Synchronized Chaos November 2017: Embracing Change in a World in Flux

Lighthouse - photo by Ben Salter

Lighthouse – photo by Ben Salter

Our world, on a small and large scale, is constantly in flux.

Many things around us are more complex than we realize, even our own psyches. Several contributors illustrate people’s extensive, often nonlinear, thoughts, reflecting the identities we are constantly creating and forming.

Xuan Ly’s prose and poetry points out how much goes on behind the scenes in people’s minds. Jaylan Salah reviews Jim Jarmusch’s film Paterson, about a bus driver with a penchant for composing poetry inside his head during his long silent workdays. Luna Acorcha’s short story crafts a mental dreamscape of words and images that don’t make literal sense but flow well and fit for the story. Sequoia Hack’s poetry outlines her trip to China like an itinerary of experiences.

J.D. DeHart’s work plays fast and loose, in a serious and thoughtful way, with truth and memory. In his pieces, speakers dream and lose their dream-selves, retrace their past thoughts, get disillusioned, and inevitably hold back their true selves. There’s a gap between perception and truth, or simply between different perceptions.

Our thoughts, and our selves, are shaped by our personal and collective pasts. Some of these influences offer stability, others not so much.

Vijay Nair honors mothers and the nurturing archetype of motherhood, while Richard Slota’s novel Stray Son, reviewed here by Christopher Bernard, portrays a completely dysfunctional family whose problems began with a mother’s wrong actions.

Stray Son conveys real psychological insights through fantastical plot elements. As Bernard points out, sometimes we have to look away from something intense in order to be able to understand it without getting overwhelmed, and the ghostly storyline allows us to stomach the character’s experiences and grasp what he needs in order to heal.

Elizabeth Hughes’ monthly Book Periscope column highlights a title concerning history (Storm Over South Africa, Michael Bergen’s memoir of his family’s life during South Africa’s pre-apartheid Boer Wars). Other books Hughes reviews deal with recreating oneself or one’s world (My Name is Tom, Jon Reeves’ tale of a British vinyl record collector who sells, then seeks to regain, his vast array of music, Boston Darkens, Michael Kravitz’ story of a family of Midwestern transplants who help an East Coast city rebuild after a devastating electromagnetic attack, and Supremacy, K.M. Lovejoy’s novel where a man desperate to save his life falls under the control of a dominatrix with her own agenda).

The play Multiverse, as reviewed by Cristina Deptula, grapples with how to create a better and fairer world, and poses the question of whose ideals and values will define the shape of that better universe. Humor, love, thought and satire guide our astronauts as they explore various other potential worlds to reach their destinations.

And Kaia Hobson leaves us with a gentle, poignant picture of parenthood, trimming a child’s bangs and then having to let go of that task.

Along with our psyches, our natural and social worlds and our personal relationships are unpredictable.

Trust Tonji writes of troubled relationships, feelings and interactions that masquerade as love. Mahbub offers up various vignettes illustrating the various emotions of life – romance, sorrow, being stuck and frustrated, rejection. The economic ecosystem in which businesses operate can be as precarious as the natural world Lauren Ainslie describes, full of fantastical, dreamlike images of predation, death and danger. And T. Haven Morse contributes a set of haikus on evolution in nature.

While the past, and the external world, influence our psyches, we still have some ability to choose how we respond to life’s uncertainties.

Several authors plead with us not to react with fear and violence. Vijay Nair’s piece Bleeding Kashmir bemoans the warfare in the province between India and Pakistan, and Siraj Sabuke cries out similarly against intolerance and murder among different ethnic groups in Nigeria and against abuse within families. Yusuf BM underscores that violence is a choice and that we have control over our behavior, if not always our circumstances.

Christopher Bernard’s third excerpt from his cerebral and emotional novel Amor I Kaos further explores the existential choices we make between isolating despair and caring relationships with the people closest to us. Love starts in our hearts and minds, when we decide it’s worthwhile to care for another person.

We can survive change by working with it, letting our identities be shaped by being able to adapt and stay resilient.

J.J. Campbell’s pieces are about simply moving forward, not expecting too much of life and not fighting battles from the past. Elements of Jeonguei Son’s paintings, as she explains in an artist statement, represent aging, new growth, and stability through those metaphorical seasons of life. Joan Beebe evokes the harvest moon as she describes the renewal that can come as the season changes to autumn.

They suggest that we can overcome the fear of change and loss not through not by trying to force the world to stay the same, but by weathering every season and becoming wiser through the experience.

We hope that this issue will leave you wiser, stronger, and more peaceful. Enjoy!

Cristina Deptula reviews Ragged Wing Ensemble’s Multiverse at Oakland’s Flight Deck Theater


“People do not seem to realise that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.”

– Lillian Smith
Transcontinental sailing voyages, rafts crossing the Pacific, submarine voyages to the ocean depths, treks to the North and South Poles, and now the space program. Some people in every society seem to want to explore, escape, head off somewhere else in the hope of finding something better, or at least something new and different.
However, wherever we go, we bring ourselves. Our unspoken assumptions, values, hopes and dreams about how the world should be. So, with that, how can we create a better society that is more welcoming, kinder and fairer to each of its members? Is there really something ‘else’ out there we can find or build?
The two lead characters of Ragged Wing Ensemble’s new play Multiverse, Yin and Zee, head off in spacesuits towards many alternate universes in search of a better world.

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Christopher Bernard reviews Richard Slota’s historical novel Stray Son



Stray Son

A novel

by Richard Slota

Rainbowdash Publishers


A review by Christopher Bernard


Not every writer exploring the family drama in its more harrowing manifestations—in this case, one so horrendous it might seem like a morbid delusion yet may reflect the experiences of more families than one would like to believe—has invented an ingenious way to handle it that makes it endurable, human and even funny without softening its awfulness. But, in his first novel, poet and playwright Richard Slota has achieved this very remarkable thing.

Tales so terrible must often be cloaked in deep fantasy to be faced at all; their starkness is too hard to look at directly—like staring directly at the sun, it can make you unable to see anything else again.

Slota’s solution has been to concoct, amid a crew of intriguing eccentrics, a brilliantly imaginative fantasy, blended with a dash of dark humor and unexpected displays of lyricism, to explore his gothic family horrors.

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Christopher Bernard’s serial novel Amor i Kaos

Christopher Bernard’s novel Amor I Kaos: Installment 4


—But they are. Even beyond the last hope of imagining. For example: ecstatic redemption. Love given, love received, in mutual rhythms of thrill and calm. Freedom without despair. Youthfulness without stupidity or disintegration. A quiet doom. Those fledglings out of the pocket of whatever had been lost without any hope of being found. Though it seems to be too much to ask for. In its own demented and almost criminal heat.             —Well. One always lives several lives in parallel, you slip between them, one to the other, fragments that never quite bind into a completely satisfying whole. So we lie to ourselves via the cerebral cortex, medulla, amygdala, brain stem, the requirements of grammar, and our various talents, such as they are, for story-telling, until the whole thing seems to hang together, More or less.

—Like Lincoln’s assassins.

—The truth (ignoring the cocky provocation) being too much of an appalling and humiliating mess to be borne, it’s quite beneath our dignity. Lincoln indeed.

—So I take what I can use and …?

—… and lock the rest in a back cupboard. Never throw any of it away, of course, you never know when it will become handy. But for heaven’s sake, don’t take it seriously, it will make you suicidally depressed, and what is depression but a pointless sorrow, one that does not even let you weep. And tears are sorrow’s gift, its peculiar pleasure. No. Keep truth under a strong hand and never let it forget who is the boss. You . . .


—No. Let me repeat. Keep truth, etc., never let it, etc., who is the boss. Full stop. This side transcendence.

—And what is that, Herr Professor, she asked innocently. Not truth?

He looked at her evasively.

—Again, no. An old and terrifying yet reassuring dream of what might be if only we could shape the world’s anarchy into something like the heart’s enchantment.             Though that was not what you had said.

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Poetry from Joan Beebe

Fall, A Time of Harvest 
Fall, a time of harvest,          
 scarecrows in fields of corn.
The moon is bright and full with
Dark clouds moving slowly across making
It a bewitching sight to behold.
There is an aura of magic in the season–
A time of change!
Leaves now have colors of red, yellow and orange;
They fall sometimes in a whirlwind of beauty.
Scented smoke rises from chimneys–
Pumpkins appear in front of homes and
Red and juicy apples are ready to eat.
Apple pies are seen, not only in stores but
Along roadways, with signs urging you to purchase
Their delicious home-made pies.
The sun is shining and warm most days,
But the air is cool and crisp bringing
Energy and pleasure as we behold the beauty of this season!

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Poetry from Siraj Sabuke

i eat night.

i eat night as would a child a hundred year hungry
to quicken the arrival of dawn for he is the chariot
that brings my mother home from the abattoir father calls room
we are three children ‘in my father’s house’

i the oldest is twelve. what kills me at home
is my blossoming fear for my ten year old sister
as if fertilized, her breasts are so ample
she looks like the 17 year old girl next door

i fear for my sister because when i was 6
i fell upon father profusely sweating
on a girl 2 years  older than me, her breasts
are hardly three fingerful: thumb middle-finger forefinger

he stays away from home sometimes 9 months
when at home, he leaves before dawn
with nothing for mother to keep us
breathing and comes back deep in the night
drunk to fuck patience out the remains of life
from our hungry mother

but strange it is
that i see me preferring night to day
i love night and her darkness
because when she embraces earth
she becomes the nikaab
in which my mother
hides the wrinkles of sorrow
eating the fruits of beauty off her face

and here is my fear:
one day, i will wake up an orphan
protecting his second sister in this world
peopled by uncertain beings
because that day my mother will come home
find her husband fucking beauty
out of her 10 year old daughter, his daughter
with sorrow overflowing from her heart
she will attack him
he drunk, will fight back
bring out the knife he always carries around his waist
push my sister smashing her head on the wall
and then stab mother to death

and i will grab my 6 year old sister
run away, seeking path in this wilderness

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Poetry from Sequoia Hack

Experiencing China


你好 。欢迎你们来中国。

Nǐ hǎo. Huānyíng nímen dào zhōngguó.

Hello, and welcome to the People’s Republic of China.

Today, the temperature outside will be ninety-five degrees and there will eighty-seven percent humidity in the air.

Head left to go to metro.

Head right to go to Chang’an Avenue.


To celebrate the end of middle school, my family and I went on a trip to China. The trip started in Hong Kong.

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