Review: The Rhyme of the Ag-ed Mariness, poetry by Lynn Lonidier

[Reviewed by Nicole Arocho]

Lynn Lonidier’s poetry drives you through a rollercoaster of poignant emotions that leaves you breathless and wanting more of her quirky use of bilingual vocabulary and unconventional metaphors that constantly surprise the reader. She writes poetry, but she doesn’t let poetry forge a specific structure on her work. She switches effortlessly from short, minimalistic stanzas to prose poetry. Even though Christmas Kitty in Bilingual and, Or What I did this Year read very differently from, say, Happy Doris On Her ‘69th, they are equally powerful. Her work is greatly influenced by her lesbianism and by the work she did in the Mission District in San Francisco as a teacher. Both elements are woven beautifully in the unique style she sometimes utilized, a construction of thoughts rather than complete phrases or sentences.

As a bilingual myself, I enjoyed very much Lonidier’s use of both Spanish and English to convey the multicultural space that is the Mission District she so much refers to in her poetry. With her Spanglish we get a better sense of the mix of cultures that color her San Francisco, California. Some of the words may seem random and spelled or grammatically incorrect, but each one of them is conjures a meaning, an essence, a philosophical idea that Lynn Lonidier wanted us to examine, to taste in our reading, to sense in our minds when thinking of her poem afterward.

Her prose poetry is very experimental and fresh; her stylistic choices make her pieces fun to read for the reader but they are also a challenge that Lonidier interposes to this genre and to the reader. The structure plays itself like a metaphor of the development of her own identity as a lesbian and member of the Mission District community. Overall, this book is very unique and a rare combination of wit, passion, flamboyant language and situations, unexpected comparisons and images that reveal, little by little, the realities of two communities (lesbians and the immigrants) who are brought together thanks to Lonidier’s insight and personal connection to both of them.

You can contact the reviewer, Nicole Arocho, at narocho3@gmail.com.

Book Review: Lord of Misrule, by Jaimy Gordon

[Reviewed by Sarah Melton]

In hindsight, I may have been the wrong person to review a book such as Gordon’s gritty, dark tale of corruption in the world of equestrian racing, circa 1970’s Virginia.  For instance, I wasn’t fond of horse racing to begin with. Not that this story argued the already long-ingrained belief I had about the abuse of horses for the sake of money and prestige – in fact, it accented that issue  throughout – but some of the terminology and references to the sport weren’t really made clear to those who didn’t follow racing to begin with, and the use of it made the overall plot of the layers of conspiracy and betrayal between the main characters that much harder to figure out.

Also, the writing style – in particular, the absence of any quotation marks or other signifying punctuation to separate one speaker from another (or a speaking character from their own internal thoughts) made the novel a particularly difficult read. I had to read several paragraphs of dialogue over and over, just to figure out who was talking, then again (if they were talking about racing in technical terms again) to figure out what they were actually getting at with their conversation.  I realize this was an intentional style by the writer, perhaps to make the conversation seem to flow to the reader, but to this reader in particular, it had exactly the opposite effect. Not every reader will feel this way – in fact, the very fact that the novel has won a National Book Award shows that someone (likely even a majority) would find this particular writing style much more favorable than I did. Perhaps I’m just set in my ways as far as formatting and style goes, or need it spelled out for me to figure out who is saying what in any given conversation…or perhaps, as I originally thought, the very style of the dialogue was so perplexing that it detracted from the heart of the story – the characters themselves.

Sarah Melton can be reached at SarahM@aptosfire.com. You can find a number of Melton’s short stories in the Flash Fiction collections at www.absolute-x-press.com.

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Poetry by Jessi Finn

Men Were Growing Up through the Flowers

Men were growing up through the flowers
at a speed that none of us could capture.

Their bug-eyed faces crushed the stalks,
leaving behind mounds of ruinous dirtscape,
as their arms brought with them a wind
that pulled their chests above the tree line.

Young oaks were slain, as were caterpillars,
whose nibbles had done little harm.

They were men with gorgeous, bug-eyed faces,
two strikingly young, two marvelously old,
growing far too fast for us to believe
that it could be more than boredom’s trickery.

Yet they endure, giant above us.
They drink the rain straight from the sky.

The sun has tanned their stunning faces
around their eyes, now ceaselessly closed,
as we, slouch-backed and thirsty,
push their mighty ankles that will not yield.

Jessi Finn may be reached at finnjfinn@gmail.com. Click here to check out Finn’s blog.

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Poetry by Stephen Labovsky

San Francisco

City of little garbage cans
gently tended by Sunset Scavengers
in the early morning fog.

I stand here on the summit of Twin Peaks
and peer through the daze
in hopes that I can somehow see
San Francisco.

This is not a fog that comes in on little cat feet,
all cunning and demure –
it is a Western fog, swift and brave
born in the cold, blue Pacific
and drawn like a magnet
to the heights on which I stand.

Behind me there lies a crumbling desert,
before me are vast waters,
and betwixed and beclouded
is San Francisco.

©2007, Stephen Labovsky

Click here to read more of Stephen Labovsky’s poems from the collection, “City By The Bard.” Labovsky can be reached at labo16@comcast.net. Continue reading

Synch Chaos April: Freedom from the past – Hope for the future

Spring is usually the “out with old and in with the new” season of the year. This issue of Synchronized Chaos, Freedom from the past – Hope for the future, re-emphasizes this idea of change. There is a commonality in everyone for the need to hope. This need results from living with truth in the past, understanding the present, and seeking wisdom for the future.

Inspired by the month of April, which is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States, J’Rie B. Elliott was compelled to share her poem, Flower. We are also proud to include 3 poems by 2 anonymous imprisoned abuse survivors in Chowchilla, CA. Additional poetry submissions include Howling by Eric Sadler and Rag Elite by Christopher Bernard. Once Upon a Time is a poem by Cynthia Lamanna in memory of her son, Elijah.

Also featured in this issue are the following reviews and interviews:

Last but not least, be sure to check out the intriguing glowing artwork by painter Amelia Lewis and short story Vision, by Thomas Smith. Both Lewis and Smith are new contributors to Synchronized Chaos.

As always, thank you for reading and we hope that you enjoy this month’s issue! In recognition of Freedom from the past – Hope for the future, we also continue to encourage you all to donate to the relief efforts in Japan.

Gloria Balderas
Creative Facilitator/Editor-In-Chief

Poetry by imprisoned abuse survivors

Publisher’s note: The following poems were submitted to us from young, female, abuse survivors at the Chowchilla women’s prison. The first 2 poems are by the same woman, and the last poem is by her roommate. Although we are permitted to publish these, the names of the poets are anonymous.

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SOMETIMES

Sometimes I think about where my life would be today if I had not been born in 1978.

Sometimes I wonder if I heard words of love, would I have learned to speak only words of love and never hate?

Sometimes I wonder, if my mother weren’t white and my father black, would they have stayed together?

Imagine that.

Sometimes my heart tells me I’m right where I’m at because in life, sometimes it feels so right, but those nights you cry alone, it’s the inner emotional fight that keeps you feeling empty and cold.

You just don’t know. Sometimes I wonder why I am even here, why couldn’t I have said I want more from my life, why couldn’t anyone hear my silent tears.

Sometimes I wonder who this person is who stands in front of a mirror looking just like me and others’ eyes can’t make the connection, that what that mirror reflects – hides the inner me.

Sometimes I listen to others full of anger and pain, thinking to myself, life is so beautiful, don’t waste it in a complaint, and yet, I, too, find myself sometimes wishing to be someone else if only for a quick minute. It’s this soul engulfed in this body that says no – and keeps me in it.

Sometimes I search in ancient philosophies to lay a foundation of which I’m destined to be. Sometimes I sit quietly alone listening to the wind sing me silent, soft songs…”Soon you’ll be home.”

And sometimes I lose tears for unselfish reasons, my heart aches with hurts from others who have suffered throughout the seasons. And sometimes I close my eyes and think really hard that if I believe hard enough, all the pain will disappear and the wind will remove all of my fears.

Sometimes this can be true.

Sometimes…

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Short Story by Thomas Smith

VISION

Time has blurred the surroundings. Looking back I know that it was in a busy café where we met, but when I close my eyes and picture it, which I often do, all I remember is her. The simplest thing can take me back to that day, a smell, a sound, silence. My mind is primed and ready to take me back to the day I first met Suzanne.

It was just a coffee shop. It was just a day. But that day and that coffee shop changed my life. I worked hard, and played rarely as my friends would often remind me, in a job with potential. A job that required me to wear a suit and take a lot of work home with me. I won’t bore you with the specifics.

I was taking my usual fifteen minute lunch break and I would like to say that fate pointed me in the direction of a coffee shop I had never been before, but in reality I went because they had a muffin sale – not quite the ultimate romantic ideal I know. But also it was.

I walked in, occupying my own mind, and felt a burning sensation. Looking down I saw my crisp white shirt rapidly turning brown. Pulling my damp coffee sodden shirt from my body I felt the rage I would feel about twenty times a day, and I was preparing to force a smile and burry my anger deep down and wait for the ulcer to kill me, then something odd happened. I looked up and saw her. Her eyes weakened me. A serenity quashed any rage I felt, not just then but ever. I would like to say at that point I told her eyes washed away my pain like a fountain on a hot summer’s morning, but I didn’t. I didn’t speak. I smiled at her and pushed by to get a coffee that wasn’t threatening to take me to the burns unit.

Suzanne joined me at my table, forcing the entire English language to leave my brain. Taking pity on me she broke the silence my newfound inability had created “Whenever I get bored I play a game, want to play?” I managed a nod “You pick a stranger and imagine what their lives are like” Thinking of this now I can’t help but smile, but at the time I thought she was crazy. She pointed at a man stood waiting to cross the street outside the cafe “He married his childhood sweetheart, they have one son and a beautiful daughter with the cutest lisp” I looked at this man and felt jealous of his fictitious white picket fenced life. “And he’s fucking his secretary.”

Thomas Smith has written sketches/gags for Newsrevue and this is his first publication of prose. He is currently finishing his debut novel and play; Circling The Drain and On The Fringe of Failure respectively. Smith may be reached at tommysmith12000@hotmail.com.

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