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Synesthesia Literary Journal 3:2 Š Christopher H. Gorrie and Seretta Martin 2015 Printed in the United States of America All rights reserved. Except as permitted under U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Patent-Paradigm Publications All inquiries or other correspondences should be directed to: patentparadigmpublications@gmail.com Front cover artwork by Haven Blue Back cover artwork by Michael J. Duke

Table of Contents Blocked Memories


The Gospel According to Jane Doe






The Window


Bop TV


Jack Ruby’s Smoked Ribs Recipe


Balaam’s Burrito on the Act of Treason




The Bridesmaid




Beyond Pluto


The Salamander Heart


The Hyena Princess


The Synesthete


Wedding Ring


On the Bridge


Sitting on a curb in the gas station parking lot


Origin & Rendezvous


Middle Initials


The Beck and Call of War


The Boathouse at Laugharne


Contributor Biographies


Blocked Memories Tammy Robacker After Katherine Poyner-Del Vento

Forgetting is white. A mattress stripped. My dad draped bed linens over the furniture in my room, so bereft my mother packed us up that winter and left. And me, I never could tell the poor man it happened then. I tucked the secret beneath my body. Silence fell across me like down. For forty years I have slept on it. Blank as a sheet till now.


The Gospel According to Jane Doe Tammy Robacker When Christ popped The seal on my tomb, I was still doomed. There was no Lazarus. No Gabriel. No angels. Not even God, save the men of God with holy orders, standing in their officious cloaks at the site. Dirty joking uncles and the friends of the fathers, the host spirits who came upon me early like pre-puberty. Oily, slow and ruinous. Their pious Easter hymns still under my grave-clothes pimpling the skin.


Asafetida Sanjeev Sethi Investing emotions when other operating levers exist, loving without the privilege of parenthood is an essay in emptiness. In some eyes I can see myself. I’m inured to their throes. Come, let us camouflage grief in girdles of guffaw. Let this be our memory. You and I inhaled prescriptions scried by sources beyond our breath. By then my sight was misted by the smoke of your sticky tune. As with passive smokers we nip and sometime nurse. An opisthograph on love is not enough: lived lives have other needs.


high Nuța Istrate Gangan when you want to talk about the weather politics multiple orgasms the cost of human flesh call me I am the planet’s most informed citizen I know people, mister I have information I know the local butcher at times I feel his knife so close my blood burns like acid in the bowels running wild a lion out of its cage one ninety over seventy you’re doing well young lady your blood pressure is orgasmic don’t worry even paradise has side effects as a matter of fact the butcher is searching for a fresh heart red still throbbing (the more broken the better) the law of unruly hearts depended as you well know on the times we lived through naked like carcasses escaped from autopsy hello yes no... I am not the operator she could not return from one ninety over seventy dear listeners (with government-issued certificates clearly not breaking any laws) 4

nothing is as high as it seems nor as satisfactory as the moaning nothing more painful than a blunt knife stubbornly seeking the wound


The Window Toti O’Brien I’d run to the window. Square. Press myself against its marble sill. The softness of my body was met, secured, contained by that margin. That wasn’t enough, though, to control my brothers and me. As a matter of fact, the windowsill caused our irresistible wish to climb then sit on it laterally. It was confortable for our size, like a high sturdy bench. A change from the carpet or the bare floor (carpets where removed in summer). A change from our little chairs in painted wood, laminated with formica…. There weren’t enough chairs: I don't know why we outnumbered them. We couldn’t all sit around the small table (also laminated with formica, corners chipped and worn out) for our playing activities. No. There had to be fight about it: someone won, someone lost. Someone went to squat on the bed, which of course we used as a multitasking piece of furniture, morphing at our demand. Someone pouted under the bed perhaps, discontent with the outcome of the struggle. One of us was especially fond of such dramatic gestures. Or indeed he liked the penumbra, the coziness, the snug feeling of that peculiar abode. Once on awhile, I said, we perched on the windowsill - sideways. The most fortunate rested their back against the walls, the others didn’t... though we usually didn’t fight: it must have been the effect of the altitude. I’ve omitted to say (for sure you guessed) that two massive bars blocked the opening. Tall enough not to be climbed over. Low enough for no kid to slide under. We lived at the fifth story of an old building. Underneath was a street, with its flow of cars and passers by that we loved to peek at from our observatory. No, we didn’t comment on them. We were young and not very articulate. There was nothing to say. The show mesmerized us without need for words. It operated its magic on each of us individually. Which magic I can’t tell. Only intentionally, and of course sitting as described, we could catch the vertiginous sight of people down there. I didn’t always need it. Sometimes it was enough to stand on a little stool, squeezing against the edge and watching what I could see that way. Meaning the fifth and fourth floor of the opposite building: the façade, the interiors as well. I caught glimpses of figures, furniture, activities… always sliced by the window frames… always without beginning or end. Good enough. Fantasy did the rest. No sense of intrusion accompanied my amusement, of an innocent nature. I didn’t know what morbid curiosity was, I had no idea of gossip. No: I looked in (no one said I shouldn’t) as if leafing through a book with delightful vignettes, square and evenly distanced. Some complete, some halved, some temporarily crossed out. Just like in those Christmas calendars with (indeed) little windows to be opened daily, revealing the image behind. I was used to such calendars: the building in front was no more than a three dimensional version. Larger and more exciting. There was no story in the book, no written sentences. I provided them. Still my favorite window (that I seldom accessed) was on the other side of the corridor. It belonged to my father’s office, a sancta sanctorum where I wasn’t supposed to set foot. But sometimes I did. That one window allowed an absolutely enchanting view of the river… blond, like in a rhyme father taught me when I was two. One of our rare interactions not doomed with irritation and conflict. Blond, green, brown as well, the river had many colors. Seagulls inhabited its shores: they perched on the bridge, on the streetlights... incessantly busy, very noisy. Great companions, the seagulls. Often, barges passed by. Some were anchored as permanent residences for fishing or 6

boating clubs. One of them was bright yellow - a small cottage with a pointed roof. I couldn’t see it distinctly (it was too far) but it enthralled me. I suppose because of its flashy color. When I (even so rarely) sneaked to that particular window (providing the greatest deal of evasion), my gaze eagerly sought the yellow casino. It was my landmark. Who knows why some things become a pole of attraction, a key allowing access to the rest… to the whole? First my eye would anchor itself to the little house, hang on it. Then, reassured, it would lift, explore, embrace the view of sensuous hills, the myriads of roofs, domes, steeples and terraces. The pines, weaving into the tapestry of brick and stone their tuffs of dark green, their balsamic presence. The casino only occupied part of the barge - that also comprehended a garden, in vases of course. I thought I could detect colorful potteries with succulents, flowers, maybe miniature palms. That’s what I recognized, my botanic notions being limited. I also thought I saw a little fountain: a sort of marble basin. I couldn’t say if it was triangular or oval: my geometry was in progress as well. I could see a flickering, a silvery flash that suggested water in it. The whole concept was somehow stupefying, overwhelming. A pool, floating? A little lake on a river? I could see a flickering, I said, but essentially I saw something blue or turquoise. Shiny and bright like a precious stone. The fountain had to be lined in tiles: that would have matched the majolica vases. The entire setting reminiscent of Andalusia or Greece: a Moorish extravaganza. But of course I missed all these references. With the blue I was obsessed. Now my eye, oblivious of yellow, sought it first… I craved that blue corner, triangle, oval, whatever. I so wanted to sit on the edge, my hand in the water… I believed there could be coy fishes. Had to: only I couldn’t see them unless I sat by, that I wished with a sharper and sharper longing. Not a morbid one. I was a relatively normal girl. I said sharp, like a needle. Like a high C only the best soprano can hit. I also thought (I formulated this hypothesis later) there could be turtles: bronze colored, starkly contrasting with the azure background. Little turtles: you could lose your mind over them. I so wanted to sit on the fountain edge and try touching, lightly, one of those little turtles. Then one day… yes, I thought I saw a girl by the fountain. I could tell by the dress - that was pale pink. I couldn’t make out its shape but the color was revealing enough. No boy would wear it. That was not my favorite either… I liked other kinds of pink: fuchsia, lobster. Throbbing hues, not ethereal or sugary. But the idea of the girl (I mean her presence) thrilled me. I thought she had a long braid: I detected it on the light expanse of the dress. In the back: because the girl moved around, turning towards the water. She turned and she bent, certainly thrusting her hand to caress whatever fish or turtle was there. And the lotus flowers as well… that I couldn't see but had to be there, hiding shyly very close to the edge. I was fond of lotus flowers—that I saw in pictures only. In books. Her braid, long, swung around her like a whip. I had two of them and shorter… Then the girl stood still for a while, facing my direction. I could guess the shape of her face, not her features. Her pose made her look pensive. It seemed as if she stared at me. Did she? Could she see me from where she was? Could she make out my head and torso in the cutout of father’s office window? Higher, so much higher than where she was. I had no clue. But she seemed to look at me and I responded to her gaze, telling her without words an awful lot of things. The exchange wasn’t verbal, thus quite difficult to reconstruct or recall. Meaningful nonetheless.


Well: she appeared again but quite randomly. Thus I didn't expect her, not truly. No, she didn’t became my secret friend... I’m not sure she ever turned towards me, after that one time. I don't even know how she ended… how she vanished from my consciousness. Probably by mere rarefaction. I saw her seldom then barely, then I stopped seeing her. Maybe she had visited her grandma, let’s say, for a season. Maybe she was a stranger and strangers, I learned, come and go. I forgot all about her, our brief telepathic exchange notwithstanding. At some point, when my brothers and I went to kindergarten, then school, when someone finally brought us to the park in the afternoon, I forgot the fountain as well. Then the windows lost their fascination, their charm. They became things you open to allow fresh air in. Nothing else. I now could read books with formed sentences and I could understand them. I was told that people had separate, private lives. My hair was cut short.


Bop TV Joshua Hart The weasel buries itself in the lions skull and the revolutionary swords sleep in their sheaths and there are microphones in all the trees (the generators are attached to our farms) postcards and plane tickets are burned in fear and Jupiter waits for us to turn the bloody pattern Come worry with us, any and all. We’re proletariat angels strapped to electric chairs. Our babies burn with liquid styrofoam. Our land is sold by walking buttermilk in Armani. Oh, it’s like this (no I don’t got a cigarette, please hear me out). We’ve been had, bamboozled, but not all is lost We gather like rustled satellites. We embrace each other with strong arms. and built tiny metal birds with adept fingers. Oh, if we are strong we can leave this diseased railyard! I mean, our tired eyes must see some triumph? Broken chords can sing a little?



Jack Ruby’s Smoked Ribs Recipe R. W. Haynes Oh, hell, forget it. You can’t think about Thirty things at once. Cooking, to be good Requires peace of mind and seasoned wood And all distractions barricaded out. No girls, no cops, no guns, just mental liberty And savory smoke, and time, no shocks. If I glide thoughtlessly through wrecks and rocks, A sceptral fork to wield authority, Nothing can touch my all-explosive nerve: Nothing will torment me to draw and fire Or stoke this bed of hot coals higher. I stand in my black apron, poised to serve. My kingdom is my backyard under the sun. I stand contented when these ribs are done.


Balaam’s Burrito on the Act of Treason R. W. Haynes Listen, Judas, we all make bad mistakes, But betrayal aforethought of a loving friend Deserves notoriety and a fitting end, And, though your problems are your own heartaches, Ugly actions are inevitably shared, And, even as friendship evaporates, Regret obscures itself but quietly waits, While a mist of penitence congregates Where the execution is prepared. Better if honesty, silverless, had dared To state its case before the greedy mind And chosen love, left appetite behind. Philosophy comes in handy where trap doors wait For the unphilosophic to procrastinate.


Tease Scott Thomas Outlar There is more to life than can be easily deciphered. Hieroglyphs mulled over in broken tongues. Glimpses of revelation grasped for fleeting moments, only to shatter as if never seen at all.


The Bridesmaid Tom Darin Linskey (An excerpt from the forthcoming novella.)

Waking from the nightmare felt like a fever breaking. Maximiliano Santillán touched his brow. There was a slight trembling in his fingers. The flesh was cool, but damp with sweat. His chest ached from gasping for air like a drowning man.

My daughter ... I'm losing her … He had dreamt of Pía again. The one where she died alone on the street. A junkie with no one to claim her body. He closed his eyes, only to feel a slight shudder when his daughter’s face raced through his mind. Her image, quick and fleeting as a shadow. The nausea hit him again, remembering the day the girl overdosed after Lena, his wife and the girl’s mother, died. Santillán found Pía in her room strung out on heroin. The needle stuck in her arm. Her skin blanched white and lips turning blue. The shallow breathing and faint heartbeat. The girl hovered close to death for two days. There was the argument in the hospital a week later, just as she began to improve. She seemed to blame him because she did not die. There was an argument and he slammed his service revolver on the hospital tray with a single bullet telling her that a gunshot to the head would make it easier if she was so set on killing herself. It was his rage that spoke, his fear. He wanted her to live but could not understand why she wanted to throw it all away, and with drugs of all things. He had seen how heroin ruined lives when he was a cop. Now it was on his doorstep. Their already strained relationship worsened that day. She became more distant, wary of being around the man. He said something he could never take back. Now those words played over and over in his head on a self-punishing loop. They were the last words he had spoken to her, and he had not seen her since then. Santillán ran his hand across Lena’s side of the bed. His fingers brushed the empty space. He wished his wife was there to tell him what to do, how to talk to Pía again. Every attempt at reconciliation since that day at the hospital had failed miserably. The girl would not even answer his calls. He had tried again earlier that day, but nothing. When she did not pick up, he could not bring himself to leave a message, so he simply clicked off. Santillán clenched his jaw tight and rolled his eyes up to the bedstead seeing the crucifix Lena had placed over their bed when they first bought the apartment years ago. The cross was one of the few possessions Lena’s family had brought with them from Poland at the beginning of World War II. The crucifix was a wedding gift from her grandmother. A messiah carved from birch. A wounded savior on a dark wall. Santillán never brought the crucifix down after Lena’s death. He did not believe anymore, but doing that would have been like rubbing out a piece of her memory from the house. So the bedstead messiah remained. The late night phone call pulled him from his fitful sleep. He grabbed the receiver and put it to his ear. A tobacco-raw voice on the line called him by his old police rank: inspector. Santillán cursed under his breath, reckoning his name still existed on some yellowing sheet of La Ciudad detectives in a backwater police station. “Look, I’m no longer with ...” 14

The caller interrupted him. “Calling you ‘inspector’ is a courtesy." Santillán rubbed his face, and thought sourly, a generous one at that. Before Lena died, Santillán turned evidence on a corrupt senior officer in the federal police. But the man was well connected politically and skated the charges. In fact the officer was promoted and transferred out of the precinct. Santillán, in turn, was demoted from La Division de Homicidios and sent off to a dingy comisaría in the district. He was a Judas no one would work with. He cleared his throat, reached over to the side table and flicked on the lamp. Squinting in the glare, he slapped for his smokes and lighter. He finally found them and tapped one out. Still groggy: “Then what's s this about?” A short pause. “I understand you are working as a detective.” “Perhaps.” Tersely this time. “And you are currently without a situation.” Santillán hissed a laugh at that, coughed and raised himself up on his elbow. He packed the tobacco in the cigarette tighter, three raps on the tabletop. “Okay then, what do you need?” “Very simple Señor Santillán. A vehicle will be dispatched to bring you to the scene in roughly ten minutes. The driver will wait outside your building for a further five minutes. If you are interested, you will come.” Vehicle? A cop would say something like that. “What kind of scene are we talking about?" The caller ignored his question. “If you come, you will be paid for your time.” “By whom?” This time he told Santillán something. “Securitas." The caller clicked off. Santillán slipped the phone on its cradle, lay back down and breathed in raggedly. He lit the cigarette. Plumes of gray smoke curled upward. In the rarified atmosphere of La República’s politically powerful and financial elite, Securitas was a top name in security services. The outfit catered mainly to foreign companies and local executives, whisking clients around the city in armor-plated sedans with bodyguards recruited from elite South American military and antiterrorist units. It was a lucrative business to be in. Santillán knew that much. Money was not only power, but it equaled safety. The economy was on the brink of collapse again. TV news was showing the countryside in revolt. Bread riots, looting, bank robberies. Corporate-owned farmland was being put to the torch. Making matters worse, the ruling party, elected only a year earlier, was paralyzed by the downwards spiral. The government was having a hard time keeping its splintered coalition together in congress. Just yesterday there were clashes in the outskirts of the capital city after a run on banks. Now there were fears that the new president could not rely on the military to quell more outbreaks. Santillán rose, flung his bare feet to the cold floor and sucked in a deep draught of smoke. Enterprises like Securitas were making money hand over fist. Santillán couldn’t understand why so prestigious a firm would call him. He didn't know anyone who worked for the company. He breathed the last of the smoke into his lungs and stubbed the cigarette out. Under different circumstances, and still unsure of its authenticity, Santillán would have turned down the offer. But he needed money fast. Not so much for him, but for Pía. He wanted to get her out of La República. Make up for abandoning her. Give her a chance for something better. 15

Santillán was barely scraping by. He left the force to be with Lena during her illness. And while he carried a license for private detective work, he made most of his money working for a couple of shady lawyers. Mostly he worked nights, digging up dirt for jilted wives and suspicious husbands. A secondhand camera and a flask of whisky to help him against the cold, humid nights. Lurking in dark doorways across the street from hourly hotels or tailing cars to the ragged outskirts of the city. A place known as a lovers’ wasteland where the adulterous consorted behind curtains of tall weeds. The worst jobs were the lawyer-arranged payoffs. He felt clumsy delivering the cash to the women, especially the unmarried pregnant ones. Girls who often came from poorer families and were dazzled by the glitzy city. They worked mostly as secretaries, receptionists or maids, living in cramped tenements with spinster aunts. But they were young women with stupid, romantic notions. Ideas which got them into trouble with their married bosses. Last week, Santillán recognized one young woman in the news. A suicide. She had worked as a receptionist at an industrial conglomerate. The girl had gotten involved in an affair with an executive at the firm, who later locked her up. Her lover was the scion of a powerful patrician family, a young man already engaged to a politician's daughter. Santillán was hired to give her cash to disappear. Lots of it. And she had for a little while. But then the man’s lawyer had called Santillán a month ago. The girl had tried to contact her former lover after a miscarriage. The lawyer mentioned a price and asked what Santillán could do to get her to shut up. But it was sordid business and he told the lawyer, no, there was nothing he could do. Three days later the girl was found dead, hanging by her neck in a city park. A blighted public space of stunted, pollution-choked trees across from a train station where junkies shot up. Santillán rose from the bed. The cigarette tasted sour in his mouth. Santillán was thinking about the dead girl. He did not believe she had died by her own hand. The dream about Pía still troubled him. He went to the bathroom, washed his mouth out and wet his face with sink-water. There were still the dregs of last night’s wine in the pit of his belly. Yesterday’s clothes were still on the edge of the bed. He took them and dressed quickly, slipping his baby Glock G26 into his coat pocket. He glanced at his watch. The vehicle should be waiting for him below.



Waking Steve Klepetar She wakes before the sun, stirs in her cold bed. She’s been here before, that she knows, though memory has left her nothing but the burning sense of obligation – to rise and mend the fire and drag herself down to the kitchen to put the coffee on. Her naked feet on the floor pull her back into this life. Her hair settles down and spills beneath her shoulders, the strange smells of this house more and more familiar now. His room hums with light, she can see shadows on the wall, already prancing at his command. Slowly, like someone remembering how, she cuts up bread, starts the pan going for eggs, feels the fleeing dreams flow from her fingers and hang for a moment, a few, last vaporous spells dissolving in the air she remembers now to breathe.


Beyond Pluto Judy Kaber In third grade James makes the planet, small, compact, dark, so far from the sun, crouching beside the dugout fence among, the clover patch trampled by feet, so far from the ones who catch the teacher’s eye: Maggie with Mercury, painted bright pink, a planet dipped in a feminine vat; John who kicks, shouts, swears, hauled to the office, but given Earth, because that’s what he wants, to punch pencil holes for eyes, mark a vicious red equator mouth. James holds Pluto, bends and draws circles in the dirt, shows the girl in yellow the way he came to Earth from some foreign world, green stem of maple flying across the dirt as wide as his arm can reach, beyond the playground, beyond teeter-totter, beyond swings, beyond the reach of the teacher’s voice as it slides space-ridden air, arranging the solar system, beyond Pluto and Charon and the dark frisson kissed by comets. The girl decides she wouldn’t mind becoming the unrelenting sun if she could feel the cream of light years spread across her skin. The school bell rings, a stagnant cough. The children jog, soles pounding crusty earth, hot in June-smoked air. Out in the cold James picks lint from his pocket, an invisible moon rides the edge, the world a bloated oval, a face with strange lines.


The Salamander Heart Marie Lecrivain salamander heart, cold and untouched amidst these sacred fires — Bulfinch’s Mythology

I watched the carnage with a million other lookie-loos curious to see the jihadists cloaked in reptilian splendor. And I heard the desperate plea of the bard, an orison to a god no more genuine than the virgin birth or St. Nick. I didn’t cry as he clawed off his flesh and collapsed into the earth with a sigh of relief. It was their eyes, the unified look of satisfaction that stayed with me. Listen! We’d be unwise to count this as a minor infraction on the world stage. For now, nurse your ire. In the end we may survive the fire.


The Hyena Princess Marie Lecrivain "I think you're doing a really good job, but you're developing a relationship with the client," you inform me as you point one artfully filed claw at the computer screen. I stare at your nail color. Royal purple. It matches the color of your eyes. You stare at me imperious and impatient - while I figure out how to respond to your accusation. I see the date on the note: February 18. You've scolded me four separate times for this same infraction. I've not called any of your clients since 2/18. I ceased doing that for you the day you congratulated me on my first big commission. You then told me I take too long to transfer the clients over to my betters. The deal came from a client in my base, and when I paged you to take the call, you were already on another line. I avoid you at all costs. On my third day at work you came up to me to introduce yourself to me. The next day, you made a point of telling me that you knew who I was, because your sister had once been my boss at a previous job. I remember your sister. She trained me. She was a good listener. I liked working with her. I notice another something else. It's a small thing, really, not that big of a deal. Your hair is starting to thin on your head near the front, a widening of your natural part on the right side. I notice, too, the heavy foundation embedded in the deep furrow across your forehead that your bangs can't quite disguise, and your tense, uber-straight posture. "You're right," I say, "I'm sorry." You relax. I wonder how much longer I'll stay with this company. I wonder how many more years I'm going to run into versions of you who'll piss on my accomplishments – because I scare you. I wonder if, and when, I'll turn into you.



The Synesthete Jeffrey Heath aka The earth is red, a base of perception. Her words sound like the flow of lava cooling, deepening to black, There is a physicality to these words that spans our language: the name for soul is a jewel made of red earth. It is the same for blood, the color of its voice: rivers in the shapes of people, chimes accentuating a syllable, or naming a destination. Our senses tell us where we are going as much as where we are. For the synesthete, there is a commonality that the color of our senses share in their linguistic past. Four and base and death become the same word, evidenced by the sameness of their color. In Jale, there are only two named colors: black and white, dark and light. But when we die, it is to the red soil we return. adalonige Blood is the painting of a native people. The movement of each brush stroke warming against the skin. Compositions of our ancestors, whose music moves in strange geometries; of appropriate words, when spoken, that allow the blind to see. Lending eyes to music, ears to painting. There is a language of pain where all the words are hued with orange. The letters rustle like leaves, before falling and blending into earth along the Nunna dual Tsuny. A Medicine Woman sings in whispers. Her name is the taste of citrus. An Old Mother, leader of her people, the orange, golden center of a rose grown from tears. 23

amarillo In every language, the word yellow is the same texture of grain. Amarillo, town of my birth, is wheat-tinted by the sun. The color pulls me, like gravity or ancestry, with abstractness of thought. Each word, curiosity and sensory among them, a golden symmetry amongst an emptiness of plains. Somewhere in this past, a distinction arises between science and experience where one becomes conjecture and the other, evidence of its own objectivity. There are the genetics of the soul. Neurons become metaphor for phenomenology. gr端n The heart is the forest of a single tree, central green, four points extended, branching in every direction. Every leaf speaks with its own voice, navigating the waters of our veins. Blood murmurs in translation, bridging the communication of its parts. My name comes from the word for peace joined with that meaning hostage. There are times when the beauty of sensation entraps my speech, blinds my tongue, and the valleys of my flesh fill with seed, acorn, ash. The branches of my arms become weighted by the child who climbs to my shoulders. The tree is melaleuca, a paper skin invasion, stealing breath as it blooms. ao The child is a sapphire sun shining through the leaves. His name is both memory and ocean, the longing space between sea and sky. Memory is a blue word, anchored by its dominant letter, like mountains shaping the sea in the push to their height. And again the lineage of gravity pulls me back to time before language, purity of form: 24

shape and sound without explicit meaning, but not without conception. For the blind or the deaf, is the world no more imagined that for the child who does not speak? lila There are universal languages, unspoken, unformed, yet for the color of their sound. Faith and language are both purple words. Our language the evidence of what we cannot see, the perception beyond the sensory, sound denied by the saturation of sight, color vanished for its lack of name. The world becomes a grey place, colored only by the language of faith, the metaphor, the prayer. The bleeding and blending of senses becomes its own communication. holo In my dreams there are circles, endless rings filled with white light. Petals of the Cherokee rose, curl and spray of ocean foam, the corona of an eclipsed sun. Perhaps there is no name or perhaps it is I who am nameless. In my alphabet, there is one white letter; a small and perfect circle. I abandon my thoughts, let the dream speak: The Jale word for white is holo. A dominant O, and the words come. Open hOpe lOve.


Wedding Ring John Grey I went on an unsuspected journey from hand out car window to early spring field. Not even sunlight could track me. I'm an innocent victim of a marriage unasked for, an unapologetic finger— and what's that about a heart? Now I'm a mere metallic icon dulled by surrounding greenness. Oh my God, where am I? A squirrel almost had me, and a crow pecked at my gold. I've suffered through a dawn of severe frost. Now comes a twilight of encroaching dandelions. As a symbol, I was as faithful as the tides. But now that I’m junk, I’m anyone’s.



On the Bridge Toti O’Brien I was crossing the bridge when the idea struck me. I don’t know why: I’ll think of it later. I’ll come back and I will possibly find out. It invested me (the idea) like a gust of wind. Tridimensional… Do concepts have volume? They do of course in our mind. Otherwise they are words. Tridimensional it appeared—friendship—floating in midair like a ghost vessel, a sailboat suspended in the wrong element. But it wasn’t a boat: it was a sort of Japanese shade folded on itself. Something that could become intimate, create privacy but also spread like a curtain, a wall, a barrier. Such ornate piece of furniture materialized, so to speak, out of the mere thought of friendship. The thought itself unexpected… Why a pretty banal term should cause such baroque imagery is unclear. Why didn’t I visualize a friend… a hug, a kiss on the cheek? A dinner table topped with a birthday cake. A gift box wrapped with shiny paper, with a beautiful bow. That would do. But no: I almost bumped into a piece of art deco complicatedly entangling me into the equivalent of a spider web. Color green was predominant, patched with gray, beige and muddy brown. Such hues tinted the frame (was it wood or metal?) and the panels: a confused mixture of tapestry, net, lace and knitting…inconsistent and sparse. I stopped briskly. I breathed, trying to counteract a feeling of sadness suddenly constricting my throat. Well, the vision wasn’t dispelled. I tried to focus instead, grasp a salient detail that could provide explanation. But the thing wouldn’t stay still: it swirled like a vortex, as if following contrasting moods…directions I mean. Wanting to pull away, be swept into the flow of vehicles rushing underneath…or to get hold of me, wrapping me into its spires. In that maelstrom it was hard to see precisely. Close-ups came but rapidly, impromptu, a flash at a time, while the thing (as a meteor on its irreversible trajectory) moved away, disappeared. Well, I managed to see how the panels were made... As I said various techniques were applied: netting, lacing, weaving. But the parts were barely joined and poorly maintained… as if on purpose. And the choice of materials: incredible. I know modern art pleases itself with the ephemeral: there are limits though. I saw decaying vegetation, torn grass, dried leaves, broken branches so thin you could crumble them with a blow. I saw human hair knotted…most grayish of course. I saw lint in the shade of mouse skin. I saw, you wouldn’t believe this…I saw dust. Need I saying it all was coming apart? The worst part being when I could still my eye for a couple of seconds on a square inch, a corner, I could tell once this was exquisitely wrought. Exquisitely…for nothing? To let it go with the wind? Apparently. But who could possibly conceive that? Who made friendship that way? I have no clue. The bridge… each time I traversed it for a same routine errand I remembered when I first crossed it. Then I was unfamiliar with this part of town and I had parked far from my destination. That was the courthouse. Well, I used to hang in there for long hours, normally leaving my car closer. At the end of the day (most of it spent waiting on marble benches, some of it spent crying) I would reach my car as soon as I could. I cocooned inside it, I gorged on its leather smell and thought about one thing only: home.


I spent days in court over a considerable stretch of time, required for the lengthy process of a divorce that I managed first-hand - without lawyers or mediators. Due to my little knowledge of language, country, laws, rules, I managed it quite badly and it took forever. But the last day arrived, the last documents, the last signature were filed. Whenever I stepped out of the creepy building (where I arrived early in the morning then sat outside, on cold stairs, waiting to be admitted, in line with a number of fellows as pale faced as me) I had trouble remembering where I parked. This time the car was on the other side of the bridge… I was pretty sure. The bridge though, when I reached it, felt strange and I experienced severe disorientation. Well, it happens when feelings are stirred and that was the case so I kept going. Straight: it’s the best solution while on a bridge. Forwards too. I stopped for a moment and that moment I won’t forget. I stopped in the middle, leaned against the edge and looked down at the flow of cars dashing in opposite directions on the freeway. Opposite directions, constantly. Fascinated I watched. I suppose I’d rather have liked to be on a dock. On a pier, soothed by the immensity of the ocean. By the equanimity of water, always the same, flowing everywhere, touching all human shores, making everything one. Like they say of God but I know the ocean better. I watched at the flashing cars, hypnotized. Happy somehow. I felt I suddenly had all the time in the world. I could be in any of those cars, together with anyone, going anywhere… I was grasped by a sense of exhilaration. With that came an equally powerful wish of letting go. Jumping in the arms of that intoxicating freedom. No sadness in it. Only an uncanny sense of uprooting: what a kite must feel when the rope is cut… what a balloon must feel when the smooth, puffy hand of a two-year old loses its grip. Now the two-year old is crying. Bitter tears. The balloon will never know. Well, this brings me back to my epiphany, does it? The hallucinated sculpture made of wild grass and loose tread. The Japanese shade I saw, labeled with the high sounding name of friendship. Ship: I’m noticing it, yes. A ship of friends leaving and us on the dock, on the above mentioned pier, waving our handkerchiefs. Will they come back? Of course not: farewell. By the way they don’t make handkerchiefs any more… the article has been replaced by paper tissues. If you find one it’s quite small: not those oversized shrouds our grandparents dug out of their pockets in appropriate moments. Friendship dear, you are gone, are you? On this very bridge where also my divorce was consumed. Well, the marriage was, long before… I’m not sure divorce gets consumed. Divorce is the ultimate consumption of marriage. But why are you gone? Because of bad sewing? Stitching that doesn’t hold the weather? Poor choice of materials? The vision hints at that. Why on this bridge? Do we divorce friends as well? Do friends divorce us? Yes, and they don’t need a courthouse for such purpose. They divorce us constantly without letting us know. True: friendship comes and goes with such lightness… such absence of motif. Hasn’t everyone experienced some of its volatility? 29

My phantasmagoria wasn’t original. It was actually the mature version of the well wrapped gift (such a naïve vignette). But a question lingered when - having logically and chronologically sorted the meanings of my impression - I reached the end of the bridge, gladly proceeding on the less windy avenue. Why the Japanese shade? What was behind the curtain before it flew away? A tea table? Soft cushions? Incense? A recitation of haikus? Jasmine scents in the air? A walk in a secret garden? What was behind that curtain? I irrationally turned back, the gesture almost escaping me. As if I could see something, as it the pavement behind me could show some consistent trace. An object. A lost wallet with an identity card. A fallen necklace with a locket. With a medal. Something smaller. A button. A button, fabric covered, belonging to a handmade ancient coat. With a lingering smell of fireplace, with a vanishing zest of perfume. Vainly, most insanely, my eyes scanned the sidewalk for a button. I saw nothing.



Sitting on the curb in a gas station parking lot Nicholas Snow the wind came across the asphalt knocking the gourd tree like it was alive. across the median the red roofed barn kept the hay dry but for the collapsed south corner. dark clouds were closing in. out of state plates were quick to leave. i thought about buying a map & seeing where i’d been. the display case was empty. a collared dog littered the exit ramp.


Origin & Rendezvous Raphael Umphres I wonder if you remember the country in your cup How we drank an ocean Together If I breathed in Tierra del Fuego You would have exhaled Antigua Oh, to name where we could’ve met‌ Until I knew you never left I wonder if you remember The clothes that we removed How we drank an ocean Together.


Middle Initials Raphael Umphres It’s in the brush of a shoulder Between two blinks of the eye Three knocks on a door post In four days and five nights Six months since I first saw you, Several moments gone between All the times I hoped to see you Give the look that rescued me.



The Beck and Call of War Clare Hepworth-Wain A mansion modelled on the Palace of Versailles

admits those wounded in this long war. Stretchered up the sweeping staircase

their stark cries puncture the stuffy stifle. Chandeliers hang in the gold-leaf ballroom

rainbows cast on swollen stumps. Life hangs onto smooth set faces

blancmanged by morphine, shocked by shells. In mirrored encores of crimson-caked gowns

cotton-wool fails the requirements of war. Heat clamours under a stern sky

the heiress stoops, collecting moss underfoot. Sweat binds bare breasts to cotton smock

this part of her young in a body grown old. Tufts of moss pass through her fingers

she prays a rosary as she picks out twigs. Two ounces of sphagnum in each muslin bag,

to pack the wound and act as dressing. His last summer spent next to the sea

in the pink columned ward fit for a king. *In 1914, Oldway, the Paignton home of the Singer family, was converted into one of the most opulent hospitals of the war.


The Boathouse at Laugharne Clare Hepworth-Wain Unlike you, I hold my ground withstand bluster and long frosts. My only drama, the spitting sea scouring my weatherboards. I grow a salt crystal shell while you sugar every word appeasing your wife seducing your mistress worshipping that bottle wedged between your thighs as you sit at my window blind to anything but that which has passed. Replaying childhood, mother love those fleeting moments of ecstasy caught in the soiled every day. Writing them down lest you forget.



Contributor Biographies Haven Blue is an artist exploring the world. She grew up collecting and arranging objects to discover new perspectives and different ways of experiencing. Her childhood was full of varied interests that lead her into many creative activities, but the seclusion of the California countryside allowed her to focus on visual expression through painting and sculpture. She has illustrated for children's books and curriculums and her work has appeared in exhibitions at the Boehm Gallery in San Marcos, CA and the Baron Gallery in Ocean Beach, CA.

Born in Northampton, UK, Michael J. Duke spent 15 years living in Israel. In 2000 he joined the Tel Aviv Camera Club and had his first exhibition at the Mercaz Bikurei Ha Itim in 2001. In January 2005, Michael returned to London and instantly joined up with the Isle of Wight Photographic Society and then the Hampstead Photographic Society. Since returning to London, Michael has appeared in group exhibitions for both the Hampstead and the Isle of Wight Photographic Societies. 39

Tammy Robacker is a Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence award winner (2011) and a TAIP grant recipient (2009). Her chapbook, Cuttings, won the 2015 Keystone Chapbook Prize from Seven Kitchens Press. Tammy published her first collection of poetry, The Vicissitudes, in 2009 (Pearle Publications). Tammy's poetry has appeared in Menacing Hedge, Chiron Review, VoiceCatcher, Duende, So to Speak, Crab Creek Review, WomenArts, and Up the Staircase Quarterly. Currently enrolled in the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA program in Creative Writing at Pacific Lutheran University, Tammy lives in Oregon. Her second poetry book Villain Songs is forthcoming with ELJ Publications in 2016.

Author of two well-received books of poetry, Suddenly For Someone and Nine Summers Later, Sanjeev Sethi is a media person who has written for newspapers, magazines and journals. He has produced radio and television programs. His poems have found a home in The London Magazine, The Fortnightly Review, Solstice Literary Magazine, Off the Coast, Lemon Hound, Poetry Australia, Indian Literature, The Indian P.E.N., Literature Alive, Journal of the British Council (India), The Statesman, The Hindu, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai. Bloomsbury is publishing, This Summer and That Summer, his third collection.


Nuța Istrate Gangan is a Romanian-American author. She lives in Davie, Florida, and has published books n both Romanian and English. Her books are available online here: Gangan’s books Her poetry is translated into English by Adrian George Sahlean.

Toti O’Brien has had work published in The Altadena Review, Poetic Diversity, Edgar Allan Poet, Litro NY and other journals. She has published two children books, two collections of short stories and one book of essays in Italian. She has contributed for a decade to Italian magazines such as Mezzocielo, Salpare, L’Ostile and Inguine.


Joshua Hart has had work published in Assonance Literary Magazine, Dink Magazine, Love Thy Pigeon, Haggard and Halloo, Voicemail Poems, Gutter Eloquence Magazine, The Blackwater Review, The Troubadour, and The Alien Mouth Journal. He has an upcoming book of poetry entitled Tell Me if I'm Alone Here (Electric Broadcasts).

R. W. Haynes writes in South Texas, where he is frequently reminded of William Blake’s assertion: “Without Contraries is no progression.” He recently completed a novel.


Scott Thomas Outlar survived both the fire and the flood…now he dances with the waves of the Tao River, flowing and fluxing with the ever changing tide of life’s existential nature. His words have appeared recently in venues such as Cultured Vultures, Dissident Voice, Expound Magazine, and The Poet Community. His debut chapbook A Black Wave Cometh was released last April through Dink Press. More of Scott’s work can be found at 17numa.wordpress.com.

Tom Darin Liskey spent nearly a decade working as a journalist in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the Crime Factory, Driftwood Press, Mount Island, The Burnside Writers Collective, Sassafras Literary Magazine, and Biostories, among others. His photographs have been published in Hobo Camp Review, Roadside Fiction, Blue Hour Magazine, Synesthesia Literary Journal and Midwestern Gothic.


Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared widely, and several of his poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press) and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press).

Judy Kaber was born in Brookly, NY, and grew up on Long Island. She has spent most of her life in Maine, however, and considers herself a Maine poet. She currently lives in Belfast, Maine. She taught elementary school for 34 years and is recently retired. Her poems have been published in a number of journals, both print and electronic, including The Guardian, Off the Coast, The Comstock

Review, Wolf Moon Journal, Eclectica, and Blast Furnace. Contest credits include the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest in 2009 and the Larry Kramer Memorial Chapbook Contest in 2011.


Marie Lecrivain is the editor-publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles. She’s the author of The Virtual Tablet of Irma Tre (2014 Edgar & Lenore’s Publishing House), and forthcoming Philemon's Gambit: Sonnets and Art (2015 International Wordbank Press).

Jeffrey Heath formerly lived as a cat stalking the shores of South Florida. He currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee where he works for a nonprofit. His poetry has previously appeared, or is forthcoming, in PSH, Dead or Alive Poets Society, and Eunoia Review.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature.

Nicholas Snow was born on May 27th, 1993 in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges where he studied English and aesthetics, writing both poetry and prose.


Raphael Umphres is an English Literature student from San Diego. He enjoys the smell of cut grass in the morning, road trips, iced tea, jazz music, and baseball. His love for poetry is inspired by the beauty he's begun to look for in everything, from southern barbeque to the solar system. Aside from writing poetry, his other hobbies include cycling, playing the violin, and incessant pun making.

Clare Hepworth-Wain started to submit poems last year and they have been published in the poetry magazine Dawntreader, in the pamphlet Voices and Memory and online in Campus, Poetry 24, Nutshells and Nuggets, Hinterland, The Stare's Nest and The Open Mouse.



Profile for Synesthesia Literary Journal

Synesthesia Literary Journal Volume 3:2  

Synesthesia Literary Journal Volume 3:2