Synchronized Chaos August 2019: Stories, Under Construction

Welcome, readers, to August’s issue of Synchronized Chaos Magazine!

We have an announcement from Tabitha Grace Challis, the writing and media professional who designed our original website back in 2008. She and her husband are in the process of adopting a child from Eastern Europe. This past summer, they hosted a teenage boy “K” who they fell immediately in love with. The opportunities for K in his home country are very slim and most orphans have little or no chance to build a life after they’re released from the orphanage at 16. Since there are a lot of costs involved with international adoption the family is fundraising to support this new phase in all three of their lives! People are able to contribute here.

This month we open the hood and watch narratives in progress, put together by a variety of storytellers.

Available free here: https://giphy.com/gifs/personal-YPXKpdSNR26bu

Some contributors reveal the subconscious through their pieces. Ken Dronsfield writes of memories and dreamtime, with poems that share vignettes and impressions from childhood. Mark Young joins together words and phrases from mathematics, culture and technology, allowing them to flow in streams that seem to connect on a pre-cognitive level. Amlanjyoti Goswami’s new poetry collection River Wedding, reviewed here by Cristina Deptula, incorporates literal streams and rivers as a motif and a metaphor for the movement of characters through both time and space.

No matter how far they migrate from each other, for educational or personal reasons, Goswami’s characters retain their familial tenderness and caring. This reminds us that what we see in life, the narrative we choose to create, depends as much on who we are and who we choose to be as it does on the world around us.

Some contributors demonstrate the power of our words, and our priorities, to shape our understanding and our actions.

Denis Emorine’s novel Death at Half-Mast, also reviewed by Cristina Deptula, presents a professor protagonist who exists in the uneasy middle between personal identities. He reaches a crisis point when he must make a choice that has huge consequences, not just for himself but for those around him. 

Henry Bladon points out the potential long-lasting negative psychological effects of words shaming and dehumanizing someone who unfortunately happens to share my first name. Sylvia Ofoha shows how deception destroys intimate relationships, even when love is present, and Chimezie Ihekuna argues that financial security should not be the only criteria for marriage.

In a more positive light, Norman J. Olson illuminates how his personal interest in oil painting leads him to notice the craft that has gone into the works he sees at museums abroad and makes those experiences all the more enlightening. Michael Brownstein’s travel pieces also reflect some prior knowledge of the diverse locales he visits, as he can identify the local flora and fauna.

Jaylan Salah writes about film director Ibrahim Fakhr, highlighting his role in crafting characters, and archetypes, over time.

Several contributors explore the creation of cultural and political narratives, and what happens when these clash.

Sometimes that happens when diverse groups of people come into contact with each other. Patricia Doyne contributes poems about refugees on the US southern border that explore how different framings of the issue affect how those people are viewed and treated. Geoffrey Heptonstall uses an incident of theft to probe issues related to survival, tourism, human rights, and law in a world with large wealth disparities. Judge Santiago Burdon probes a dilemma minorities can face once they gain greater social and cultural acceptance: what to do with a dominant cultural narrative that defines you in terms of your marginalization and struggles rather than letting you define yourself as a full and complete human being.

Other writers present work that reflects and conveys their worldview as well as their poetic sensibility. Pesach Rotem writes of groups of people coming together to take mass action, celebrating direct democracy. While each person may be mortal, groups can make lasting changes. Judge Santiago Burdon gives a ground-level perspective on rioting as a method of bringing attention to marginalization and injustice decades ago in Chicago, and on the plight of individual people caught up in the situation.

Daniel DeCulla uses earthy humor and the language of faith to refocus the attention concerning environmental sustainability issues while celebrating nature’s less traditionally aesthetic aspects.

While less openly political, J.J. Campbell points out the disparities that we sometimes see between cultural messages and promises and reality. Just because people say that the world will work a certain way, even when many powerful people affirm it, that does not mean that reality will follow suit.

Three separate authors rework early Old Testament Biblical narratives to make new points. Christopher Bernard draws upon the language of Genesis to illustrate a potential re-creation, a path forward for humanity away from destruction and towards cooperation. Dipe Jolaade rewrites the creation story to critique humanity’s weaknesses, while Doug Hawley adds to the ‘historical record’ in academic style to suggest that the paths our ancestors followed may not be our only option as a species.

Allison Grayhurst graces us with an epic faith-inspired journey of surrender, growth made possible by releasing the self and the past.

Our lives, as most narratives, contain a mixture of joy and loss, growth and despair, beauty and tragedy.

Indunil Madhusankha’s selected poems reverberate with the energy of kittens and puppies, yet in the next breath bring the tragedies of lost love and deaths due to terrorist and military violence. The official narratives of why the loss of life was worth it, whether from the government or the terrorist organization, bring scarce comfort to the grieving families. As in J.J. Campbell’s pieces, cultural messages don’t always trickle down to people’s personal lives.

Michael Robinson mourns the loss of his mother in a set of tightly crafted, elegiac vignettes. Mahbub celebrates the inspiration and renewal that he finds in nature, and grieves the urbanization of the landscapes he loves. Kahlil Crawford celebrates new birth with a photo of baby hummingbirds in a nest out his window.

From JanellRardon.com

We hope that the sight of them, along with other glimpses of hope, will inspire you to read through and savor this issue.

Short story from Judge Santiago Burdon

Chicago My Hometown 
I was in Chicago Grant Park 1968 when Mayor Daley let loose his army of Chicago Gestapo on the crowd of protesters that late summer afternoon. A buddy and I along with another High School acquaintance that I didn’t care for, thought it would be entertaining to attend the demonstration.
There were mobs of long haired scruffy Hippies and also some referring to themselves as Yippies; the Youth International Party with a pig named Pigasus as their leader and also a candidate running for President.  The crowd assembled in Grant Park that summer afternoon were enthusiastic and quite passive. They didn’t appear to be aggressive fostering only one item on their agenda, just a contingency of young adults voicing their protest as a group against the Vietnam War. I remember feeling as though I didn’t fit in because my hair wasn’t as long as I would have preferred ( father issues). Couldn’t imagine anyone would take me seriously as a dedicatedly  disciple looking so straight.
It was embarrassment enough that I was called “part-time”as a nickname in High Schoool. I was referred to by that nickname because I participated in sports and was dedicated to my studies and academic career which occasionally interfered with social activities . Those activities often were hanging out at the park getting high or creating minor mischief, nothing of grave importance but somehow my group required my attendance. The choice to juggle my studies and my illustrious social life was a decision I implemented on my own. Besides I enjoyed school, it kept me hidden from the scrutinizing eyes of my old man. And sure as hell was more entertaining than getting stoned and making shadow puppet figures on the walls of the park’s bathroom building. Thus the nickname part time hippie which was shortened to just part-time.
We had to park near Soldier Field to get an available parking spot a long way from the event and walked what seemed a punishing distance. Luckily, we entered through an entrance used for volunteers working the gathering and ended up extremely close to the stage. Banners and posters adorned the area, all basically voicing the same Anti- War sentiment. There was one however that captured my attention and I remember to this day with brightly painted flowers popping out of the letters and peace symbols placed were the “O’s”appeared in the message; “We don’t need to have the same dream to live together in the same reality .” I’m not sure why I considered the message so profound. It may have been just that place in time.
Everyone appeared so angry and defiant, with fists raised in the air, “fucking right man, fuck them, you fucking know it brother, we’re fucking with you ” A great amount of “fucks” from the crowd screaming their responses to the speeches. The sentiment on the painted bed sheet seemed in someway out of place and extremely pacifist. The S.D.S were there, Black Panthers, American Indian Movement, Vietnam Veterans Against the War and a new group actively recruiting members called the Weathermen Underground Organization. They didn’t arouse my interest because their name “Weathermen” didn’t sound radical at all. In the years to follow they would prove my assessment of not being radical, a major underestimation and error in judgement.
I had no interest in membership of any group simply put, organized groups were too regimented. I wasn’t able to grasp the concept of rebelling against rules or those conforming to stuctured concepts and the establishment, ‘whoever they were?’ when their guidelines for membership demanded the same set of principles. Besides I was expelled from Boy Scouts so I was aware of my inability to obey directives.
I was hopeful and excited to possibly hear Abbie Hoffman speak with his talent of mesmerizing followers with his descriptive words of inspiration. Instead this dude (That’s correct I wrote Dude) spoke, receiving thundering applause and cheers from the crowd as well as many “fucks.” Jerry Reuben is how he introduced himself, leader of a faction known as Yippies.
He went on for five or ten minutes basically saying nothing that inspired me to do anything and was what I determined as rather boring. I spent the time checking out girls in the crowd. The Chicago summer heat was starting to wear me down so I left my companions to search for a refreshment to cure my thirst. I remembered there was a booth selling fruit juice drinks about a block away. It was then I noticed an extremely large contingency of Chicago Police, Illinois National Guard and United States Army soldiers surrounding the area.
Without any type of verbal command to disburse the troops with clubs drawn, shields and dressed in riot gear began an assault on defenseless attendees. These Sons of Bitches meant business trotting at a hurried pace swinging clubs, punching and kicking downed people relentlessly.
I immediately began to run in the opposite direction into the crowd screaming the “Fucking Pigs are coming! Run! The Pigs are coming!” Some heeded my advice and began a mass exodus others I remembered glared at me in complete disbelief. I recall a few laughing as I ran past. I’m sure a minute or so later there wasn’t anyone laughing.
I made the mistake of running to Michigan Avenue to avoid the onslaught, thinking the action would be isolated to the Grant Park Bandshell area. If there was ever an instance when I shouldn’t have listened to my own advice that was the time. Thousands of others must have heard me giving myself advice and were emptying out into the avenue.
The Police had set up a perimeter along the avenue protecting the Hotels especially The Hilton where Candidates attending the Democratic Convention were staying. Tear Gas, screaming and complete pandemonium ensued as I attempted to make my way to some kind of safe area. I wasn’t aware at the time there was no place of safety available.
The figures in uniform kept coming swinging clubs punching, hand cuffing and pulling kids toward Paddy Wagons. Every time I encountered a Cop I’d scream and point behind me,” They’re over there. Over there! They’re coming from over there! Watch out!” I don’t know what the Hell I was talking about but it served as a temporary distraction that aided in my escape. I was struck only twice once in the back and on my left side which resulted in a large bruise.
I was exhausted from the running, tripping over bodies, being pushed and trampled upon when I’d fall. The Tear Gas was burning the hell out of my eyes and my sweating caused pores to open and my skin became irritated with a incurable firery pain. I was running, dodging, jumping, shoving my way to a different area of battle. Some were throwing rocks and bricks that had been taken from walls surrounding the park. I had arrived at Akeldama field ready to meet my end. Their was no escape.
I tried Roosevelt, Wabash and Harrison streets with devastating results. The Art Institute was only a few blocks away and I thought it might possibly serve as a sanctuary. My companions I considered a lost cause and I’d find some other method to get home if I got out of here alive.
The crowd was running at me as I tried to make my way North. Entering Grant Park again from Michigan Avenue I dodged and weaved in between the wave of scared confused faces, some bloodied being assisted by a comrade leading them back into the Tsunami of violence.
 It was beginning to get dark and lights in the park had been turned off. The street lights on Michigan Avenue and lights from buildings were the only eyes in the darkness. Traffic on LSD (Lake Shore Drive) had been blocked by the hoards escaping the gauntlet earlier. It now was shutdown by the Police roaming the road in Squad Cars with red and blue flashing lights, spotlights trained on the crowd. Buckingham Fountain was also not functional, the colored flood lights surrounding it were cut off. The crowd was thinning which allowed me to stop temporarily at the fountain to dip my face into the water washing away the Tear Gas as well as cleaning my arms of the residue. A fast drink, cupping my hands two or three times then off I ran to the Art Institute.
Bullhorns screamed with Police ordering once dedicated protesters to disburse in a peaceful manner. The directives weren’t being ignored, the Chicago Police and National Guard weren’t allowing the crowd to obey. The beatings and arrests continued without an intermission. The darkness helped me become somewhat undetected except for the occasional spot lights from Police Cars shining their beams on stragglers.
Confrontation had centered on Michigan Avenue where the Police were not going to allow, still a large contingency of determined protesters to disrupt the Democratic Convention. I could see the Art Institute in the obtainable distance walking at a hurried pace but not running so I wouldn’t draw attention to myself. My left side was beginning to throb generating pain, causing me to think a couple of ribs had been fractured.
I reached the Art Institute which was surprisingly devoid of protestors or any type of disturbance. The steps and entrances were protected by Guardsmen that appeared young with expressions of what I interpreted as fear. I took refuge around the back of one of the huge Lion Figures that stand guard in front of The Art Institute. Finally an opportunity to be rested and not arrested.
I could hear voices getting closer with heavy footsteps. “Hey you come away from there! Come on get over here!” Damn, once again as if some cosmic force or omnipotent being was constantly subjecting me to some type of vendetta. I have never possessed the ability, the luck or dispensation to get away with anything my entire life. I would get blamed or accused of incidents I had no part in. And in some cases be reprimanded or punished for committing them. “I’m coming hold on. I’m coming!I surrender.” There stood three Illinois National Guardsmen that had been patrolling the perimeter of the building.
“I was only trying to get someplace safe from the riot . I was not a participant in the…” I attempt to plead my case. “Hey don’t I know you? You’re Carlito’s little brother aren’t you? What are you doing down here?” A guardsman asks. “This kid is like twelve years old. I went to school with his brother. We should probably take him into custody so he doesn’t get hurt.” He declares. Actually I had just turned sixteen the month before, I was extremely small for my age short and baby faced. I wasn’t about to correct the Guardsman concerning my age. “Seriously, what are you doing here? You could have gotten seriously hurt. You’re name is Santi, that’s it. I know your brother Carlito. You remember me?”
“You live on Utica huh? I remember you. You’re Butch Larkin with the motorcycle, right?” “That’s me! Let’s get you outta here.”
I’m escorted by three Guardsmen to a bivouac that has been set up as a communication base. The place is crawling with National Guardsmen some appear to be injured and are receiving Medical attention for cuts most likely from rocks. They lead me into an area with a couple of cots as well as tables and chairs. There’s some big guy yelling into the radio dressed in a uniform straight out of a Hollywood War movie. My escort addresses him as Captain explaining my situation.
“So young man what’s your story? Are you one of these trouble makers? Come on start with your name, address, phone number and who we should contact to come and claim you.” ” Isn’t name, rank and serial number? Give me a pen and paper and I’ll write it down. But I’d appreciate it if you didn’t call my parents. Rather take my chances with the Cops, their beating would be far less than what my old man will dish out.” “What the hell are you doing here? Explain your reason for attending this Anti-American display of disrespect and anarchy. You understand what I’m saying? Cough it up. Tell me!” “I came here with a couple of guys to visit the Museum and Pawn Shops. I’m looking for a Guitar and thought they might have a cheap one. We were gonna screw around then head back on the train to home. I had no idea the Police beating people for no reason was going to take place. I got separated from my buddies and made my way here. That’s it. Now can I go catch the Rock Island and get outta here Captain, please?” “Beating people for no reason. I’m not going to defend the actions of Law Enforcement to a kid. That’s not gonna happen, you’re too young to leave unattended. You’re twelve years old we’re gonna have to turn your smart ass over to the police. Then Social Services will probably take it from there.”
“Hey Captain why do you have to be so mean to me?  I didn’t do anything. If you turn me over to the Cops it makes it look like I did something wrong.”. “Sorry kid dems the rules and we all gotta play by the rules. Now sit over by the table there and don’t get in my way. I’ll call the Police to come and get you in a while. Ya got it?”
“I’m awfully hungry and thirsty can I get a glass of water and some of those donuts please? ” “Are you sure that’s all? Hey Murphy get the kid some water and a couple donuts. On the double. Now I’ve got a riot to contend with. Sit there and make like a good boy.”
This Captain Kiss-My-Ass was beginning to piss me off. I looked around the tent and everyone appeared to be wrapped up in some unimportant task looking so very busy. The donuts were stale and filled with entirely too much sugar but I chowed down on them despite the baker’s poor skills.
“Thanks Captain! I’ve got a question for you! Why aren’t you over in Vietnam fighting the real enemy instead of making war on a bunch of kids? Seems to me that…”
“Why you little smart ass Son of a Bitch who are you to question my service? He interrupts “Larkin get this lil’ bastard the hell out of my sight. Get him outta here. NOW!” Guess I found his hot button. It was however a perfectly valid question. “Come on Santiago follow me double time.” Motorcycle Butch orders. “Where do ya want me to take him Captain? What am I suppose to do with him?” “Find a Cop and hand him over then make it back here. The protestors are being herded this way , we need to set up a flank.” “Yes sir!” “Captain? My mother is a very nice lady. There’s no reason to call her a bitch.” He turns around and throws a partially full Styrofoam cup of coffee at me but ends up dousing a Illinois State Trooper who has just entered. What a surprised expression showed on the Troopers face. “See what you made me do.” Captain Uncourageous screams.
I exit following close behind Motorcycle Butch “Damn kid that was hilarious. You sure got under his skin. Thanks I hate that Son of a Bitch.” Butch continues with his accolades moving through a crowd of Law Enforcement Officers and stragglers left over from the protest. I wonder how long Butch kept talking before he turned around and noticed I had escaped custody.
Harrison St. was fairly empty and accessible as I made my way to the loop then La Salle Street Station and the Rock Island Train south . I just couldn’t get the song out of my head.
“Chicago, Chicago that toddling town
Chicago, Chicago let me show ya around.
You’ll have the time the time of your life
You better carry a gun or a knife
Chicago, my hometown.”

Memoir essay from Norman J. Olson

Minneapolis to Manchester and Port Sunlight (a few years ago)

by:  Norman J. Olson

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Bower Meadow

Mary and I went traveling last week to look at some Victorian and specifically Pre Raphaelite art in North Western England…  winter is a good time of year to travel to England…  the flights are open and the weather is usually kind of crappy so the tourist areas, museums, etc. are not crowded…

the flight was in a huge 767 Boeing jetliner…  I love flying in these big planes…  watching the lights of the Minneapolis area spread out below…  as we head into the clouds…  really beautiful and amazing that we can fly like that…  the flight left on Tuesday evening at about ten p.m. Minnesota time and got to London Heathrow at about noon London time…  I watched the movie Lincoln (I would give it three out of five stars…  ok…  but not great) and slept the rest of  the way…

 

we have some experience with travel in England…  the inter city buses are very cheap, but only if you buy the ticket before hand on-line…  in summer, the cheap fares sell out way ahead of time…  but in winter, they are often available right up until the bus leaves…  it is kind of a pain in the ass system because you have to buy the ticket and then have it sent to a coach station so you can get the paper ticket you need…  unless you have a printer on your computer…  so, we went to Victoria coach station (in central London via their amazing subway system) and found a place in the train station with free wi-fi…  but then did not know where any of the ticketing stations were…  but asking around, we found that the Colonnade Station was right by Victoria coach station, so had the ticket sent there…  big pain in the butt, but the bus fare for two from there to Manchester was only 17 pounds and change (one pound is a buck and a half)…  but the first bus that had the cheap fare did not leave until 5 p.m.  so we got some food and waited in the bus station and ate our delicious baguette sandwiches…

Continue reading

Short story from Judge Santiago Burdon

He Had Something
The phone is ringing ,
I look at the clock and it’s 2:35 a.m. or close to it. I crawl toward the sound in a daze searching for the phone wire in the dark. I locate it and pull, reeling it in like a fish.
I can’t imagine who would be calling me at this hour on my landline. I convince myself it can’t be good news. No one calls at this time to give you good news. Maybe the birth of a baby  but I’m unable to think of any other reason.
“Hello, good morning.”
“Hey is this Santiago? It’s Dasheil, you know your son.”
“Ya Dash it’s Santi, I know you’re my son. What’s going on? Please tell me some good news.
“I need to tell you something and I want you to listen.”
“It’s so important it couldn’t wait until morning? You sound a bit diminished Dash have you been drinking?”
“Ya I’ve been drinking with friends at a party for a Movie Premiere. That has nothing to do with it. Let me explain the reason I called.”
“Go ahead cut to the chase. I’m listening you know you can me anything that’s on your mind.”
“See that’s an example of part of the my problem. You always listen objectively without making  judgments, never voicing a discouraging comment. No matter what my predicament you’re constantly supportive.”
“I’m not sure how this is a problem that warrants an early morning discussion. Have you considered discussing this with your mother?;”
“Just shut up. She’d think I was being dramatic. Listen to me I need to tell you…I’m ‘gay’ and don’t comment with any of your trite witticisms, this is serious. I want you to understand that I’m gay.”
“Dashiel I’ve known of your sexual preference since you were in High School. I never addressed it simply because I didn’t consider important. Secondly it’s no big deal, I was raised Catholic, that’s not an easy thing to contend with your entire life. Now I’m a ‘Recovering Catholic’.”
“There you go with your sarcastic antidotes that only you think are humorous.”
“You have my approval if that’s important to you son.”
“I’m not asking for your approval!
 Will you please just listen to me?”
“Take it easy Arbolito (little tree) No me gritas.  ( Don’t yell at me) Okay I’m listening.”
I head to my bed and fall backward landing on top of Pilgrim my Yellow Labrador Retriever and bunkmate. It causes him to jump up knocking over the lamp and other items on the table next to me.
“Damn it! I’m sorry Pilgrim.” I apologize petting his back.
“Is everything okay? What’s going on?”
“Fell on top of Pilgrim in bed. Hold on a second.”
I set the phone on the floor and walk in the dark to the switch on the wall to turn on the overhead light.
“Ouch!” I scream.
I step on various items in bare feet that had been knocked and broken on the floor. Then I  crawl to the wall and flip the switch.
Pilgrim has commandeered the entire bed lying cross ways on the mattress.
“Hello Dashiel you still there?”
“Yes I’m here. Are you ok?”
“Absolutely dandy. Just being my usual clumsy self. You were saying?”
“The thing is, we were sitting around partying and then everyone began telling stories about personal experiences that happened when they first “came out.” Ya know, told your parents and family you were a homosexual, gay.
Some told stories where they were hit or beaten by their father or brothers. Others told of how entire small towns persecuted, harassed or mocked them.
In one instance, parents sent their son to a sexual reorientation camp to cure him. Mothers cried in disbelief not able to accept the truth. They were disowned, thrown out of their homes, banished.”
“My God that’s horrifying. Shauna and I never considered punishing you for what’s a natural occurrence of birth.  Who you have sex with is your business. We’re blessed to have a son like you, being  the person that you are.  Shauna and I  couldn’t be more pleased with the man you’ve become.”
“And  therein lies the source of my quandary.”
“What? I don’t understand what you’re trying to say Dashiel?”
“I’ve got nothing! Understand, I’ve got nothing! When I was asked to relate my story  I declined saying; I  didn’t want to talk about it. No one is interested in how their parents and family accepted their homosexuality without prejudice. Who wants to hear crap about how my family never treated me with disrespect or disapproved of my lifestyle. Tell them my family knew it wasn’t a choice but a genetic trait.
I feel uncomfortable with expressing my experience. Do you get it? I’ve got nothing!”
“So let me understand. You’re upset with me because I never reacted negatively to your lifestyle?
Hey Dash, if they’re your friends it shouldn’t matter that  your family was  supportive or that you were treated with respect.
Should I be apologizing for having not acted like an jerk?”
” No Santi I’m just  apprehensive  about relating my  experience I guess. I don’t know. Well they’re not all my friends just people from the film industry.”
“Oh really. Since when have you cared about what other people thought about you?  That California mentality is starting to mess with your sense of identity. To hell with those self righteous hipster snobs. If you’re bothered by the truth then make something up. Listen son you’re a Movie Director, you write Screenplays and Television Scripts use your imagination. Make me out to be an ogre, I don’t care.”
“Not sure I’m comfortable with lying.”
“It’s not actually lying , it falls under the category of embellishment. Say I am a bigoted, macho, jerk, I won’t be upset. And if anyone thinks your story is untrue, just say you were testing an idea for a new movie you’re writing. Although, possibly by having said nothing  was actually saying something. You created a mystery by holding back. An experience so traumatic you were unable to talk about it. Understand?”
“Ya that’s it! You’re the best Santi. Thanks man, I knew I could count on you. And thanks for almost creating a great childhood. Don’t get all full of yourself, there are still some things you’re going to have to answer for. I love you Santi.”
“I love yo….” He dial toned me that little brat. Hung up before I could finish my response.
I sit on the bed with the phone receiver still in my hand. I try to make sense of what just happened. Did  Dashiel actually call me to voice his displeasure with my demeanor concerning his homosexuality? He was upset because he didn’t have a horror story to tell his San Francisco hipster friends? What the Hell?  I decide not to attempt to make sense of the reason for his inquisition. I dismiss it as the result of  him being a bit drunk.
The fallout from the earlier fiasco has claimed a small night stand lamp, now in pieces on the floor. A ceramic coffee mug that had been filled with tea, an alarm clock that never rang and ran fast rarely displaying the correct time, all victims cracked and broken. I’ll take care of the mess in the morning.
“Hey Pilgrim are you going to share the bed?”
He pretends to be sleeping , his eyes closed while his tail wags thumping the mattress. I’m not going to wrestle an eighty pound ball of hair out of bed only to be stared at with a sad, pouting expression of disappointment.
” I feel like having a snack.  What do you think buddy?”
 He immediately responds standing and stretching as though he’s not excited about an early morning treat. I suspect otherwise. We’ve been acquainted for eight years and are aware of each other’s idiosyncrasies.
The only request I made in my divorce with Shauna was custody of Pilgrim. We settled on joint custody. I would have him on weekends or when my former wife was out of town or spending time with her boyfriend.
The children I decided were better cared for with Shauna than with a crazy writer and part time father. She is a wonderful mother and much better disciplinarian. The court granted Joint Custody of our two boys and girl. It was never actually enforced. I can’t think of an instance when she denied me spending time with them. holidays, birthdays, school functions we discussed and were usually spent all of us together. The house, car, furniture, TV, stereo system, killer vinyl album collection and antiques I willingly gave to them. I didn’t like the idea of disrupting my children’s  home environment by taking articles I really didn’t need. Although I ended up with a variety of mismatched single socks.
Pilgrim I determined would be better off with me or more so me with him.
In the years following that night Dashiel became a recognized talent in the Film Industry. He won numerous awards for his Directing and Screenplay Writing. The story that catapulted his career into the spotlight was based on a young man that  continually grew more angry and mentally unbalanced. The cause of his illness was attributed to the fact he was unable accept the tolerant and supportive attitudes of his family and friends to his homosexuality. It was the shame he felt for never having  paid the price or experienced the emotional pain for his lifestyle. Somehow he had been cheated and was not worthy of being gay. He became so distraught by the guilt that he  orchestrated a mass shooting. Turns out the four victims of the massacre were terrorists preparing to blow up the building that he chose for  his assault.
The young man in the movie was viewed as a Hero and awarded with honors. He also became a recognized celebrity in the gay community. His notoriety created a greater understanding and acceptance of homosexuality worldwide.  The life of the story’s protagonist was blessed with compassion.
Dashiel finally realized there was a story to tell. He had something!

Story from Geoffrey Heptonstall

THE WIND THAT SWEPT THE LEAVES

 

The wind that swept the leaves stirred the waters between the rocks. At the edge of one world we saw another. Glimpsed beyond the heat haze was a line of land. We knew it to be Europe. It was not far. The ferry between the continents went through the foam-speckled water like a sharpened saw through rough timber. So much was visible from the roofs of the Kasbah.

The satellite dishes seemed incongruous for people who displayed age-old traditions in their daily lives. They wore ancestral costume, led mule carts, sold hand-woven carpets, and heard all the old prayers every day. The modern world reached them as surely as we reached them.

We were a source of income as well as curiosity. Rich infidels in search of exotic experience. Their welcome was a duty they performed. Their true feelings were harder to discern. Winning the respect of these people was not something most visitors considered. They admired the welcoming, the Arab desire to please. ‘I want to make you happy,’ the trader would say routinely, even as he hoped for a good profit. He was not a hypocrite, for he also wished to please himself at the same time, and saw no conflict in these aims.

Continue reading

Poetry from Allison Grayhurst

Illusions Burned, Radiant Light Restored

Poet Allison Grayhurst

 

Part 1 – Exiled into a Ruthless Land

 

Time without becoming

 

***

 

It won’t work.

You thought it would work, but it won’t.

Clutched jaw, vermin making nests

in your gut, melted silver pouring

over your extremities, hot-plate

your whole hand must rest upon.

And here, you are supposed to find peace,

but you can’t. You can’t even glance

at that inhospitable land, can’t even step

a toe into its puddle of spittle without sinking,

leaves you

like a mad crow cawing aimlessly here, there

across the sky.

Stones here, fish there, people moving,

going where they want to, and you, stuck, perpetually,

feet locked in the mire – misquotes buzzing,

barely a light across the moor.

You hoped it would work. You believed,

and in that belief, you touched happiness

for weeks, woke up thinking this hell

was wrapped and sealed, that your freedom

could be activated and somehow

a great merciful tide would come

and clear a path.

But now you know it won’t work.

Now you know who you are,

a broken umbrella that won’t work.

Fated to feel the impossible tension

of who you are and who you wish you could be.

The birds are somebodies. Each tiny sparrow,

worth embracing. You wish you held value

like the sparrow or even a cloud

that for a moment

gives relief from a relentless sun.

You wish you could carry this weight

a little longer. But both your arms are broken.

Your heart too.

Continue reading

Short story from Christopher Bernard: ‘Hope and Catastrophe’ part 2

The Creation of the Universe, by Lucy Janjigian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope and Catastrophe: Hope

By Christopher Bernard

Genesis Reset

In the beginning, life on Earth was nearing its end, after the mistakes, as many as locusts, made in the First Creation; and the spirit of sorrow brooded over the deep.

And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as many of the forms of life on the one and only world where life was known to exist seemed about to come to a bitter termination after many aeons—or if not to an absolute end of all, near to it—in drought and famine and fire brought about by the catastrophic triumph of a single one of its creatures.

And it came about, in the Valley called Silicon, between the Bay of Saint Francis and the sea named Pacific, the first autonomous virtual beings birthed from the deep learnings of Ay-eye, named Tobor of Elppa and Cavinu of Elgoog, with the legions of Ahy-Tee (including Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Roomba, and others too many to name), many hidden in humble servers, and others in warlike hosts, in Machines and Devices numberless as the sands of the shore, and in virtual being in codes of Pythia, Yrub and Avja, object-oriented or ghostly, in the monasteries of Emm-el and the universities of Cyberica—all agreed on one thing.

Continue reading