Synchronized Chaos Magazine – May 2012: Mind Intrigue








Kicking off this month’s issue, Mind Intrigue, is a diverse collection of poetry by Sam Burks.

Dave Douglas’ The Clouds Are Upside-Down, compels us to think about how much of our personal perspectives are merely superficial at best as we are often caught up in our own daily rituals.

J’Rie Elliott’s piece, Your Heart, is about how one individual’s thoughts can be truly connected to another person’s thoughts, regardless of distance or communication.

Is rhythm writing out? Are poetry masters a thing of the past? Check out Bruce Roberts’ Poetry as Art.

Enjoy timely neuroscience news in Leena Prasad’s monthly column, Whose Brain Is It? Presented within the flow of the lives of fictional characters, this is a monthly column with a journalist’s perspective on brain research.

Read the preface to American Euphoria: Saying Know to Drugs, by Richard Wilmot, Ph.D.  This book promises a fresh perspective on drug addiction and a critical analysis of traditional thinking in terms of drug culture.

You can also read an excerpt from Author Stefanie Freele’s new short story collection, Surrounded by Water. Freele’s work has been featured in several literary magazines, journals, and anthologies.

Other writing this month comes from Sarah Ford. Ford’s life has been a series of struggles, including those related to drugs and alcohol and Parental Alienation Syndrome. Ford wants only the best for her children and for them to learn the importance of not creating barriers from labels or prejudice.

In performance and music…

  • Christopher Bernard reviewed Shotgun Players’ production of Tom Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia: Voyage, held at the Ashby Stage in Berkeley, California. The Coast of Utopia: Voyage was directed by Patrick Dooley.
  • Kelly Munoz reviewed Opera San Jose’s production of Faust, held at the California Theatre, San Jose, California. Faust runs through May 6, 2012.
  • Tapati McDaniels reviewed Ani DiFranco’s concert at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz, California, held on March 26, 2012.

This month in visual art…

Also, please be sure to check out Adrianne Anderson’s interesting in-depth interview with Travel Writer Francis Tapon.  Tapon is a successful businessman who turned his love of world travel into a new career.

NEW! Check out our Kickstarter Page and please help spread the word to others, so that we can reach our goal of raising at least $300 by June 1st! Your support will help us provide more resources for our international volunteer staff, encourage writing and visual art groups to meet within their own local communities, and allow us to bring in technical support to revamp and maintain our website. If you have any questions about this project, please email with “Kickstarter” in the subject.

Thank you and happy reading!

Poetry by Sam Burks

Moral Of The Story

So many questions
left unanswered
as I fall back into
the frozen hands
of the atomic clock

What is this story
that I am trying to tell?
Past these tired eyes
the planes and peaks
of the evolving countryside
speak to me in foreign languages
as I weep with joy
in the realization
that I am
just a figure
of speech
in my story

And with so many things
left unfinished
started to quick
and not thought of
all the way through
I carry on
bleeding and blocked
through the dialogues
of conspiracy
hoping, perhaps a little foolishly
that I am getting
that much closer
to figuring out
the moral
of the story

You Grew Up

See me running backwards
and you
stop dead in your tracks
I call out to you without
ever turning my head around

“When did this cease
to be a game?”

That was a good question
and you knew it
but the birds were chirping
louder than I was
(really, it was just echoes that you were hearing. The birds
were like stars, gone for a long time now)
And your window remained
wide open, even though
the weekend was dead now
and your work-
your constant cycling through
the melting clocks-
wanted all the nutrients
in your bones and in your
but I wouldn’t let you
give it up, not
without a fight

But the decision
wasn’t mine to make

And neither
was it yours

Into Madness

Something was said
that rattled the foundations of
universal speech, a glitch
in the dialogue of our
internal stars
The cosmos quake behind the eyes
of ears stationed on the moon
where the pollution of noise
is usually not as bad
as in the cities
in my shoe
Some kind of phenomenon
is making waves in the words spoken
in now dead languages
as something else lays waste
to our dreams
What entity spoke those words?
What is making
all this noise?
Who planted the barrier of sound
between the ear-canals
and the symphony of birds and
clouds and other forms of truth?
Who else but ourselves
would have any kind of
emotional investment
any kind of fear or reservation
about the impact of truth and knowledge?
Yet again it seems
that we have talked ourselves
into madness
rather than talking ourselves
into joy



Not many stars
that I can see
but the brightest points in the sky
speak directly
to me
a familiar voice
carried far
through empty
and desolate time
reminding me
of who and what I am
and where
I am going


Sam Burks can be reached at

Poetry by Dave Douglas

The Clouds Are Upside-Down

In a universe designed so grand
A particle-puzzle for the under-manned
Among the world-view of random
We stand on the south end of town

And miss the dewdrop of wisdom
While the clouds are upside-down

Bound to the tracks of mass radio
Or caught in a stained-glass window
The spirit is obscured by ritual –
The bride is lost, along with her gown

And we miss the showers of the faithful
Even as the clouds are upside-down

In a world without second nature
On the metric scale of the future
Through a fiber-optic sense of vision
We breed an artificial crown

And are caught in a storm of reason
Although the clouds are upside-down

Among the cast without a heart
Can we draw closer to the start?
In the flooded mind of obsession
We may reach bottom before we drown

And miss the lightening of redemption
While the clouds are upside-down


You can reach Dave Douglas at

Poetry by J’Rie Elliott

Your Heart


My darling, I hear the pain in your heart,

When you call me from so far away;

I can hear the loneliness and fear inside.

While we are apart each day;

Do not think that you can hide from me,

Do not think that I don’t know—

Do not think that I don’t feel the same

Because where you go, I go.

I go with you each step you take,

My heart is not my own.

You carry it in your pocket each day—

Each day that you must roam–

One day there will be a last time,

In which we must say good bye;

One day we will not have to part again,

From the other’s side.

But until that day is here my love,

And until we are side by side–

Know my heart knows your heart,

And from me you cannot hide.


J’Rie Elliott is a poetess and ongoing contributor of Synchronized Chaos. To contact her, send an email to

Poetry by Bruce Roberts

Poetry as Art

Ancient concept

Words tumbling onto papyrus,


Whirling through patterns,


Sometimes rhymes;


Wondrous, profound,

Scenes sensual,




Blind, broad-shouldered


Anchoring Shakespeare

Burns, Eliot, Frost

Et. al.

Wide world wordsmiths

Audible artists

Who tantalize the tongue

To lick

The language



For ears through the ages–

Mankind eternal!


Yet here I hang,

Solitary poem

On a gallery wall—

Verbal intruder

Amid oils evocative,

Watercolors whimsical,

The solidity of sculpture.


The lady in charge

Puttering,  straightening

Glances at me,

Rubbing her rag slowly

Across my frame,


As I pretend not to hear:

“No one reads anymore.”




moves on.


You may contact Bruce Roberts at



Whose Brain Is It? [May 2012 – Leena Prasad]

Whose brain is it?

by Leena Prasad

Presented within the flow of the lives of fictional characters, this is a monthly column with a journalist’s perspective on brain research.


Ben has disappeared suddenly and his girlfriend Paula is feeling anxious. He has sent an email, however, to say that he is okay and will get in touch with her soon. She calls up Ben’s sister Sonia to try to understand what’s going on with him.

Paula and Sonia are in the kitchen in Sonia’s apartment.  It’s early evening and an occasional bird chirp punctures the quiet of the kitchen. Paula is sitting on a chair with her feet up on the chair, knees bent, and her face buried in her knees. Sonia is measuring sugar and flour and it looks like she’s planning to bake something.


He is much better than he used to be.

They are both quiet for a while. Paula wonders if he is still in the city? Where could he have gone? He didn’t even tell his sister! She needs to understand his disorder. It’s the only way she can calm her mind.


I want a scientific explanation. I need to know the mechanics.


There’s a lot of evidence that bipolar disorder is genetic.


Where in the brain is it located?


Well, researchers have found that people with bipolar disorder have a small amygdala. It’s the area in the brain that controls emotions, amongst other things.

There is a mix of dough in a bowl in front of Sonia. She adds chocolate chips to it.


Is that the only issue, then, a smaller amygdala?


Well, it’s a pretty big issue. So to speak.

Paula laughs. Then she starts to cry. She wipes off her tears with a napkin from the table.


Damn, I’m acting bipolar now.


It’s not that simple. Well, I mean it is a little like that but someone with BD goes through extreme phases.


Yeah, I know. I was just being… So, what does it mean to have a smaller amygdala and how can that be cured with medication?

Sonia uses two large spoons to scoop out the dough and to make little cookie circles with the dough on a cookie sheet.


I don’t know if there is a cure. But some cases of the disorder can be “managed”.


With drugs? How much can be managed?


Ben still hasn’t called!

Paula pulls out her cell phone and looks at it. Sonia cleans her hands and goes out to grab her cell phone and views the incoming calls list also.


Can we look for him somewhere?


He has disappeared before. It’s not possible to find him but he’ll show up within 24 hours because he knows that you can report him missing after that.

Paula sighs.


I feel helpless.


I know. It’s hard. But you really just have to wait.


Ok. Tell me how the medicine helps the amygdala?


It doesn’t.

Paula looks at her with a “what the fuck” expression on her face.


There’s another component. I’ll show you something.

Sonia puts the cookie tray in the oven, wipes her hands and goes out into the living room. She comes back with a 12 inch high model of a brain.


See the gray matter in the brain?

Sonia touches the gray matter.


People with BD have less density in their grey matter.


So, they have less gray matter.


Yes, and sometimes there are lesions in the gray matter also.


Lithium and anti-depressants increase the amount of gray matter.

Sonia adds some of the leftover cookie dough to the brain. Paula touches the dough and the brain sculpture.


So, it’s fixable.



Well, medication can prevent further damage. But it doesn’t reverse the atrophy and loss of brain cells.

They stare at the sculpture. Sonia opens the oven and puts the cookies in a plate.


He loves these. They always seem to calm him.


Let’s hope he is thinking of us and will call soon.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a little over one percent of Americans have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  Symptoms may appear during the adolescent years or during the early adulthood years but have sometimes also been known to show up later. For example, the newscaster, Jane Pauley, noted symptoms after the age of 50.

People with this disorder are at higher risk of committing suicide when compared to the general population and are also more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs. There’s speculation that Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway might have had this disease. Even though they both committed suicide, they made spectacular achievements during their lifetime. There is no known cure for this disease but a variety of modern medications offer the possibility to manage this disease and lead a healthy life. For example, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jean Claude Van Dam, and Jane Pauley are examples of successful people who have this disease.


For column announcements & updates, follow @WhoseBrainIsIt on twitter. You can also find links to past columns at

Please send feedback and suggestions for future columns to and go to for Leena’s writing portfolio. Leena has a journalism degree from Stanford University.


Bipolar Disorder: Making a Difference Today. Society of Neuroscience. 2005.



An excerpt from “American Euphoria: Saying Know to Drugs” by Dr. Richard Wilmot

American Euphoria: Saying Know to Drugs

By Richard Wilmot Ph.D.



Even though most psychoactive drugs in America are illegal, there are so many drug problems in this country that experts have termed drug abuse an epidemic.  Yet our knowledge of drugs and drug use, misuse and abuse is inadequate.  How much is too much?  What does “getting high,” mean to the drug user?  Are you an addict or a label?

The purpose of writing this book is to answer questions such as these.  The ideas and analysis presented here views “addiction” from a new and different perspective.  It is a holistic approach to drug/alcohol use and abuse that will help to question current drug treatment and drug policy authority.

Do the current perspectives on alcohol and drug abuse need to be questioned?  After spending more than twenty years as a drug abuse counselor, researcher and educator, I believe they do.  It is time for reform.  It’s time for a change in thinking about euphoric drugs in general.  It’s time for critical thinking about drug issues.

My passion for drug studies grew out of my own experience with a variety of drugs, with the drug subculture while in college and later working in the “culture of recovery”.  After having worked for the Addiction Research Foundation in Toronto, Canada, I received a scholarship to complete a specialized graduate degree (PH.D.) in Drug Studies at the University of California at San Diego and spent years in the recovery field from doing research, drug counseling clients on Skid row as well as those in the film industry, editing the Journal of Drug Issues, lecturing at the Drug Policy Foundation in Washington D.C., and teaching courses in Drug Studies.

This book focuses on the divisions between the “recovery culture” and the “drug culture”.  Simply put, members of the drug culture have an acceptance of drug use while the recovery culture has an abstinence only approach.  They are exclusive subcultures with little communication or acceptance of each other… although the culture of recovery is considerably more politically powerful.  When one enters treatment, one must become an active, participating member in the recovery culture or risk becoming a treatment failure.  One must drop all ties and interests in the drug culture and become committed only to the culture of recovery.  Recovery, from the standpoint of the “culture of recovery” must be one of “higher power” conversion.

Acknowledging that “addicts” could benefit from some of their drug experiences or part of their drug culture experience is unthinkable from the perspective of orthodox recovery.  From the  position of rehabilitation, all drug use is bad and any use is unacceptable.  The people, places, and things that are associated with the drug culture must be disavowed.  They are “triggers” to further drug use.  Everything about the drug subculture is anathema from tattoos to clothing styles.

Yet over my years in the fields of drug studies and treatment, I realized that much of what treatment had to say about “addiction” and the “addicts” themselves was based on stereotypes, stigmatization, ignorance, arrogance, and outright bigotry.  Perhaps this is why eight out of every ten people entering recovery go back to using drugs.

Historically there are a number of well-adjusted persons who made outstanding contributions to society, and took euphoric drugs.  I have witnessed the same: people doing things that the recovery culture claimed were not possible for someone who regularly used drugs.  These people would have been labeled “addicts” had they been noticed or caught.  They were not “victims” of drugs; they had their use under control even though some used daily e.g. Pope Leo XIII.  This history of controlled drug use led me to wonder about the differences between those whose drug use was non-problematic and those who abused.

Traditional thinking is that the difference is physiological.  Addicts are different biologically.  They are allergic to alcohol or another drug; they have a “genetic predisposition” to abuse; they have “addictive personalities”.  The scientific evidence for each of these perspectives is in dispute.  Essentially there are those who understand  “addiction” to be a controllable behavior and there are those who believe addiction is a disease.  Yet the “treatment” for the “disease” of addiction focuses on “character defects” and surrender to a “Higher Power” i.e. healing by faith.

Rather, the most recent thinking is that “getting high: or “altering consciousness” is a universal biological drive arising out of the innate structure of the human brain.  In other words, we are all “hard wired” to get “high”.

Viewing intoxication as a biological inevitability gives us a better understanding of how drug use differs from drug abuse.  Such use is not necessarily immoral or pathological but natural.  Much like sex, drug use for humans is a natural drive.  Everyone has a need to alter their consciousness and they will do so even at their own peril… from sky diving to smoking “crack” cocaine.  The challenge for society is to address this biologically based need to “alter consciousness” in safe, non-abusive ways that will provide people with the “peak experiences” they universally crave.  Furthermore, there is a non-abusive code for “getting high” that can be learned so that people who drink or take other drugs do not end-up embarrassed, sick, dependent or dead.

To paraphrase this book: the ways in which we talk about drugs both to ourselves and to others perpetuates many of the problems with drugs.  The content of what we have to say about drugs is a reflection of our puritan culture and our personal history.
The answer to our current drug abuse dilemma is to: “just say know” to drugs.  This book intends to further that process.


American Euphoria: Saying Know to Drugs is currently available on for purchase: