Partnered Reading, March 29th, at Portland (OR)’s OpenHaus

 

Good Things Are Coming!

This month, in lieu of a normal issue of Synchronized Chaos Magazine, we share some of the pieces that writers are presenting at the offsite event that Synchronized Chaos Magazine is co-hosting during the Association of Writing Programs’ annual conference.

Several Synchronized Chaos contributors are reading in this event, the Partnered Reading with the Broader Community, held at 6pm at the OpenHaus coworking space (5020 Martin Luther King Blvd) on Friday March 29th. These include Scott Thomas Outlar, J. Dorroh, Leticia Garcia Bradford, and Doug Hawley.

This is a partnered reading where publishing and book marketing professionals create work in response to, and inspired by, pieces from emerging authors. The readers have paired up and created together over the past couple months and each pair will read on stage at the OpenHaus. Idea is to connect more experienced authors with up and coming writers and promote creativity and mentorship.

This is a chance for professionals to read and consider, then engage with, work from the greater writing community. We welcomed and actively recruited all sorts of guest readers, including people from the POC, neurodiverse, LGBT, disabled, homeless and low-income and other marginalized communities to participate in this event.

Also, Bonnie Greene, Melissa Moon, Lisa Loving and others will come and read some pieces by, and about, writer and artist Tony LeTigre, who regularly wrote for Synchronized Chaos and edited a few issues in 2016, and sadly passed away in a traffic accident January 19th: https://www.marinij.com/2019/01/22/greenbrae-mans-circle-stunned-by-freeway-cycling-death/

Here’s the Facebook event page for the evening of readings, RSVP is appreciated but not required: https://www.facebook.com/events/344609806131726/

We aren’t able to share all of the work because some people have elected to pursue publication in outlets that don’t accept work previously published elsewhere. If that’s you, and your work is published here, please immediately comment or email us at synchchaos@gmail.com and we’ll remove your piece.

Claire Bateman and Sione Aeschliman explore spiders in various creepy crawly and elegant ways. Doug Hawley writes of an intergalactic space force and alien squids, and again of newts.

J. Dorroh, high school science teacher, dives into his true passion, swimming. Sybilla Nash speculates on what Tupac Shakur could have done had he not died young, while Scott Parker reflects upon the experience of reviewing his high school students’ poems inspired by Tupac after his death.

Sean Cearley contributes a concrete poem, words suggested by and superimposed onto images. Each phrase sounds as if it could be part of a larger piece. J. Dorroh writes a piece that explores the limits of human thought and endurance.

Rebecca Smolen and Leticia Garcia Bradford reflect on how the love, accomplishment, creativity and other delicious berries they seek are often just out of reach, while Robert Egan and Leah Griesmann grapple with the limits of human and official capability to respond to floodwaters.

Vannessa McClelland dives into a troubled but creative mind. Gina Stella D’Assunta explores the challenge of navigating life as a vibrant bon vivant with unpredictable and painful chronic illness, and Cati Porter reinterprets Gina’s spoken word piece as a poem where punctuation and line breaks illustrate the physical limitations of a disabled body.

Edward Morris regales us with a glittering tour-de-force Old English prose piece., and Elyana Ren creates another tale inspired by Morris and Dickens. Dorothy Place lends her pen to the tale of determined, yet tragicomic, unemployed Solomon, hoping to win back his wife and his income with his modest imagination.

Scott Thomas Outlar crafts poetry and prose inspired by Heath Brougher’s unique form and style.

Huda Al-Marashi (First Comes Marriage) and Marivi Soliven (The Mango Bride) explore love, family, and the immigrant experience.

Jasmin Johnson evokes the experience of baptism, symbolically ending one’s self-directed life and being resurrected as a new person in a new life guided by God, as a kind of parallel to Mindy Ohringer’s piece about the writer’s journey. In Mindy’s short story, an aspiring writer learns to follow the leadings of their unique pieces rather than writing whatever seems literary to their audience. Mindy also contributes a thoughtful response to another of Jasmin’s poems.

We hope you enjoy the work that’s published here, and we look forward to continuing to host events in the future. Our regular editions of Synchronized Chaos Magazine return May 1st with a combined April/May issue.

 

Essay from Scott Parker

Tupacology 

On the first day of class I ask my students to write poems about what Tupac means to them. They had been four and five years old when he died and held no memories of him as human being they shared air with. Yet when I had asked them a month before what they wanted to study in summer school—voluntary summer school—they all said Tupac. I can’t say I was surprised. Over the year I had worked with these kids I’d come to know their musical tastes well: Pitbull and Eminem, they liked; Tupac, they revered. His legacy had survived his death. (And do you remember how for years we hoped he had too?) But why? Why Tupac? When I was these kids’ age—thirteen, fourteen—I had listened to Me Against the World like my life depended on it, and a decade later my cells still vibrated to its rhythms. All our lives we remain audience to the music we listened to when we were young, hearing like feeling tuned to what touched us first and loudest. All our lives. For my students I want to feel my way back to being sixteen, seventeen years old, driving aimlessly around Portland with my friends singing When I was young me and my mama had beef / Seventeen years old, kicked out on the streets. For these kids I want to recall what it was like to have somewhere to go but not know where that was except in a hungry baritone that told me the things a certain kind of teenager needs to hear: be yourself—all of it; don’t apologize; you can do it; there’s something special in you—and it’s up to you to express it; everyone, when you get to know them, is as complex as you are; others have gone through what you’re going through, and some of them are reaching back to offer you a hand, if you can only figure out how to accept it; you will encounter obstacles, many of them your own making, but there’s a better you waiting on the other side; you are alive only until you’re dead—how could there possibly be anything to lose? All our lives: What could there be to lose?

Listen up, students. I’m seventeen, stopped at a red light. Tupac has been dead two years. I’m alone in the car. I’m screaming fuck the world, and I’m full of hope as I conjure the person I thought I could be. All our lives. Alone, not alone. Tupac there with me, an apparition whispering from beyond the grave, no, shouting, imploring me to go. All our lives. The light turns green. When I collect the students’ poems they’re full of misspellings and questionable interpretations. They’re also full of truth and full of heart. There are no tests in this class, no grades. If they wanted to, they could be at home playing video games or hanging out in the parking lot. Instead, they are here. All of them turn in their homework. No one misses class. If Tupac lived? What do we mean if?

Poetry from Heath Brougher

Post-Post-Industrial Filth

 

I would harm a fly

but only by accident.

For there is already enough apathy

within these mired and trumped walls

to wipe out a nation of magnanimous spirits.

I step among the filthy, cracked

sidewalk as golden bricks

are shoveled into a white house.

 

The fly in the ointment keeps blaming

the other fly in the ointment.

 

I, the pacifist, finally decide

to lay down in the middle of this land

and die from the unrestricted greed

and noxious air which has enveloped

the entirety of this Human Experience.

Continue reading

Short story, ‘The Star Kings’ from Elyana Ren

The Star Kings by Elyana Ren

(Inspired by Edward Morris’s “The Star King” and Charles Dickens’s “The Cricket on the Hearth”)

“Someone’s phone is chirping,” EJ said, his voice tense.

“It’s mine, sorry!” I said, fumbling around my backpack for the phone. “I forgot I had an alarm set from over the weekend.”

“Here,” John said quietly, handing something to EJ.

It was his fidget, which he clicked rapidly until I found my phone and turned off the alarm. He let out a breath.

“I’m sorry,” I said again, knowing how much high pitched noises ramped up his anxiety.

“It’s fine,” he said, letting out another breath. “Just no more alarms, please.”

“It’s on silent now.” I set the phone on the table in front of me.

EJ scooted closer to John, still clicking the fidget

Continue reading

Short piece from J. Dorroh

“Reaction to S. Cearley’s Creation”  by John Dorroh

 

I am swimming through water, no, blood that is thin like water, its salt diluted, unable to nurture the cells, the tissues, the organs.

It is unfair to have such a life tempered with anxious abandon, reeling forever loose

into a cacophony of pity.

 

Even water sheds tears, and so it was with our crew, that pitiful facsimile of a human being,

his twisted toes long overdue for amputation;

a captain in name only for his attempts at lending support for crew or passengers

failed miserably.

 

I ate rats once a day, long gray tails that hung out of my mouth like a tough, fleshy rope,

followed by precious water

water without salt, such a rare commodity and it was rumored that urine could be treated

and drunk with only mild effect.

 

The balance of power is such a non-existent commodity on a craft like this; its sails full

of holes, no attempts to sew,

to block wind that no longer blows hair – too matted from salt of sweat and dead skin,

no bathing chamber, no closet for heavy hearts.

 

I was beaten by a ragmuffin of a man, spat on, pissed on, kicked like a sack of rotten fruit.

I am sixteen, barely a man,

and wondering if this trip is worth what is happening to me. Mt dear aunt, I think, is being used

below deck for unsavory purposes.

 

How can a God be present? How can such a test be within his jurisdiction? It is the devil

here on this ship,

the devil for sure who plays his role like a stable genius, who demands to be revered and

adored and worshipped.

 

I cannot bow down to such an entity and live with myself. I am smitten with the essence

of a cockroach who keeps

me company and eats the dead skin on my exposed ankles. I pray that his offspring

find their way into the mouth of the captain.

 

I find sleep now, perhaps forever, my weak body purging itself up through the clouds

and with one last surge of energy

I push against the wooden siding and pray that I will pass through whatever gates or curtains

are available. I am spent.

Poetry from Leticia Garcia Bradford

Out Of Grasp
I try hard
to overcome hurdles
fast approaching
Yet in every sense of the word
I feel like a failure
Get closer to the prize
Before it slips away
Buy that lottery ticket
full of hope fingers crossed
Pinching pennies to pay the rent
Swinging high, but not enough
to release all my troubles
Running to catch the bus
watching it go by
the bus stop, a mere 500 feet away
Grasping a beautiful rose
pricking my fingers
Luscious plump berries
hiding behind a cave of thorns
Extending my hand toward
ripe fruit on the tree
avocados, apricots, pomegranates
The car breaking down
before the next paycheck
Speeding reading the library book
finishing after due date
Are late fees a sin?
Needing more drugs
to stave off depression
I feel like I’m running
behind the pack
I wake up each day
to start anew
I put a smile on my face
to fake it
All my insecurities and woes
put into a bottomless pot
shoved high above on the shelf
Yet still within reach
Why can’t my uncertainties be
out of grasp?
Does the imposter syndrome ever
find a cure?
Leticia Garcia Bradford is a poet, playwright and publisher. In 2014 she founded B Street Writers Collective (BSWC), Hayward, CA – a community of writers both amateur and professional. Her numerous poems and stories have been published in local and national journals. She edited and published BSWC’s anthologies FLY WITH ME (2016) and WHAT IS LOVE (2018.)  A year ago, Leticia founded her publishing company MoonShine Star Co. In 2017, she toured around the entire SF Bay Area with her poetry and stories at open mics and readings. Check out her website: bradford-productions.com
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Poetry from Cati Porter

Facts Unknown

Good morning stairs this is the way of coming down
((faces in agony)) the bracing rails either side as step by
one more step gingerly I ((faces in ecstasy)) make way,
taking only the required number of, no side trips
straightaway ((pain is intimacy)) to coffee to chair
with ottoman & feet ((pain in invitation)) off the ground —
Last night my body hummed white noise,
((spike, throb, wave)) lit up at every nerve ending,
touch me I am a plasma globe ((undulation in stardust))
whose lightning follows your hand and some days a vibrato of glow
other days ((trepidation)) an orchestra of intentions gone awry sing me to sleep
my hands go numb and I shake them until my fingers reemerge
from snow But how many plush vials shall I give the nurse today
and how many possibilities will return and — Hello, today,
the longer I stand the longer I can stand standing until later
((pain I can eroticize might distract from pain I can’t))
when I can’t stand any longer and all of this invisible
and the migraines seem to have subsided for now
and my knees hips elbows shoulders clavicle
((the persistent chainsaw buzz that frays))
wrists fingers fingertips thighs calves ankles feet
dissolve into ache and the parade of specialists still say
I don’t know. ((some days your body keeps you close to home))

Cati Porter is a poet, editor, and community arts facilitator. She is founder and editor of literary journals Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry and Inlandia: A LiteraryJourney, and the author of My Skies of Small Horses Seven Floors Up, the chapbooks small fruit songs,most delicious, The Way Things Move The Dark, what Desire makes of us with illustrations by her sister Amy Payne, and The Body, Like Bread. Her third full-length collection, The Body at a Loss, is forthcoming in 2019 from CavanKerry Press. She lives with her family in California’s Inland Empire, where she is the Executive Director ofthe Inlandia Institute, a regionally-focused literary nonprofit.