Synchronized Chaos September 2017: Peace and Belonging

Birds of a feather flocking together

Birds of a feather flocking together

I think the themes of belonging and parentage and love are obviously universal. — Christopher Eccleston

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. — Mother Teresa

This month’s contributors write about peace and belonging – their hopes for these things, where they can find them and where they don’t.

Rubina Akhter describes her hope for personal solace and her experiences with panic and depression.

Vijay Nair laments a broken relationship because the object of his affection chose to use him and others for her own gain rather than caring for him. J.J. Campbell writes of alienation in a broader sense, different speakers didconnected from their worlds in various ways.

Mahbub looks to the natural world as a metaphor for his feelings of romantic attraction and loneliness. Nature brings him peace, not because it is peaceful, but because it draws his attention out of the turbulence within his heart.

Rajnish Mishra’s vision of nature is also not inherently peaceful, but full of strong, skilled predators. In his first two pieces, he urges people to choose not to harm or bully others rather than giving in to natural instincts to attack and dominate.

Michael Robinson reflects on his journey through fear and violence into a gentler place, surrounded by loving people and natural scenes. As in Mahbub’s poetry, the outdoor world calms him by being different from the inner city settings where he experienced trauma as a child.

Rui Carvalho looks to nature in an entirely different way, creating a feminine archetype who’s a force of the natural world, simultaneously beautiful and strong, peaceful not through weakness but through the strength of spiritual clarity and love.

Joan Beebe expresses a wish for calm within our cities, while Sheryl Bize-Boutte cultivates our awareness of local social dynamics with an allegorical story about a garden where the hardy and familiar collard greens find themselves replaced by trendy kale. Who belongs in our neighborhoods and our local groups, and what are the consequences of displacement?

Jeff Bagato’s poetic speakers belong where they are, immersed in their environments in these rich, atmospheric pieces. Alex Nodopaga’s cityscapes look like stained glass, abstracted, mythologized, frozen in time, perpetually belonging to imagination and history rather than to a specific moment in time.

Christine Chatterton’s WWI novel Courage of the Heart, reviewed here by Bruce Roberts, illustrates through the romance between its primary characters that love, and the hope of returning to those close to us where we belong, can give us the strength to survive war and other protracted obstacles.

The books Elizabeth Hughes reviews in her Book Periscope column also depict the power of having a sense of belonging. The couple in Gini Grossenbacher’s Madam of My Heart, Brianna and Edward, survive serial tragedies in seamy 1800s America because of their love, Margaret Goka’s poetic subjects in The Woven Flag celebrate family and community, Carolyn Prince’s The Revelation Unlocked probes the mysteries of the Bible to encourage people to find a spiritual home through faith, and Jennie Ross’ Slicker McQuicker encourages children to welcome others who are different.

Finally, as Christopher Bernard reminds us through the second installment of his novel Amor I Kaos, the world and our psyches are complex. We can rationalize the choice of living a life of love or one of alienation, and ultimately to some degree, as Rajnish Mishra suggests, it’s up to us.

Christopher Bernard’s novel Amor i Kaos (second installment)

Christopher Bernard’s Amor i Kaos (part 2)


The prevailing winds, from east over the Atlantic, across gray, clammy tides, puling seagulls, their black caps and flexing, sickle-like wings, the terns’ small, quick arcs, the funny rushes and escapes along the skirt of the wave wash of the pipers hunting for small, nutlike sandcrabs. The tart briny scent, the yellow, scummy, impetigo-infecting gullies. The gray white sand grainy with tiny white and black crystals he could almost count as they separated in his palm. Clumps of salt grass covering the dunes like long green hair. The endless distant roll and crash of waves along the beach, the lulling confusion of whiteness, a serene and tranquil drama of the shore, raving and collapsing without pause from horizon to horizon.

When they met shyly in their swimsuits, the summer Christopher Pascal was sixteen and Sasha Kamenev fifteen, and their families spread their beach blankets and chairs and umbrellas under the tinkling shouts and laughter of swimmers and beachball players and sandbucket diggers and sandcastle builders not far from the lifeguard stand on the hot, white dry sand and the cool, gray wet sand along the edge of the playful lashing mindless formidable beautiful and frightening sea.

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Bruce Roberts reviews Christine Chatterton’s Courage of the Heart: An American Odyssey, 1915 to 1923

       courageoftheheartfrontcover Christine Chatterton’s Courage of the Heart: An American Odyssey 1915 to 1923  is a fine book, where small town, mid-west America meets the Great War in Europe. 

         Based upon a real cache of letters written by her husband’s grandfather, and upon interviews with elderly family members,  Chatterton has woven a tapestry of innocent small town romance and the courageous challenge of WWI, both for the soldiers who fought and suffered, and the steadfast love and loyalty of those who waited at home.   It’s fascinating family portraits—a treasure trove of memories mixed with a broad slice of American life and history.

         Joy, bravery, tragedy, and triumph–all play a part here, making Courage of the Heart  a book worth reading.

                                             Bruce Roberts

Courage of the Heart can be ordered here.


Short story by Sheryl Bize-Boutte



Hello, my family name is Green and I am the last Collard in town.

Life was good in my rich patch of dirt at the corner of Rice and Roux.  Every year I would defy the winter frost and blossom forth from spring into the fall. My leaves broke away from my sturdy spine in clean lines and the pot liquor I produced was always a soft pastel green, affirming my lack of bitterness. I felt unique, included and loved. After all, I was individually planted with a soft glove and closely cared for unlike my cousins who arrived chilled in paper bags festooned with big red letters.

I spent my growing days in the sun hanging out with my friends Turnip and Mustard.  And even though we were different varieties, we were all Greens and lived together in familial harmony. All Greens were welcomed to share the soil and flourish along with us.

Then one day, Mustard suddenly disappeared.  At first we thought the gophers had gotten to her.  But there was no tale- tale hole where she had been, just the smooth dry ground.  Turnip and I talked about it and soon realized that we had not been watered in several weeks and were slowly losing our ability to stand. Tiny flowers were beginning to bloom on our leaves, a sure sign we were heading back to seed.

Then the unthinkable happened.  Turnip disappeared and I was suddenly alone.

And then I saw them.  New sprouts beginning to emerge.  I was only able to stay alive from the trickles of water allowed by their stingy runoff.  As I slowly wilted, I watched them grow tall and strong.  Soon they covered the entire garden.

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Poetry from Vijay Nair

Love a conundrum


She is my Conundrum

Of the existence of love;

Spurious in nature; a spunky

Squalid she; longs no love

Squaddie me a spurned lover


Cooked up with old coon; her

Copper-bottomed scheme

Copulation a game for fame

Bestows her as best-seller

Her bestiality get in woe betide


Copiously bleeding my soul

When defeated not in war,

Young indeed my Love a debt

Old weapon his strong; a wealth

Kills me off slowly slowly…


©-Vijay P Nair -2017

Poem from Rui Carvalho

Flower Reborn (In Pedrógão)

Stubborn; As only a woman knows how to be.
Knowledgeable; As only a Goddess knows how to be.
Feminine and beautiful among the black of death,
reborn, alive, dependent on strength and not on luck.

Beautiful is your strength that gives color to the Morning.
Sunrise agape renewing Hope.
And the wind packs it, shrouded in gray dust,
that everything around him contemplates her Dance.

It is she, the Flower, who rises on the mountain,
Again, to prove that, who sowed her, was right  …
To prove that a Goddess looks at us from the front:
without fear, despite the lives the wind took.

Slowly the human work is reborn in its surroundings,
but agile to the rhythm of green Grace,
it rises faster than all,
and sharp fits the future: Dull paint.

Goddess of the Morning, clothed with Hope,
dance in Grace; It balances in the air its Braid.

by Rui M.


This poem is spiritual and feminist to honor Janine Canan, a feminist writer from California.
Pedrógão is a locality in Portugal where 64 people died this June
during a wild fire.
This and other poems will be in a new book, Pieces of Hope (in English,
Portuguese and Spanish).
For more info about the book contact

Poetry from Rajnish Mishra

Sic semper [evello mortem] tyrannis


‘Still waters run deep’.


Clichés are good to begin a poem with.

I love justice and hate tyranny.

I love justice more than

I love my country, its people, my people, fame or wealth.

Sometimes, truth sounds clichéd.


Quid est veritas?


At first it seems not easy,

not quite, but then, as it’s natural to kill, so natural,

in fact, that they need to write,

sometimes on stone, sometimes on paper:

‘Thou shalt not kill!’


Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.


He rose high, and masses called him God.

He’s not alone, but caput gone triumvirate kaput.

It’s unnerving to feel within – a fierce, feral,

beast, unnamed and ferocious, rise and fill

all the space up under the skin

of a citizen: civilized, harmless and tamed.


Hoi polloi


The masses, sheep, sons and daughters of apes,

imitate, submit, follow and yield liberty

to tyrants, despots, usurpers with power,

for their patch of pasture or bunch of bananas.


‘But here I am to speak what I do know’


I am an honorable man, not a butcher.

You are an honorable man, no accomplice.

We are all honorable and good men.

They are not honorable.


Ehyeh asher Ehyeh.


You are what you are,

and masses are ‘them’, not ‘us’.

Strangely though, it’s them, not you,

who lust for blood tonight, my blood.

Bloodthirsty sheep? Lion-apes? Always?


‘Fearful symmetry’


Tiger’s fire is sheep’s death.

Thy blood my brother bought death for me;

Thy blood ‘cries out’ to them ‘from the soil’

brings vengeance, seven fold,

Insane at night, sane at dawn.

No, Caesar never cried ‘Et tu Brute’,

nor I ‘Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis’.


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