie and book titles, while Elizabeth Hughes, in her monthly Book Periscope column, reviews Connie Pwll Tyler’s Earth Woman Tree Woman, a fantasy that begins within a normal American small town and then morphs, as do the characters, into an adventure where the heroines draw the town’s residents back into the sacred dance of life with all other species.

Joan Beebe’s poetry illuminates how our inner mental and emotional states affect how we interpret and respond to the natural world. Clouds scudding across the sky can evoke wonder or provide comfort, while ravens can portend loss and disaster.

In Kaia Hobson’s short story, receiving gifts engenders a sinister, uneasy feeling. Marc Carver’s poetry includes allusions to magicians, cobras, and demons – and also a piece where a character fantasizes about maintaining his attraction to his partner by making her grotesque, making their relations seem transgressive.

Sequoia Hack’s poetic speaker places themselves within nature, incorporating, rather than juxtaposing, their Eggo waffles and burglar alarm with the blackberries, lions and poppies out on the prairie.

Chimezie Ihekuna’s poetry asserts his determination to live on his own terms according to his Christian faith and resist the temptations to go astray. Unlike other works in this issue, this piece is cohesive and shows us what’s expected. The absence of the uncanny here, and in Sequoia Hack’s dawn scene where nothing is incongruous, highlights it within the rest of the issue.

Allison Grayhurst’s work celebrates awakening to the dazzling wonder and beauty of the universe, throwing off baggage and fears that hold you back and claiming your own place within its wonder. She employs unusual metaphor within her pieces: miracles represented by hungry rats finding the dumpster, a person who feels out of place becomes at once a jellyfish and a pomegranate floating in water. As with Ken Dronsfield’s work, this encourages readers to stop and think about her messages rather than glossing over these as ‘nature poems’ or ‘love poems.’

Ryan Quinn Flanagan juxtaposes unusual images in his poetry: the Easter Bunny and guns, an amusing self-assertion from someone who doesn’t want to be judged – yet is on trial in district court. He writes of America and New York from recent yesteryears: Ginsberg and Warhol, the bomb and the Russians, the Empire State Building.

Christopher Bernard’s final chapter of Amor I Kaos brings the Freudian-inspired psychological tension between the unity and connection of love and the alienation and destruction, but also the potential for individuality and the development of a full separate self, promised by chaos, to a head in a quite dramatic way that is perhaps fitting, although not what we would expect or wish.

Mahbub’s poems ”Frailty’ and ‘Rebirth‘ express a related sentiment as Christopher Bernard’s novel, voicing the frailty of both life and death and how neither state is sustainable forever. His other pieces convey the deep physicality of the emotions associated with romantic love, curse the pollution and ineptness around him, and vow, as does Chimezie Ihekuna, to stay the course through pursuing the craft of writing and offering his work to the world.

And, J.J. Campbell, our returning poet of lonely, cynical wisdom, comes out of his normal mood to describe what comes across as genuine hope for real romantic connection – even if only so he can ‘pretend it exists for a moment.’

Douglas Cole leads us down several shimmery rabbit holes, with storytelling poems that take us through dreams in Mexican cantinas, ruminations through a high school yearbook in a seaside motel, visions of death and reincarnation, and stories told on a vintage Underwood typewriter.

Steven Storrie explores nostalgia and the moment after a dramatic event – the locker room where a player recovers after a bruising play, the sand where a surfer/beach lover waits for the next wave. He ends his selections with an existential allusion to Sisyphus eternally rolling the boulder, trapped in the cycle of life along with Mahbub and J.D. DeHart’s speakers.

James Diaz reflects on our human frailty, as we drag our wounded physical and emotional selves through the intensity of life on earth, here under these stars, in a world where we are breakable, yet still comforted by each other. And Francescca Butcher traces the artistic legacy inspired by Mary Shelley’s famous tale of reanimation: Frankenstein, the Modern Prometheus. 

We hope that this issue of Synchronized Chaos will provide some comfort for the weary, and provoke the complacent, and shake us out of our normal ways of thinking for a time.


Poetry from JD DeHart

Elephant Bones
Bending, curled, the tusks
and ribbons of calcium, solid
bleached white kingdom.
If you dare, gaze in the hollow
eyes, crawl inside and rest a while
in the cavity of memory.
There was a time these creatures
roamed the land, hard to stop
upon their charging.
Now they lay in stacks of littering
biological leftovers, making their
grinding way to fossilization.

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Poetry from Sanjeev Sethi


Echinated transfers spike: a dystopian

tryst I wish on no one. Never happy as

a satisficer: this is my essence and ache.

For years I vocalized, may speechless-

ness fly where my drumming failed to.

A slow learner it took half a century to

read the cast in your eyes. Crushed  by

suppositiousness is blankety-blank worse

than straight out swindling. One can’t

even seek relief by rebuking oneself.


Whorls of your finger as fard on pinnate

of my brows. When appetence prods us

we peel ourselves of paint. Our lines, pauses,

intonations turn to autoschediasm, breaking

into brogue. Pilgrimage is a guilt-free holiday

in house-holds of humble bearings: flushing

with resin of restive beats our orison. Pan-

handlers of love: this calm, our wages.


Auditory sensations from symphonette

initiated the much needed collyrium.

We never possessed musical skills for

a melisma, in essence that was the thrust

of our tie-in. Especially in the early part

when unilateral rulings hadn’t coerced

us to backslide from the constitution

of closeness. It unleashed a rum do

we failed to capitulate.

Burn Up

In our region there are no eglantines.

I inhale the dash from dustbins.  An

unanswered email hurts less than a

smile not returned. Demulcent fuel

packs distance. You volplane in my

mind’s home plate without signals.

I need to sack my ATS officials. I

will cashier from your ledger.

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world: The Broadkill Review, After the Pause, Chicago Record Magazine, Horror Sleaze and Trash, Former People, Stickman Review, Ann Arbor Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, Home Planet News, London Grip, Morphrog 16, Postcolonial Text, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.

Poetry from Ken Allan Dronsfield

Dreams in Blowing Sand

Whilst living as a pragmatic loser,

searcher for the holy grail in bars

walking the beaches finding dimes

losing my patience with patrol cops

sleeping under rowboats on the sand

buy a mug with tarnished, sandy coins

fighting gulls over discarded hotdogs

great ships sailing out of the harbor,

meeting people from so very far away,

I lie in the sand at night and wonder

what it would be like, but for now I’m

living lost upon leftovers of yesterday.

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Poetry from Alex Johnson

Withdrawal A Rant

This morning someone
shot up a waffle house, strapped and naked
squared up to shoot right
and it’s awful but it happens once a week
we were waiting for the wheel to turn again
and next they’ll be parachuting in balls flying
shooting family restaurants in rows
and massacre will be exponential
so someone will start the betting
and wager on the details
massacre with pancakes and nudity versus
massacre with schools and fully clothed with some hiding naked versus
does any of this make sense I’m sorry
you’re right it’s a tragedy but very soon if not already
I haven’t checked in an hour
somebody in power will seriously suggest
weapons grade waffle syrup
to throw at the shooter and blind them
anything rather than take away their fucking guns
because guns are more sacred in America than human life
unless it’s the life of the elite

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Modernized Book Titles from Cheeta Born2dv8 Lachender

To Kill a Mockingbird     >>>>>     To Grill a Cookingbird     (A cookbook for amateurs living on the street)
A Room of One’s Own     >>>>>     A Roof on One’s Home     (An elegantly written polemic arguing for the rights of homeless folks)
Gravity’s Rainbow     >>>>>     Verbosity’s Brainblow     (Alternates: Senility’s Insanebow, Depravity’s Groinbone, Celerity’s Raceboat, Lucidity’s Dreamflow)
The Old Man and the Sea     >>>>>     The Old Manatee and the Sea That Dried Up and Left Him in the Sand
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe     >>>>>     The Lying Bitch and the Wart Hog
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari     >>>>>     The Ethics Probe and Possible Impeachment of Dr. Caligari (Who As it Turns Out, May Not Even Be a Real Doctor)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream     >>>>>     A Midsummer Night’s Gentrification So Severe You Hardly Recognize It as a Midsummer Night Any More, and Anyway, You Can’t Afford It

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Poetry from Joan Beebe

A Heavenly Night of Beauty

It is a warm night with a cool breeze –

The air is filled with the scent of newly cut grass.

In the sky the moon is aglow with light flowing into

The darkened sky and lighting up the heavens.             

Many stars in the sky are twinkling and seem to

be dancing  in a waltz of joy.

Clouds are lazily floating across the sky

Creating an unreal luminous veil as they

Drift towards an unknown destination.  We

Gaze at the heavens, and let our senses

Beguile us into a dreamy state of mind.

The night has caressed us with its touch to the

Senses.  We embrace this night of beauty and

It will remain in our dreams forever.
Hearts That Are Broken

Sadness may fill a heart with longing —

Longing for the sound of a baby’s laughter

Or the sweet chirping of a bird outside your window.

Sounds of nature bring a pleasant relief to a

Heart that is feeling so alone.

One’s heart is so entwined within our emotions

And we need to let the purity of nature

Fill us with  joy as we immerse ourselves in the

Gifts of nature’s beauty.

Then our heart will know the peace that comes

With becoming a part of nature’s delight.
What is the use and Who Cares

A dark winged bird flew to me

With a stark and frightening message.

My precious was leaving me and a

Knife tore through my soul.

My emotions became that of anger,

Jealously and hopelessness.

Where do I go and what will become of me.

My days became those of despair and melancholy.

My nights are sleepless and my mind goes crazy.

In all this despair, I began to want to end this agony.

My thoughts are still with this idea and one of these

Days, I will be no more.

Where do we go

There is a saying about “any port in a storm”.

When our lives become like the rough undulating

Waves of an ocean—

We try to smooth our own waters of

Frightening peril and dangerous moments.

We cry out into the darkness surrounding us

Because we don’t know the way.

Suddenly we see a light illuminating this

Darkness.  We begin to realize that we

Have found our port in the storm.

Our faith in that light has brought

Us safely home.