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!