Synchronized Chaos March 2015: What is Language For, Anyway?

This month’s issue poses a question: what are language and writing for, anyway? Why do we create and produce so many streams of words?
Fran Laniado spotlights a collaboration between writer S. Kay and craftsperson Gwen Rossmiller, where words take on physical weight by being engraved on wearable necklaces.Regular book reviewer Elizabeth Hughes samples a collection of fantasy novels with protagonists who gradually discover and step into their newfound powers, for good or ill. These include Victoria Alexandra’s The Book of Darkness: The Cora Myers Series, Nicole Quinn’s River of Disbelief (the next in her Gold Stone Girl series), and K.C. Simos’ Ambrosia Chronicles.Language can also be a tool we learn to use and a source of power and strength. Our contributors this month offer various suggestions for how and why we read, write, speak, and listen.Jessica Delgado’s poetry laments through songlike structured verse the trauma caused when addictions divide families, and renders in disjointed words the experience of being hospitalized. Her third piece, an essay, adds to this collection by directly asking why we should study writing and literature and then answering the question. These pieces together illustrate how writing can help us process intense experiences and convey them to others.Other writers demonstrate the power of words to ignite compassion and change.Deborah Guzzi’s poetry calls to mind social injustices and tragedies such as the brutality of the Cambodian genocide and racism against Jews and Native Americans. Her work also illustrates how language, taking the form of prayer, shared memory, and recorded history, can provide comfort and strength.
Rachel Stewart Johnson’s short story shocks us into awareness of others. We never know who we may encounter in an average day whose tragedies are greater than our own.
Adelayok Adeleye criticizes corruption within the Nigerian government on this international platform. Even administration changes never seem to make a dent in corruption or other real issues and often only have the effect of halting construction projects.
Tony Longshanks LeTigre reflects upon his experience surviving the deprivation and stigma of homeless life in San Francisco and on how the city has changed over the years to no longer serve as an affordable refuge for bohemians, students, immigrants, the working poor or those starting new chapters in their lives. Through his piece, we see how writing can allow people who slip through the cracks and don’t get a lot of positive notice in society to assert that they exist, that they are people with thoughts and lives.
Peter Jacob Streitz evokes a sense of grim disgust at the Holocaust in a piece written for the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

Writing can allow us to make sense of our world through storytelling.

Ryan Hodge, in his monthly Play/Write column, details how moral choices players make for their characters during video games, such as whether to follow laws or behave according to commonly held real-life ethical standards for the treatment of other creatures, influence the character’s story arc and who they become.
Cristina Deptula’s review of physicist and docent Steve Mathews’ recent lecture at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California gives a brief overview of how the Western world’s scientists came to understand properties of light. Through a variety of languages, including that of mathematics, we are telling the story of how our world works and came into being.
As a counterpoint, poet, essayist and novelist Christopher Bernard posits a hypothetical ‘disinvention’ process, where we imagine taking apart the world as we know it and throwing away our technology. Whether motivated by environmentalism, asceticism or simply a desire to evaluate the world around us rather than immersing ourselves irrevocably into modernity, this process would represent monumental change.

Alexis Durante gives us a meditation on how three Greek goddesses might each come to meet her demise. We see beauty even in mortality, but also tragedy in that they leave behind much of themselves and become mere forms to be memorialized through statues and paintings. Language and art can be powerful vehicles for preservation of culture, but also imperfect windows to past and present flesh and blood realities, that mask truth or simply do not present the whole picture.

In some cases language is instructive and practical, a form of communication that brings information to an audience.

Amy Roiland’s description of her new FashionTap app, a social network for those interested in clothing and accessories that allows users to view, share and buy items directly through the application, lets people know about this new way to make the customer experience more personal and social. A blogger at the site, Roiland hopes that her company’s app will not only make shopping easier, but encourage people to see the selection of clothes and development of a personal style as a matter of participatory art and craft.

Continuing his series on entrepreneurship, Nigerian medical student Adelayok Adeleye urges small business owners to stay aware of and properly manage debt and to borrow only when necessary.

Language can also become an instrument to express emotion and render moments into things of beauty, as in James Brush’s poem. Brush gives us an ode to long journeys in a recreational vehicle, where lines on a map become part of lived experience and the sounds of nature and the road become part of a shared language between the two protagonists and the world around them.

Laura Kaminski’s second installment of fables inspired by her childhood in Nigeria also grafts human language and lived experience into scenes of nature: woodpeckers, hummingbirds, white poplar trees. In this way our thoughts and dreams become enduring, intertwined with all of life, with the Earth’s natural history, and gain meaning and dignity. Kaminski also reviews Elsie Augustave’s novel The Roving Tree, a story of a Haitian girl adopted by wealthy Americans who goes in search of her heritage. Augustave, and Kaminski, draw upon poetic words to illuminate an intrepid quest for country and self.

Thank you for taking the time to read over this issue. We hope that this use of language will touch your mind and heart.


Writer, pharmacist and poet Jaylan Salah, who hails from Alexandria, Egypt, has published a new article, “On Writing…” in her blog La Loba the Great. (adult content).

Synchronized Chaos Magazine encourages readers to help support the return of thoughtful contributor Frances Varian to her home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Frances is the author of the poem “La Divina” and the essay “Love and Tragedy” published two years ago and lives on a small fixed income with a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease.

Our editors are also passing on this link to support Finn Gardiner, who has created many of our icons and graphic artwork over the past years and managed the magazine for awhile in 2010. He needs assistance with a heating bill and lives in the frigid East Coast, USA, where the land is besotted with snowstorms.

Finally, we are hosting a joint spring reception with literary PR firm Authors, Large and Small, at Oakland’s Rock, Paper, Scissors gallery. Event will take place Saturday March 21st from 6-9 pm at 2278 Telegraph, and is free. All are welcome to come and read and share work or just listen. Rock, Paper, Scissors is struggling to keep the doors open and this event is a no-pressure, voluntary benefit for them. Readers may contribute here

Public domain image

Public domain image

Amy Roiland’s new FashionTap application

FashionTap, currently available for download in the Apple App Store, is a fresh new fashion social network that allows users to discover, share, and purchase clothing directly through the app. FashionTap introduces an entirely simple way for linking top influencers with brands, retailers, and PR firms in any city. FashionTap also ushers in the ability for users to earn commissions on their posts by tagging products with affiliate links to the external websites where the products can be purchased.

“I was working PR at a clothing company and was finding it incredibly difficult to locate bloggers in various cities,” said Amy Roiland AKA Afashionnerd FashionTap’s CEO. “There was no way to search bloggers by location or top bloggers in general. We’ve got a world of information at our fingertips and yet no one had simplified networking in the now rising world of fashion blogging.”

FashionTap is a revolutionary new social networking app that unites fashion retailers, bloggers, models, stylists, photographers, brands, designers, and enthusiasts. The app’s stream displays posts of the users you follow in the same vertical style as Vine, Instagram, or Facebook. Click into a user’s photo and tagged products appear as an affiliate link below the image. When clicked these links send users to the website where they can purchase the product all without ever leaving the app. The search option allows users to search by photo, user, or hashtag. Users appear ranked by popularity with the option to narrow your search to a specific city. When posting, users have the option of taking a new photo, importing from Camera Roll, or uploading directly from their Instagram. Users have the option of making commissions on purchases made through their posts by linking tracking and payment information to their account.

Video Tour of FashionTap:

Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope

K.C. Simos’ Ambrosia Chronicles: the Discovery (part of a trilogy)

Book cover of Ambrosia Chronicles: Discovery

WOW!! Ambrosia Chronicles: The Discovery is an absolute must have for the fantasy lover. There is a hint of romance, magic, mystery, suspense and intrigue. It is the story of Alex who is going to school in Birmingham to be a lawyer. One day she runs into a classmate from grade school, Ian. He introduces her to his roommate Shan. One day she feels as though she has upset Shan and follows him to apologize when he is attacked. He hands her a pouch and tells her to stay hidden. What happens next will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. I highly recommend Ambrosia Chronicles, I absolutely loved the book!

The Ambrosia Chronicles are loosely inspired by Greek mythology and available for purchase here:

Nicole Quinn’s Disbelief: The Gold Stone Girl Book 2

Book cover of Nicole Quinn's Disbelief

Disbelief is part two of the really great fantasy The Nightmare. It is filled with adventure and will keep the reader turning every page until the end. An SUL, Sulis, has come to Winkin City to take a life. Reve, Lord Nightmare, escapes from Winkin City and his mother, the Nightmare, in search of Rose, the Gold Stone Girl. He has fallen in love with her. He goes to the Off Grid to the people who raised her and they let him know she is not there. Rose was given to a monster in Disbelief. He now must find Disbelief in order to find his beloved Rose. I highly recommend Disbelief. I absolutely loved the book!

Disbelief, and the rest of the Gold Stone Girl series, may be purchased here: http:/

Victoria Alexandra’s The Book Of Darkness: The Cora Myers Series

Cover of Victoria Alexandra's The Book of Darkness

The Book of Darkness is an exciting fantasy in which the last Protector must find the Book of Darkness and restore the King’s throne. Cora is the last Protector and a powerful witch who agrees to help the Hunter for help in finding her father and brother. It is the tale of good and evil. The evil ones want to take over but need the Book of Darkness in order to enhance their powers. The evil ones want to kill the good ones if they do not come over to the dark side. Read Book of Darkness today and enter the exciting world of fantasy and magic. I highly recommend this book.

Victoria Alexandra’s The Book of Darkness may be purchased here:

Essay from Adelayok Adeleye

The Paternal GAP

Fathers are wonderful people: caring, providing, and responsible. We
need more of them in governance. Yet we need more than them. As good
as fathers are, responsible and all, they rarely make good political
officers. Fathers, by their nature, are good providers, and rulers,
but are rarely good leaders as they are seldom good talkers: Fathers
direct and guide, but do not see reason to sit you down and explain,
and convince, why what they want for you is really what is best for
you; the very essence of leadership. Hence the paternal gap: Fathers
only demand trust, trust that they rarely give.

Fathers, by nature, know best. Or not quite, since times change; and,
as my people say, Ajá ìwòyí la fíí s’ode ìwòyì, modern times are best
secured by modern measures. So that instead of the politician’s
perpetual plea for blind trust, what Nigerians deserve is uncommon
honesty; instead of rehearsed speeches and recycled manifestos, what
we should have are untainted explanations on why things are as bad as
they are and the way out; instead of the Change! mantra, and the
Transformation Agenda, what we really want is accountability.

We have had enough of paternity stints and stunts, of accusation and
counter-accusation, of paint-him-bad and draw-him-down; now we just
want our sovereignty to be recognised and respected; power, after all,
belongs to the people and is vested in us, since democracy is the
governance of the people, by the people, and for the people, and yet
remains so, even in Nigeria…

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Poetry from James Brush

All the Way
Asphalt miles vanish beneath ever-thinning treads.

Sometimes a truck passes and the car trembles.

The truck fades, a memory in the rearview mirror,

and in that distance behind us, we see freedom.

In the miles between radio stations, voices crackle

from Mexico from Flagstaff, islands in a static soundtrack.

The lines on the map folded on the dash become

highways through the desert, the smile on your lips.

From pine-shrouded campgrounds to painted ruins,

roadside motels to cars wrecked and rusting in the desert,

and in the night-crashing waves of the western shore,

we learn the meaning of these secret messages:

rhythm of wheels, music of static, your hand on my knee,

the elegant whisper of trucks traveling the other way.
James Brush lives in Austin, TX and posts things online at Coyote Mercury where he keeps a full list of publications. He also edits the online literary journal Gnarled Oak.

Essay from Tony Longshanks LeTigre


By Longshanks

1967: If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

2015: If you’re coming to San Francisco, be sure to bring some dollars for your fare.

    Six unforgettable and unforgivable years ago I moved to San Francisco, hoping to flourish in a libertine paradise of limitless self-expression, and ran straight into a wall of disappointment. My naive hopes of hedonistic revelry in a sort of mirror universe where queers ruled and everyone got along were violently shattered. What I found were the glimmering fragments of a fallen utopia usurped by greedy opportunists and conservative reformers, embroiled in a full-scale class and culture war, as various groups of people sharply divided fought for limited resources in a compact space and the cost of rent was outrageous… and rising. I lost my job, house, and direction in life completely, then experienced a radical rebirth, became a squatter and fell in love with life outside the capitalism box, and arrived at a “free living” philosophy that I believe will influence the rest of my life.

    Standing presently at a crossroads in my life, I’d like to record my impressions of the City’s disturbing transformation, touch on ways I’ve felt degraded and subhuman due to being homeless, and highlight the consciousness-raising adventures I’ve had here with shout outs to some people and places with whom I feel connected as well as the profound liberation that grew out of my experience of having no fixed home. I’m permanently changed and a little shellshocked by all that’s happened, excited but uncertain about the future, for me and for SF, which is, as Candace Roberts sings in her great new music video that you should definitely find on YouTube (, “Not my City any more.”

    During my first two years in the Bay Area I was violently mugged and assaulted in Fruitvale, got a good job with a global hospitality company but then lost it due to PTSD resulting from the Fruitvale incident, shared a house in the Richmond (my first in SF) with a creepy and perverted older man who terrorized me when I couldn’t make rent, escaped that nightmare to an SRO, worked for the 2010 Census, learned a lot about SF history, moved into a house atop Mt. Davidson (highest elevation in the City) where one of my housemates was a maniacal con artist living under a false identity who tricked me into giving him money, wrote for SF’s main LGBT paper the Bay Area Reporter (now a pale conservative shadow of its radical roots), got a job as a clothing checker at a club called Blow Buddies which had nothing to do with blow dryers, then moved into a flat on Folsom Street with a British witch dominatrix thinking I’d finally found my “Tales of the City” niche, only to lose my job and realize I couldn’t make rent. I was burned out by stress and the fruitless quest for employment, which required me to be passionate about brands and advertising (yawn), knowledgeable about technologies I couldn’t afford, or willing to go the route of human exploitation. I checked “none of the above,” and fell into the abyss.

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Poetry from Christopher Bernard

The Invention of Fire
By Christopher Bernard

Fiery hand against black background








One day I heard on a street of this city –

billionnaire ville of high tech and IT,

cultured pearl of Silicon Valley,

capital of the 21st century,

San Francisco of the crazed and the crazy –

a man laugh out, “Whatever you do,

or think you can do, there’s one thing you can’t do:

you can’t disinvent technology!”

But, darling, what if we could, you and me,

undo the long golden chain of human

marvels and practical disasters, back

to the wild dawn of it all? What if we could

unpave, unpollute, unpoison the world

that we are destroying with our civilized life,

that Frankenstein’s monster of terror and sweat?

—The cell phone suddenly melts in my hand

like a Milky Way left too long in the sun.

The laptop wrinkles like an autumn leaf,

the desktop goes up in a puff of smoke

at the sparrow’s pass of a magician’s wand,

goes up with a smell of burning wood.

Servers curdle like bottles of milk.

GPS goes out like a light.

Monitors line up like dead fish on the sand.

Abruptly vanishes the World Wide Web

like a spider’s cobweb catching humans like flies,

and with it the stranglehold of the internet.

A wind picks up over the empty land:

it blows forests of sky dishes away,

flocks of radios, stereophonic herds,

the clotted brainpans of obsessive nerds,

landfills clogged with wireless TVs,

movie cameras, projectors – not those! – yes, those

too – molten flash drives and CPUs,

busses and rockets and snowboards and skis,

rollerblades, Velcro and nonstick pans,

silicon chips reduced to sand,

rare earth metals melting down with smartphones,

the burnt-out husks of intelligent homes,

trains and steamships and telegraphs and sails

crossing the seas like clouds of white whales,

skyscrapers and skylights, iron alloys and glass,

the first lawnmowers smelling of cut grass,

and the central beast at the heart of the wheel:

the million-headed Hydra, the automobile;

the casket elevator, the pick, the spade,

the tackle and hook of a cable of braid,

the IUD, pill, the condom, bidet,

vaginal rings and penis pumps

(the tech of pleasure isn’t spared its lumps),

Glocks and anklets, in vitro wombs,

water-sealed coffins and virtual tombs,

warheads and nylons and nuclear bombs:

the wind of time in reverse sweeping away

everything we invented: the plough, the clock,

the spectacles on the pimpled nose of a monk,

dreadnaughts, all dreading, at long last sunk,

pencil, parchment, typewriter, quill,

propeller, salt cellar, egg-beater, scythe,

horseshoe nail and dentist drill,

uncool change lane and cool Swiss knife:

everything that fell from the war of life

into our far too-clever brains

that are never satisfied and never tire,

back to the beginning of everything until

we lie down again in the mud of a cave

and, snuggling together, as we know best,

disinvent the one we can blame for the rest:

the two sticks that first rubbed together into flames.

See? All gone! It couldn’t be done?

We’ve done it, you and me, in the course

of a little fantasy and, with apologies, verse.

But then, I never needed any of it.

I have needed you, deep as I am in the mire.

Each time we embrace, we invent fire.


Christopher Bernard is author of A Spy in the Ruins, In the American Night, 
and The Rose Shipwreck. He is also co-editor of Caveat Lector. 
His poetry can be found at his blog, “The Bog of St. Philinte.”

Image from Fire Fire Fire.