Poetry by Cynthia Lamanna

Once upon a time, a boy with love enough for all
Put his hand in mine, and said he loved me so,
And now he loves me even more-
Far from this earths shore

Once upon a time
A boy with curls like golden spools
Came into the world
With eyes like big black pools
Though this was once upon a time
It wasn’t very long ago

Once upon a time
Most every single night
I sang because “He lives”
It made his young heart light
Though my arms reach out for him
My soul will leap again

Once upon a time the water turned to wine
The boy- now a young man
had burning amber eyes
We scarce could take all of him in
Once upon a time-

We are smarter than we were
Yet in heart- broken as in half.
He taught us how to cry
And he taught us all to laugh
Yes this was once upon a time
And now that day has passed

The Lord makes His greatness known
He gives me joyous dreams
Skipping with my son
Our tears will soon be gone
It will be even greater than
In paradise with Him

Rejoicing all the days
We have found Jesus in our midst-
He will not leave us here
As orphans in the snow
May we come to love him more
On our faces may it show!

Though it seems once upon a time
A garden flourished- vibrant green-
His Kingdom is within
And His Kingdom soon will come-
Church, let us not be unaware-
He is our one and true Bride-groom

Cynthia Lamanna may be reached at cynthialamanna@yahoo.com.

Book Review: The Jade Rubies, by Valerie Lee

[Reviewed by Jennifer Harbourn]

It’s all too common for a reader to find themselves snuggled cozily in their home, under blankets within the safety of their predictable world. It’s in such cases that the juxtaposition of a novel such as Valerie Lee’s The Jade Rubies truly shakes the reader. As I watched a tale of two innocent Chinese girls unfold, I became self-aware; knowing that I would never have to endure the trauma that these girls lived for 251 pages was both a relieving and guilt laden experience. This isn’t the first time that I’ve experienced this particular set of emotions, as I’m often drawn to stories concerning the multicultural plight of women.

Set in 1915, we’re introduced to two sisters, Sulan and May. In a whirlwind fashion, the girls are torn away from their mother after being sold to a child broker and then to a wealthy couple who takes them on a life changing journey to the New World. Once settled into Vancouver with their master and mistress, the sisters fall into a routine of abuse at the hands of rich sadists and drug traffickers.

Valerie Lee shows us by way of sights and the imagery of scents that a deep mystery is set to unfold by the end of the book. I found myself deeply invested in the kindly characters and equally critical of the villains. I think she found her voice as a writer and used it well.

Jennifer Harbourn may be reached at jharbourn@gmail.com. Check out her blog, Haute Whimsy.

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Book Review: Home Made Hell, a Mystery, by J’Rie B. Elliott

[Reviewed by Bruce Roberts]

We are all works-in-progress. Every writer, for example, has to start somewhere—and get better. It’s a craft open to development, to improvement, sometimes over an entire lifetime, as the tools and thoughts of a creative writer evolve and mature. And I doubt any writer in history has been absolutely satisfied with “finished” products. Swirling around in a writer’s head are better words, better descriptions, wittier dialogue, stronger scenes, etc., even after the work is published and up for sale. “If only I’d said…”

I was thinking of this as I read Home Made Hell, a mystery by J.B. Elliot. The plot revolves around an interesting idea that is well within the genre of mystery: a sex and power-crazed man, who speaks with an alter ego in his head, has stalked a young girl for years. However, when she matures, falls in love, and marries, he snaps. Convinced that the husband has seduced her, and that she really loves him—the stalker, he plots kidnap and murder, and revenge.

So this is a book with definite possibilities. However, those possibilities are severely undercut by the writer’s skills-in-progress. Ms. Elliot needs a refresher course in basic English—vocabulary, punctuation, verb agreement, sentence sense, voice and tense consistency, etc. The spelling is not bad—though not professional—but she likely depended on Spell Check, which of course won’t distinguish between “hear” and “here,” or “to” and “too,” to name a few examples.

Bruce Roberts is a poet, retired teacher, and ongoing Synchronized Chaos contributor. He may be reached at brobe60491@sbcglobal.net.

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Book Review: House Arrest, by Ellen Meeropol

[Reviewed by Martin Rushmere]

Moral and criminal crises abound when a pregnant spiritual cult member, under house arrest following the deaths of two children at a secret solstice ceremony, draws a homecare specialist into her web.

An engaging plot is subverted by a whirlpool of ethical and emotional heart-twanging that surrounds the otherwise absorbing tale –spina bifida, child neglect, anti-Vietnam protests, accidental deaths, communism, the KKK, family breakups .

The controversial issue of religious and spiritual cults needs to play a much bigger role. Jonestown and Waco, Texas are the images that, understandably, spring to mind when cults are mentioned.

Ellen Meeropol is careful to avoid mentioning them and is equally careful to be impartial about the subject, which is a big disappointment. And she becomes timid. It’s just a small, family cult; so no great harm to society done there – except that this raises the specter of Charles Manson.

No explanation is given for the deaths of the children at the ceremony to honor the Egyptian goddess Isis which, as is the usual pattern, is an orgy — drugs, dancing, drinking and plenty of sex, mostly with the leader.

To balance this, the pregnant Pippa is portrayed sympathetically, exuding engaging charm. Yet, the children should not have died – the central indictment that cannot be escaped but which is tiptoed around.

Martin Rushmere may be reached at martinzim@earthlink.net.

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Book Review: Lord of Misrule, by Jaimy Gordon

[Reviewed by Matt Baxter]

Beyond the bright lights and champagne toasts of the Kentucky Derby and other big time horse racing events are smaller, dingier, less attended, and seemingly more dangerous races known as claiming races. These are the races that populate Jaimy Gordon’s novel Lord of Misrule.

Claiming races are those where the horses are up for sale until shortly before the race. Title to the horse transfers just before the start of the race, but the previous owner is entitled to any purse that results from the horse’s performance. Within each race the horses are priced similarly, in theory preventing a higher class equine from easily beating the field. Its owner would, presumably, not want it to be sold for less than its value.

Into this world Gordon inserts a host of characters, heroic and unsavory. They are hard lived or hard working, and sometimes both. Lowlifes, miscreants, and outright criminals make trouble in and around Indian Mound Downs in West Virginia, a horse track where owners seem to go when they have nowhere else to race.

Tommy and Maggie arrive at Indian Mound hoping for a quick and easy score. The track denizens—the groom, blacksmith, an old gypsy lady, and others—get caught up in the act as Tommy tries to beat the system and Maggie bides her time until she can get on with her life on her own terms. Little does she realize how attached she will become to the horses.

Matt Baxter is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Silicon Valley community newspapers. Baxter may be reached at mattbaxter@columnist.com. Read more at mattbaxx.blogspot.com.

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Japan Relief Effort: How to Donate

Synchronized Chaos Magazine encourages you to donate to relief efforts happening now in Japan. As we all know by now, Japan was hit by an enormous earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. The death toll is still rising. For those who have survived, they struggle to have their basic needs met.

Please visit the following Websites to see how you can help:

You may also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to Japan relief through the Red Cross, which will appear on your next cell phone bill.

Synchronized Chaos – March 2011: Adaptation and Concentration

The March issue of Synchronized Chaos, Adaptation and Concentration, is fully-loaded with poetry and commentary. Many thanks to our book and poetry reviewers this month: Bruce and Kathy Roberts, Tammra Smith, Christopher Williams, and J’Rie B. Elliott. Bruce Roberts also give us his critique on Beach Blanket Babylon, a musical/comedy based in San Francisco, CA. Poetry contributors are Andrew Rahal, Simon J. Charlton, Michael Swain, and Faracy Grouse.

Check out the fascinating article by Robbie Fraser on Dr. Ogaga Ifowodo. Dr. Ifowodo is a professor, accomplished poet, and former Nigerian political prisoner. Also, please read the heart-wrenching story, “Sweat and Tears,” by Monty J. Heying.

Meditate on emotionally-charged artwork by Ytaelena Lopez, Brenton Bostwick and Patrick Marquis, and see Donna McGinnis’ musing and soothing landscape paintings.

Last, but not least…folks in the San Francisco Bay Area: Thank you for continuously supporting communities that are often underexposed in the arts! On Friday, March 11, 2011, Cukui Clothing Company in Japantown, San Jose, will host a solo art exhibit by Steve Caballero. Caballero is an emerging artist (and a local legend to many in the skateboarding world).

CUKUI
March 11, 2011 – 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
229 Jackson Street, San Jose, CA 95112

facebook.com/cukui

Happy early Saint Patrick’s Day, and remember, Daylight Saving Time officially begins this Sunday, March 13, 2011!

– SynchChaos Staff