Synchronized Chaos August 2022: In the Palm of Our Hands

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand. And Eternity in an hour. — William Blake

Image c/o Виталий Смолыгин

This month, our contributors dig deep within themselves or into the details of their craft in order to understand and explore larger themes.

Tohm Bakelas travels through cities with old buildings weathered by time. He’s a hardworking artist in proudly workaday cities.

Tony Brewer digs into ordinary life: houseplants, dead batteries, date night in a small town, to show that these things matter and can be a jumping off point for thought.

Michael Todd Steffen’s piece echoes centuries of literary history in the whir of a laundromat, while Jim Meirose’s wordy mix evokes the drama of brass music. Joshua Martin breaks up words, evokes emerging oblivion, like waves crashing at sea, and Sayani Mukherjee’s multiple metaphorical vocalists come together in unison for peace.

Mark Young crafts poems through a technical process that each have an element of surprise encounter. Andrew Cyril MacDonald’s work looks at what comes after the encounter, the fading embers of passion and connection.

Image c/o George Hodan

Sara Sims’ ekphrastic poetry inspired by public sculpture art highlights the power of communication and understanding.

Dana Kinsey explores and highlights the creative processes of raising children, teaching, and writing through a surfeit of clever words. Sarvinozkhon Olimova celebrates being true to the creative process.

John Tustin illuminates the preciousness and the struggle of relationships, battered by outside forces of conflict and racism. Mohinur Askarova relishes the energy of young love while Ilyosova Zukhraxon communicates love and respect in a poignant piece about her mom.

Image c/o Anonymous User

John Edward Culp highlights the need to stop and step back from one’s ego at times to have an authentic experience beyond oneself.

Ridwanullah Solahudeen links faith and desire in a paean to spiritual love, while Michael Robinson reflects on the spiritual sustenance he receives through the compassion of Jesus. Ike Boat shares highlights of his broadcasting career amplifying messages of faith, while Chimezie Ihekuna admonishes us to remember the meaning of Christmas throughout the year.

Amuda Abbas Oluwadamilola describes his poem as reflecting how “religion is an opiate” in his country. While a comment on the specific dynamic where he lives, the piece seems to reflect the broader tension between faith that inspires and liberates and beliefs that become a comfortable distraction from important work.

Image c/o Peter Griffin

Gabriel T. Saah writes of the political and human struggle in his home country of Liberia through the metaphor of a single injured woman, while Patricia Doyne uses the language of children’s books to critique dangerous immaturity in adult leaders. Awodele Habeeb renders violence and oppression through the metaphor of wolves, while Mahbub relates the comfort found in personal relationships in a world afire on many levels.

Z.I. Mahmud addresses themes of belonging and migration in his essay on Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar named Desire. He seems to have sympathy for an unusual character who is removed from the drama’s everyday world and lives within her own imagination.

Ilyosova Fatimakhon knows where she belongs, as she exults in both her native Uzbekistan and in the joy of reading.

Christopher Bernard contributes a piece on the “opposite of politics” as other writers turn towards personal matters of the heart.

Aeesha Abdullahi Alhaji reflects on loneliness, being cast out of relationships.

J.J. Campbell speaks to the quiet despair of aging and loneliness, while Ian Copestick offers up humorous takes on what we value in people and how and why we compare ourselves to others.

Image c/o George Hodan

Hannah Greenberg shares a fresh set of her nature scenes, still and tranquil water and lily pads while Shakzoda Kodirova sends us an ode to the beauty of a rose.

We hope that you enjoy each submission like the petals of Kodirova’s rose, considering each piece and leaving comments and thoughts for the creators. Thank you for participating in our literary community.

Poetry from Ian Copestick

True Crime

Watching true
at 11:30 p.m.

I've always
seeing these

It makes me
realise that
no matter how
screwed up my
life may be, at
least I haven't
been murdered,
or murdered

My life hasn't
got THAT bad.

So I really haven't
hit rock bottom,

Have I ? 
I Expect Too Much

Just looking
through crap,
on my phone.

Stories about
people, so - called
celebrities, most
of them I have never
heard of.

And I've noticed
that nearly all of
the supposedly
attractive women,

they all look the
same, or at least
very similar. It's
like there's a factory
somewhere, churning
them out.

I can't see any
difference between
them. They all seem
to have the same eyes,
the same plucked eye
brows. The same lips
pumped full of shit.

The same Botox filled
zombie expressions.
And the same empty

I'd love for one of
these pointless
butterflies to prove
me wrong.

If just one of them
had read Dostoevsky,
or Celine, even Kerouac,

or had written a few
poems of their own.

Not even that, just
some little thing to
show that they've got
a working brain of
their own.

Perhaps I expect too

Poetry from Aeesha Abdullahi Alhaji

Musings Of A Loner
     Aeesha Abdullahi Alhaji

  submersed into husky lines—hypnotised by nature exuberance, 

  a misfit—growing on parallel lines, ageless, awaiting a homecoming, 

  un[scathed], to the truth, my existence a bane of contention,
     ~ousted from a love quadraple~
   made my reign obsolete—happiness was not meant for (me).




Poetry from Awodele Habeeb


Panic days and nights,
As fear roams and rumbles my land,
Causing tough tears from helpless eyes,
Grieved groans from thirsty gullets
And craving clamour from hungry stomachs,
When all is embattled,
Of the infestation of cruel creatures ---- Wolves.

Black wolves.
They everywhere parade in packs,
With styles of superiority;of proclaiming leadership,
And desperate hunts towards the weak.
While the dreads of their detrimental feet,
Tremble and torment the land into disharmony.

Wicked wolves.
During dawns and dusks do they appear,
With their lowered noses to perceive preys,
And the enraging echoes
Of their howls shred the hearts,
And the wailing woofs of their barkings
Shudder away the dwellers' glimmers of hope.
All ears too weary
To persevere the grumblings of their growlings.

'Joint hands lift the load better',
Asserted our asleep ancestors.
So arise,my lands,all together!
In bind,in bundle,in bunch,
Let your souls awoken,
With tied and tightened spirit of repulsion,
Against the arbitrariness of their invasions,
And tender your voices in consolidation,
To silence their ascending crescendos.

For my land is vast for promising plants to sprout,
And not for wildness to tear into dismantlement.

Poetry from Michael Todd Steffen

~Franz Wright

In the vast window of the laundromat
it’s early spring. A man bulked in winter
layers outside the storefront stops to watch
a jet’s vapor trail across the sky.
The world is far gone. Virtually all that’s left
for me to do is wait, seated inside
this spacious place with the dynamic hum
of machines doing the labor of a village
full of washers at a river. The sound
would as soon sing like plain folk doing chores
yet from the machines it echoes mechanically
for me to hear, woom woom, to hear and sift,
to reword: wish wash wish wash rinse rinse rinse—
into the pitching whir then whine, a lot like
a jet plane taking off, of the spin cycle—
making the clumsy metal gizmo quake
like a cold wet kitten.
				In the window
I sit beside, dimmed with the wind bringing
banks of clouds, up in the metal frame
a spider dangles, weaving in the joint
between the frame and ceiling. For all I know
the weft she looms describes Zeus’s desire
thrust into the sky, to turn another
nymph into this brook, into that reed.
Uncompromising witness, how inspired
to work her craft, her wish was not a death wish,
only her waiting. Because I don’t know
much about spiders, I remember Ovid’s
myth of Arachne, using my education
to pass the time, until my clothes are ready
to toss into the acrobatic dryer.

The river is time. The sky is raining minutes.
She’s almost had a year to bury him
like rain falling to bury the world away
because when he ceased to be there, where he’d been,
he was suddenly everywhere, in each unmown
blade of grass. Each unchanged drop of oil
that lit the dashboard light. His soul stretched tight
across the evening sky. It landed on
the fence at morning to sing with her spoon and cup.

He came to night again. It was still raining.
He had flowed to the ocean, still there he was
flowing beside me. I held my fingers
around his wrist feeling for his pulse. He was
a drip in the ceiling I’d put a stove pan under,
a dark spot spreading from the corner of the room
determined to go ankle deep, knee deep.

The spider spoke about my friend as from a far source.
Any hope to quell her would be pointless
a beaver would already know at the river’s width.
There was no narrow bend to dam her, the sky
a constant dark and drumming only patter
outside the laundromat. So we talked.

His last legs had battled back so many times.
I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t come out again.
The listener with the spider about his friend
could never imagine a battle I could not
stand back up from. The dead were speaking to him

and his widow told me my friend remembered
Virginia Woolf’s being asked about her morning’s
writing. She said she’d gotten them
off the porch, meaning her characters.
She had advanced her story at least that far.

That’s all he had to say. He didn’t need
to say anymore. He meant he couldn’t get them
off the porch. They were huddled out there
under the porch roof, edging themselves at the rain.

The poem is dedicated to Franz Wright, winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. 
The Hastings Room Poetry Reading Series, which I help curate, hosted Franz for his last live reading in November 2014, and I came to know him and his wife toward the end of his life that year.

Michael Todd Steffen is the recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship and an Ibbetson Street Press Poetry Award. His poems have appeared in journals including
The Boston Globe, E-Verse Radio, The Lyric, The Dark Horse, and Constellations. Of his second book, On Earth As It Is, now available from Cervena Barva Press, Joan Houlihan has noted Steffen’s intimate portraits, sense of history, surprising wit and the play of dark and light…the striking combination of the everyday and the transcendent.