Poetry from Christopher Bernard

Gratuitous piece of poetry from a regular contributor, posted today in preparation for the upcoming January issue, which goes live at midnight PST tonight. Please enjoy!

Last Day of 2015

By Christopher Bernard

As in any other year
each day the sun rose, it set.
Mothers, friends, partners, lovers,
after laughing at us for longer than we cared to remember,
vanished overnight.
Where they used to be now is a hole in the air.

The monarch butterflies move in mists of wings
across the plains between Canada and Mexico,
rain takes a stroll across parched California,
and the moon glows down on everything on the earth.

The snow lines the pockets of the mountains with rebukes
as sharp as memories of kitchens on winter mornings.
A crocus breaks through the whiteness, a small pink fist,
sleek as rebellion, calm, deceptively delicate,

wagging in the wind.

Your partner is ice, hollyhocks, poppies.

Your lover is a fox hiding under a felled cedar.

Your mother is the wind.

Every day the sun set, it rose.

_____

Christopher Bernard is author of The Rose Shipwreck: Poems and Photographs. His poetry can be read at The Bog of St. Philinte.

Poetry from Joan Beebe


A CHRISTMAS SNOWFALL

We who live in northern climes

Begin to wonder if there will be

Snow for Christmas.

The trees are stark against the sky

But there are twinkling lights

Lighting up neighborhoods

With such delight for all to see.

Christmas Eve comes and still no snow

Late at night, we look out our window

And are given a beautiful surprise.

The snow is swirling with the wind

And making unique and lovely patterns

Upon window panes

We open our door and watch in awe

The beauty of the scene before us

That nature provided on this

Quiet and Holy Christmas Eve.

Interview with Etsy jewelry artist Sebastian Lokason

 

This is an interview with Sebastian Lokason, jewelry artist and craftsperson with a full-time business on Etsy where he earns his living by designing and creating various pieces inspired by his faith. He talks about the life and practice of being an artist and a business person, how to integrate work, life, creativity and personal values, and the value and beauty of pieces with genuine stones.

Sebastian’s website and Etsy link: 

Some of Sebastian’s work:
How did you scale up your business over the years? Plenty of people start off making and selling crafts, how do you go from a hobby to a business? (i.e. finding customers, managing your time, making sure you’re getting enough of a profit margin, etc) 

I started beading in my early twenties, and people would comment on my jewelry and I would make stuff for admirers at a very low price – much lower than what I should have been charging, but back then I didn’t know what a fair price was and I was happy to get any “extra” money at all.  I started on Etsy in 2011, when I was thirty-one, as a hobbyist seller.  I had literally no idea how to market my items – for example, I didn’t know you’re supposed to use tags on Etsy so people can find things – and I also had very, very few items ready for sale.  I made less than a dozen sales prior to August 2014, which is when I got serious about Etsy and re-evaluated my business strategy, with help from someone who knows more about how to sell things than I do.  I found a customer base through blogging about Pagan spirituality, though the time eventually came where I had to choose between blogging and crafting, and I was lucky that people who found my store via my blog mostly stuck around after I stopped making content posts – perhaps in part because my message was “be authentic to yourself, and your Higher Purpose is what you love”, and by focusing my attention on my art I was doing just that.

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Synchronized Chaos December 2015: The Individual in Relief

Welcome readers to December 2015’s edition of Synchronized Chaos Magazine. This month’s contributors deal with questions related to the individual’s connection to and responsibility toward the larger human or planetary universe.

Recurring contributor Tony GlamorTramp LeTigre speculates on the social order that could emerge if people used personal safety rather than traffic signals as a guide for when to cross the street. He reassures readers that his piece is a metaphor while raising deeper questions about alternatives to blind obedience. In another piece he celebrates compassion among neighbors, as he relates the tale of an old woman who goes by ‘TwoTooth Marie.” Tony also gives us a few poems, including a gentle piece about pumpkins and a short essay about exploring and feeling out of place in a wealthy Oregon hillside neighborhood, illustrating how alienated we can feel even when surrounded by others. His piece provokes thought about implicit versus explicit forms of social exclusion.

Rick Hartwell’s poetry also articulates the costs of invisibility and alienation within a social environment, as an individual falls through the cracks unnoticed to commit an inexplicable violent act. His other pieces present an aging speaker still questing for purpose in life and a dying ship sinking into oblivion.

Neil Ellman sends poetry designed to accompany paintings from Chilean artist Roberto Matta Echaurren that probe the nature of the self, the ego, and the creative mind. (For more information about this artist, who was a leading figure in surrealism and abstract expressionism, you may click here). Or here for Roberto Matta’s page on Artsy.net showcasing his work.

Elizabeth Hughes reviews a set of novels in her monthly Book Periscope column that grapple with loyalty and independence. Hannah in Adina Sara’s Blind Shady Bend finally lives for herself and sets up a new and unexpected life in the California gold country and finds connection to others along the way. Most of an entire family throws off selfishness and dysfunction and learns to come together and use their creativity and gifts for good to help heal a sick teenager in Rea Nolan Martin’s The Anesthesia Game. Through helping Syd, they discover other ways they can make choices that enhance their own lives. In Joy Brown Coates’ Integrity: An Obsidian Guardian Novel, Audra and her guardian Castile find each other and realize their mutual roles in a shared destiny while both try to hide from past failure.

Charles Markee’s Maria’s Beads presents a very young woman who must defy the adults in her life to save her dying best friend. In her case, her loyalty motivates her independence. In Jennifer Ott’s Desperate Moon, a medical researcher and natural philosopher’s rational approach to life leads him to see a female vampire as a natural living creature rather than an esoteric monster, which leads to a truly loving relationship. The novel shows her growing openness to mutual friendship and respect after a lifetime of survival through seeking power and protection.

Regular contributor Christopher Bernard reviews Cal Performances’ production of the Rude Mechs’ show Stop Hitting Yourself, which suggests through humor and physical energy the possibility of honoring both the values of individualism and charity, freedom and morality. Bernard also highlights his individual responsibility for the effect he has on the climate of planet Earth and evocatively honors the survivors and the departed from the recent attacks on Paris. Dami Lare, from Nigeria, also sends an abstract intellectual essay elucidating the limits of both dogmatic faith in religious or political systems and of atheism and skepticism. Lare does not entirely discourage readers from adopting big picture value systems, but reminds people not to use their chosen system as a prophylactic against rational thought.

Returning poet Michael Robinson speaks of the comfort he finds in times of pain and loneliness from his mother’s memory and from his spiritual faith. He also adds an older work of his to this issue, inspired by the suffering of inner city and refugee children and advocating compassion. Kimberly Brown reviews Linda Baron-Katz’ memoir Surviving Mental Illness: My Story and her children’s book Peter and Lisa, highlighting the strength the author showed in creating a meaningful and workable life for herself with bipolar syndrome and also how Linda’s reaching out to doctors, therapists, family and friends made her journey possible. One can and must be strong to survive, but one need not find that strength alone.

Shelby Stephenson contributes an alternative review of Roald Hoffman’s play Something that Belongs to Me consisting of conversation and excerpted dialogue from the production. The show, and this style of commentary upon it, posits individual people against a backdrop of large scale historical atrocities and the perennial dueling kindness and cruelty within our nature.

Finally, Joan Beebe’s poetry celebrates Christmas traditions: carols, nativity scenes, church services, presents, snow, sleds, children and families together. At its core the Christmas story in the Christian faith depicts an individual in relief: the incarnate Christ within an ordinary universe of people, plants and animals.

We encourage you to read this issue and see where you fit amid the backdrop of these contributors and their pieces. We wish you well and thank you for including our publication in however you choose to mark this season.

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=17409&picture=face-relief-in-marble

Public domain image from Marina Shemesh. Viewable and usable free here: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=17409

 

Short story from Tony Glamortramp LeTigre

​As it Ought to Be


by t0ny glam0rtramp
TwoTooth Marie was an old woman of the street who was missing one of her two biggest upper teeth and one of her two biggest lower teeth, so that was why she got the name TwoTooth Marie. She was wandering around Japantown in San Francisco one cold November night, when the fog had rolled in & refused to roll back out. After being rudely honked & yelled at by a bully in an SUV at the corner of Post & Webster, Marie became petulant with her destitute situation & tired of pushing her ever-full shopping cart with its rusty wheels up & down the endless sidewalks. She rolled a smoke & hung out near the entrance of a swanky condo development, & tailed the next resident into the building, lugging her rolled-up sleepingbag discreetly inside a white garbage bag, ​plus another big bag containing everything she would need for the night.
​​
Her shopping cart she had already stowed earlier inside a storage space in the basement garage complex​, to reclaim later. Once inside, she ignored the resident’s pu​zzled​ glance & made a beeline for the elevator, which she immediately took to the top floor, which was the 4th.She roame​d the 4th floor hallway until she found the exit stair & took it UP to the secret landing & the door leading onto the roof.
​There, on the roof​, she found a cozy space beneath a network of air viaducts & utility structures, where she ​could unfurl​ her red flannel ​-​ clad sleepingbag & ​sequester herself, ​protected from view about 75% of the way. Only one or two windows possibly had a partial view of her hiding spot, or any resident who came up to the roof to smoke & strode about in her vicinity. But only once the entire first night she was up there did Marie hear anyone else open one of the two roof doors, & nothing came of it.

 

But after Three Nights, TwoTooth Marie was immured in her secret spot, putting the finishing touches to a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, when she heard a door open, & the sound of voices, followed by the step of shoes upon roof gravel. It happened to be Thanksgiving night. Marie froze, fearing the worst.

​An​ array of fight or flight options rapid -​ fired through her mind at the semisubconscious level. They’d found her! It was the asian fellow who had stared at her suspiciously earlier that afternoon when she’d come in, she was sure of it. But how crappy to be evicted on the very night of the holiday! Why had she been foolish & chosen to spend Thankgsiving in Japantown instead of Snoe Valley?
​*

Hopefully they would just ask her to gather up her things & escort her out. Don’t bring the cops into this!

“We know you’re under there,” said a male voice, authoritative. “Come on out now.”

“We can’t let you stay up here by yourself all night,” added the voice of a woman: his companion.

“Come on down & eat, we’ve got a plate of food all ready for you!” added a third voice: that of a child—perky, congenial.

In the midst of hastily gathering together her parcels, Marie froze in renewed wonder & peered out at her presumed assailants. “What?” she exclamasked* in a voice like cracked concrete.

“Marie, you heard us,” the man continued, yet more stridently. “Come out from there… & come downstairs & have dinner with us!”

His wife, beside him, laughed. “That’s right! We’re not going to have you wasting away alone in the cold on Thanksgiving night! What kind of people would we be to show no concern for our fellow suffering human beings on this special day?”

Pleasantly flabbergasted, nearly killed with kindness, Marie peered from beneath the viaduct beneath which lay her sleepingbag, eyed them for a moment suspiciously to make sure they weren’t still trying to entrap her; decided their magnanimity was genuine, & crept out to join them. “That’s so nice of you!” she cried, before she’d even seen what awaited her on the dinner table below.

It was a feast fit for homeless queen. And that’s exactly how Marie was treated all that evening & straight on through til next morning. When she had eaten all she could hold, still they tried to push more on her; though she drained her mead glass a half dozen times, still they filled it again; & at last, at the end of the night, the children of the kind couple escorted Marie to their guest room—normally the nursery, but mom & dad moved the baby in with them for the night.

After all, what kind of people would be be if we showed ​no​ concern for our fellow, suffering humans?

+61+

28 November 2015

NOTES:

*Snoe (Snowy) Valley: because like other once-vital San Francisco neighborhoods, it’s mostly affluent white property owners now​.

*
​*​
exclamasked: (neologism) exclaimed + asked

Poetry from Tony GlamorTramp LeTigre

Yes, This is a Metaphor
 
Although we certainly need traffic lights—
consider the carnage that would ensue without them!—
I can’t help noticing that the number of pedestrians
who stop at a crosswalk in a glazed-eye stupor,
waiting mindlessly for it to change even when there are no cars in sight,
greatly outnumbers those who rely on their own brain & senses 
to tell them when it’s OK to cross; it would appear
that thinking for oneself is a bit passé, perhaps deemed
“more trouble than it’s worth”;  
if so, I must dissent
 
—Tony GlamorTramp LeTigre

Poetry from Neil Ellman

Selfinity

 

(Roberto Matta Echaurren, painting)

 

Selfinity, 1995. http://www.nordstamp.com/artists.dir/matta1.html

Selfinity, 1995. http://www.nordstamp.com/artists.dir/matta1.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infinity, self

the self in infinite shapes

of past, present and future selves

never quite themselves

yet always somehow

the same

as if the self = mc2

constant, eternal and infinite

as if there were only

a single time and space

in which the self

transcends its place

in the infinity of its time.

 

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Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope

Adina Sara’s Blind Shady Bend

blindshadybendcover
Blind Shady Bend is a wonderfully warm novel that will make you want to curl up in your favorite chair with a cup of hot tea or cocoa. It is perfect for this time of year as a gift or for yourself. Even though the story doesn’t take place during Christmas, I think it is the perfect book to read on a cold winter night. The characters come to life and you feel as if you know them. It is about Hannah, who gets a registered letter informing her she has inherited her deceased brother’s estate. She had no idea he had even died since she had not seen or heard from him in many years.  When she goes out to see the land, she finds a ramshackle house on overgrown property. Her life changes once she meets her neighbors. I know you will love this book as much as I have. This is a book that you will want to read over and over.

 Rea Nolan Martin’s The Anesthesia Game

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WOW!! This is an absolutely breathtakingly deep book. It is mystical, suspenseful and exciting. The Anesthesia Game will not disappoint and will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat page after page after page. It is the story of a teen who has cancer and is undergoing chemo. Her mother and father are finding it very hard to cope with it. Her father stays away working most of the time, while the mother has checked out mentally, emotionally and nearly physically. She consults a psychic, who winds up being an important part of Syd’s recovery. The mother’s sister does not believe or approve of the mother consulting the psychic. Then everyone starts having the same dreams of living in the past as other characters who also have sick children. The psychic tries to find the right amount of energy in her quest to heal the child. You will be riveted to your seat reading The Anesthesia Game. This is definitely a must read. I absolutely love the book and I am sure you will too.

Joy Coates’ Integrity

integritycover
Integrity is a fantasy novel that is a must have for the fantasy lover. I absolutely loved the book. It will keep you excited page after exciting page all the way to the end. It is the story of Audra Ketchum who recently moved to the small town of Integrity. She has found a job at Van Campe’s Antique shop. When Audra is doing the inventory and moving things around, she finds an old book that has become wet from a leak in the ceiling. She takes the book home to dry it out and read the history of Integrity. If you love stories of gargoyles and magic, this is just the book for you. Buy it today for yourself or for as a gift for the fantasy lover you know!

Charles Markee’s Maria’s Beads

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Maria’s Beads is the perfect gift for a middle school child. it is about a selfless girl who has a very sick friend. Maria proves what true friendship is when she finds out the girl’s parents refuse to call a doctor. she tries to convince the adults around her that her friend needs help. she s the perfect example of true friendship and being selfless in a world of messages that teach kids just the opposite. this is the perfect gift for your child, a friend, a school classroom or the school library. I absolutely loved the book and know you will too.
Jennifer Ott’s Desperate Moon
desperatemoon
If you like vampire stories, you will absolutely love Desperate Moon. it is, in my opinion a different and unique vampire book. It is the story of Katerina, who was turned into a vampire 600 years ago. She marries an army colonel in the 1800’s who loves fighting and war more than anything else. She meets a doctor who very much interested in the research of blood related diseases. He begins studying her blood when he notices she heals very quickly.This book will grab your attention and imagination. You will feel as you are with Katerina as she tells the story of her life for the past 600 years. She has learned much and gained great knowledge of people and the lives they have lived. I loved this book because it is not your typical vampire book. it is exciting and very deep. It will keep you riveted page after page to the very end.

Christopher Bernard reviews the Rude Mechs’ Cal Performances theater show Stop Hitting Yourself

 

The Rude Mechs theater troupe

The Rude Mechs theater troupe

HEY AMERICA! STOP HITTING YOURSELF

Stop Hitting Yourself

Rude Mechs

Zellerbach Playhouse

November 19–22, 2015

A review by Christopher Bernard

Cal Performances brought Austin, Texas’s zany theater collective Rude Mechs to Berkeley for a weekend of their 2014 New York hit. And a hit it was, hitting me, at first silly, then awake, with its brainy provocations, savage wit, and the cruel tickle of truth.

The show is an inspired combination of a classic Hollywood musical, a pithy allegory on contemporary mores, sudden outbreaks of wacked-out dance routines, witty seductions into audience participation, moments of unexpected confessions by the cast, and a fable on the inner conflict, at the heart of American life, between today’s brutal culture of narcissism, rapacity and greed and ancient ideals of selfless love, kindness to neighbors, the sanctity of nature and the basic decency of the common man and woman.

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Poetry from Michael Robinson

Angels

Angels come to mind when I’m alone,
When something seems to have gone wrong in my life,
The words fold like a chair, and I whisper to God.
There’s something in the wind that gives me hope,
Perhaps it’s their wings that open and close,
Giving me comfort as I sleep.

Poet’s Life  

I have to write,
Or I will die
A empty death,
A soulless death.
But when the words,
Come alive on the screen,
Rising from a deep sleep,
I’m rescued from a wasted life.
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Kimberly Brown reviews Linda Baron-Katz’ memoir Surviving Mental Illness: My Story

baronkatzmemoir

What can you say about a woman who was created to take the world by storm, but who was faced with family difficulties from her youth that plagued her through her teenage and adult years. Still, giving up on herself, her family, and her life never became an option for her.

Though affected by mental illness as a youth and into her young adulthood, Linda learned to advocate for herself in ways that not only made her feel like a whole human being, but also led to her becoming an overcomer and a strong advocate for others with mental illness. Through bouts with psychosis, the loss of love interests and close family members, including her own mother, she made sound decisions to keep herself surrounded with people who could help her fashion her mind into a healthy state in times of crisis.

For Linda, being dually diagnosed with more than one mental illness was in short a heavy blow. However, she relied on professional therapists and psychiatrists and medication to guide and heal her on her way to recovery. Recovery became possible for Linda and she found love and married someone who also lives with a mental illness. Her supportive marriage helped give her the strength to face death in her family, shame and loneliness. Linda used her intelligence and determination and what she had learned from certain life experiences to help her to overcome many of the mental illnesses that had plagued her thoughts for far too long. Due to Linda’s breakthrough with her mental illness, she is now able to give back to the world and to many others who are also suffering. She shows us in her memoir that mental illness is not a death sentence nor is a diagnosis a reason to crawl up in a hole and rot and die. Linda shows us that there are resources for those in that situation, as entire professions specialize in helping people with mental illness.

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