Synchronized Chaos February 2019: Telescoping View

The Great Exhibition: Poem by William Makepeace Thackeray, Victoria and Albert Museum

First of all, especially as this issue fortuitously deals with memories, we need to take some time to remember the life of our past editor and contributor, Tony LeTigre. He passed away suddenly in a car accident Saturday, January 19th. 

He sent poetry and short stories and essays in to this publication over the past several years and created a few editorial letters. His work was nominated multiple times for Sundress Publications’ annual Best of the Net writing awards, and he was also a fellow zine creator and an accomplished oil painter, and an advocate for the homeless. He attempted to turn his peripatetic, impoverished, yet non-materialistic intellectual life into a work of art alongside his written and visual creations.

Here are a few highlights of Tony’s work, here, here, here and here. And an editorial letter which he put together a few years ago.

Memorial gathering is tentatively scheduled for Thursday night, April 4th at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Julian St in San Francisco at 7pm. May change though, please do check back as we will post an updated announcement if needed. You may also email us at synchchaos@gmail.com if you would like to stay in the loop and we will keep you posted.

We are also hosting a general literary gathering for everyone in San Francisco near the end of the month for San Francisco Bay Area locals, and we will keep you posted on that as well.

Now, February 2019’s issue of Synchronized Chaos concerns the telescoping view our psyches can take of our existence and our place in the universe, expanding or contracting time depending on our perspective and stage of life.

Memories and storytelling: how and what we remember

Norman J. Olson opens with a travelogue of his European travels, beginning with a cruise out of Florida, then a visit to the works of Michelangelo, Gaudi, Picasso and Raphael.  Jeff Rasley relates his trek up the Himalayas with enthusiasm for the adventure and appreciation for the people of the region who joined his travels.

Jonathan Butcher shares poetic memories of places of past mental and physical labor: preparing food in a restaurant and processing emotions. J.D. DeHart commemorates the journey into a new year, mourning a loss but yet not looking back to the past. His other pieces involve stepping back and looking at circumstances from a certain distance to gain perspective.

 

Grief and loneliness, end of life and regret

Michael Robinson brings a vignette concerning a lonely elderly woman he meets while staying in a nursing home, while Joan Beebe writes in a short piece of sighs and memories, grief and nostalgia. 

David Boski writes of old age, grief and loss, as well as the visceral realities of conflict and excretion, while Rajnish Mishra explores similar themes in a less grotesque style, along with concerns about what sort of world to create for his child.

J.J. Campbell again treads the ground of loneliness and disappointment, yet explores sentiment and sentimentality amidst the pain. Ian Copestick speaks to us of lonely, dead times of the week, as well as the personal isolation of poverty.

 

The often non-linear way our mind processes time 

John Middlebrook probes how the mind comprehends our existence with pieces on various liminal, in between spaces, including dreamtime and evening. He lends the theme to this issue with his piece about seeing the world from the ‘big end of the telescope,’ where the past becomes clear, small and far away enough to organize in one’s mind.

Michael Robinson contributes another piece, another reflection on the nursing home, where time slows down while one is sick or at the end of one’s life.

 

Our complex and mysterious inner psyche

Alejandra Garzon shapes mixed media photo art to augment a photograph to illustrate the inner life of her characters. Ricky Garni’s surrealistic poems start off one way and go in a completely different direction from what the reader might expect.

In Mark Young’s work, words and lines flow together. The literal meanings of words don’t connect but the phrases and style of writing unify together into a mosaic poem. 

In John Patrick Robins’s piece, an author can’t figure out a book review he receives. It’s not negative, just inexplicable.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan regales us with a set of scattershot vignettes and glimpses into regular life’s quirky moments.

 

How we figure out who we are, our place in the cosmos

Robert Ragan relates a story about an incompetent, yet enterprising, homeless man. His take on human nature is ironic, as both his homeless and non-homeless characters hold a cynical view of human nature and seek to prove their expectations right.

Ezekiel Jarvis’ piece probes the fine line a police officer has to walk to behave ethically, the constant moral and physical danger of the occupation.

Ivan Jenson gives a humorous look at the mental arithmetic we use to make life decisions, while Elizabeth Hughes, in her Book Periscope column, explores books which invite contemplation of one sort or another. These include Linda Orber and Deborah Simmons-Roslak’s devotional Love, God, Clem Masloff’s psychological sci fi The Amphibiots, Nisha Singh’s Sherlock Holmes’-inspired Bhrigu Mahesh, and Rosa Mae’s poetry collection Reaching Out to Kindred Souls. 

 

More abstract exploration of the role of humans in the universe, and the role of an individual

Jaylan Salah analyzes Camille Preaker’s character in the HBO series Sharp Objects through a gendered lens. Here is a woman who struggles, who is vulnerable, and is also conventionally attractive, yet without being sexualized for the male gaze.

Allison Grayhurst offers up a long pilgrimage of a piece, about someone learning to connect, forgive, love, and take part in the broader universe. Dan Cardoza writes of the natural world, gardens, hills and weather, and human thoughts and feelings are interwoven into the natural scenes.

Christopher Bernard reviews Eunice Odio’s new poetry collection The Fire’s Journey: Part III – an ambitious oeuvre that encompasses the creation of the world and human, male and female, psychological entities.

 

Gemini Observatory

Poetry from John Patrick Robins

 

It was a mystery to us all.

“Man I’ve had some shit reviews but never one that I couldn’t understand.”

All my friends read it and yet none could explain.

The four star review and the weird ass comment .

We all speculated but this mystery remained unsolved.

The hipster critic and editor had created a legend within itself.

I rather crack a bottle than crack a code.

Some mysteries are best left unsolved.

R.T.C Arthur.

Leonardo da Vinci doesn’t have shit on you.

John Patrick Robins 

Is the editor of both the Rye Whiskey Review and Under The Bleachers.

His work has appeared in.

Synchronized Chaos , The San Pedro River Review , The Move River Review , Ariel Chart , Red Fez, Stanzaic Stylings, Angry Old Man Magazine , Horror Sleaze Trash, Outlaw Poetry Network, Piker Press,

He is the author of Smoking At The Gas Pumps published by Soma Publishing .

And A Cold Beer Beats A Warm Heart .

Published by Alien Buddha Press.

His work is always unfiltered.

Poetry from Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The Devil Plays All His Own Records Backwards

just to see what all the fuss

is about

scratches the shit out of them

on this used turntable he picked up

at a yard sale seven months ago

and there are no hidden messages

that he can make out

not even a few of his own

and he looks at the album cover

then back to the record

before tossing it into the fire

and getting the next one

out of its sleeve.

Police Are Searching for a Doorbell Licker

I saw his picture on a black and white camera.

They say he walked up to this place at night

and licked the doorbell for over three hours.

Out in California.

Now that takes some serious dedication.

I’m guessing germs are not a large worry

for this chap.

His tongue raw with effort.

Dry as redwood kindle

If you see this man,

hide your palms in your pockets.

The doorbell was not so lucky.

Veggie Patches and the Mistress

The world is absurd.

People walk around acting like everything

is reasonable which makes things

more absurd.

I guess they need to pretend there is

some order to things,

some guiding principle behind

it all.

I know better.

I lock the door behind me.

Shut off all the lights.

You wouldn’t even know I am there.

Pulling at old skin tags.

Thinking about veggie patches

and the mistress.

Not mine, someone else’s.

I don’t have a mistress.

The whole idea of a mistress is absurd.

Like chewing on a pen cap for it’s obvious

nutritional value.

I don’t think I can hold out much longer.

My gnarled spine crawling up my back

and out my nose.

The freshly shaven face like a clean slate.

The mincemeat clarity of sound check

distortion pedals.

A knock at the door

and I am standing in the bathtub.

Sewing heart transplants onto old teddy bears

so the markets don’t crash like cars

in traffic.

Ugly Mug

I don’t think the poem is beautiful.

Everyone says it’s beautiful and everyone else

says it’s ugly and somewhere in the middle

is a fence you get sit on as long as the owners

aren’t home.

I don’t want the poem to be beautiful.

Ugly is okay, but never just for the sake of ugliness.

That fence could be torn down in no time,

but everyone seems to like it.

I don’t climb on poems

or write fences into yards.

Ugly is preferable.

The poem is not beautiful.

Crash Diets Should Not Involve Cars

 

You expect as much

in California

but the underground

parking spaces

sneak up on you

your truck

is not on a diet

the cameras

show your many attempts

at backing

a beluga whale

into a

shoebox.

Windy City Poem (for Alyssa Trivett)

You got that windy city

wind as well

and it’s really that

biting wind

that cuts through everything

and brings the cold

to the bone.

She tells me I have written a poem

without trying.

I decide that she is right

and that this one

is for her.

1% Burn

If you burn your genitals, it’s a 1% percent burn,

she says out of nowhere.

If you burn your genitals, it’s 1% of your body mass.

I suddenly wonder why she is telling me this.

If she thinks I will burn my genitals or am planning to

in the near future.

Maybe she is planning on burning them

and this is her way of telling me.

Her face down in the NCLEX nursing book.

Maybe she is just thinking out loud.

I don’t say anything.

Men seldom do when it comes

to burning genitals.

Her nursing exam is in a few weeks.

My genitals might be on it.

Untimely

They always say it is “untimely”

as though Death can be

anything but “untimely.”

Like there’s ever a good time

to die.  Even the oldies still feel

they have a little more left.

A few years of arthritis and old war stories

and beer.

But the obits always say “untimely.”

I have half a mind to put one in

that says such a Death was timely.

Like clockwork.

Couldn’t wait for that mean bastard

to kick it.

And just when the son of a bitch

looked as though he was panicking

and wanted to confess to anything – BOOM!

Don’t betray yourself now.

Go out just as you came in.

This nostalgia after the fact is nothing but guilt.

Manufactured or otherwise.

Seems death is always “untimely” unless you are

a hitman and paid for said death.

Still, the family will think it “untimely”

and say as much in the papers.

Barrie Anne Gardens

was the Compton

of the North

for poor families

just starting out

maybe it has changed now

they seem to be levelling everything

to the ground

and erecting condos

with extra fees

these days

but this was knife

fight central

back in the day

lots of wives with unexplained bruises

along the bus path

which was a selling point

as I screamed for milk

because I was still

a baby

my father in accounting

and my mother in damn near

everything else

as long as it paid

and we could make rent.

Front Loader

I stand over the toilet

and think of front loaders

in gravel pits

wiggling the thing around

when I’m done.

If I were a back loader

I would sit down.

Spread the cheeks

like spreading the love.

Short story from Ezekiel Jarvis

Fearful Symmetry

I could go right down the line. All of the bullshit. Start small, with those little pricks who are polite to your face but who you know call you a pig twenty seconds later. Probably because they think that the black kids do and that’s cool to them.  They’re not terrible, but they grind you down, not being able to call them out, because you know their parents would pitch a fit.

But that’s still kind of small time. Take the Black Lives Matter crap. I get it that their neighborhoods are tough. I’m called to them enough that I get it. But what are we supposed to do, not arrest any black people? I’d like to see them try to be a white cop. Good fucking luck. If you go easy, the people from the neighborhood will expect you to always back down, and your buddies are done trusting you. If you’re too much of a hardass, you could lose your job after a couple of people complain or you could be the target of some thug. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

And then, on top of all that, there’s that fucking tiger. They said it was supposed to be like a mascot or something. I don’t know why it would be a tiger. We’re in the middle of a fucking city. But they keep the tiger right where we all come in. Stupid, right? And I asked what the deal was. I asked Morris, “You going to just let this thing stay out here?” So what does the prick say? He doesn’t look at me, but he says, “Out of my hands.”

I tried asking him whose hands the tiger was in, but you know how it goes. By the end, he just said, “Look, as long as you don’t do anything to agitate the tiger, you have nothing to worry about.” Like it’s up to me not to rile up a god damned tiger. Like if something happens it’s my fault.

You’d think that everyone felt that way, but leave it to fucking Evans to take Morris’s side. A bunch of us were talking, and pretty much all of us agreed that this whole tiger thing was bullshit. But then Evans said, “It smells fear. You have to not be afraid.” Now think about that for a minute. There’s a deadly creature that you have to see every fucking day. You can’t not. And you’ve been told not to agitate it, and then you’re told that if you’re afraid, you’re agitating it. Makes a lot of sense, right?

And don’t tell me that nothing’ll happen. Just yesterday, Jameson got his face clawed. Yeah, Jameson was being stupid, trying to take a selfie with the tiger, but, come on. Bringing that thing in, we were just asking for trouble. It’s just common sense. But nobody knows what it’s like, and that’s why nobody gives a fuck, and that’s why it’s not going to get better. Go fucking figure.

Short story from Robert Ragan

Bag Lunch

Robert Ragan, young white man with a sweater and glasses and pen

Robert Ragan

 

Do you ever get tired of seeing those bums with signs saying, “Will work for food?”

 

Benny was fucking sick of it. He knew all about their little schemes. Maybe just maybe they really wanted food. But not a damn one of them really wanted to work for it.

 

Benny even knew how they thought. Saying you were willing to work looked better to the public than having a sign flat out asking for money.

 

Standing on a median in the middle of busy traffic they never figured anyone would offer them a job.

 

Benny had his own small-time remodeling business, so he decided to put this theory to the test.

 

 First thing on a bright Monday morning, Richard was on the move. He had made a cool new sign out of pieces of Carl Berry’s cardboard box.

 

The poor guy lost his only home to heavy winds and rain. With a black marker, Richard wrote, ‘Will work for food’. The homeless injured veteran angle never worked for Richard. Probably because he wasn’t an injured veteran.

 

Things were slow that morning but around evening time business would start booming. Lots of fancy cars passed by. These more fortunate people were busy either talking or sending texts. It was best not to bother them in the morning.

 

Normally Richard would be asleep in the park around this time. Only last night he never went to sleep. Instead, he got drunk and partied all night with a couple of whores by the train tracks.

 

That morning, he needed one more beer to calm his nerves and put him to sleep for the day. He would of went to the Dollar Pad and stole a bottle of wine but the employees there were now watching him.

 

Damn, he could end up standing there all day looking like an idiot for nothing.

 

The last thing he expected was for a work truck to stop alongside him and slow up traffic during a green light. God bless this guy, he wanted to give Richard some money really bad!

 

With cars blowing their horns he said, “Get in, I’ve got work for you!”

 

Now, Richard hated working, but sometimes you had to do what you had to do. “So what are we doing today, boss?” Richard asked. Turning on his turn signal and switching lanes Benny says, “We’ll be putting up sheetrock and doing a little painting. Have you ever done that before?” “Can’t say that I have, boss,” says Richard.

 

Up ahead, the law along with an ambulance and firetruck are at the scene of a bad car accident. “I bet someone got killed in that accident,” said Richard. The whole roof of that car was smashed in.

 

Benny didn’t care to make small talk, he just wondered if this guy would do anything. It didn’t look good when Richard fell asleep in the work truck.

 

He woke up when they pulled up to the house. “So, how much are you gonna pay me for doing this,” asked Richard. Benny, putting on his tool belt, says, “Let’s see how you work out first.”

 

Richard was slow and couldn’t hit a stud if his life depended on it. He couldn’t read a tape measure or make the exact cuts for the sockets.

 

By lunchtime, Benny told Richard, “I should have left you on the street.” “Well, boss, you can take me right back to that street,” Richard said, “After you pay me for a half a days work.” Filling his cup from the water cooler on the back of the truck.

 

Benny asked, “What do you think you’ve earned? A bologna sandwich, Moon Pie, and a Pepsi. I’ll give you my bag lunch.”

 

Confused Richard says, “What in the Hell are you talking about? I need cash money.”

 

Shaking his head, Benny says, “I should sue you for false advertisement.” “False advertisement? Richard says, “What are you talking about?”

 

Benny says, “Your sign says, ‘Will work for food dumb dumb’. I know you didn’t think anyone would offer you a job.”

 

It was a long ride back. The whole time Richard was like, “ appreciate the bag lunch but I at least need three bucks for a 40. Benny refused saying, “You weren’t worth two dollars. You should shut up before I take my bag lunch back.”

 

Richard sinks down in his seat, “You’re a cold heartless bastard.”

 

Tired with no hope left for that day, Richard says, “Just drop me off at the park. I live there on a bench.” Showing no sympathy Benny says, “I’d hate to be you.”

 

When Richard got dropped off, he wondered around harassing people who were walking their dogs. He said, “I’ve got a nice bag lunch for three dollars. The Pepsi and Moon Pie are probably close to three bucks plus you get a bologna sandwich too.”

 

Richard tells everyone, “You know you can’t beat it.”

 

They all look at him like he’s crazy. A young mother with red hair, walking her child on a leash says, “Didn’t I see you holding a sign this morning that said, ‘Will work for food?’” An old man passing by says, “Yeah, maybe you should just keep it.”

 

 —

Robert Ragan from Lillington NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, and Cajun Mutt Press. Alien Budha Press has published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales”

Poetry from Ivan Jenson

Action Plan

Go through with it
the daily grind
until the great unwind.
Continue with
the gross overestimations,
the bad investments
of money or time
and keep on playing your chips
when it comes to love
or friendships
do it all with the artistry
of archery
even if it means
aiming for the bullseye
of a good cry
fake it
until you break it
and most of all
keep your journal
of to-dos
you did not
because this
French kiss of living
and vampire hickey
on the neck
of death
is all
that you’ve got

Over Complex

I know who
and what
you are
from your sequential
idiosyncrasies
and the polyrhythmic algorithms
of your speech patterns
and based on my graph
of your laugh
and the amount of
salt in your tears
and taking into account
your good and bad years
I deduce your use,
validity and relevance
in the current marketplace
of those who wish to be
in my space
and if you pass
this take home exam
then I am
willing to give you
the passcode to enter
my emotional wellbeing
now look into my iris
where you will see
your intentions reflected
good, no virus detected

The Last Match

There is somebody
out there for everyone
who is willing to strike
cinematic poses
in the rain
holding soaked roses
or who does not mind
the humiliation of
being the only one
in love
or who can flatter
at a moment’s notice
or pay for a fancy platter
and act like throwing down
one hundred bucks
for overcooked duck
really doesn’t matter
and you are guaranteed
to keep that
special one
if you can ignore
blatant off-white lies,
and distant distracted looks
in their hypnotic eyes
in exchange for
the hope that
they will be there
to light a candle
on that night
when the old cold wind
blows out the power
of your heart
and the light dies

Author, Author

I have been working
on a project
that involves
zero actual humans
and no tangible materials
the gist of this endeavor
is mostly me
and the alphabet
trying to be clever
the chance of it
being finished
any time soon are nil
but when it is done
like a comedian on fire
it is going to kill
this whole thing is
just an act of
cowardly heroism
egotism, as seen through
a self-involved prism
all that I can hope
is that when you read
my scrawlings on the
concave of your imagination
you will be
thoroughly shook
and you will then
tell everyone to
go read my book

Ivan Jenson is a fine artist, novelist and contemporary poet. His artwork was featured in Art in America, Art News, and Interview Magazine and has sold at auction at Christie’s. Ivan was commissioned by Absolut Vodka to make a painting titled Absolut Jenson for the brand’s national ad campaign. His Absolut paintings are in the collection of the Spiritmusuem, the museum of spirits in Stockholm, Sweden.

Jenson’s painting of the “Marlboro Man” was collected by the Philip Morris corporation. Ivan was commissioned to paint the final portrait of the late Malcolm Forbes.  Ivan has written two novels, Dead Artist and Seeing Soriah, both of which illustrate the creative and often dramatic lives of artists. Jenson’s poetry is widely published (with over 600 poems published in the US, UK and Europe) in a variety of literary media. A book of Ivan Jenson’s poetry was recently published by Hen House Press titled Media Child and Other Poems, which can be acquired on Amazon. Two novels by Ivan Jenson entitled, Marketing Mia and Erotic Rights have been published hardcover. Ivan Jenson’s new novel, Gypsies of New Rochelle has been released by Michelkin Publishing. Ivan Jenson’s website is: www.IvanJenson.com

Photography from Alejandra Garzon

My name is Alejandra Garzon. I’m a storytelling fashion photographer from Ecuador but currently moved to New York.

This photo is the combination of aesthetics and portraits and emotions and digital art and fashion all at once. I’m in love with the idea of showing emotions in what I create or write. I think sadness, depression, anxiety, broken hearts are a way of living too. Everybody has their own struggles and you can always embrace them.

 

My social media link: http://instagram.com/88_vibes