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Portrai ts

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Contents ......

I ntroducti on ..........................5 Four Portrai ts Prose .................8 M arti n ShortStory .........................11 Bury M y Heart Prose..................14 Ni ght Portrai t Poem ..................16 Beasti ary poems.........................25 Eveni ngs at Antons ShortStory.......30 PayDay Prose .............................33 Thi nki ng about the end i s always com i c p o e m...............34 Thi s w hole W hi rlpool' s m uch easi er w i th your here Sh o r tS t o r y..36 Som ew here i n the W esternW orld P o e m ..................39

The Funeral poem


Li st of I llustrati ons & Artw ork JeffCravat h

" Fl owerofFaces" " Port rai tCom posi t e" Drew Fehl m an " W oodcut " Sonya Genel " Anxi et y" " Sel f-Port rai t " Adam Hol zri cht er " Fawni ng" " Cl eanl i ness Godl i ness" Mi chaelLat roni ca " Col e" Gabri el l a M ol i na " Port rai t " " Port rai toft he Fem i ni ne" " Ni ghtLandscape" Vanessa Rodri guez " Ol d Soul " Mi chaelRoss " Port rai ti n Red" " Di st ract i ons" Dan W i l l i am s" Theodore" Baum gart " Rat " " Sel f-Port rai t " " Vi ct ori ans" Court ney Zi egl er " A Vi ew I nsi de a M osque"

Page 1 Page 43 Page 1 5 Page 24 Page 37 Page 2 Page 35 Page 41 COVER Page 7 Page 1 7 Page 22 Page 21 Page 44 Page 4 Page 1 3 Page 29 Page 32 Page 38

“Nothing in a portrait is a matter of indifference. Gesture, grimace, clothing, decor even all must co mbine to realize a character. ” -Charles Baudelaire From commissioned paintings of kings to stoic representations of politicians, the portrait has oft been used to lion ize its subjects and emphasize the more flattering facets of being. Humankind, in its basest desire seeks to immortalize itself and feed its insatiable narcissism, attempting to capture the dying light of its singular life. The rise of humanistic expression has of late given way to a more diverse approach to port raiture that truly attempts to ca pture the soul of its subject. Much like a ttempts to explain existence through religion or the mysteries of matter through science, portraiture has become a most elusive artistic endeavor. Constantly adapting to new variants, the po rtrait is never quiet perfect, never an exact facsimile of its subject and, hopefully, never as simple as “point and shoot.” It goes beyond mere physical properties or a singular person’s countenance and into the driving factors that m otivate its subject’s action, inspire its speech, and inform its philosophies. In this edition of SynergyZine , we have invited our contributors to hold the microscope to their su bjects, reading into every line around an eye or crumbling brick upon a building , sketching a description that takes into account the origin of those crow ’s feet or a particularly rakish grin. This is portraiture in depth. This is true art, rather than mere representation. Our artists have delved into the inner life of their subjects, taking to the streets, so to speak, in search of characters possessing those vague mystical qualities that make a good portrait. For instance, Valerie Chavez's pieces provide us with an a lmost anthropological look at several characters in the Tende rloin. Tutu,

one of her four subjects, could just as well be another anonymous homeless person roaming the night, but she imbues him with cha racter that shows us that everyone, even the deplorable, have a story to tell, and perhaps even a lesson to impart. Michael Grant's Lion of Hayes Valley likewise reveals a personality that prowls the back streets of SF’s Opera House, seemingly mad, but glimmering with sincerity. In the strivings for romance and companionship, the applic ation of a portrait can be a most intimate and vulnerable artistic d evice. As the artist portrays a lover's indescri bable features — for which she longs so fervently — she turns to her deepest reservoir of appreciation and love, using empathy to explain the mystery and allure of another. Leigh Shaw describes one such jou rney into the world of another as she navigates the dreamy nighttime lan dscape of her subject while she lay beside him i n bed. Paul Corman-Roberts’ piece provides a portrait not of a person, but of a building. His Victorian Apartment contains its own character, and tells its own tale of flowering and decay. This departure from traditional portraiture emphasizes that even inanimate objects contain a soul worth capturing. We hope as editors to provide our readers with a reflective experience through these selected pieces, presenting a contemporary context in which portraiture may reach its next artistic evol ution.

Peaking from behind Mona Lisa’s grin, SynergyZine Editors

Martin By Rickey Lee Bauman

In a well-furnished Victorian apartment on Waller Street lived a solitary rat with a woman who had recently lost her lover in a car accident. The rat cut a healthy figure; his black coat shone like obsidian and his white teeth were clean and filed. The widow was less robust and, on account of her recent loss in a state of constant grief and anxiety. Her body was slender, fingertips stained yellow from tobacco, and complexion pale. Though they lived together, the rat and the widow belonged to entirely different worlds. While she minded her television in the den, he would groom his coat in his burrow. Or perhaps she was cooking, humming a slow melody, and he would be resting peacefully on his bedding, nibbling, stretching his legs, scratching behind his soft ears, listening. It is interesting to say that although she could be considered a pitiful woman, to this tiny creature the widow was holy. She lived all around him. Her smell was the wind, and the sound of her voice the birds. All these things constituted a giant manifestation of “ Her � an ever-present reality, the mover of a macrocosm, the bringer of light, flipper of switches and igniter of heat. And while his mind adorned his smallness with doubt it could, on account of her largeness, provide him a faith of something greater and bene volent. The rat and widow lived together for several months in this fashion: him profoundly aware of her, and her totally unaware of his existence. Until one day, something changed. Shortly before dawn rat stealthed into the kitchen to scavenge, where to his sur prise he found the widow awake. It was not her custom to be up so early. But a vivid dream of the past had brought her there. She was

smoking a cigarette out the window. An amber beam of street light stretched across her profile. The rat had a perfect vision of her human figure. She lifted the cigarette to her mouth. A long, deep drag brought a flashing glow followed by a silhouetted billow of smoke. Her other hand rubbed the nape of her neck then gently fell to the sill of the window. Suddenly, a glass bottle gave a crash. He hadn't noticed his movements and knocked it over. Startled, her half-smoked cigarette fell out the window and she swung around and looked into the dark ness of her own kitchen. There was nothing but stillness, silence, and vacancy. Weakly and almost pitifully she cleared her throat and called out, “ Martin? ” The rat's heart raced. “ M-Martin, is that you? ” In this moment, that sort of silence which inhabits the Dead Seas and aquifers of the world came to reside in the apartment. And as dawn arrived slowly through the fog over the bay, by and by the widow submitted to wavelets of weeping and the rat returned to his burrow, where he thought a thousand animal thoughts and could not sleep. Every part of his consciousness was trying to gasp something much larger then itself. The mental exertion was great for his little mind. But his thoughts could be reduced with the aid of human language to this simple question: “ Had she, ” he thought, “ actually called me? ” Closer to sunset on that same day, he heard her say it again. The very word "martin" filled him with such mysterious elation — as though he were chosen for something greater — that he submitted to his curiosity. He was ready verify a connection between himself and this sound. He sought her in her own room, to that temple of a place, where he never dared enter before. He found her at a vanity mirror. A ring of light bulbs providing enough light as she put on red lipstick, powdered her already-pale cheeks, and thickened her charcoal lashes. He moved under the bed, purposely knocking a shoe box with

Bury My Heart By Nora Toomey


We make love in a triangle, cry for Crazy Horse’s heart buried deep beneath a river bed. Where the bones say, sing. Where the earth says, it’s ok to roam. Pink teepees painted on our forearms, on our fingernails, We water the squash, Water the sunflowers. We sage the room. The body, The rooms of the body. Here are the parts made for memory: Our bright eyes, our feet, The arms in the evening, The thighs, bent down, Searching out a ritual. Coyote, crow, Skin to skin, Skin to air, My breasts as an alter. Here are the parts made for peace: Hands, mouth, The glow of our necks in September, The rub of our legs, talk of horses, sleep, sleeping horses. Nobody counting On a promise, Nobody cold enough To make one.

B e a s t i a r y

B yMi c h a e l Wa r r e nGr a n t

F i r e h e n Wi t hs u c he n v yh a dCy g n u sp e e r e d T h r o u g hh e r P h o e n i xe y e s , k n o w i n g s h ew a sma s t e r o f a l l t h e ya l i g h t e du p o n , e v e nt h e s ef o r e i g n , j u t t i n gd u n e s . S op r i d e f u l w a sh eo f h i sw e l l k e p t p o n d a n db e v yo f f o l l o w e r s , y e t o f t h e mw e r eh i sc h a i n sc o mp r i s e d . T o of e a r f u l t op e r i s ha n df a c et h ep r o s p e c t o f r e b i r t h , h e r d e e p r a v i n ef o r g e di ns e a l e ds c a r sh e l dh i sr e d e mp t i o n , a n d a n g e r a t t h eh a n d so f mo r t a l ma nw h oi nt h e i r t e r r o r r a v a g et h a t w h i c hi sp u r e-h a dh en o t p l a y e dt h a t r o l e h i ms e l f ?Wa si t i nt h en a t u r eo f t h eP h o e n i xt oa t t r a c t t h e s c y t h e , i nh i sn a t u r ei t t ow i e l d ? K n e e l i n g , t h es w a nh u n gh i sl o n g , d e l i c a t en e c k o u t b e f o r et h eb i r do f f l a me , a n dw i t has mi r ks h es a i d , “ c h o p . ”

T i g e r c h i l d H e ’ l l mo o n w a l ko v e r w i t hac o c k t a i l i nh a n d , l i t h ea n ds p o t t e dw i t ht a l e s . Wh a t f u n , aj o k ep i r o u e t t e sf r o mh i st o n g u e , a n dw i t has p i nh e ’ sg o n e . Y o u ’ l l s me l l h a r eu p o nh i sb r e a t h , p r e yp e r h a p sy o u ’ l l b et h en e x t t os e ey o u r s a n g r es t a i nh i sg o l d e nf u r s e n d ss h i v e r sr i g h t d o w ny o u r l i mb s ! Y e s , myd e a r , i n e v i t a b l yy o u ’ l l a c q u i e s c e . F o r i nt h ep r e s e n c eo f t h eg r e a t g o l d e nt i g e r y o uk n o wt h ew o r s t t h a t c o u l db e f a l l y o ui sh i m, An dt h o u g hh e ’ sa l r e a d yh a d p l e n t yt oe a t , t h e r ei sa l w a y sr o o m f o r d e s s e r t .

Lion of Hayes Valley You might catch him strewn about a stairwell A withered bible in one hand A bottomless mug in the other And he might ask you, “Do you have drugs, man?” And you know by now he means pot Which he takes with a gruff thanks And rolls up with a page From Revelations. A few hits deep, his yellowed fingertips Roll the joint around, and he says, “America’s been giving Mussolini a blowjob for the past two decades, you know that?” Sometimes I bite, mostly now I don’t. His paintings adorn my walls, the excess clinging to his denim everything. I know he isn’t crazy, or at least As crazy as he’d like you to believe. After a few bouts, my anxious retorts die out and I stand like an awkward pupil before a scarred and lonesome lion, Wishing him both redemption and destruction, Until his speech becomes more imploring, As confessor seeking ablution, and when I change topic To ask of his birthday, he responds without a pause, Saying, “You know the only thing astrology is good for, Mike?” “Murder, Mike… murder.”

S e l f P o r t r a i t I a ma no p p o r t u n i s t , L e t ’ sj u s t g e t t h a t o u t o f t h ew a y . I t a k ew h a t i sg i v e n a n dl i k eF a u s t f o l l o w t h ei d e a l so f b o t hs a l v a t i o n a n dd e p r e c a t i o n . I d r i f t t h ew i l l o f t h ew i n d ; Wh yw a s t eag o o du p d r a f t ? Wh yw a s t eag o o dp i e c eo f p i e ? Wh yn o t n i b b l ean u b i l ey o u n gt h i g h , q u i v e r i n gw i t he x p e c t a t i o n o f y o u r t o u c h ? T h emo r a l d e c r yt h ew i l l o ' w i s p , a si f o p e nh a n d sme a ng r e a s yp a l ms a n ds i l v e r t o n g u e ss p i t o n l yk n o t t yp s a l ms . R a t h e r I s a y , w h a t i sme a n t f o r y o u i sr i g h t f u l l yy o u r s . T u r nn o t a w a y t h eg r e a t w h e e l o f f a t ew h e ni t s p i n s y o u r w a y . Gr a s pt i g h t , p u l l w i t hmi g h t . l e a v en os p a c ef o r a f t e r t h o u g h t n o r g u i l t , t h o s ev a c u o u sc l o u d s , t h r o u g hw h i c h s l i pt h ep r a n k s t e r so f y o u r Ap o c a l y p s e . I n s t e a d , l i k et h et r e e , s a yt ot h y s e l f , s t a n df a s t t ot h ea x e , b u t b e n dg e n t l yw i t ht h eb r e e z e , a n ds t r e t c hy o u r e v e r l o v i n gl i mb s t o w a r d st h a t w h i c hma k e sy o u w e a ka n dt i n g l yi nt h eb o u g h s .

PAY D By Johnathan Hersh A Y

Every other Friday she goes home early. She remembers always to note how rent, bills, and food have diced up The tiny meal of fresh bills That she will cash on her way home:

“Well, time to give my check to the bank so I can watch it disappear,” she says, with the same delivery every time, a late-night show host sign-off, a trained performer. I have seen her at the 7-11 Buying sweaty hot dogs wrestling in a blanket of fried bread and plastic bottles of vodka, Loading up on the complimentary non-dairy creamers All in the decadent flavors of desserts she’ s never tasted: Tahitian Vanilla, Crème Brulee, Dulce De Leche In a tray beside the coffee maker, and the hot nacho cheese dispenser. She waddles across the aisles, flapping her wings in between rows of candy A red-cheeked bird migrating to the south side of town She exits; her head a ratty lump of blonde coal as it crosses the tape marker that reads 5 foot 7 And the back draft of the door that closes behind her Is hot and sharp and boozy and smells like the garbage of grocery stores Mixed with smoker’ s bars and molded ground coffee. She talks to herself as she crosses the street, Walks the length of the industrial hangars and across the dusty path between The gate lanes and the bay and reaches a docked boat, Nearly submerged in water That squeezes between the planks of disintegrating wood holding up the floorboards And begins the all-night deposit of her day Into the bottle.

Thinking About the End is Always Comic By Pam Benjamin

Our reporter Ms. Benjamin funnels through her vision. We know she wears on us like a kid or an animal act. It's all about "me" the mirrored stageattention to the absurd moments of self awareness staring at my odd gawky presence, the cosmic philosophical. I'm sorry, I'm being like Ms. Benjamin. We can't see the fruitfulness of her life. A constant. A hidden world. Uncoordinated movement on a gross level. Take this ribbon of a road up and up and wound and wound. Let's pretend it's 1958, so we can listen to the stars without static. Intimacy at a distancehumor that leads to isolation. A comic mock heroic senseless humanity.

With weighted eyelids, she sleeps standing up. Time no longer applies to her, measured only in ETAs, delays, in flight films and lay-overs. In Hilton, Hyatt or Holiday suites, she meticulously and methodically opens the nightstand, picking up and feeling the texture of the bargain bible between her moisturized and By Ryan Tamborski manicured fingers. Remaining unopened and unread, tales of Jesus, Moses, Adam and Eve will never elate or inspire her to contemplate. Instead, she practices smiles through routines of oxygen mask droppings, seat belt bucklings and exit door finger pointings. Her eyes are dead through heavy turbulence; through hundreds, thousands, millions of crying babies and panicked faces; through thunderstorms and hurricanes and monsoons and blizzards. The fear never consumed her like it did with the other fliers and stewards and stewardesses so simply, but this time was different. She feels the long lost hormones of adrenaline galloping through her body, sending pricks from her tailbone to the nape of her neck ever – so – slowly. She quivers as the vessel tosses the contents of several overhead storage compartments onto unsuspecting passengers and into the aisles. It had been days, months, years since she felt so alive in her vulner ability and tears begin to soak her eyes. No longer able to face the tens, hundreds, thousands of worried souls looking to her, the seasoned veteran of potentially impending death, for security, she closes her eyes and the first of many last tears swim down her face. She begins to pray, something so foreign and uncomfortable for her, to a God she has only previously felt in between her airbrushed fingernails. She opens her eyes and looks around for something, anything – a sign – only to find the fasten-your-seatbelt light flashing as it had hundreds of millions of times before. Beyond that, faces of fear radiate in the soft moonlight and now-strobing cabin lights barely illuminating the interior. DING* 26A lights up on the seating map next to Faye's face.

This Whole Whirlpool's Much Easier With You Here

Somewhere in the Western World By Rickey Lee Bauman


Somewhere in the Western World A man sits alone in a room. Dot com. Invite. Add. Logout. Bed peace. Bookworm. Glowing in a California pipe Afghani hashish. Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. Thumbing through the pages Of the “good old days.” He finds dog-eared pages; Bagism and “The First Party At Ken Kesey’s with the Hell’s Angels” The vintage machinery skips. Thirty-Three RPM. A cellphone rings. Another reality dreamed. Another high beginning to fade.

The Funeral By Matt Yerge


This day, a wilted rose in June grabs no early morning dew. Feathered, fragmented flower cracking upon gentle hands withered, weathered, wrapped in red a stale perfume put to rest. As light falls upon her paved, painted face, I saw the rock which was carved many years before lathered layered having gathered gray. Smoldering lips broke apart to the soft crackle of her voice where nightingales gather at a fireside romp and cue the Phoenix to arise from the ash.

But I shame myself no more. I’m gathered together in light. To pass to smile, to welcome all passions, to which children run to and from. How can I lie anymore? I wish not no just me

no wishing

I surely gasped to what I was doing; sitting, sniffing, channel surfing, with a thousand sorries I kept in the bank.

No, no they flee and sob till tears flee themselves upon steaming cheeks, feel clean when this honesty carves deep no washing hello once more

Artist Credits Editors Rickey Lee Bauman Michael Warren Grant

Writers Leigh Shaw Valerie Chavez Pam Benjamin Ryan Tamborski Jonathan Hersh Paul Corman Roberts Matt Yerge Nora Toomey

Visual Artists Sonya Genel Adam Holzrichter Dan Williams-Baumgart Vanessa Rodriguez Michael Ross Jeff Cravath Gabriella Molina Courtney Ziegler Michael Latronica

SynergyZine 8: PORTRAITS