Synchronized Chaos March 2017: We’re Going on An Odyssey!

 

'Odysseus and the Sirens' by Waterhouse

‘Odysseus and the Sirens’ by Waterhouse, 1891

Welcome, readers, to Synchronized Chaos Magazine’s March issue. Bon voyage and grab your hats, this month we’re setting sail and heading off on a journey!

Two of our submissions mention Greek mythology and drama directly (Vijay Nair’s poetry, which celebrates the beauty of love through a comparison to the story of Leda the swan, and Christopher Bernard’s review of the performance of Antigona at San Francisco’s Z Space, retelling the classical tragedy through flamenco dance).

So, in the spirit of the Odyssey, we’re wandering through different ‘islands’ of themes and topics, keeping in mind our loyal and brave Penelopes and Telemachuses who are keeping the candles burning for us at home.

Some places we stop are quite enjoyable, and we can spend a good deal of time on these idylls, as Odysseus spends seven years under the spell of the nymph Calypso.

Carol Smallwood describes the renewal of the world that comes with the American Midwest in an excerpt from her novel In Hubble’s Shadow. 

Stella Pfahler contributes poetry of love and country roads, but a current of danger underlies her thoughtful and precise words. Her speaker envisions her travel companion paralyzed, rendered immortal and forever hers by a lightning strike.  Similarly, Calypso employed magic to trap Odysseus, keeping her lover at her side until he finally awakened and remembered his home and family. Sometimes a place can be wonderful, but not quite home.

Other idylls can simply be draining and unimaginative, such as Doug Hawley’s teaching position in the ironically named small town of Manhattan, Kansas.

Like the coral reef with the enticing Sirens, some places we visit sound lovely at first, but are nothing but dangerous temptations, destructive when fully considered.

J.D. DeHart offers us poetry of disillusionment, where people and situations, including his speakers themselves, aren’t all that he expected of them.

Tony Nightwalker LeTigre’s poetry warns against assuming that our societies have done enough to care for the poor just because we have created some organizations with noble mission statements. Also, he looks at, but ultimately rejects, the allure of a life spent in addiction, which would allow him to temporarily escape harsh realities but leave him less able to create change.

And J.J. Campbell’s pieces reflect loss and longing, disillusionment and rejection – normal feelings after an encounter crashing your flimsy boat against the rough rocks of the island of the Sirens.

Great dangers can threaten us, as the giant Cyclops menaced Odysseus and his men. But, as he did, we can sometimes escape through our cunning, resilience and wit.

In the review of the American Conservatory Theater’s production of Ursula Raini Sarma’s dramatic adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel A Thousand Splendid Suns by yours truly, we see two women trapped in a violent, restrictive situation who ultimately overcome through courage, endurance and family love.

Returning poet Michael Robinson evokes the images of family and sensual love that allow him to navigate and survive youth under the constant threat of random, senseless violence.

Other times, the dangers prove too powerful for us, especially when they arise out of our own natures and our own pasts. Mike Zone’s short sci fi/fantasy/horror story Life-Hack presents a woman tracked down at long last and tormented by the son she abandoned. She likely wished she could have escaped to the Land of the Lotus-Eaters, where, like Odysseus’ crew, she could have lost her memory and identity.

Sometimes we encounter circumstances that change who we are, that cause us to reinterpret ourselves, as enchantress Circe changes Odysseus’ men into pigs.

Federico Wardal invents a character for the stage that allows him to express the nuances of his craft while playing classical and modern dramatic characters, as well as speak up for human rights through theater of his own making. Interestingly, he specifically credits the ancient Greeks with the majority of his inspiration and the basis for his style.

Joan Beebe reminds adults that we can still enjoy the breaks from reality and the world-expanding and enhancing effects of imagination.

Sometimes, we get in trouble because we are too bold and we overstep the bounds people have set to protect us. Wind god Aeolus tries to help Odysseus by capturing all the air currents that might set his ship off course into a bag, but when he is nearly home, the crew opens the bag in search of treasure, unleashing all the bad winds.

Dan Morey’s story illustrates the drama his elderly Mom creates in Rome when she attempts to evade the Swiss guards protecting the Vatican so she can make an unscheduled visit to a garden. However, he is more fortunate than Odysseus and, through humor and gentleness, he is able to defuse the situation.

Nancy Schluntz’ poetry conveys an environmental message in its talk of earthquakes and cataclysms, warning us to live sustainably within the natural world. As when Odysseus’ men disregard the admonitions of the sun god Helios and eat his cattle, incurring his wrath and their destruction, sometimes we should heed warnings.

Sometimes, we are blessed to find those who come to the aid of lost travelers. The Phaeacians finally help Odysseus find his way home, following the ancient code of hospitality.

Mahbub, a poet from Bangladesh, encourages compassion for the world’s Syrian refugees in a set of poetry that also celebrates faith, family, community and romantic love.

Donal Mahoney contributes an essay about his Irish parents, in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Ironically, he remembers that he himself is the child of illegal immigrants, headed to the USA for safety and better economic opportunities.

In Elizabeth Hughes’ monthly Book Periscope column, we follow the journey of Thomas Montasser’s protagonist, who finds a welcoming home in a small town bookstore in A Very Special Year. And the life story of Anlor Davin, who, as she relates in her memoir Being Seen, leaves her provincial French homeland and journeys across the US, finally finding home in Zen meditation and accepting her uniqueness. And, finally, we uncover the secrets hidden in a lovely beach resort in Mary Kay Andrews’ The Weekenders. 

Wishing you all safe travels, friendly winds and a gentle landing as you read. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Poetry from Michael Robinson

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 that I will survive the night.

 

Connections

Stay with me tonight until the sunrises, so I can forget the past, as the cold swear flows through my body. Hold me, but not too tight to suffocate me. I long for the nectar of your gentle warmth next to me. Watch for the demons that have chased me thought-out my life. Pray as I atone for my sins. Kiss me to awaken me to your love. The scent of rosemary on your body reminds of our connection. Your soul reaches for my essence and we both are connected.

Continue reading

Fiction from Mike Zone

Life-Hack

By Mike Zone
Eileen obsessively eyed the diner’s entrance. When she couldn’t glue her eyes on the unmoving door, she kept an ear open for the “ding” of a bell and his soft melodious voice (which in reality was really quite squeaky) to signal either a fanciful reprieve or a return to purgatory.
Maybe their pending marriage could work. After a month, there might even be the chance for actual love to grow between them. Depending on the nature of it all that is, she even wondered if he was real and not a figment of desperate imagination or even a nightmare fever getting ready to claim her.
She was sick of her feet hurting, the touches of gray beginning to streak through her copper red hair, and the small belly starting to develop. When would her tits begin to sag? Would they be as bad as the bags underneath her eyes? The result from lack of sleep wrought from anxiety born of cut hours and declining tips.
Most of all though, she was sick of the smug looking old men at table nine, who grinned and nodded at each other; knowing they had, had her in her prime; she was young, desperate and in need of quick cash.

Continue reading

Poetry from Joan Beebe

IMAGINATION
 
Playing a piano concerto at Carnegie Hall,
 
A baseball star and being voted into the Hall of Fame,
 
A famous writer with people clamoring for more of your books.
 
All of these things can take place in your imagination.
 
 You are able to fly away from reality and be in another world of your own.
 
Children seem to have that ability and they are happy in their make believe world.
 
Sometimes we need that time to dream and be in that happier place of renewal and joy.
 
That imaginary world is one we create ourselves because sometimes the stress of this world is too much and we long for peace and where we feel content and free. 
 
Our imaginary dreams can become a reality if we focus on the positive areas of our life and push the negatives aside.  We become and create that world of peace and joy within ourselves. 

Nonfiction essay from Dan Morey

 A Vatican Adventure

By

Dan Morey

 

“Are you sure we’re allowed to see the pope?” said Mother, as our bus rumbled along the Tiber. “We’re not Catholic.”

 

“Of course we’re not allowed,” I said. “If the Swiss Guards find out we’re Lutheran they’ll spear us on the spot. Just last week they beheaded a Methodist on charges of ecclesiastical espionage.”

 

“Haw, haw.”

 

We got off at Castel Sant’Angelo, and made our way to St. Peter’s. The approach was designed to be awe-inspiring, and it is. As you walk the column-hugged piazza toward the towering façade and cathedral dome, you can’t help but feel small—a tiny soul in God’s vast universe.

Continue reading

Poetry from J.J. Campbell

on an old radio
 
the pain of another
birthday alone, just
the bottles of courage
and some music on
an old radio
images of the few
girlfriends of the past
rush by throughout
the night
you can’t help but
think what your life
could have been
sometimes being
passed over is a
blessing
it’s all those other
times that you
understand why
rejection leads to
a lonely death
not everyone can
stomach the bitter
pills

Continue reading

Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope

Thomas Montasser’s A Very Special Year
A Very Special Year is a delightful and captivating book about a small very special book store. Valerie takes over running the book store when her Aunt Charlotte has suddenly gone somewhere and just left a note for Valerie to look after her book store for her.
Valerie and her boyfriend do not understand why the aunt just doesn’t close the store. It does not seem to be doing all that well financially and they do not think many people even read actual books anymore. Valerie stays and tries to bring the bookkeeping and bookstore up to date. On many of the days when she does not have much to do, she sits down with one of the many books and reads while she drinks a cup of tea or coffee. She comes to realize how magical reading can be. She comes to realize how the feeling of the pages, the feeling of the cover and the smell of the different books can be just as captivating as reading the books themselves. She becomes so immersed in reading the many different stories she tries to save the bookstore from closing.
Then she comes across a book called A Very Special Year. The book only goes so far and does not seem to be completed. Valerie thinks the book is just a defective one that got through at the publishers. Then a man comes in and sees it sitting in the wastebin. He asks if he could purchase the book. Valerie tells him it is not a complete copy and tells him he can just have it. He convinces her to take remuneration for the book. This is a delightful book that was originally written in German and then translated to English. I really enjoyed this book. It could be enjoyed by a wide variety of ages.
Synchronized Chaos Magazine encourages you to request this book by name and have it ordered for you at your local bookstore!
Being Seen by Anlor Davin
 beingseencover
This is a very deep and important (in my opinion) book on autism. What sets this book apart from other books on autism, is that Ms. Davin is autistic. It is her journey through life as an undiagnosed autistic child and through part of her adult years until she is finally diagnosed. It tells of the heartbreak and pain, both physical and emotional, of being different in a time when “different” is both not understood and frowned upon. This is a very informative and important book for people who are or may know someone that has been diagnosed or may have not been diagnosed yet of autism. I found this memoir to be very educational and informative. It is well written and I highly recommend reading it.
The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews
51i9lFRFckL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_
This book is a suspenseful murder mystery that will not disappoint fans of Mary Kay Andrews. If you have not read any of her books, I highly recommend them.
The Weekenders takes place on Belle Isle, a fictional island off the coast of South Carolina. The story has many twists and turns. It will definitely keep the reader on the edge of their seat throughout the whole book. When you think you have the murderer figured out, you will find out you were wrong.
It is the story about a family that owns most of the island, the husband of the main character dies mysteriously and everyone finds out he had a rather sinister side to him. He was the CEO of Belle Isle Enterprises and was secretly going to negotiate to turn the island into a huge tourist attraction while borrowing money from his in-laws and others to fund his project.
Then everyone finds out that all of his “projects” fell through and he is found dead. Then everyone is a suspect until the killer is found. This is a really great read for all mystery buffs and will not disappoint. I highly recommend The Weekenders.
Synchronized Chaos Magazine encourages readers to request The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews from their local bookstores. 

Poetry from Mahbub

Melody

The world itself a melody

where every instrument is playing with music

we sing together, we dance together

we laugh together, cry together,

die together, born together,

enjoy the whole item of beauty

with a melody that is going on always among us

proud of our birth

always hand in hand a splash of water

try to fly in the brown sky

time after time

run after the wave of the  ocean

we wander on the grass, ponder over things

break the heart again built

stand together

fall dividing

all are fixed as if from long day and night

circling the ground  there is a harmony

to bend on each other

to cross the unparalleled

beats the drum  more loudly

that weaves the heart into melody.

Continue reading

Poetry from Stella Pfahler

God’s Square Mile

I imagined you struck by lightning, paralyzed and hanging in the air or above my bedside

isaiah 58:11 reading beneath you

I wanted to write you into verse psalm after psalm say it back to me echo like Presider: Congregation:

there is nothing like touch in electricity your hands

in water beneath a tall black sky

brushstrokes simmering beneath skin  draw me a riverside, blanketed in peaks considering the largeness on each side

and the smallness in the middle

you sheared the plastic off a car door handle with close­cut careful nails and murmured “cows” at every intersection whenever they appeared

 

 

 

 

Creative nonfiction from Doug Hawley

I Won’t Take Manhattan

Not that Manhattan, the Big Apple, Bright Lights Big City, this is the little apple, dim lights, little city in Kansas.

I ended up there after my third year of a math Ph.D. program at the University of Oregon in Eugene.  I didn’t care for Eugene, and I was a poor Ph.D. candidate.   When not studying, I spent my time drinking, consuming a controlled substance, getting fat and hanging out with other unmarried male graduate students.  It was an unpleasant life of my own making.

My thesis advisor decided to take a job at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.  I didn’t think that anyone else in the department would take me as a student, so I decided to go with him despite the Kansas horror stories.  Oregon has mountains, trees, lakes and canyons, but Kansas not so much.  Another four of his students also followed him.

Continue reading