Synchronized Chaos’ August Submissions


by Inez Romanescu
Eyes of desire
Radiating love so strong
It tans my skin
Warms chilled bones
Too selfish of me
To keep for myself
A flowerless man
Rejected and declined
Tries to capture
Food and comfort
Ultimately to find
Joy in that look
Men lit by monitors
Feeds of convenience
Posting ads on sites
Desperately searching
For ocular glow
Little girl abused
Grown up broken, now
Sassy cynic, still
Vulnerable to that look
If she finds it
I’ve done nothing
More deserving than they
But your love lit here
I, made diamond bright
Reflect facets for those
Needing a sparkle


— Inez Romanescu


your coat of sugar is long gone
that trail of poison is so evident, don’t make me tell you another time
i can’t have succubus
i can’t have judah
i can’t have cling-on
i can’t have slime
gnash your teeth all you like you are
not going to infiltrate my life
go wrap those claws around another specimen
we are done here

and here is another little short sample:

i am falling like an empire
i am starting to enjoy that sensation of falling. leaves
rain love
these things are good
and they fall
i will ride a sun beam
all the way the bottom

and here is a little piece that i wrote about gender:

i want to wear lipstick 
and blush and eye liner
and thick gobs of mascara
really caked on
then wipe it all off and
fuck your beauty standards i am
fabulous with out face paint
i want to wear baby doll dresses
under trenchcoats with
a top hat
and 3 days stubble
commando of course
i like my hair short so
when i go out in my tight tight jeans and
pretty scarves and ambiguous shoes
 people see me from
behind they don’t really
know what to expect they
could think im a dyke
or a girly man
or something else
or or or.
i like it this way
i like it this way
hard to define
someone on the bus
said what is he
what are you

— D.B. Smith, free verse poet


But boy,
i sense your presence but why don’t you see me?
i feel like crying, yet my eyes are dry.
You always said no one was there,
But i was,
acting as a shadow,
walking behind you..

A photo can say a thousand things
your face always has me stoned,
and i was always, as usual, lost for words.
But i believe a photo could show a story of who we were,
but do you still remember me? (i hoped)

Father, father were you ever there?
i sense your presence everywhere.
I tried to dream of you, really hard.
But sometimes they say,
people try to hard,
yet get nowhere

I wished, there was a bridge between you and me.
That i don’t have to be dead to cross over.

Surrounded by people but truly so alone
People going and coming,
Losing myself bit by bit,
in this world full of ugliness
Its no wonder why people nod and agree.
why dying could be a bliss.

Time can heal a broken heart,
time can nurse a wound as well.

but why couldn’t time allow me to forget you?
& time should also,
let me be at rest,
and let this pain,
slowly walk away.

 Dreams were dreamt
yet they were dashed,
since everyone knew no one was perfect,
why bother?

 Fiona Soh – writer from Singapore, her work is available here:


Dorothy Hickson

Odysseus, come lash me to the mast
That burns priapic on the deck – make taut
The ropes; secure me ’til the danger’s past.
I have no safeword; every word is fraught.


Faintly begin the raptor maiden moans –
Now keep the rudder straight, and rowers pull!
Lest sunken wrecks and coral-coated bones
Scuttle my ragged clause and hole your hull.


The deafened seamen toil fore and aft
Past monstrous hybrids singing, each to us –
It’s too late to reverse this fragile craft,
So lash me to your mast, Odysseus!


I need the Sirens’ music in my ears
More than I need to be the one who steers


Dorothy Hickson is a writer and yoga junkie living in Columbia Heights, D.C. She has a day-job proofreading radio transcripts and scribbles madly on the subway. You can go to for a few more scraps of her writing. She is currently seeking a publisher for her first novel.



Fran Laniado is a graduate of Bard College. She’s had several day jobs, but writing is her passion. Her work has appeared in publications including Verse Noir, Pure Talent Online,, and New Works Review. She is honored to be a part of Synchronized Chaos.

The Smell of Onions


 Fran Laniado


Fran Laniado is a graduate of Bard College. She’s had several day jobs, but writing is her passion. Her work has appeared in publications including Verse Noir, Pure Talent Online,, and New Works Review. She is honored to be a part of Sychronized Chaos.

Lucia hated onions. She hadn’t always. She could faintly remember a time in her childhood, when the smell of her mother cooking onions was a comforting, pleasant sensation. But it had been warm then. The onions were not cold but spiced with the secrets of her mother’s recipe. That had been when she was a child. When she still saw them as food- as a mere vegetable and not the bane of her existence.

             Her hatred had developed over the course of the past eighteen months, working with them; unloading them from the picker’s crates and loading them into the boxes in which they would be shipped to the markets. Working twelve to fourteen hours a day, her eyes had finally stopped tearing up, but the smell had seeped into all of her clothing. It had invaded her pores. No matter how much she scrubbed in the tiny cold shower that her employer provided her and Pedro with, she couldn’t rid herself of the subtlest remnants of its reek.


            I wasn’t supposed to be like this. She was supposed to have been back in Mexico six months ago. Her and Pedro together. Pedro had left their home in central Mexico two and a half years ago to make some money in the states. Their goal was to build their own cinder block house, so that they could finally move out of his parents home. Once he found work, he would send for Lucia to join him. With both of them working they could reach their goal faster. Within a year perhaps.  Perdro’s parents would look after the children until they returned home. It was taking far longer than expected.

            Juan, their first born was now four yours old- he had just begun speak in complete sentences when she left. Maria, Pedro had never even seen. He’d left when Lucia was eight months pregnant. Lucia had crossed the border as soon as Maria was old enough to be weaned. 

            She was able to call home once every two weeks. She spoke to Pedro’s parents, made sure that the children were healthy. She spoke to the children as well, but they couldn’t remember her. To them, “Mother” and “Father” were the strange faces in the wedding photograph that their grandparents showed them regularly. “Parents” were the disembodied voices that occasionally emerged from the far end of a telephone line. Thinking that her babies didn’t know her, that her husband had never even seen his daughter brought Lucia to the verge of tears. Better not to think of it at all.


            Saturday morning began much like any other. At five a.m. her alarm clock went off. Perdro had already left to work all the daylight hours in the fields. Lucia got dressed, and combed her hair. She showered at night, because she couldn’t sleep with the smell of onions on her- she insisted Pedro do the same.

            As she brushed her teeth she studied her face in the mirror. She was still beautiful, but not the laughing, radiant girl who’d first caught Pedro’s eye. Now her long brown hair was always tied up. Since she had been here, the sun no longer streaked her locks and  it evolved into a duller color than it once was. Her face looked as if it had carried more than her twenty four years. It wasn’t immediately obvious. The lines around her eyes and across her forehead were light. But they were new. Several months ago her skin had been smooth. She’d lost her shapely curves and her skin clung to her bones. As she fingered her face she could see the faintest outline of her skull. It was a wonder Pedro still professed to love her. She was no longer the girl he’d married.

            The packing house was not heated. The heating was turned off at the beginning of March, so she had to bundle herself up in layers to brave the thirty degree temperature. By six, her workday had begun.

            The onions came in and she picked them from the bushel with her gloved hands

and pack them. She knew she still had another hour of boredom. Soon after that her mind would divorce itself from her actions, and they would become automatic. She wouldn’t think about anything. On her optimistic days she considered this a form of meditation that got her through the day. On bad days, she felt as if her brain had simply been numbed, and that if it went on for too long she would never be able to think again.                                                                                                                                    

            This is how Lucia got through her days. She sometimes tried to imagine how Pedro got through his. They never discussed this, never spoke about the tiny room atop their employer’s garage that they both lived in, that was cold in the winter and hot in the summer. When they got into bed each night they never mentioned that they had worked a twelve hour day. This silence was an unspoken vow that began a year and a half ago when she had joined him in upstate New York



             The voice stopped her. She did not know how long she’d been working.

            Her boss, Mr Wellis had just done the one thing that she prayed that he would never do. For as long as she’d been here she’s seen Mr.Wellis make advances towards several of the fifty or so women that he employed. He payed them only a few dollars an hour, put them up in houses that were barely livable and made money off their labor. Occasionally he wanted more. If the woman he looked at complied with his wishes, she was his mistress for several months- until he tired of her. Her husband (most of the women she worked with were married) was forced to look the other way. She’d only seen one woman refuse, and she’d never seen that woman again.

            “Hello.” She responded.

            “I’d like to speak to you for a moment.” He said. “Come with me, it’s freezing in here.”

            Then keep the heat on, Lucia thought. He spoke fast and she struggled to understand him. She spoke English fairly well, she had learned it in school, but she had trouble when people spoke it too fast.

            He led her to a nearby building, where he had his office. She didn’t want to follow him, but she even as her mind rushed to think of an excuse, she knew it was futile. When they were in his office he held the door open for her, then closed it behind her, keeping his arm up the whole time, so she couldn’t fully enter the room. She stood backed up against the door.

            Lucia tried to look into the room behind her. She couldn’t see much beyond the fake wood paneling and a plaid sofa that looked as old as she was. He began to stroke her face.

            Amazing, she thought,  that he made no pretense of seduction. In his eyes she was his property and he was simply making use of her. As he moved his arm behind her and began to stroke her buttocks she ducked under his other arm, and pulled away from him.

            “I need to go to the bathroom,” she exclaimed.

            “What?” He looked as if he couldn’t believe his ears. Lucia would have thought it comical if she wasn’t so frightened. 

            “I’m sorry,” she sputtered. “But I just really have to go. Where is it?”

            Silently he led her through the office and into the small restroom. From the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of a framed portrait of Mr. Wellis, with his wife and his two sons. The farm was a family operation. In a newspaper article on the farm, Mr. Wellis had bragged that three generations of his family work the farm; his father, his sons and himself. The article made no mention of the hundreds of migrant workers they employed.

            Inside the small room Lucia turned on the bare lightbulb, put the lid over the toilet seat and sat down, her head between her hands. On her way here she hadn’t been sure what she was going to do. Now she knew. She’d known as soon as Mr. Wellis had started to touch her. She couldn’t go through with it. God help her.

            It wasn’t just that she loved Pedro- though she did of course, and she wanted to be faithful to him. She wished with all her heart that she could say that was the reason. But it wasn’t. Quite simply, the man repulsed her. She hated the belly that hung over his belt, the hair that grew from her nose and ears, the smell of onions that clung to him heavily, so that when he got close to her she had to hold her breathe.

            What kind of terrible mother was she? If she refused him she’d be fired. He’d probably have her deported. She wouldn’t be able to earn the money to pay for their welfare, for her children. If she did as he asked, perhaps she’d make more, she’d get home faster. But the thought made her stomach turn.

            She took several gulps of air. She flushed the toilet and ran the water for a moment, so he’d think she’d gone to the bathroom. Then she opened the door.

            As Mr. Wellis made his way toward her she said in a low voice. “I can’t do this.”

            He lifted his eyebrows in amazement. “Excuse me?”

            “I’m married.” She held up her left and showed him the small silver band on her third finger as evidence.

            “You think I give a shit?” He stuttered, turning red. “Do you know what I can do to you.”

            There was nothing Lucia could say. “I’m sorry. I can’t. I’ll leave by tonight.”

            She had almost made it to the door when she felt one meaty hand clamp over her mouth, and the fingers of the other clasp her across her body. “This isn’t your decision to make,” Mr. Wellis whispered in her ear.

                                                                   * * *

            Twenty minutes later Lucia zipped her coat up over her torn clothing and ran for her small garage top room. She’d been told to go back to work, but she would never go back. She quit. But even as she ran she didn’t know what they would do. If she would go home to the children. If Pedro would stay here. If Perdro would be angry at Mr. Wellis. If Pedro would be angry at her…                                 


            Mr. Wellis hadn’t hit her in the face, but when she stepped into the shower she saw the bruises all over her body. No matter how hard she scrubbed they wouldn’t come off. They had become as permanent as the smell of onions.

            The smell had to go away. She couldn’t bear it. In desperation, she scrubbed until all the skin on the body was raw, red, and bleeding in places. She was sitting on the floor of the stall, when Pedro had come in, prying the soap from her finger, pulling her out of the frigid water. As she climbed out of the shower, even after she’d scrubbed away several layers of skin, she could still smell the faintest whiff of it when she moved.


                                                                * * *

            It was a little after eight when Pedro finally got home, exhausted. As usual, the first thing he did was take a shower, after he’d pulled her out. She sat on the bed and waited for him to get out.

            When he entered he must have known something was wrong. Lucia had been lying on the floor of te shower stall scrubbing rapidly, pink blood mingling with the suds. He’d carried her our of the shower to the bed, and wrapped her in some blankets. “We’ll talk when I get out of the shower”, he said and left her.

            When Pedro got out of the shower he sat down on the bed and picked up a newspaper, propping the pillow up behind his head. He wasn’t ignoring her. He was waiting for her to speak. To tell him what was wrong.

            In the years that Lucia had known Pedro, she learned that he didn’t speak unless he had something to say. Everything else he communicated with gestures, with the expressions on his face. He was an eternally serene man, but his mind was always active. Since they’d married Lucia had learned to read Pedro’s face, to guess what he was thinking. But at times he still puzzled her.

            “We have to talk about something,” she said, when Pedro had settled down.

            He put his newspaper down, indicating that she had his full attention.

            “I can’t stay here anymore. Do we have the money to go home?”

            Pedro sighed. He knew that she wasn’t happy here. Who would be? He was unhappy also. “In a few months, hopefully, we will.”

            Lucia climbed on the bed and sat in front of him. “No,” She said. “We have to leave now. Mr. Wellis will make us leave anyway. Well, me anyway. He said he wants me gone by tomorrow.”

            Pedro sat up straighter, indicating his concern, his recognition of the seriousness of the situation.

            Lucia knew she had to tell him. She willed her face to be as impassive as Perdro’s. “He raped me.” She cursed herself as her eyes started to sting. She would be crying any minute. She had always worn her emotions on her face, struggling to keep her dignity.  There was no use now. “Today, in his office. Afterwards he said he never wanted to see me again, and I wasn’t going to live off of him.”

            “Get up,” said Pedro.

            Lucia obeyed, for some reason. She’d never heard that tone in Pedros’ voice. So she stood by and watched as he beat the bed. He threw punches at the pillows, kicked the legs, punched the mattress, the springs screaming their resistance. He shouted obscenities and murmured them when he ran out breathe and sat down on the bed, exhausted. Finally, he looked up at Lucia.

            “Are you hurt?” he asked.

            For a moment she wondered if he was referring to pain from her rape, or some kind of misplaced pain from her assault on the bed. Either way she shook her head in response. 

            “I’m sorry about that,” he said. Now she could tell he was referring to the bed.

            Lucia didn’t know what to say, so she shrugged.

            “You’re right. We have to leave.” He said.

            “Can we get home?”

            He nodded. “We’ll have to cross the border again. It’ll be dangerous.”

            “Will it be as dangerous going back?”

            Now it was Pedro’s turn to shrug. “I don’t know, maybe not. It doesn’t matter, we’ll do it either way. Start to pack.”


            Lucia packed their bags as Pedro counted their savings. There was enough to get them to the border, and a little bit  more. They wouldn’t be able to build their house. They’d have to find some other way.  

            “I want to kill him.” Pedro said on the way to the bus stop.

            “What if we go to the police?” Lucia knew she shouldn’t have showered, but she hadn’t been thinking about the police then.

            “We’ll be deported.”

            “We’re leaving anyway. Isn’t that like a free trip home?”

            He shook his head. “It’s too risky. Deigo told me there was a guy from Mexico City who they deported to Puerto Rico. It’s all the same to them.”


            Lucia lay in her bed next to Pedro. Unable to sleep she listened to the sound of his parents, snoring softly in the next room. She fought the urge to get up and look in on the children. She would probably just frighten them.

            They hadn’t known her and Pedro when they’d arrived this afternoon. She hadn’t expected them to, but it was still painful. Perdro’s parents introduced them as “those nice people you talk to on the telephone every week.” The children had warmed up to them a little but still treated them as guests. It would be a long time before they became a family. Or maybe not so long, Lucia thought. With children everything seems to happen so fast. Already they were so grown up.

            Yesterday Pedro has called his parents from one of the many bus stops and told the that to expect him and Lucia the following day. He hadn’t explained why they were home. He would have to soon though. People would ask questions.

            When she had been working in New York, Lucia hadn’t had time to think before sleep. She’d been too tired. In the past few days she’d learned that thinking in itself can make one tired. She curled up closer to Pedro, and felt her mind begin to loosen its hold on consciousness. As she held onto Pedro her last thought before sleep was that his skin still held the smell of onions.  


Fran Laniado is a graduate of Bard College. She’s had several day jobs, but writing is her passion. Her work has appeared in publications including Verse Noir, Pure Talent Online,, and New Works Review. She is honored to be a part of Synchronized Chaos.