Synchronized Chaos December 2023: The Unfurling Canvas of Time

We continue to express sorrow over what’s happening in so many different parts of the world and encourage our readers to support people and the planet.

Woman staring straight ahead with a large butterfly on top of her head with open wings.

Also, we are hosting our Metamorphosis gathering again! This is a chance for people to share music, art, and writing and to dialogue across different generations (hence the name, the concept of ideas morphing and changing over the years). So far photographer Rebecca Kelly and English/Spanish bilingual poet Bridgett Rex are part of the lineup and more are welcome! This event is also a benefit for the grassroots Afghan women-led group RAWA, which is currently supporting educational and income generation and literacy projects in Afghanistan as well as assisting earthquake survivors. (We don’t charge or process the cash, you are free to donate online on your own and then attend!)

This will be Sunday, December 31st, 2-4 pm in the fellowship hall of Davis Lutheran Church at 317 East 8th Street in Davis, California. It’s a nonreligious event open to all, the church has graciously allowed us to use the meeting room.

You may sign up here for event reminders. RSVP appreciated but not required.

This month, as we prepare to exit 2023 and enter a fresh new year, we contemplate the unfurling canvas of time.

Windup pocket watch landing on a wood grain table and disintegrating, starting in the lower left corner.
Photo c/o Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan

Misha Beggs renders the passage of time into pieces that tenderly trace the soft wooden shape of a guitar and the lines on human faces.

Grzegorz Wroblewski’s mixed media pieces situate their creator in time, reflecting how we are simultaneously physical and spiritual/emotional beings.

John Mellender relates narrative poems of history and humor and survival while Stephen Jarrell Williams finds moments of hope and comfort in a collapsing world.

Bill Tope’s work reflects the effects of institutional dehumanization and slow long-term trauma on a person. John Edward Culp illustrates the renewal we can find in nature and through the intentional movement of our bodies.

Ayganim Beknazarova celebrates the promise of the spring Uzbek New Year celebration and Sayani Mukherjee proffers up a rich, lush take on an edible hibiscus.

Abstract image of rock or paint in red and blue-silvery green colors melting into each other.
Image c/o Circe Denyer

Brian Barbeito contributes a poetic take on birds during autumn’s transformation into winter while Aklima Ankhi envisions herself migrating along with sea creatures as she traverses a beach. Alan Catlin evokes environmental change and ruin through his burned-out and storm-ridden landscapes.

Doug Hawley’s humorous tale of Hell freezing over draws on today’s environmental and political headlines.

Duane Vorhees explores sensuality and life’s mysteries through a series of off-kilter poems, and Patrick Sweeney captures people and places within short phrases. John Tustin plays with childhood memories, attraction, and the allure of nature in his collection.

Odina Abdumuminova‘s piece concerns an artist who draws a beautiful clock and yet fails to capture the passage of time. Chukwuemeka Victoria Chiamaka urges us to make the most of our time, as life’s flickering roses will fade away.

In this spirit, Isabel Gomes de Diego’s photography approaches everyday scenes as if they were museum exhibits and Daniel De Culla showcases the chubby Buddha figurines so common in restaurants, highlighting joy and mindfulness in the everyday that will allow us to experience and transcend the mundane.

Shells of sea creatures or mollusks preserved in light brown stone.
Image c/o Petr Kratochvil

J.D. Nelson’s work presents uneasy but oddly familiar juxtapositions, as if he’s scanning a room. Mark Young intersperses pop singers and avant-garde artists into his abstract work.

Christopher Bernard presents a gentle, abundant Christmas shopping scene where people have the luxury of only small problems.

Perhaps in a celebratory mood gone awry, Patricia Doyne laments the struggle of opening boxed wine. Tom P. finds moments of ceremony within his personal memories, as well as humor and memorable characters.

Human knowledge and history represents and comprises its own historical timescales.

Irene Koronas takes us on an odyssey of verbiage and color theory while Daniel Y. Harris crafts a mashup of hacker technology aesthetics and Whitman humanist poetry.

Mickey Corrigan explores the life of writer Patricia Highsmith through poetry. Don McLellan relates the perennial writers’ struggle of finding a publisher and an audience for their work. Jerry Langdon laments in a poem reminiscent of a horror fantasy how his poetic words can never match or illustrate the frustrated sentiments of his mind.

Z.I. Mahmud probes class, money, and satisfaction in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, the power of romance as resistance to an untenable social order in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and self-development in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Woman of undetermined age and skin tone kneeling and looking to the ground under spotlights of green, red, and blue. Everywhere else is pitch black.
Image c/o Kai Stachowiak

Elan Barnehama’s piece is an excerpt from his upcoming novel Escape Route, concerning the son of a Holocaust survivor who hopes to avoid the anti-Semitic persecution he fears will come to the United States.

Norman J. Olson traces his journey through Riverside and Rome and his experience of much smaller catastrophes, such as illness and security hangups.

Other contributors speak to personal growth and moving through stages of life.

Alison Gadsby’s piece aims to convey the feelings of new motherhood, of being dislocated and judged. Qiyomiddinova Zilola offers another take on the fear and grief of losing children, the inevitable nervousness of parenthood.

Anila Bukhari gives us hopeful and humane pieces about young girls rising above their circumstances. Graciela Noemi Villaverde reflects the permanence of her ingrained pre-verbal happy childhood memories.

Replete with joy among falling leaves and still water, Mahbub Alam’s poetic speakers revel in a simple moment of connection outdoors in Bangladesh.

Karmelina Angelica Kelenc’s love poem is steeped in Croatian patriotism while Borna Kekic connects the joy and freedom of birds in flight on a sunny day after a rainstorm to the pride he takes in Zagreb, his native city. Xayrullo Xalikov offers poetic flowery praise to her Uzbek homeland and Iroda Abdullayeva’s pieces revel in the natural and human beauty of her rural Uzbek heritage.

Leafy green trees, shrubs and grasses and moss on the ground near a small pond.
Uzbek Tashkent Botanical Garden

Kristy Raines celebrates aspects of love: care for the natural world and compassion for the struggling around the globe. Anindya Pal remembers a warm afternoon redolent with the aroma of nature and dreams of love. Annie Johnson’s emotions soften with the arrival of twilight as she speculates on the future of her love amidst the twinkling stars, while Maja Milojkovic finds love and self-realization while immersing herself fully within a river.

Peter Cherches‘ story probes the connection between name and self-image and reflects on how we can change through the years.

J.J. Campbell finds moments of peace, or at least acceptance, in a litany of loneliness and longing. Taylor Dibbert speaks to self-reclamation after a breakup, while Zahro Shamsiyya evokes the questioning and bargaining stage of grieving after lost love.

Suyarova Mahliyo Muradxon’s piece reminds us that dramatic situations have backstories, relationships can be more troubled than they seem.

Jaylan Salah reviews Sierra Urich’s film Joonam, the story of different generations of Iranian-American immigrant women.

Soft styled vintage painting of women in long dresses at the water's edge on the beach. Most dresses are white or cream but one woman is in pink. They carry parasols and leave footprints in the soft sand.
Image c/o Karen Arnold

Eva Petropolou Lianou celebrates female strength and urges women to support each other, and reflects on her creative inspiration. Wayne Russell renders the precarity and beauty of the creative process.

Mesfakus Salahin memorializes a soldier who gave his life for national Bangladeshi independence, dying for his country’s birth.

Mykyta Ryzhykh speaks to the smaller and larger deaths and dislocations we experience, personally and globally.

Daniel De Culla mourns the absurdity of harming civilians and children in war while Faleeha Hassan comments that armed conflict can reduce all civilians to children searching in vain for comfort from their parents. Chimezie Ihekuna reflects on the economic promise of Nigeria and the instability that challenges foreign investors. Lilian Dipasupil Kunimasa addresses society’s combined exploitation of women, workers, and nature while Manzar Alam pleads with the world to put an end to war.

Finally, Elmaya Jabbarova urges all of us not to give up on the world, even if it seems about to die around us. We can start to repair where we are, with what we have.

Poetry from John Tustin


I never think about you when it rains anymore
except for tonight when I am
for some reason.
It could be the way the air smells a little like mold,
only it smells good, not bad
and it reminds me of some other time
but I don’t remember when.

I hope next time it rains
I’ll continue my process
of forgetting all about you
more and more often
but the rain has a way
of getting in 
when it gets to falling heavy.
I don’t know.
I breathed you in for so long
and it’s been years since then
but I know my body hasn’t expelled
all of you

I never think about you when it rains anymore
except for tonight when I am
for some reason.
Water is getting in
through the one window I’ve left open,
over in the corner.
I’ll get up and close it
but not yet.
Not yet.


The river of your spine,
the soft and gentle slopes of your body.
The deep well of your belly,
its rich sediment;
the two burning coals that were your eyes,
moistening and filling the room with steam.
Your mouth
when I was hungry;
its dewy texture,
its ripe flavor.
Your breasts a cottony riverside
when I needed to rest
and bathe and drink.
My hair damp with the evaluation
of your flesh,
my bare feet leaving wet half-prints
on the floor beside the bed.
Your thighs
two more rivers flowing up and down
and me swimming all along them
a long time ago
before this now-dusty valley,
abandoned and long weary of metaphors,
went dry.


There are people
who sit alone drinking coffee
and they listen to every gulp
as it falls down their throats
and vibrates in their ears.

There are people
who smoke cigarettes 
and they hold them in a certain
effete way, watching each puff
of smoke as it emanates 
from their browning lips
and rises up the room
like a mist of vines.

There are people
who are content to eat alone
in a brightly lit restaurant
reading something on their phone
while they eat french fries 
without looking at them.

There are people
who don’t notice
when someone has entered the room
and there are people
who compliment anything
that they secretly find unattractive or vile.

There are people
who drink 
and people who don’t drink anymore
and people who have never swallowed
even a single drop.

There are people who think they love God
and people who curse at the mention of His name
and people who don’t believe he exists at all
and there are people like us
who don’t pretend we know anything
about anything.


She only lived around the block from us
for a summer or so
and I can’t remember her name
but I can close my eyes now
and see her as clearly as I could
when we were ten years old
and she played Army with us.

She had short brown hair
a little darker than mine
and just as messily arranged on her head
and she could and would do all the things
a boy her age did.
She played hockey and baseball with us
and I had this enormous crush on her
even though she dressed and acted
and kind-of looked a bit like a boy.
Never did I say anything or do anything
about it, of course. I was ten.
I kept everything to myself
like most of the kids did.

I tried to be on her team (or side
when it came to Army)
whenever she came out to play with us
and no matter how fast she could run,
how far she could throw
or how well she could imitate the sound of a machine gun,
she was still a girl to me.
She had eyes like a girl. No boy’s eyes
would ever make me feel like that.
Her sweat smelled different than my sweat
and when it sat in beads on her neck
as she stood with hands on knees at second base
with eyes squinting in the sun
I knew that she was a girl
and that I liked girls – especially her.
She spat on the ground and scratched her short boy’s haircut
while I snuck my glances,
feeling many things –
none of them confusion.


Your dusky stem!
Your bright brilliant husk!
Watching you bloom at night,
My lovely evening primrose,
Your petal soul so yellow,
So delicate to touch,
So indestructible in the wind
That never stops blowing.
You bring me your medicine
And your certain loveliness
Each evening that you open
For me, just for me, only me.
You black-eyed sorceress
With your thighs that are
Held by roots that love the earth.

Your blatant purple stigma!
Your anthers that shine!
Your filaments glistening with new dew!
Your sheltered husk that hides
The seeds and the fruit
That nourish me 
And your sepals that hold such beauty
With an animal’s natural grace.
You black-eyed mistress
With your legs that shake
But do not bend,
Held by roots that love the earth.

Poetry from Borna Kekic

Young light skinned adult male with short dark hair looking off to the left side in a white collared shirt with his hands folded in front of his chest. He's got clouds and blue sky behind him and text reads "Borna Kekic Ryder."
Borna Kekic
Birds of my land...

The sun's rays wake up the birds
the wind dries the raindrops

the smells of the day, the city
wake up alone
my city is the most beautiful
I know

On the street laughter 
when it starts and the song when it reminds me to love you and you are all happiness 
You are the most beautiful everyone knows that 
The sun's rays wake up 
the birds the wind dries the raindrops 

the smells of the day, 
the city wake up alone 
my city is the most beautiful Because I know that...

Borna Kekic is a poet in Zagreb, Croatia.

Poetry from Christopher Bernard


A sky of pigeon gray. The sun a beautiful stain.
Air without a breath. Crowds in motley,
cheerful, insouciant: no one is worrying
too much. A little girl
falls and cries out, her white shoe
behind her on the sidewalk. But her mother’s there:
no tragedy, just a few small tears.
I can smell oil, leaves, soft pretzels, grass.
The day moves like a parent
trying to carry too many presents.
Several fall, and one or two are definitely lost,
but, surely, there are more, many more, where they came from.


Christopher Bernard’s collection The Socialist’s Garden of Verses won a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award and was named one of the “Top 100 Indie Books of 2021” by Kirkus Reviews. His two “tales for children and their adults” – If You Ride A Crooked Trolley . . . and The Judgment Of Biestia, the first stories in the “Otherwise” series – will be available in December 2023.

Poetry from Santiago Burdon

French Fry Etiquette 

She left me sitting alone in McDonalds

Didn't take a bite of her Big Mac 

Or touch a single one of her French Fries    

She grabbed her Coke then walked away 

And never even looked back

I thought about eating the fries 

Although I had lost my appetite 

It wasn't because I was hurt by the drama 

She spreads ketchup on top of all of them

Instead of dipping each fry

I'm sure you know

the type 

When it comes to eating French fries 

Her method doesn't follow proper etiquette

Even though it bothered me I never said a word 

Because she gets pissed off so quickly 

And becomes 


I didn't understand what just happened 

It left me totally confused 

Why did she Super Size her order

If she wasn't going to eat the food

We had a date to go for dinner 

I couldn't figure out why she got upset 

I told her she looked gorgeous 

But maybe a little overdressed 

She looked surprised when we arrived 

And said McDonalds you've got to be kidding 

How insensitive of me to take her to McDonalds for dinner 

Knowing her favorite hamburger joint is Burger King 


Judge Santiago Burdon 

Stray Dogs and Deuces Wild, Not Real Poetry, Quicksand Highway, Fingers in the Fan, Tequilas Bad Advice, Lords of the Afterglow, Overdose of Destiny 

Poetry from Mahbub Alam

Middle aged South Asian man with reading glasses, short dark hair, and an orange and green and white collared shirt. He's standing in front of a lake with bushes and grass in the background.
Mahbub Alam
In The Autumn Afternoon

One day in the celebration of autumn
I would be your mate
Mind stirs on
In this faint afternoon
The sky smiles on the red sun with the colors of the leaves
Over head and the surroundings welcome all the way
The flock of birds and the colorful butterflies
Someone from the back seem to say something astonishing 
Mind dissolves by the flowing water
Peeping here and again flying there
Play in soft, green dense bushes
All happiness of love takes place
Makes a new tune in the heart
All your glory talks out smiling
Ah! the beauty of the golden scene. 

Chapainawabganj,  Bangladesh
31, October, 2023

Md. Mahbubul Alam is from Bangladesh. His writer name is Mahbub John in Bangladesh. He is a Senior Teacher (English) of Harimohan Government High School, Chapainawabganj, Bangladesh. Chapainawabganj is a district town of Bangladesh. He is an MA in English Literature from Rajshahi College under National University. 

He has published three books of poems in Bangla. He writes mainly poems but other branches of literature such as prose, article, essay etc. also have been published in national and local newspapers, magazines, little magazines. He has achieved three times Best Teacher Certificate and Crest in National Education Week in the District Wise Competition in Chapainawabganj District. He has gained many literary awards from home and abroad.  His English writings have been published in Synchronized Chaos from America for seven years. 

Poetry from Aklima Ankhi

Young Central Asian woman with a peach headscarf with decorative jewels and a pink top standing outside in front of trees.
Akhlina Ankhi
Migratory Soul

My soul is resting here under an umbrella, 
Hearing the rhythmic roar of big waves,  
Observing dead Oyster shells heart quivers.
They come from mysterious abysmal burg
After completing their life journey. 
Looking at the vast open sky,
I whispered to the chariot wind;
When are you taking my migratory soul,
To that unspotted sea of empty garden?
Soon heart filled up with an obscure pain.

Aklima Ankhi is a poet, storyteller and translator from Cox'sbazar, Bangladesh. Born in Mymensingh, Bangladesh, she has a published book of poetry named "Guptokothar Shobdochabi" written in Bangla. She is a post graduate in English Literature and she is a lecturer in English.