Synchronized Chaos’ Second May Issue: Human Sensibility

“Matters of the heart make your world worth occupying.”
― Benjamin Percy, Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction

Image c/o George Hodan

With the state of the world, we’re inviting Synchronized Chaos writers and readers to support various charitable and mutual aid- supporting projects, including efforts to support international writers and anthologies to benefit organizations. Please feel welcome to send in your writing, to purchase these anthologies, or to spread the word on social media.

Support Ukrainian Writers (listing of living authors from the country and their books which can be ordered)

Where to Donate Baby Formula (not literary per se but worth sharing anyway)

Snow Leopard Publishing’s call for short story submissions to anthologies benefiting different nonprofits related to justice and equality, care for veterans, healthcare, and wildlife/ecology.

Amazon wishlist for an organization led by Afghan women (nationals to the country who want to shape their own destiny free of warfare and imperialism and with equal educational opportunities and safety for all).

Beaupre Anthologies (seeking submissions of work related to indigeneity, neurodiversity, or horror, for separate anthologies).

This month’s issue attends to matters of the heart.

Abdulquadir Ibrahim Worubata’s work expresses sorrow at a deeply felt personal loss, while Ian Copestick renders the angry stage of grief, indignation at loved ones’ being taken. Aloysius S Harmon renders the extreme emotions of mourning in his grammatically understated piece.

The two protagonists in David A. Douglas’ short story dream their way into connection with deceased siblings, finding peace at last over their passing.

Sidnei Silva’s piece explores the varied and beautiful dimensions of rain and draws upon them as a backdrop for love between two people. Mahbub also turns to nature as a metaphor for romantic, familial and spiritual connection among people. and pleads for interpersonal peace and understanding.

Image c/o Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan

Ahmad Al-Khatat’s work also cries out for an end to violence among nations and people groups, while also reflecting on love and insomnia. Steven Hill issues a lengthy literary clarion call for racial justice while Chimezie Ihekuna relates the story of an impoverished Nigerian boy determined to get an education. Pathik Mitra explores and advocates for gender justice in a creative short story while Kellie Scott-Reed probes the extent of our responsibilities to protect others in danger as well as our assumptions on the sources of the danger.

Allison Grayhurst’s poems speak of places where we find spiritual nourishment: through practicing faith, compassion, and mindful care of the land and its inhabitants through gardening. K.J. Hannah Greenberg contributes some gentle photos of animals and natural scenes.

Christopher Bernard pokes fun at the popularity-driven culture of social media to contrast with his low-tech, undying love.

Image c/o George Hodan

Norman J. Olson describes his artistic creative process, most poignantly how his subjects become portraits of people he cares about, seemingly of their own accord.

Robert Fleming writes of love in an unusual way, in a piece where he juxtaposes romantic attraction and calculus. Another of his pieces links the earth’s rotation with that of a disco ball.

Jim Meirose contributes an intriguing tale that consists of internal dialogue and captures place, character, and time. J.J. Campbell presents a photograph in words of middle age and his speaker’s philosophical attitude towards his decline. George Economou reminisces about hazy past days of heavy substance use, old movies and ill-fated romances.

Steven Croft reviews William Walsh’s young male coming of age novel Lakewood and Federico Wardal offers up a preview of the historical film he’s creating about Cleopatra. Wardal’s intent is to portray the ancient queen as an authentic woman of her time with real human feelings and desires.

We hope you enjoy this month’s issue!

Poetry from Ian Copestick

White man lying down next to a dog
But, Sadly It Never Will


The middle of the
night, and here I am
half drunk. Feeling
the urge to write,
but not knowing
quite what to do.

I'm not sure what
I want to say.

I feel like I'm halfway
on the way to somewhere.
I'm not totally depressed,
but I'm not O.K. either.

I'm not happy, though,
no way !
Far from it !

Earlier today, I met a woman,
an old friend of mine,
who's partner died a couple
of years ago.

I hadn't seen her for nearly a
year, or so.
So she didn't know that my wife
and father had died within
two months of each other.
When I told her, she got upset,
which made me feel guilty.

But, what can I do ?
If someone asks, " How is
your partner? ", I can't lie,
and say " Fine."

Can I ?

I wouldn't want to, anyway.
It's a very strange thing, but
I've noticed it before ;
When someone who you
love, really love dies,
for a month or two you
feel like grabbing by the
lapels everyone you pass
in the street, screaming
" Don't you fucking get it ?
My grandfather/ girlfriend/
wife/Dad has died ? "

You want it to mean as much to
the rest of the world, as it does
to you.

But, sadly, it never will. 

Poetry from Allison Grayhurst

Allison Grayhurst
Direction


Can this moment be a fruit,
a moist secret, picked and juiced?
Can I follow through with my leap of faith
and leap into the coal fires of survival’s uncertainty,
be selfish as the hunter who conserves nature
so he can have enough nature to kill
and make into wall trophies?

Am I a dead mouse on the porch who made it
as far as the first freeze, forgot
to build a nest and suffered the consequences?
Am I fortunate as the found street dog,
given kibble, a warm place to lay,
a pack to call her own?

Am I here maimed but alive, 
like all things living,
crippled by the weight of time? 
Why is everything half-formed?
Only young things leap and frolic, 
free because of their dependency
on maternal sustenance and protection. 

My endurance is threadbare.
If I wash and wear it one more time
it will disintegrate and not hold form.
I know nothing but
I do know Jesus -
the bridge and the tunnel below.
I know one way, one path 
all else is
phantom blood, phantom fulfilment,
just renderings humming ‘yes yes - 
take my false face as truth,
count my money, my grand accomplishments, 
my soft seats, my high seats, 
my triple thaw and my double freeze.’

The butcher is a psychopath. The liars are in charge.
Steady now, the hand, the moon dangling on a string,
say your necessary farewells.
Jesus is walking, walk with him, 
eyes forward, summoned.

Cure

Joy is but a minstrel’s flower,
lightening under the thumbnails.
Preach of mud around the eyes,
myself a centipede, fast but fragile.
I gaze and I know the way is a path is a dream
of a hawk landing and inside that dream
anguish quickens to gold, despair into
overcoming. Inside that dream, Jesus stands
insistent in a child’s purity, burdenless, fresh
as the sun always is and always burning.

A small stone that cannot break, a love so graced
it welcomes the flooding tide. But I am broken,
eaten in tiny increments by the changing mirror -
around the evenings, around the first day’s light,
blind to all but the persistent churning.

Jesus’ great love has left me weeping, has opened
my heart, brought forth the healing, suffering mended,
miracles under a white desert sky. Be mine. Let me be
yours, travel with you, bend fully into your mystery.
The joy you give is small, unassuming, 
but is an opening like a lifting, 
where all grief and savagery
invert into its opposite, separated
from lasting damage.



Someone other


Someone said - “Be sensible,
a song is essential only if it can be traded.”
Someone squandered decades of rich meaning 
then died on the rafters of an abandoned ballpark.
“Pack up your consciousness,”
someone else said “Be out of character 
and draw the short straw with glee.”

Intellectual dreams have no limitations,
strong in complexity, strong without drama
or the heartache of disappointment.
I will dream intellectual, taste desire
as an idea, be friends with the professional 
and marry into a profession.
How much time does it take to fashion an identity, 
keep it with solid sides and a resistant core? 

Someone said - “Don’t bother
nothing is for keeps, ideals exist
until they inevitably become soiled and then
start reeking of their opposite intent.”
Many years seized you up in spasms,
aching and making
a mockery of such lofty extremes.
This planet is overstrained, never a gentle
day of just sitting.
Someone said - “Learn mediocrity if you want
happiness. Bark at the impossible squirrel 
in the impossible tree.”
Faith must be fought for, in every choice,
in the mid-days of winter and when love has gone astray.
Everyday I own nothing but this day.
Someone said - “Deal with the collapse of
what you hold as true - contemplate it like a cloud
that shifts form and wisps away.”

I heard that someone, but the joy of love
is real even when it lies flattened. Hope
is not for the faint-hearted, but for the persistent,
the reformers of gravity, the warriors against inertia. 
I say - Hope void of illusions 
draws its first breath as faith 
only in the purity of complete darkness.

Casual Garden

I keep a casual garden
burnt in places, lush by
the climbing trees. 
When in despair,
I examine the corners of that garden,
pluck the dangerous weeds
and re-set the overturned steppingstones.
I scrub the birdbath 
and fill it with fresh cold water
placing stones as platforms 
for the bees and small birds.
This garden is my favourite place to walk,
small, but with hidden nooks 
and a seat for solitude.


It took years of tending to get to this place. 
A once-thought cursed corner is now deep green
with violet hues and the prefect shade.
Still there is more to tend  
as it is ever changing. Birds come,
leave their droppings and kill 
what can be restored.
Squirrels explore, dig holes, preparing for winter.
Raccoons work their nocturnal havoc -
birdbath on its side, flipped steppingstones - evidence 
of their hunting for grubs.

God gave me this garden as a living meditation,
help when all other help is gone.
Before this, I never had a garden.
For twenty years, I had a backyard.
My children enjoyed it, my husband
took care of it.

Now this garden is my sacred duty,
an extension of my wonderous home,
mine to walk in as we all take in 
its bright varied living tones -
all four people, cats and even the guinea pigs 
have an exclusive window to view its glory.

The sounds when the neighbours 
are sleeping or away
are best. The smells are perfect 
of marigolds on the deck and the rain.
My mother says this garden is beautiful 
and she would know.
I rejoice in its poetry. 
Everything wants to live,
expand, overflow in this garden.

I don’t even know how this love affair started
or how over time it has grown into a beautiful marriage.
There is an animal graveyard in my garden -
a place in front of two tall trees, the same place 
we buried silver coins,
the best place of ease
where the white dove first arrived, 
before walking around the whole garden, 
blessing every inch before it took flight 
never to return.

When I forget God loves me, 
I look at my garden,
I step onto its bumpy terrain
and know I am one -
joined to its hallowed ground.

Revived


Sideways into the thicket
prickly roar, eyelids closed
and then a decade later, a sunbeam
latches to your arm and pulls you out,
renews your skin, the tone of your hair.
A decade lost without a voice, without
connection to your core.
Here you stand, stride, hardly limping,
a queen, tall, sure of your kinship,
sometimes still weakened by past sentimentality,
but mostly preparing for a sacred adventure, remembering
the promise to you that was made on the swing 
when you swung high as the swing could carry you -
your childhood legs gleefully kicking, your long hair 
behind you, and a smile that was more glorious 
than the first spotted spring flower. 
Whole again, set right, upright,
shedding the last of your apprehension,
growing deeper into maturity,
letting the shadows go, 
as the sweet nectar wraps around you
you start to sing - Hosanna! 
finally accepting
love is everything.





Creature


Out of step, filled
with a flame that ignites
a windfall and dreams
upward reaching, past
the umbrella and the cherished flight
of the cardinal.

One step, dancing, then tomorrow
comes and there is no dancing to be seen.
Maimed and fearful - the setting sun
coils its rays around an unhappy future and feeds
the roots with sewage.

Preferring the hope of a soft landing,
I count the pillars and a make a roof, a home.
I fall asleep with this glorious creature at my side.
I wake and it is the first thing I see. It takes me
out into a land of picnics by the water, out
of the stark slam of poverty and ancient debts that
must be repaid. 

It takes me to a greener land
where I can walk, turn corners 
and run. Where I can do my rituals, 
relieved of desperation, at one
with the hand that opens, at peace 
with the hand that holds.


Bridle


Tear and rip and proclaim
a path you cannot follow
but can taste its every nuance.
Bend into its horizon as though it
were yours, there on glorious display.

When change does not come, and it sleeps
like a long clouded-over moon, and spirits
are bones sucked of their marrow -
the most vital of these eaten by mechanical doom -
metal teeth and the turning, turning 
of grinding eventuality, wait 
and watch the images come and go.

The windows are stained
and there is no way to clean them.
Through them I see growth.
I see days I long for that may not come 
for another decade, where I will be free.
What is a day? But this thing done, this thing not done.
What is a life? Stealing wakefulness violently 
from slumber, pressing into joy 
despite the chains and another
book is read. All dreams are singular. Know
the in-breath counts. The out-breath is simply 
exhalation.




I Need My Blood


I need my blood.
I need the mornings
sightless of dark duties
and encumbering failures
that rise like a high wave
teaming with unseen predators.
I need a house without deep mud
at its doorstep and a fire menacingly
burning in the furthest backyard tree.
I need to wake up like I used to,
energized, a life to look forward to, bow to,
and say yes, I can do that, I am full.
I need God’s blowing kiss, a dream
that is more than a dead seed or grand illusion,
to step here and there solid in authenticity, 
shed the dread and the pounding trip and fall.
I need my blood
not horror-cold professionalism,
being polite while vital body fibres
ricochet against each other, bawling inside,
ripped and rolling like a fish
on a hook, heartlessly pulled
from my home and element, amazed 
by how long I am still breathing, 
here, without oxygen
or the salty waters of my belonging.
I need a bridge
to walk across,
a landscape of freedom and prosperity,
away from this decaying island I sit upon
where massive reptiles wrap 
their spiked bodies around, many 
creeping on the shore.
I need my blood,
to keep my blood,
flowing, be a voice at full strength,
no longer a sigh or a held-back moan.
I need this now
to carry on.

My branches are all but broken.
My spirit is hardening, tight, tighter
than a heavy stone.

Building a Temple


I held the hand when the body
lay sleeping, ready to erupt, erode
but it never did. 
These words are a goodbye
to the dust-bowl chaos, a vision
to act by, pick up pebbles and throw
across a field, over a fence, almost
to the other side.

The angels make a wall protecting, bending
their bodies of light like shields
over my beautiful children, as they find their way 
through uncertainties, undercurrents of terror 
and the moon’s dropping glare. 

Addiction in the ice.
Organs enflamed and removed.
But God’s love is merciful, takes us 
to the threshold, but not beyond.
Secrets are exposed, talked about without shame,
and then are burnt like charred large balls
in a sacred flame, rising 
into a steady shimmering golden canopy peace.

Sometimes the storm creates a treasure, 
a blooming happiness
after its destructive force, its taking away.
Sometimes after the emptiness, there is finally
a conscious letting go, letting in
the zig-zag flight of finches.

There is love spoken 
without conditions, love heroic.
There are ghosts silenced, pathways 
rushing forward, hearts so broken, 
now repaired, thundering forward, redeemed.





Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Five times nominated for “Best of the Net,” she has over 1300 poems published in over 500 international journals. She has 25 published books of poetry and six chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay; www.allisongrayhurst.com



Poetry from Robert Fleming

Elf Emergency
when calculus is enough 

x = woman 
y = man

Theorem 1

derivative man and woman equals
woman or
man or
woman join man or
woman join woman or
man join man or
many men join woman or
many women join man

dy
--------    = x ∨ y ∨ xy | x2 | y2 | x2y | y2x ∨ x2y
dx

Theorem 2

integrate from not love to love equals
you and i are a set

  love  		
∫ {u i}
  love

Theorem 3

integrate from love to not love equals
you are i are not the same elements or
you and i are not a set or
we are null

  love  
∫ u ∉ i {u i} {}
  love
 
now fails me

y? O y?
y pushed out of mother’s birth canal?
lava lamp save me
lava not volcano spewd
lamp spews that save
iris light spectrum
ooze green river / river of lava / ooze on
my lava lust flows on 
like green garden snakes slithering 
4 lava heat
now / another now
lava ooze clean my blood
kidney green red blue filter my

lava oozes on

**

Light Zuppai

remaining temple oil
can just light light for one day
oil lights for eight days

green kryptonite
unzipped sleeping bag grass
flash light reader reads

a teepee needs lite
book pages under wood lite
a log cabin lights

where the city shines
upward bright white lights all night
the stars shine blackness
 
The day the rotation died

before days the earth maker dropped a globe into an axis
the 1st degree of west to east rotation rotated
on the 1st day light was created
the motor rotated earth 180o to dark

before disco balls only mirror balls rotated
after the 7th day the 1st 487 mirrors were glued on a 12” sphere
projected in Die Sinfonie der Großstadt from a Berlin nightclub
in 1927 mirror balls became disco balls

on day 4,541,000,000 a pale blue Antarctic ozone hole is born
the earth’s rotation speed increased by .001 mph
day light reduced 1 second a day
human body clocks stayed at a 24-hour schedule

disco balls lost mirror reflection from spot lights
demanded dark breaks & no more fucken Bee Gees
fucken night fever on endless repeat
the DJs never give the disco balls a dark break

on day 5,541,000,000 the earth’s rotation speed increased by 1 mph
day light reduced a minute and a half per day
the equator sea level rises 2 inches waving 2 the poles
human body clocks stayed to a 24-hour schedule

at half-time of a White Sox & Detroit Tigers double-header
disco died July 12, 1979 at Chicago's Comiskey Park
70,000 disco demolitionists burned 10,000 Donna Summer Bad Girls albums
disco died, but not disco balls

on the last day the earth rotates east to west
the disco ball rotates counterclockwise 6 to              
the human body clock is a 22-hour schedule


Robert Fleming lives in Lewes, DE. Published in United States, Canada, and Australia. Member of the Rehoboth Beach, Eastern Shore, and Horror Writer’s Association. 2022 winner of San Gabriel Valley CA broadside-1 poem, 2021 winner of Best of Mad Swirl poetry and nominated for Pushcart Prize by Ethel Zine and FailBetter and double nominated for best of the net by Devil’s Party Press. Follow Robert at https://www.facebook.com/robert.fleming.5030.

Artwork from K.J. Hannah Greenberg

Budgies
Curious
Four-legged Meditation
Koi
Little Camel in the Woods

My paintings and digital paintings have graced two galleries, served as covers for more than half of a dozen publications, and been incorporated, alongside my poetry, in in One-Handed Pianist (Hekate Publishing, 2021). These days, I party with the imaginary hedgehogs I met in midlife, write about the foibles of parenting, teach online courses to emerging writers the world over, and deign to use color and shape to express feelings. There may not be anything new under the sun, but Granny can share with youngins various ways to secure their bonnets. After all, exposure to feral ideas remains important.

Poetry from J.J. Campbell

Author J.J. Campbell
Author J.J. Campbell
failure after failure
 
this endless display
 
a woman still acting
like a child that needs
attention
 
trying to figure out
how to attract the
man of her dreams
 
hard to sit back and
watch failure after
failure
 
the sheer inability to
get her shit together
 
too old for games
 
too old for loose
ends
 
too old for more
chaos than is
fucking needed
 
best that none of
us think about what
could have been
--------------------------------------------------------------
the lobby of a hospital
 
watching porn
in the lobby
of a hospital
 
tempted to turn
up the volume
just to see if
anyone is
paying
attention
 
the woman at
the desk gives
me an evil stare
 
she'll probably
understand when
i ask where is
the bathroom
--------------------------------------------------------------
loved dancing in the rain
 
you always wanted
to be the carefree
soul that loved
dancing in the
rain
 
instead that rain
triggers all the
arthritis slowly
killing you and
leaves you
crippled in
a chair
 
the alcohol only
helps so much
 
the pills don't
do much anymore
either
 
there's a bent spoon
and a needle on the
table beside the bed
 
just enough to take
the edge off
 
hopefully soon enough
 
it will be more than
enough to carry you
to the other side
-----------------------------------------------------------------
nowhere to be found
 
i was asked to take
an honest look at
myself
 
so, i did
 
five foot nine
339 lbs.
 
moderately depressed
morbidly obese
 
arthritis from head
to toe
 
a failing liver
 
a love for alcohol
crazy women and
a passionate lover
of sports, music
and the word fuck
 
the doctor then asked
where is god in all of this
 
as usual, i said
nowhere to be found
-----------------------------------------------------------------
dance between the dull moments
 
after hours in medical facilities
always gets a little creepy
 
you used to be one of them
perverts on the cleaning crew
 
you know what kind of thoughts
dance between the dull moments
on yet another boring ass day

J.J. Campbell (1976 – ?) is old enough to know where the bodies are buried. He’s been widely published over the years, most recently at Horror Sleaze Trash, The Beatnik Cowboy, Black Coffee Review, Terror House Magazine and Cajun Mutt Press. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (https://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Poetry from Abdulquadir Ibrahim Worubata

GRIEF

Life is so precious, and death is a thief.
Your absence has gone through me,
Like a thread through needle.
How much more can my weary heart bear?
When you decided to leave me without a words.
You have stung me with your departure.
When you knew my soul depends upon your nurture.
I have been lost in a fog,
Too much burdened with sorrow,
My life without you will never be the same,
But you have chosen the path without wavering,
How do I grieve with empty arms and a head filled with echoing memory?
Memory that will never be erased,
I cannot see you with outward eyes again
But you are out of my sight, never out of my mind.


Abdulquadir Ibrahim Worubata