Synchronized Chaos December 2022: The Thin Veneer Over Wildness

Welcome to December’s first issue of Synchronized Chaos Magazine!

Image c/o Jean Beaufort

First of all, we encourage you to come on out to Metamorphosis, our New Year’s Eve gathering and benefit show for the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan and Sacramento’s Take Back the Night. This will take place in downtown Davis, CA, at 2pm in the fellowship hall of Davis Lutheran Church (all are welcome, we’re simply using their room as a community space). 4pm Pacific time is midnight Greenwich Mean Time so we can count down to midnight. Please sign up here to attend.

The theme “Metamorphosis” refers to having people there from different generations to speak and read and learn from each other, challenging us to honor the wisdom of our parents and ancestors while incorporating the best of the world’s new ideas in a thoughtful “metamorphosis.” We’ve got comedian Nicole Eichenberg, musicians Avery Burke and Joseph Menke, and others on board as well as speakers from different generations.

Second, our friend and collaborator Rui Carvalho has announced our Nature Writing Contest for 2022.

This is an invitation to submit poems and short stories related to trees, water, and nature conservation between now and the March 2023 deadline. More information and submission instructions here!

This month, our issue explores the often quite thin veneer between ourselves and the world’s wildness.

Photo c/o Vera Kratochvil

J.K. Durick’s work looks into time, memory, and the fears humans and animals bring into the most mundane encounters. Daniel DeCulla, in a more humorous vein, writes of people who embrace dog poop as part of our world.

Nathan Whiting’s concrete poetry reflects layered physical sensations of nature: intimacy, hibernation, and composting fruit. J.D. Nelson points out a few of the hidden natural encounters people may miss in a suburban neighborhood. Christopher Bernard illustrates a mysterious character who forms a deep bond with the ocean.

Rose Knapp’s pieces reference theology and cultural history along with the natural world. And Thomas Reisner’s artwork reminds us that the natural world can be one very wild place indeed.

Jim Meirose highlights the “wildness” of the general public by illustrating one type of distinctive character clerks encounter while working at a store. Jaylan Salah analyzes the film Emily the Criminal and suggests that the main character is perhaps more of a regular person facing the gritty reality of life rather than a villain. As in Meirose’s shoe store, the workplace can be as harsh and uncivilized as any natural landscape.

Lisa Reynolds suggests that there can be more drama than meets the eye within a simple family scrapbook.

Emdadul Hoque Mamun contributes a sensual ode to the beauty of raucous Parisian nightlife.

Photo c/o Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan

Our problems, the unpredictability of our lives, are another aspect of “wildness.” Alison Owings describes a gathering of Native American people for dinner and a drum circle in a piece that touches on their everyday struggles and society’s inequities.

Jalaal Raji references Greek mythology in his piece on the possible instability of romantic love. Christina Chin and Uchechukwu Onyedikam’s collaborative haikus capture moments of connection and loneliness.

J.J. Campbell describes the ferociousness of our modern highways, along with glimpses of bravado and defiant cheer in the face of illness.

Our own minds can be as untamed as any wild place, and several contributors’ work represent that reality or efforts to manage it.

Fernando Sorrentino posits a seemingly ludicrous situation, a man repeatedly hitting the narrator with an umbrella, which becomes a meditation on how we can get used to just about anything and then become anxious about any change, even a return to normalcy.

Ivars Balkits evokes how our minds wander while watching blue screens on old television sets or staring out the window. Debarati Sen probes the restless and absorbing nature of memory.

Aisha MLabo writes of the hidden passion burning within her creative mind. Z.I. Mahmud analyzes various narrative techniques behind the structures of internationally recognized literary works.

Photo c/o George Hodan

Poet Shine Ballard arranges words on a page, then trims them down to fit certain poetic structures. Mark Young crafts experiments with language that approach an internal logic.

Channie Greenberg exhibits a diverse collection of photographs unified by the color beige.

Some writers explore how and where we can experience the world’s wildness, or assert and defend our place within it.

Sayani Mukherjee suggests that tattoos on adults are a natural part of the process of claiming one’s physical body and identity that begins in childhood.

Clyde Borg stares intently into a painting, imagining and interacting beyond the flat canvas with the living woman who served as its model.

Gaurav Ojha points out how we can claim mental and psychological freedom from the world’s pressures. Gerard Sarnat points out the give-and-take needed for a marriage to stand the test of time, along with the many “subtle absurdities” of aging and educational pursuits.

Image c/o Gerhard Lipold

Christina Chin and Matthew Defibaugh collaborate on haikus of autumnal scenes, reminding those in the Northern hemisphere that most of December is still fall. Meanwhile, Chimezie Ihekuna continues his Christmas countdown.

Finally, Mesfakus Salahin offers up a gentle blessing for those who live within the many layers of our world.

Poetry from Mesfakus Salahin

Find yourself in your view
Everyday you will be new
Roads become soft and enjoyable
Passer by  will be available.

Tie the time to the top of the finger
Nature will be singer
Birds will sing the song of heart
Flowers will bloom in the desert.

Embrace happy memories in solitude
Ice of pain will salute your attitude 
Frustration will never touch future
You will be above mental torture.

Remove the rivers of sufferings and sorrow
The sun will be your tomorrow 
The dry river will get fountain of the moon
God will fulfill your prayer very soon.

Poetry from Christina Chin and Matthew Defibaugh

mist in the hills

a paulownia leaf

drifts and falls

back to sleep

. . . on heavy meds

the trodden path 

of forest scent

autumn's voice

dampened by

the sound of rain


the silence after

a cold autumn storm

recovery begins

then the relapse

good news

bad news

autumn mountains

the rainbow brighter

near its end 


the tall pasture grass

fescue sprouts

where she last raked 

end of autumn 

Christina Chin / M. R. Defibaugh

Poetry from J.K. Durick


Stepping across, carefully, there’s a stumble

built into this, a foot on the closest stone

then onto the next and next, till you have

crossed with your feet, shoes almost dry.

I did this in a dream last night, like when

I was young crossing that stream by my

in-laws camp in Bakersfield. It would be full

in the spring, the water racing downhill and

only a trickle by late summer. Crossing was

the challenge and I was young enough to do

it without thinking twice. And I remember

the stream up by Bingham Falls, even earlier

high school, college, and when I was first back

around here. I would step off and feel safe, so

surefooted that it was just another thing to do.

Now, even in my dream, I stumble then step out

and over, afraid the whole way, as if the streams

have been waiting for me, as cocky as I was,

waiting for me, ready to get their revenge.



They flee from me

from fear or instinct –

grey squirrels, the few red

even chipmunks run

scramble away

and birds of every feather

color and size, fly away

from something they fear

and yet

there I am, filling the feeders

sunflower seeds and seed mixes

handfuls of peanuts every morning

a free soup kitchen of sorts

but they flee from me

even when I use my soothing soft

voice, the one I reserve for small children

and animals of all sorts

and I make a real effort to seem

harmless, calm, slow moving

and yet

they flee from me

as if there’s a line we never can cross

and they’ll flee from me

regardless of what I try to do.


                Last Day

With one day left before you leave

Planning becomes awkward

Dividing time between

The obligatory and the sentimental

Between the need to go and

The urge to stay

The what to do next and

The what can be left undone.

The hours slow down and

Then disappear

Get used up and are gone

As you become gone.

Last time I was caught in this

Awkward setting, this space and time

Twenty-four hours left

I walked around taking pictures

Random pictures of the place

I was leaving –

The table and chairs we sat in most

Afternoons, reading or just watching

The water around us

The statue we liked – that rabbit’s head

Its ears flopping forward

Even the couch and bedspread

And a single picture of my right foot

Held up to show the carpeting and how

Close my wife’s foot was on that carpet.

More the sentimental than the obligatory

But that’s what I did.

Poetry from Jalaal Raji


Oh Love, how unfair and rude are you
Shots without permission, of two hearts, one
Makes him suffer the pain of heart, one blur hue
While the other freely live in vain and fun
With your arrows and bow, one like the mouth
of a bay, you’ve made many a deceived sheep
fall in love with the mouth-watering wolf, its death
While he thinks he’d give him a sound sleep
And Echo with Narcissus, the narcissistic angel-boy
That her voice, in the cave she waited, vitiated to echo
And through you she avenged on the one that toy
For you made him fall for a self-nymph, his reflect

Harmless you look though armed
Can’t see that, because you’re blind
Though sweet you infect, you’re wicked

But the love of Aphrodite, your mother
Is one soft, gentle, loyal and tender
For she comes abreast only when you bid her
That sweet I crave for in, and further
On her lips I slept off when I kissed her
For her love compared to yours is sweeter
Shall you continue to make monkey fall for sparrow
And you, partially with Psyche, but your bow and arrow