Synchronized Chaos July 2022: Tension and Solace

Welcome to July’s first issue of Synchronized Chaos!

This month’s issue explores themes of tension and solace.

Are there unavoidable sources of tension in life, and is a life without anxiety even desirable? Where can we find solace and peace when we need them? Where do we need to maintain a certain level of awareness and vigilance?

Image c/o George Hodan

Satis Shroff comments on the continuing human cost of Russia’s war with Ukraine. Steven Croft reflects on how soldiers and civilians endure the other armed conflicts around the world.

Jelvin Gipson expresses through a fable the need for wisdom to prevent endangering oneself or committing hasty acts of violence. James Whitehead’s poetry speaks to the impact of reproductive legislation and sexual assault on women’s lives.

Richard LeDue and John Thomas Allen highlight moments of humor and beauty found within hospital settings, where patients make the most of their encounters with illness and injury.

Ike Boat reports firsthand on a destructive flood in Amanful, Ghana. Stephen Jarrell Williams explores themes of society’s end and nature’s rejuvenation.

Photo c/o Jean Beaufort

Closer to home, Yusuf Olumoh seeks comfort in the sea and solitude after the loss of his parents. Linda Crate describes the recovery of one’s self after an unbalanced relationship, while Scott Strozier illustrates the need for maintaining relationships and how they stay intact or fall apart. Shakhzoda Kodirova’s short story highlights the importance of maintaining our natural and human communities.

Andrew MacDonald’s poetry captures the moments that may seem fleeting or mundane, but which cement relationships.

Thadeus Emanuel comments on change and creativity in nature and in a writer’s mind, and how our creativity and relationships can be derailed by hypocrisy and deceit.

Candace Meredith’s short story illustrates the horror of not only the monster attack its protagonist survives, but of how she’s completely alone in her perception of danger.

Linda Hibbard expresses ambivalence about change and progress: will making things different make them better? Mahbub’s poems draw on dual meanings: bridges between the past and present, symbols that can represent multiple concepts.

Doug Hawley explores the limits, nuances, and paradoxes of personal and political freedom.

Photo courtesy of Vera Kratochvil

Peter Crowley humorously dramatizes various sorts of literal and metaphorical birth pains, looking at the cost of different sorts of creation.

Jason Ryberg contributes vignettes of middle America looking into the drama of ordinary life and little moments of grace or annoyance, while Peter Cherches dramatizes an unexpectedly familiar encounter with jazz great Mingus.

John Sweet shares the ways in which many ordinary people in middle America can become stuck in life, left behind in modern Western society.

Mark Young’s amusing poetry explores the different sorts of “deliveries” we receive in life while Debarati Sen waxes poetic about the joy and beauty of the plethora of words and figures of speech available to all of us.

Ian Copestick’s narrators simply check out of their ordinary lives, using whatever means are available to them. Jack Galmitz delves into a photograph of a man cooking at a barbecue who’s deeply engaged in what he’s doing.

Photo courtesy of Rajesh Mishra

John Edward Culp sends in a somewhat ineffable piece on transcendent travel by means of light, while Diana Magallon contributes a mixed media meditation on discordance. Alan Catlin’s Southern Gothic poetic landscapes, after Sally Mann’s visual art, immerse us in the murky history of swamps and American Civil War battles.

Jim Meirose relates a piece with humor, charm, and dialect while Nathan Anderson breaks language down to syllable and syntax and nonlinguistic symbol.

J.J. Campbell captures the wisdom and cynicism of older age, while Santiago Burdon’s tale of teen angst and athletic shoes humorously reminds us there are times to keep our mouths shut.

Gaurav Ojha also encourages us to quiet down. He says we’ll find wisdom when we stop thinking and speaking and directly experience and learn from life, whether a beautiful sunset or a dentist appointment.

Michael Robinson and Sayani Mukherjee reflect upon the spiritual solace and comfort they find through the faiths of their heritages. Chimezie Ihekuna’s poem reminds us of the spiritual meaning of Christmas as a holiday with a message we can reflect on all year.

Photo c/o Kai Stachowiak

Matthew Defibaugh and Christina Chin’s collaborative poetry presents images of gentle movement within nature. K.J. Hannah Greenberg’s set of bird photographs illustrate and comment on the variety of ways we as humans coexist with and treat other species.

Thank you for reading this first July issue of Synchronized Chaos. May it invite you to ponder, consider, and engage with the writers’ and artists’ work.

Poetry from Gaurav Ojha


Gaurav Ojha

There is no way out

From the prisonhouse of language

As long as we keep on hanging

To symbols without content imprinted on our neurons

We are the self that exists without reference of its own

Assumption of a thinker hiding behind a thought

A drop of rain separated from a cloud for the ripple on lake

There is no still point that holds things together

We are living a dream with a dream

We have been speaking too much

Let us put aside these tedious monologues

And, listen to the silence of non-human existence 

It takes us beyond the meaning humans have made 

Why remain as a burden to our brains?

Humans exist, therefore the denial of reality

What is it like to live without our stabilizing assumptions?

We have ideas for everything

Our heads have become so weighty

For the respite from this headache

Take a dip into constant toothache of existence

No need for a great renunciation 

Even as we embrace our illusions

We can still become a Buddha on the dental chair 

No need to glue the self together for a social protocol  

Discompose your desires, identifications and memories

As nothingness of being overflows, the self empties 



Poetry from Nathan Anderson

Bodhisattva Projecting 






the spring has (rung (in the dietary removing (a cause and 
not a grown thing (left-most removing (rightmost rightmost
rightmost (lapping at the silk (an order and order an order (
faster through the thread and colour (reacted in synthetic (
a hammer guide (a metal armament (less speaking and more
spoken (****************(outside in the distance (cold
cold cold (foundational without sighting (the spring on the
tongue (99999999999999999999999999999999999999999
9999999999999999999999999 (alphabetical conniption (
less tragic than the one before (_________________(outside
and out of order (stupefaction to the modal interview (a clap
and the thunder has arrived (god and god and god (0000000
00000000000000 (000000000000000000000000 (00000000
0000000 (except you are the same (a static and a deep hum (
found connection (found extraction (found reduction (growing
growing (growing (growing (sight gone (sight come (asterisks
against the climbing side (northern facing (eastern facing (.....
...................(it's good to be back (modular and entrapment (
floor design (wall hanging (get out of the town (sweet sweet (
tweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetttttttttttttttttttttttttt (tweeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeettttttttttttttttttttttttt (ah)))))))))))))))))))))))))






Carry (over_under) Carry

velocity speaking after tone removed and impulsed through the cataleptic normalised without synthetic movements and interrogation as scientific impulse drivers conscript and writhe in torpor now removed and collated into breakage and anticipation cast out and found without the forming and selective tired flashes of liability 

this = skull

magnetic in the skyfall betterment longitudinal as ascetic entertainments re-modify entrapments known to fakir tempestuous and lotus shunting a speed so formal not antiseptic and renowned in thought and name so juxtaposed    


solution breathes itself to life with transcendental 
longing at magnetic height and muscle complexity 
as selfsame as the honorifics embellishing through 
mud brick anti-natal concluding only wake and 

Oratory Illumination (fracture)

illegitimate                        [phone as rung]

promulgated over this                               +

                               a shell to crack and take
abandonment so well

[phone ringing]
[phone ringing]
[phone ringing]

this colour comes in articulation writing sound through 
causations known and unknown a crown atop the head 
and breakneck pace


[the bell [phone]] has... 

Oyster as Baptismal



vulnerable to this reciting 
notation is the key

vouchsafed as
vouchsafed as


now the number is...



Bio: Nathan Anderson is a poet from Mongarlowe, Australia. He is the author of Mexico Honey, The Mountain + The Cave and Deconstruction of a Symptom. His work has appeared in BlazeVox, Otoliths, Selcouth Station and elsewhere. You can find him at or on Twitter @NJApoetry.

Short story from Santiago Burdon

    Converse Black Label Gym Shoes 

My mother possessed an arsenal of proverbs, idioms and cliches, which she used to comment on  almost every situation. I became increasingly annoyed with her trite statements that never actually answered a question or solved a problem. Just some pointless remarks that didn't offer a solution.

Let me give you a couple of examples so you have a better understanding.

"Mom, I don't know what to  buy with my birthday money?" I'd ask.

"A fool and his money are soon parted."  She'd answer.

After getting mixed up in some trouble.

"I promise it won't happen again mom. I'm sorry."

"A leopard can't change his spots."

You get the idea.

I think she felt it made her appear educated by using them in conversation. I always respected my mother and loved her dearly.  I just couldn't take listening to any  more worn out, unoriginal and overused sayings that I didn't consider clever or helpful. 

I desperately needed Gym Shoes for my Physical Education class in High School. I had worn a pair of wrestling shoes handed down from my older brother during Junior High School that were two sizes too big. I was razzed and teased by my classmates constantly. The worst part was having  to wear them at dances held in the Gym. No " Street Shoes" on the wood court floor. 

There's a huge disadvantage being the youngest boy in a family with three older brothers. Besides being told what to do all the time, getting pushed around or being pummeled whenever they felt like it, most of my clothes were hand me downs. Occasionally my mother would even sneak underwear my brothers had worn into my dresser drawer.  I became wise to her high jinx and I threw them in the garbage. I seldom received new clothes which didn't bother me all that much because shopping for clothes with my mother was torture. Her fashion sense was trapped in the fifties. There wouldn't be any tie-dyed or paisley shirts, bell bottom jeans or pointed toe shoes if she was buying. I always ended up looking like Beaver Cleaver or Opie Taylor.  

I waited for the perfect moment to approach my mother with my request for new gym shoes. The old man left with my sister over to my grandparent's house.  My older brothers were gone leaving just her and I in the house. I asked if she needed help preparing dinner. She accepted my offer although with a hint of suspicion. 

" Yes, that would be wonderful. Could you cut up some carrots, celery, tomatoes and  cucumbers for the salad? And while you're doing that you can tell me what you've wanted to ask me all day.  Don't cut off your fingers, be careful." 

There was no pulling one over on my mother; she had  honed her skills from raising my three older brothers.

" Mom, I really need gym shoes for P.E. I'd like a new pair of my own that 

fit me. Please."

" What's wrong with the shoes you have now? You didn't seem to have a problem with them in Junior High."

" Mom, they're wrestling shoes, they get dirty real quick and they're two sizes too big. I gotta stuff 'em with socks or toilet paper to make 'em fit. I can't run or jump and do stuff while wearing them."

" Honey, I'm not sure we can afford them right now. I just paid for  your brother's high school class ring. And the dentist bill came due as well."

I expected her to use that excuse and  I had prepared for such an answer.

" Mom, I've saved nine dollars from my birthday and from mowing lawns. We can use that and you can help  pay the difference. Please mom, I really need gym shoes." I whined.

"I don't want you to have to use your own money. Let me think about it and mention it to your father."

" Well I need them on Monday or I'm not going to class. I'll take the demerit and detention.I'm not wearing those wrestling shoes and let people make fun of me. I put up with it all through junior high and am not going to do it again." I screamed.  My anger was getting the best of me. Then it happened, she did the one thing that sent me into a complete raging maniac.

" Listen to me. I cried because I had no shoes and then I met a man with no feet." She preached.

 "Oh ya, well I'd ask the man with no feet for his shoes since he didn't need them." I hollered.  "What  the fuck does that have to do with what we're talking about?"

I had completely lost it. The words just spilled out of my mouth without thinking about what I was yelling. I could see the result of my tirade in my mother's face. 

" What did you say? Who do you think you're talking to mister? Don't you get fresh with me! You will treat me with respect.  Do you understand? I  never want to hear that kind of language out of your mouth again. I don't appreciate your response to my proverb. You know that verse is in the Bible, Jesus Christ said it."

There it was, whenever she needed to validate a statement or fact the Bible was the source from where it originated. Then adding that Jesus had said it meant it was an irrefutable fact.

I wasn't going to contradict her statement although I knew the proverb wasn't in the Bible and Jesus never said it. All it would do is piss her off even more and I was already in deep shit. . It wasn't often when my mother became angry, but when she did the heavens would shake.

"You've really crossed the line Santiago. If I told your father about this he'd make sure you never used that word in this house again."

"I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell him. Besides I picked up the word from him. It's one of his favorites and he uses it for everything. I'm really sorry for saying that mom. Just lost my temper and took it out on you. Please forgive me. "

"To err is human, to forgive is divine." She lectured.

Did she really just say that? Throwing gasoline on the fire. Now she's got me doing it. No! I was one step closer to insanity.

"Are you finished there? Why don't you go to your room and think about what you did. Go on."

" Mom I'm fourteen years old and you're sending me to my room? Don't you think I'm too old for that kind of punishment?"

"You get to your room right this minute. Don't you start disobeying me. I'll call you for dinner. Now go young man."

Sure I'm a young man and she's sending me to my room. I thought it was ridiculous to send me there with my TV, record player, radio, games and books. What a harsh punishment.

"And no TV,  music or games. Read a book." She hollered up the stairs.

" No wait, no reading books either. I forgot you like that."

"Can I do my homework that's due on Monday?"

" Yes, that's good. Do your homework. I'll call you for dinner in a couple of hours."

" Thanks mom."

"Your father just pulled into the driveway."

"Mom please don't…"

"Don't worry, I'll keep it between us "

" I dashed over to the heat vent connected to the dining room to listen to what was being said.

"Where's Judge?"

"Did you buy them and in the right size?"

"Yes I did."

" He's upstairs doing his homework. And look at you Jocelyn, did you get new shoes? How pretty." I heard my mother say.

My sister got new shoes. What the hell is going on? I have to beg and plead for a new pair of gym shoes that are required for school and my sister gets shoes instead. Of course that sounds about right.

I was thoroughly pissed off but there was nothing I could do about the injustice I was subjected to by this family. Why is everyone so hard on me? I can't get a break.

I woke up to my brother shaking me and slapping my face.

"Get up, squirt, time for dinner."

"Okay, I'm awake, stop slapping me asshole." 

"Let's go. And just to warn you the Dad is in a pissed off mood. So be careful. You hear me?" 

"Ya thanks for the heads up."

I sat down at the table while my mother was talking.

"And Santiago helped with dinner and made the salad."

"Why, what'd he do wrong?" My brother George commented.

"I'll have everything except the salad." My sister said.

Everyone began to laugh.

I had just loaded my plate with manicotti and red sauce when the Old Man started his line of questioning.

"So Judge, your mother told be that…"

She ratted me out to the Old Man after she said she wouldn't. Damn it that just isn't fair. I figured it was best to confess so I'd have a chance to explain.

" It was an accident. I didn't mean to yell and swear at her. I lost my temper and it just came out. I told her I was sorry and would never use the word again. I feel horrible about what I did."

"What in the hell are you talking about? I was going to say I bought you some new gym shoes,  Converse Black Label Gym Shoes. Now what did you call your mother?"

"He didn't call me anything. He used profanity when he became upset, that's all." Mom said in my defense.

" I told you I'd keep it between us and wouldn't say anything. Now you went and opened Pandora's box."

On top of my screw up she had to add an idiom. 

"I don't know what's going on here . But could you at least say thank you and tell me you like them."  The  Old Man said. 

He handed me a shoebox but my brother intercepted it handing it off to the other then to my sister then to my mother. She got up and walked to me with the shoebox.  She gave me a kiss and the whole table erupted in a taunting chorus of awe.

"Sometimes Santiago you are your own worst enemy." She whispered.

"Oh hell yes. Converse Black Label Gym Shoes! Thanks mom and you too." I said looking at the Old Man.

"I'm gonna try 'em on now!"

"Did he say hell yes?" The Old Man asked.

Poetry from John Sweet

self-portrait in tar

and words aren’t actions,
and prayer is as
meaningless as regret

the temperature is a nervous
stutter between rain and snow

the town is a vast expanse of
empty parking lots, of
grey shot through with crushed
plastic and dead leaves

i have wasted my life

i am afraid of growing old and 
dying in front of my children

i am afraid of
growing old and dying

in the end we are only
subtracted from nothing

the drowning years

it’s always the same stupid shit,
always these self-inflicted wounds

his 15 year-old girlfriend pregnant, the
asshole from the barfight in a 
coma and not expected to live but
brenda laughs, says why not

dead-end job at the minimart and her
boyfriend doing six months in county, and he
says his stepfather has a place down
in north carolina

tells her he’s had a crush on her
since middle school, and she
asks if it’s gonna be a boy or a girl

and he says he doesn’t want to know

doesn’t really give a shit
one way or the other,
and she nods

tells him she needs to
leave a note for her sister

needs to feed the dog

small, ordinary acts to help her
feel like she’s
moving into the future

the forest of the profane

early autumn frost in the
shadows of sunlit buildings, all
blue sky and junkie dreams

man walking past you says he’s
got god in his veins

says there are other
versions of hell that have nothing to
do with faith, and his smile
is filled with blood

this town is where i live
but it’s not my home

this idea of judas as scapegoat
needs to be reconsidered

despair is a sickness
not a weapon
but it will always be used by
tyrants to beat you down

will you suffer the first blow or
will you burn down the castle?

will you set the gospel aside
and hear the truth instead?

all choices come to an end when
the dog you fail to praise
decides to take your tongue
                           as his own

skeleton afternoon

this is the man with no eyes who
tells me he pities my blindness

this is the party to celebrate
the death of the deathless kingdom

i fuck his wife in the back seat of
someone else’s car or
he seduces my daughter before
they both disappear

a stalemate

a gun for every starving child
so they can all grow up safe

even here in this cramped and
sullen space between 
disposable gods
we are all someone’s enemy

notes on ideology

good times in the suicide
factory down on your hands and knees

swallow the cock or swallow
the barrel, and
how many choices do you really need?

how many lives are you planning on
screwing up other than your own?

goddamn kids gotta grow up
sooner or later, i guess

can’t be sucking at their
mother’s tit forever

they need to know they’re useless

need to know how much blood is
required to solve each problem, and
maybe you have to smack them around
a little to drive your point home

maybe a house gets burned to the ground,
maybe a car gets stolen or some
fifteen year-old girl from the
trailer park out at the edge of town
gets knocked up, but this shit
happens every day

you fuck or you get fucked

you walk or you crawl

a lifetime of  meaningless rules and
blown chances, and then
you die

and the story ends the
body is found,
but how do we get there?

same goddamn way
every time

14 yr old girl sits on her bed,
curtains pulled,
father’s gun,
instructions on her laptop screen

knowledge is power,

puts the muzzle to her head and
pulls the trigger, and so
turn the music up a
little louder

send flowers

bring shovels

a lot of bodies left to be
buried before this
part of the story ends


tired of being so fucking
old, and tired of all
the goddamn years i wasted

tired of being on
the wrong coast

or not being able
to forget your face

of everything i write
like a suicide note

Poetry from Mahbub

Poet Mahbub, a South Asian man with dark hair and glasses and a suit and tie
Poet Mahbub
The Padma Bridge

The moon has risen in the dreamy sky of us
From Mawa to Janjira you dreamt of
Linking the two parts over the river Padma
25 June 2022, the plan got established 
It blazed the light on the dark river
Long waited love came to light 
Joining the south and western part of the country to Dhaka city
Facing the challenge we once had for freedom in 1971
Our great leader Bangobandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman handled the leadership 
His fittest daughter Sheikh Hasina, our prime minister
Just proved how brave she is in her heart and fruitful her merit!
The Padma Bridge provided us all to live in connection 
Mitigating the needs from one part of the river to everywhere in speed.
Chapainawabganj, Bangladesh


Fire is in, fire is out
The heart is firing for sex
On the other it's firing in love
Look! the bodies are firing in the container depot fire at Chattogram
In some distance the body is fired on suicide
The sun-burnt eyes are firing in terror
On the other some are firing in anger or pain
Some are firing for the absence of the lovers or beloveds
The garments factories are firing with bodies of the workers
Plastic warehouses containing hazardous chemicals
At Nimtota of Chawkbazar in Old Dhaka fired hundreds of lives
Some are firing with the neighbors to win the fight
Some are smiling with fire
Over the glory of entering into world unknown
Chapainawabganj, Bangladesh

Poetry from Stephen Jarrell Williams

"The End Again"


Desolate the land of cities
buildings like decapitated statues
streets covered in chucks of ruin

slump shouldered we wandered for months
finding the rims of the far mountains
forests covering where we hid

our quiet settlement
of the depopulated
survivors thankful and now unhurried

accepting weak walls and roofs of tree
rain and ponds and a lake of sweet water
faraway from the sea full of past pollutants

our children now no longer afraid
they play and sing and we listen
trying to forget the long ago explosions

my wife tenderly touching
scars on my back
loving me at night

darkness still
memories of the dying
and what we could have done.

"The Wind"

My brothers often visit
trying to give me a constant of cheer

telling me where they've been
and what they've seen

assuring me the sea recovering
stench of death disappearing

schools of fish returning
without sores that never heal

my brothers have found and married
young wives with unblistered skin

boats rebuilt and sails tall in the wind
many new islands blossoming

some seeing a gondola balloon
with people waving above the clouds

wind cleansing past the horizon
world freeing flowers again.

"Just Like the Old Days"

The old man walked into our new village
claiming nothing changes

men fighting again
over land and women and beliefs

shaking his head with tears
beard matted like his hair

prepare yourselves he warned
they've repaired their guns

bullets reclaimed from the ruins
helmets and knives and brass knuckles

with a maniac in charge
speaking smooth words dripping with poison

promising the power of hell
in his back pocket

the old man laughed and spit
looking at my wife and kids and peaceful land

you should tell the others
chaos is coming again

returning with twisted faces
eyeing every direction
where you dream and live

but this time
maybe you will pray
a little more and mean it.