The Best of Mad Swirl : 05.28.16

“Nobody is ordinary if you know where to look.” ~ Maeve Binchy

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“battle beast” (above) by featured artist Jeff Skele Sheely. To view more of Jeff's twisted beatific images, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Gallery at MadSwirl.com!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we raised a bud from remembered mud; we struggled to rise above the ranks of those who run on shallow tanks; we sought to curb what anger grows with tips o' the brims of our chapeaux; we listened to what one had to say about the good ole American (Everywhere) Way; we sliced a thin salvation with sharp instruments for sale; we danced aloft with kissing bees in a tree, leaf & nub tickling, riffing breeze; we climbed a staircase, skyward hung, strained to hold on - ring, rang, rung; we embraced a hallucination, clinically not allowed, tranquility found in blood from clouds. Just another week's work in the Swirl... ~ MH Clay

Time to Reflect by Tom Hall

My first hallucination was the perfect one for me.
I had walked deep into the woods when rain began to fall
It fell so softly bending trees and rustling through the trees
The rain drops shone like blood red beads, descending on us all.

These colored drops turned colorless, following their falling.
The most relieving thing was that it painted nothing red.
To bathe the forest and myself in blood would be appalling.
The colored of the world remained, only the clouds had bled.

It was a warm and welcome thing, the rain had been to me.
I laid upon a massive rock, to let it wet me down.
And then it stopped, as rain will do, the sky had set it free.
I’d had my fill of ambrosia, there was no need to drown.

My Psych took back the pills next day, he had no way of knowing
That sanity is subjective, he’d got my engines going.

May 28, 2016

editors note: Just because it’s an hallucination doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Red rain, baby! – mh clay

The Fish Ladder at Diamond Hill by D. Russel Micnhimer

in some distant far off
sleight of hand
there stands a colossus
on its head

heart long ago
turned to stone
and breath to sand
ringing ringing ringing

eyes above the sheen
of kings
beyond the hollow
logs of barks
recording marks
of shallow ways
beyond their means
with bells that
rang and rang and rang

ears sheared
by cloud fleece tip
scales of kippered pounds
leaving their appointed
rounds writhing on grounds
of incriminations
discovered upward
rung by rung by rung

May 27, 2016

editors note: A precarious climb to the top; wring tight those rungs. – mh clay

May Journal: Friday, May 31, 2013 by Don Mager

Late morning breezes riff the vines and
branches, playing hide and seek with small
promises tucked beneath wide open
leaves. Beside weathered fence slats, yellow
winks along cucumbers and squash vines that
trail down from well-composted mounds. Their
open sweetness imbibes the bees’ probes
and kisses. Pale green and pencil thin,
pears dangle beneath perky leaves set
to start long itineraries toward
ripeness. Fig nubs stand, beneath dark green
umbrellas, erect and hard. Neither
rhyming nor reasoning, breezes riff
streaks of movement down and up each tree.

May 26, 2016

editors note: Our Springtime rascal, the riffing breeze. – mh clay

Scissors Cut Paper by Chella Courington

I can’t stop buying scissors. I walk into Home Depot for red geraniums, leave with gardening shears, green ergonomic handles. Piggly Wiggly for a roasting hen. Shiny poultry shears. At a garage sale I find a pair of hedge clippers. By December paper cutters, pinking shears, hair trimmers — any blades you want are boxed in the kitchen pantry.

Saturday he takes his 14 clubs & disappears. In hot water, I clean scissors. Prop them on the counter before drying with muslin. Each blade I shine with baking soda. In high school I hung with cutters. They used whatever worked — broken glass, coat hangers, paper. Arms tracked with violet scars like stretch marks hidden under long-sleeve shirts.

Reflections in a Golden Eye: Mrs. Langdon uses garden shears to clip her nipples when she loses her baby. Snip snip — easy as pinching off deadheads. Sunday in January, I hold my left nipple between the blades of barber shears. Warm steel triggers goose bumps. Is a nipple like a finger? Can they sew it back on?

Recurrent dream: blades-down, scissors drop from the ceiling, rattling & hissing. Impale the cherry nightstand, down comforter, my Land’s End bathrobe. I crouch in the tub, rocking to the sound of hail. Open my thigh — blood a rusty penny melting on my tongue.

I get an Alabama divorce. He signs the papers & hauls his Titliest clubs, La-Z-Boy & mahogany desk down to Florida. Parting words: The cat stays with you. I keep Moot, the crystal & the condo. Start selling the scissors on E-Bay, box by box.

May 25, 2016

editors note: Slice to a clean slate; sell’em off to start again. – mh clay

America by Douglas Polk

men in suits,
and ties,
tribal warriors,
battling for turf,
believed their own,
naïve ignorant bastards,
boundaries shift,
and borders in dispute,
fears flamed,
culture assigned,
along with taxes.

May 24, 2016

editors note: This is how we roll in the land o’ the free. How about your country? – mh clay

Red Hot Anger by Sheighle Birdthistle

How to pale a red hot anger
When rods of pain stroke
And all day long it grows stranger
Beholden to stronger folk.
An anger that knows no voice
Born nor bred by choice
Leave me die in a quiet corner
Seize the day and all of that
Close your eyes insipid mourner
Remove your mask and raise your hat.

May 24, 2016

editors note: Open face, cool head; take on the after instead with laughter. – mh clay

The Struggle by Michael Marrotti

It’s an excruciating journey
to walk amongst them
when they’re all united
to march against me
Picket signs
they signed
the proclamation
It only took a glimpse
but that glimpse
is good enough
To fuel their shallow tanks
ignite the flame
and burn down a place
they’ll never comprehend
nor even try to see it
in a bilateral
point of view
The only thing that counts
is how it’s portrayed
in the eyes of a conservative
No room for me
on the one way street
God forbid
you do your own thing
They’ll make you feel special
if you’re not like them
will leave you battered
and angry
It’s an endless struggle
I’m pleased to be alone

May 23, 2016

editors note: We can get’em to look, but we can’t make’em see. Alone, indeed. – mh clay

If This Finds You, I Tried by Daniel Lattimore

My sin wasn’t bigger than your sin, yet your name was driven into the mud.
We watered that seed together, and our rose, forever with its thorns, began to bud.
Why? I’m sure your friends wanted to know. I didn’t have that magazine cover smile
or that endorsed glow.
But for you it wasn’t about that. It was about the passion left to the dance floor.
That kind of raw passion that left you craving more.
I couldn’t keep a secret because I wanted them to understand
that the heart resembles blood surrounding a clenched hand.
In an alternate universe, you and I could converse.
They write ballads about criminal couples, and you and I share a verse.
Haha there I am, caught captive in my own home
Plagued by a picture of my youth hanging in the catacomb.

May 22, 2016

editors note: Past partners in perdition, reveling in recall. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? This week's featured story comes from Contributing Writer & Poet Lilly Penhall. Here's what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about Lilly's not-for-the-easily-offended featured short, "F.T.P.":

We’re only as good as those we wish to hold up in high regard. We’re only as safe when we worship predators and apologize for being opened and our insides explored, pulled out.

And here's a short testimony of this tale to get you started:

(photo by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

“I think you like it rough.”

Her eyes stared at the detective blankly. “Excuse me?”

“And I think…” he sat back in his chair and clasped his hands over his belted khakis, “you didn’t want your parents to find out that you had sex with a black guy. You’re embarrassed, so you said it’s rape. Am I right?” His gold badge glimmered in the fluorescent lights.

“No.” She let out a choked breath. “Not at all. I’ve had sex with plenty of black guys. Consensually. My first boyfriend was black. Plus I’m 28 years old, I could give a shit less what my parents think of who I fuck, which are people of many different ethnicities, ok? I’m not racist, I just didn’t want to have sex with that black guy.”

“Then why were you in his room?”

“I told you, he said he was drunk and lonely and wanted someone to watch a movie with him, I felt bad for the guy.”

“Well, I’ve seen women who have been beat up, ok? They have bruises, whelps, black eyes, marks on their neck, ok? I don’t see a single bruise on you.”

“He choked me until I blacked out, and my jaw was popped out of place…”

“Did they do an x-ray with your rape kit?” He sat up and flipped through her file.

“No, just took pictures. I had marks on my neck…”

He looked up at her sharply. “I don’t see ‘em.”

Her eyes brimmed with tears. “I guess he knew how to hurt me without leaving a mark.” Her head dropped and so did the tears, as the detective told her they’d continue their investigation, after collecting the physical evidence in a few months she could retrieve her personal effects from their office.

His business card between his fingers, he thanked her for coming down to the station, call if you think of anything, we’ll be in touch. It was like some bizzaro-world cop show where the bad guy won. The NWA song “Fuck Tha Police” started playing like a soundtrack in her mind as she walked out of the police station, shaking her head…

Gotta keep reading, don'cha? Well what are you waiting for? Get the rest of your read on here.

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl & Swirve this 1st Wednesday of June (aka 06.01.16) at 8:00 SHARP as we continue to swirl up our mic madness at our mad mic-ness home, Dallas’ badass The Underpass!

This month we will be virtually featuring the fine folks from The Southern Collective Experience. Charles Clifford Brooks III (author, teacher, poet and the founder of The Southern Collective Experience) will be joined by Scott Thomas Outlar (host at 17Numa and Contributing Poet at Mad Swirl) & musician Kaleb Garrett (a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from North Georgia). We guarantee this’ll be a feature you won’t wanna miss! And in case you missed the memo on who/what/where The Southern Collective Experience is…

The Southern Collective Experience is a cooperative born from all genre of life, and from every part on the nation. It is not simply a collection trapped below the Mason-Dixon Line. / Our band of virtuous heathens fly the philosophy that “everyone is south of somewhere.” All of those who share a bloodline infused with blues, feel our gravitational pull. It is life lived real. / A side-passion the SCE invests itself into breaking the stereotypes artists earned, and earn, in regards to lack of dependability, rampant emotional immaturity, and people incapable of working selflessly with other creators. / The SCE is not out to change the world. The Southern Collective Experience is a tactful force. Every genius deserves to digest the truth: You are a genius.

Come on out, one & all. Get a brainful of Swirve, share in the Mad Swirl’n festivities, & if the spirit is movin’ ya get yourself a spot on our list. Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call Mad Swirl Open Mic. Come to participate. Come to appreciate. Come to swirl-a-brate!

P.S. If you're on Facebook, get on the pre-list at our event page.


The whole Mad Swirl of everything to come keeps on keepin' on... now... now... NOW! Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, every every EVERY there is! Wanna join in the mad conversations going on in Mad Swirl's World? Then stop by whenever the mood strikes! We'll be here...


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 05.21.16

“What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things.” ~ Albrecht Durer

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“toxic” (above) by featured artist Jeff Skele Sheely. To view more of Jeff's twisted beatific images, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Gallery at MadSwirl.com!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we watched from above the blossom of natural love; we possessed no ordinary - starling swarms, mutant rodents, all extraordinary; we changed our expectations of snow bird manifestations; we let not love cease for the girl we gave gruff peace; we played the fool to the base of the gene pool; we lost all tolerance for "geldings," provocateurs of violence; we found some grace for those who fall. Falling is something we know, all. Take heed... ~ MH Clay

WHEN I FALL by Helen Harrison

Why is it that the path
Has to mist before
We see ourselves,

Cracks and roots exposed
To an empty ditch
To reveal a broken stem;

Vulnerable, collapsing
Covered in isolation
And open to pain.

Maybe it is necessary for us
To suffer occasionally –
For compassion to remain;

Like a stunted tree, a trapped
Fly, before we can see
Through another’s eye.

My path has been mostly clear
Or as far as I can see
Alone, but never lonely.

Not intentionally
Do I fail to notice
A troubled mind,

If you fail to see me
When my mist approaches.
I won’t think you unkind.

May 21, 2016

editors note: Yes, it takes pain to know pain; Compassion 101. (We welcome Helen to our crazy conclave of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page.) – mh clay

ALUMNI #137 by Darren C. Demaree

How much time do you get
for threatening politicians

with more books of poetry
that call them “motherfuckers”

& “geldings”? I was hoping
I would at least get a vague

threat from some Koch thugs
for that collection. That book

brought me no response
& that was violent to my ego.

May 20, 2016

editors note: If they read what we write for them, no violence. – mh clay

One of the Bigs by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

There was this recent study published
by one of the “bigs”
that claimed there was a direct correlation
between intelligence and sexual activity

which made everyone mad
because it suggested that the smarter you are
the less likely you were to be sexually active

implying conversely
that people having lots of sex
with more than one partner
were less intelligent

and having it with those
of a lesser intelligence

producing offspring that
well, you guessed it…

which explains a lot

if you have ever tried to navigate
a Walmart parking lot on a Saturday
three weeks before

May 19, 2016

editors note: We seek a happy medium; sexy and smart. – mh clay

To Evie by Daniel Wade

O girl with arms open to the sunset,
Perhaps you belong to a gentler time
Where little provision existed for regret
Or the beastly memento of a crime
That I would bury from the dawn’s sight
In numb, February soil, and cower
From your disillusion, your eyes’ fine art.
Because my first taste of love was sour,
I let caution preside over the heart,
Leaving you to navigate this urban maze,
Where, in rush hour’s heated cough,
Headlights slice shadows, forked light tongues
Bridges, the sun beats its flammable hoof.
The canal bank is unshaven with yellow reeds,
Benches wear rust like an unsavoury crown.
Yet nature’s chequered framework lives on here,
Exhaling the leaves’ cool dialect into my ear:
O Mo chroi, corazon, inamorata, loved one.
I wave aside the smoke of commandment,
And the mirror of reparation cracks
By your tongue’s mellow writhing in my mouth,
The dark, droll dance of your eyelash.
O girl against whom I’ve held a gruff peace,
Should my eyes soak up all reassurance,
Or the voice that sung to you falls still,
Then may these words attest love’s burden,
Allowing our lives to once again be filled.

May 18, 2016

editors note: Getting over and through to get in. – mh clay

Penguin… by Paul Hellweg

penguin in a tree
live without expectations
more sunshine to find

May 17, 2016

editors note: Heed this advice and, when we see one, we won’t be surprised. – mh clay

No Ordinary (Mutant Rodents of the Third kind) by Polly Richardson (Munnelly)

Damp earth marinated with spruce mulch, waft and console
sinking roots in waves under silence stars,
Synchronized turning bodies roll – inhale.

Ghosts of bullocks mooing and welly-boots
jump hoops in windy whiskey seas,
And I’m white horse flying, flying till
Starlings awaken with rising sun, again;
like herds of mini elephants cracking bark
bursting eves of this creaking house to life.
No ordinary,

Nestling upon nestling disperse sleep, dreamy hooves
and his shouts of ‘get off tracks, train’s coming’
as he moves in between snores then spoons,
Even in slumber he saves this stubborn soul
No ordinary man.

Heavy eyes remain
roll in lids longing to doze.

I possess no ordinary (so I’m told)
In mind, in body.
Perhaps obsessions
of marvel explain gnawing disappointing pangs felt;
it’s not Mutant Rodents of the Third kind
or meta-human left behind by old Doctor who walked these aged floors
or The Flash in bird form vastly splashing shit bombs perfectly launched
when cat leaves by back or front door,

But extraordinary feathered spite fire Starlings – the mothering fathers stealing my dreams.
Ah still, there’s always the phantom phone ringing!
No ordinary
Spine tingling chill.

May 16, 2016

editors note: Extraordinary images to tingle ordinary spines. – mh clay

Natural Love by Manon Williams

Our love so natural.
So warm and comforting to my soul.

The way we look into each others eyes, but see only the colors of our souls and admire it for hours as if staring at a mind twisting masterpiece in the very center of an art gallery.

The way we look at each other as if staring into glass, nothing can be hidden. Yet also as if we were looking into a mirror at ourselves.

The way we trust each other knowing that this glass mirror can be as a deadly as the poison of love that once kissed the lips of Romeo and Juliet.

The way we sit in silence among the whispering winds as if they were whispering sweet love letters into our ears.

The way my smile becomes yours, and the way your smile becomes mine.

The way you trace every stretch mark and imperfection written upon my skin with your fingers like a continuing story, as if you were following the road to heaven, admiring every inch.

The way our chocolate brown skin melts together from the warmth of our hearts and we can no longer distinguish where my skin starts and where yours ends.

Our love so natural, as if it were meant to be. So warm and comforting to my soul.

May 15, 2016

editors note: Doing what comes naturally; a comfort indeed. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Happy Need-a-Read Day! Then you've "swiped in the right direction". And if you get that reference you'll dig this week's pick of the week, "Internet Dating" by Contributing Writer & Poet, Carl Kavadlo.

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say this week's pick... "Play people like we play music. They’ll dance to it, too. They’ll sway to the art of lies: the way art lies."

Here's a teasin' wink:

(photo "I'll Steal Your Eyes" - above - by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

Mick went out that evening. There was the Purity Restaurant over on 7th Street and 7th Avenue. Mick was a little down on his luck, figured 7, 11…dice, numbers like that.

Walked into The Purity. The place used to be owned by a couple of Greeks and is now owned by a couple of Italians. It also relocated from Union and 7th recently in 2005 to 7th and 7th, changed the marquee from the color green to the color purple. The new sign is smaller than the older one.

Mick noticed a brunette woman, early 30’s, winking at him. The room was small. He could see her from the entrance at the back table on the left by the large plate glass window on the 7th Street side.

The luck was running for Mick. He walked over, slid out a chair, sat down, smiled, and faced her.

‘Mick?’ she said.

Before he could answer, she said, ‘I’m Ramona.’

Being a testosterone-fueled guy, Mick was ready to take his chances now.

‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Hi, Ramona.’

‘You’re cuter than your picture on the internet,’ she said.

‘So are you.’

He wondered if that was an appropriate answer.

She blushed…

This tale sure has some chemistry! Gwt the rest of your tease on here!


The whole Mad Swirl of everything to come keeps on keepin' on... now... now... NOW! Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, every every EVERY there is! Wanna join in the mad conversations going on in Mad Swirl's World? Then stop by whenever the mood strikes! We'll be here...

Stickin' & Movin',

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 05.14.16

“Real beauty knocks you a little bit off kilter.” ~ David Byrne

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“God Less America” (above) by featured artist Jeff Skele Sheely. To view more of Jeff's twisted beatific images, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Gallery at MadSwirl.com!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we found peace in a fine and dandy-lion; we bore life's shock, like paper on rock; we reveled in being rained on vs. rained out; we waxed away with words of Will; we wasted away in exile, our only friend an enemy; we recalled another, in time sublime, distanced but not detached; we bounced through the business of getting to YES! Madly maximize, all the way up to it! ~ MH Clay

RISE OF YES by Suza Kanon

affirmative consent has been acquired
initiation sequence activated
all systems go for liftoff
zoom zoom zoom baby

but how do we get to yes
from here to there
i feel your attraction
but do you care? & do i care?

really only one way to see
to move things up a smidge
let’s set aside some time
before water passes the bridge

needed to be certain you were certain
before i let you get in over your head
how sweetly surreal is love’s deep dive?
cause the one you choose is where you’ll thrive

yes isn’t always simple.
but come on,
it could be so simple
if we keep it simple.

uncomplicated, affirmative
asking all the right questions
in just the right order.

setting the mood, stacking the deck
so when the time comes to pop the question
every need has been met

we know not to negotiate through a no
we accept your free will & let it go
but you’ve got to be direct. i’m a literal kind of girl
no good with signs & signals, this is a crazy crazy world

so before this goes any further
tell me, baby, where’ve you been
need to connect on a deeper level
before we take this for a spin.

how do we get to yes?
can’t we just let go enough
to feel that yes rising?
to let it well up deep inside me

till you can taste it on the tip of my tongue
sweet like honey, dripping from my kiss
take your time, but don’t take too long
cause that yes is such a gift

sometimes yes is a slow burn
you start slow & low
in your favorite cast iron
just so you know

its been sweetly seasoned
with love & intention
raising the heat just enough
to give the flavor dimension

so the sugar carmelizes
but doesn’t smoke or get bitter
stir stirring, letting it get so hot
as long as it needs to take to thicken

watch that yes come together
o you’ll know when it’s ready
golden sweet & too hot to touch

give it just a moment to rest
so you can catch your breath
so you can consent
so we can get to that yes

so do it already
no fun to repress,
much nicer to confess
YES baby yes.

So just say it outloud.

& if you can say it outloud
then say it with me now
yes yes YES!

May 14, 2016

editors note: Well, bless our yes. We say, YES! – mh clay

JUNCTURE for C.B. by Stefanie Bennett

Distance, how far away
You’ve wandered
From the maladies
Of attachment.

From the quiet room where
We read Kafka’s tribulations,
My head resting
On your chest,

The clatter of pine-cones
Scudding the roof
… And the wind
At half-mast
Soulfully singing.

Distance. A derivative,
Brought with it
An unbridled
Dark steed

To infiltrate
The yellow night.
The red comet.
The absentee –.

May 13, 2016

editors note: A distance crossed in the firing of synapses. – mh clay


To you –
My dearest enemy

Even after all these years
I still remember

How could I forget?

When your rejection of my parole
Sentenced me with indifference
To remain imprisoned by the past

I know this letter
Is as pointless
As these memories that burn

You don’t care what I think or how I feel
You didn’t then, so why would you now?

No, it’s too late, I know

The days of working for a living wage
The nights of sleeping with a loving wife
The hopes of escaping from this locked room

All of them are gone

All that’s left
Are these yesterdays

The only way out –
To give in to their flames

That consume this empty shell
And intern the ashes of its anger
Inside the casket of these words

This final testament
To my will’s conscious impotence
That I address and leave to you –

My dearest enemy
The one friend that I have left

May 12, 2016

editors note: When those befriended have ended… – mh clay

Willed Words by Harley White

For William Shakespeare

Soft you now – what visions rise from that phrase
which sounds of hushabies and winsome ways,
or conjures damsels in enduring plays
with celebrated scenes that e’er amaze!

One maiden proffered columbine and rue,
yet could not tender blooms of violet hue.
To take is not to give – still ‘twas not true
when twisted villain gave a ring to woo.

The walking shadows tell their tales of woe,
before to dusty death they’re called to go.
Tomorrow and tomorrow creeps its pace
as time pursues us all in ticking chase.

Yea, pageants may dissolve or cloud-capped spires
and sweet birds sing no more in ruined choirs…
But soft, beloved Bard, abide in peace!
The wonder of your words will never cease!

May 11, 2016

editors note: With the anniversary of his death just past, Harley reminds us how much we are lovers of Will’s words. – mh clay

Personal Rules of Interpretation by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Personal rules of interpretation, like flattened leafy thalli,
Those foliose growing among cold rocks, usually yield little.
See, accretion requires, whether among persons or flora,
Simple, direct, functional choices to cull truth, survive daily.

Not possible to pay enough cottonseed oil or cornmeal cakes
To generate aesthetic norms, to ride the best merry-go-round
Horse, to pump hard, extremities burning, down a high knoll;
The sun fashions brightness and shadow, makes gusts pucker.

When clouds puff voluptuously, when sky cotton also drifts,
Raindrops get blamed for bollixing picnics, for messing with
Outdoor concerts, backyard weddings, volleyball games, jazz.
(Nothing’s said of the many sere gardens that bloom thereafter.)

May 10, 2016

editors note: Bust for one, blessing for another. How do you see it? – mh clay

Silence by John Najjar

I sit here tracing these words across this screen
Looking for other possibilities
That can slide beyond the measures of reason
These days my day’s measure is spent
Searching possible futures
That leave me stranded here
In this distant present:

Measuring each word written
I sit in a shady place
And pace each line away
Writing a last refuge
A prisoner pacing the yard
Each word a step
In this battle with meaning

Experience will remain
A mixture of loss and gain
I am torn between a head
That reasons
And a heart that knows

I trace borderlines
Weighing possibilities
One past with another
Looking for connections
Still experience remains
Wrapped by silence
I will not let this rocky world
Shatter me.

May 9, 2016

editors note: Paper wraps rock every time. – mh clay

Lion Of Peace by JoyAnne O’Donnell

Within the silver linings on a break of a wave
a white cloud crash
lifts waves on the moon’s pull
rain into dripping rainbows
colors with golden arches
keeping birds singing from the highest perches
God’s holy tree
Angel’s seven seas
Peace within time of the sun maiden’s charm
of flowers and peace fresh as a white daisy

May 8, 2016

editors note: Jus’ dandy! I’ll take an order of that with love topping. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? If we've been doin' our jobs correctly, you do!

This week's featured tale "The Gun Shop" comes from Contributing Writer Ron Riekki.

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say this week's pick... "The heavy gloom of the human condition sometimes seems to lighten when we come into contact with one of those aliens we call people. The blood we all know we love to spill is all the more devastating when it keeps hearts beating through the experience of simple conversation."

Here's a few lines to set your sights on:

(photo "Lock and Load" - above - by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

The gun shop sign, I have to admit, was shimmering. Other than that, it was a piece of shit, but the sun blessed the thing when I drove up.

I was armed with statistics. My hands were shaky. I’d wanted to do this for a long time. I knew how many kids kill themselves with guns each year. I had citations for the number of housewives killed in Alabama. I knew how many accidental shootings, on-purpose shootings, gun show shootings, and every kind of shootings there were. In America. I didn’t have a clue about foreign country shootings. That was too much information. It took me long enough to plan for this.

It was the sign that drew me in. The quotes on it angered me worse than Geico ads. I just hated the place, the way it would sting into my mind with their gun puns and holiday gun greetings. Happy New Gun Year!

The door to the place seemed yanked from a factory. Inside, it was orange and empty. It smelled like a strip club. Don’t ask me how I know that. I’m no angel.

I expected customers but was very relieved when there weren’t any. Customers, I figured, would be the wild card. I just imagined the testosterone, the strange neo-con angry quotes I’d get back. What I got was emptiness...

Wanna know the rest of the story? Sure you do! Get the rest of your read on here


The whole Mad Swirl of everything to come keeps on keepin' on... now... now... NOW! Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, every every EVERY there is! Wanna join in the mad conversations going on in Mad Swirl's World? Then stop by whenever the mood strikes! We'll be here...

Down for the Count,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 05.07.16

“Imagination is the eye of the soul.” ~ Joseph Joubert

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Two Dagger Tony” (above) by featured artist Jeff Skele Sheely.

Mad Swirl is mighty proud to introduce you to our newest featured artist, Jeff Skele Sheely! Jeff brings us colorful collections of chaos – all perfectly portrayed in the patterned faces of often grumpy (or at least totally uninterested) characters. Skele’s use of color and line, his attention to detail and the otherworldly subjects in his works of art are all reasons alone to love these manic masterpieces. And yet still, there seems to be something more, something deeper to them – that our eyes just can’t get enough of. A certain something that we think you need to see for yourself. So step right up and enter the twistedly dark yet colorfully hopeful world of mad contradictions from Jeff Skele Sheely! ~ Madelyn Olson

To view more our other featured artists, visit our Gallery at MadSwirl.com!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we sought to embrace a shivering heat, in a rained out theater with front row seats; we sucked love's lemon, turned sour to sweet; we dickered with the devil for depraved sleep; we got nothing to get in old regret; we bunker birthed an indigent life, not beast nor blessing, absent midwife; we saw a seductress in search of story; we fondled our fit to the primal tit. Suckling infants all we are. ~ MH Clay

Tits by Becci Goodall

look at my tits
look at them
they’re wired to my brain
and i’m a logical person
i get it I do
so look go on
get it over with and look
ya happy now?
you are aren’t you?
i’ve done my homework
my rand my freud
my green eggs and ham
i do I like them sam I am
i like me some tits
with my green eggs and ham
i like me some study tits
the philosophy of tits 101
thank you doctor wagoner
thank you doctor katz
tits on the velvet couch
thank you jeffy
tits up at the ritz
thank you rich husband
tits on a stick
my god damned tits
shut the fuck up
about my god damned tits
lemme tell ya a story
so there was this guy
with a basket
with a very nice basket
but I got past it
I went straight to his brain
he was the engineer type
all angles and planes
and pencils to draw with
on drafting tables
and sometimes poetry
and that lasted for a good solid
mother fucking week
until I said why do you like me
and he said oh your tits they
they are amazing
they just stand out
and up and the nipples
the nipples are perfect
the way they move in my hands
like he was sculpting aphrodite
and I said like putty?
like plastic like what?
like the madonna in cathedrals like what?
and he said super sweet and sincere
i’m just a boob man honey
they feel like tits
like really great fucking
great tits that stand out
and then he said i love you
to my tits
and right then i started to appreciate
the power of tits
because bitch I got tits
and I am not your bitch
and these tits
these tits right here
well they fed my babies
these tits right here
well they rocked the cradle
these tits right here
they kept the electric on
they brought home the bacon
they fried it in a pan
and these tits right here
well believe it or not
but these silly fuckin things
have a masters degree
i mean can you really
fucking believe that shit?
and lemme tell ya somethin else
these tits right here fed jesus
these tits right here fed ghandi
these tits right here fed
a god damned revolution

May 7, 2016

editors note: Tits without end, amen. – mh clay

The Wild Women of Wongo by Ace Boggess

Jaywall Productions,
Wolcott Productions, 1958

Watch the dragon priestess dance,
aware in the passion sense
she celebrates the god she sees,
spasmodic as at a party on the beach.
“Dance,” she says. “Dance!”
An orgy of motion erases what stories
fur-clad forms were drawn to tell.
Bodies shake, twist, pulse like pricks
in the endgame. Omoo, ginger princess,
sates lust from her knees. Holy,
holy: bacchanal of forgiveness prayers.
I savor my times observing from distance
a woman boogying when she feels it,
wears the music like a tender pair of hands.
Here, it’s more like eavesdropping
from outside the confessional,
close enough to hear the guilt,
repentance & release, yet not
in time for the nitty-gritty,
so nothing like a story’s in the way.

May 6, 2016

editors note: Nitty-gritty now, story later. – mh clay

Midwives Wanted by Santosh Kalwar

Whoever challenges freaks should notice
that in the method he does not mature into a beast.
If you stare too deep into a depression,
she also stares into you.
Bedtime, the foundation of a smashed house
atomic bomb orphans blubbering in the shade
not a sole light between them
the fragrance of lifeblood
the redolence of separation
the sickly-sweet fume of declining mankind
the moans the sorrows.
Out of all that, abruptly, miraculously, screams:
“The baby is moving inside the belly.”
“Is the Baby coming out?”
In the diabolical bunker, startlingly,
a juvenile mommy had undergone stress.
In the darkness, lacking a matchstick,
clambering to her side,
overlooking their own.

May 5, 2016

editors note: Miscreant madonna bears child in concrete creche as indigents look on. – mh clay

Regrets by MH Clay

Gently lift the quivering quelled
Slowly peel the shivering shell
Expose the wound
Raw revealed
The hurt inflicted
Mercy appealed
But not granted

Pain long borne
Long dulled, forgotten
Actions bent
And misbegotten
Scars, bled badges
Spoils spent
Benefits rotten
Wizened wisps of smoke
Long smoldering
Now stanched

The air is dank
And thick
The deeds darkened
No more quick
The rain-washed slick
No more
The light of avarice and greed

What’s dead is dead

Now, move on

Or be still

May 4, 2016

editors note: We can wallow in our sorrows but in the end all we get is a whole lot of grief & bottomless regrets. Best to do what Poetry Editor MH suggests & move on… ~ Johnny O

Depravity by Mary Bone

The sleep I craved,
Came to those depraved,
Whose thoughts enslaved and engulfed them.
The night wore on, with its own kind of gravity,
Leaving me alone with thoughts of depravity.

May 3, 2016

editors note: These fall asleep counting atrocities; whatever it takes. – mh clay

EACH LEMON by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

Each lemon
I bring you
is a rose,
a symbol
of love. I
bring you a
bagful of
lemons. I
bring you eight
or seven.
I lost count.
Each lemon
is a kiss.
It is a
message of
love to you.
I want you
to know that.

May 2, 2016

editors note: When love gives you lemons… – mh clay

Rain On Theatre’s Roof by Kushal Poddar

In the hall next to each other
miles afar we sit and stare
at the screen, so big, bigger
than the wall, world.

Your cold skin hands me
a good fever, and it rains on the screen,
two figures running inside the garden
to find the fountain of clouds.

We forget each other’s name,
forget this theatre is an abandoned one,
gutted years ago. I run inside
the garden of rain, drag you
with me, so much silence crackling,

your hand so far from my reach
and tight in my grip. Who said
anything about madness?

May 1, 2016

editors note: Love fever garden movie (not) madness. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Happy Need-a-Read Day! This week's featured tale comes to us from Dan "the man" Rodriguez. If that name rings a bell, it's because Dan is the mad photog who captures our Mad Swirl Open Mic scenes every month. Who woulda thunk that Dan also had a knack for spinning a tale? Mad Swirl did, that's who!

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about Dan's tasty tale "Smells"... "In an instant, the world can go up in smoke. The only way to rule over the ashes is to be the highest person on the planet."

Here's a few tokes of "Smells" to get you buzzin':

(photo "Jesus Shotgun" - above - by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

Working at home, I decided to take a smoke break. I started a doobie and after what seemed like hours and my coffee smell stale I decided to go out and get a beer. At 7-11, I smelled hotdogs so I got the twofer, it was getting to be lunch time after all. I added some onions some mustard and some of that smooth flowing chili and headed on home with my beer and hot dogs.

I was smelling the hot dogs and onions as I drove home and was already savoring the taste. I drove slow to savor, and because cops patrolled this area regularly. on my last left turn towards home I noticed a car coming to the stop sign up ahead. As I made the turn I looked, the car did not stop and speeded up instead of slowing down and hit me head on, engine to engine, our grills smashed.

Out of my car, I waited for the person in the other car—a woman with a glow on her face. Her body seem to tingle with a smile on her face but that was soon gone as she saw what she had done...

Inhale. Hold it. Hold it! Exhale & get the rest of your buzz on right here!

••• Open Mic •••

Oh what a night it was in the land of Swirl’n mic Mad-ness this past 1st Wednesday! Mad Swirl Open Mic was honored to feature poetry editor, poet, playwright, actor, musician, mad co-conspirator, and all-around top-notch soul… MH Clay & his newest book, ANGST!

(ANGST consists pf 40 pages of poetry by MH Clay swirled up by Mad Swirl Press with art by Jeff Skele Sheely. If you didn’t get you a copy at the open mic, it’s not too late! Find out how to get you a copy here!)

MH Clay and crew put on quite the poetic mad-licious collab-creation! This multi-media’d show highlighted the artwork of Jeff Skele Sheely and was backed by musical guest Earthlinger.

Thanks to all who came out to The Underpass & shared in this collective delicious madness. What a night of the beat-utifullest poetry and music it was!

Here’s a shout out to all who graced us with their words, their songs, their divine madnesses…

photos courtesy of Dan "the man" Rodriguez

ANGST: MH Clay & Jeff Skele Sheely

Hector Ramirez & David Fargason

Johnny Olson & MH Clay

Gerard Bendiks, Chris Curiel, & Tamitha Curiel

Mad Cast:
Opalina Salas
Sean “Ta2” Buttram
Vic Victory & Phil Brewer
Roderick Richardson
Poppy Xander
Paul Sexton
Suza “Hep Kat Mama” Kanon
Maggie Smith
Brett “BA” Ardoin
Kristine Spinner
Carlos Salas
Jen Bochenko
Kelly Cheek
James “Bear” Rodehaver
Gnadia Wolnisty
Randall Garrett
Christopher Stephen Soden
Harry McNabb
John May
Ely Sellers
David Agasi

HUGE thanks to Swirve for keeping the beat til the wee hours of the night. We got taken to another dimension of time and space on the wings of their jazzy madness!

Thanks to The Underpass Tavern‘s Mike & Leo for opening up this fine establishment to us mad ones and making us feel right at home.

And finally we would like to thank ALL of you who freely shared their hand claps, finger-snaps, hoots and howls with all the mad ones who got up on this sacred mad swirlin’ mic.

••• Mad Blog •••

ANGST: A New Publication from Mad Swirl Press

We were pleased so many or our local Mad Ones came to The Underpass this week to see the release show for ANGST. But, did you know ANGST is more than a show?

Yes, ANGST is also a book (poetry by MH Clay, art by Jeff Skele Sheely); our latest pub from Mad Swirl Press. If you missed the show, you can buy the book to enjoy your own private read-the-poems-look-at-the-pictures show.

Here’s what a Dallas writer has to say about the poems:

That the wages of witness are poetic is a proposition both certain and surprising. One of the admirable qualities of MH Clay’s ANGST, however, is that, as it surveys the bounteous wasteland of contemporary mores, it resists the silky allure of the evidentiary for (as he images them) the rock, crag and jagged nail of faith. Clawing against the petty and the merciless in all their guises, these poems oppose power with power: the muscle of refrain, the corrosive power of anathema, the simple yet profound grace of “we” and “our.” ~ Joe Milazzo, Writer, Dallas

Here’s what a Dallas artist and gallerist has to say about the art:

Jeff Skele is one hell’uva force to be reckoned with. After coming to my attention just a couple of years ago, I thought ‘Wow, this guy is crazy, busy, nuts, but somehow pulls it all together every time.’ Having shown his works at Kettle Art these past few years, he never ceases to amaze and astound viewers on a regular basis. He naturally exudes creativity and insight to his other worldly being. ~ Frank Campagna, Kettle Art, Dallas

Our good friend and poet, Paul Sexton bought a copy and has this to say about his read of it:

Knowing Michael Clay, I was not surprised that his poems were sharply written pieces of wordplay painting vivid images. Good, solid writing. What did surprise me was an almost counter culture undercurrent. A barely suppressed anger floating just between the lines. It’s not overt, but there is a palpable frustration that the poet has with the culture he finds he must exist in. A social commentary in which the poet shines a light on the world and finds it less than it should be. A theme that I personally can relate to quite a bit. The aptly titled “ANGST” is a short read, and well worth the time. I highly recommend it!

If you would like to buy a copy, $20 plus shipping, email the author directly mh@madswirl.com.

We look forward to publishing more books from Mad Swirl Press in the months to come – stay tuned.


The whole Mad Swirl of everything to come keeps on keepin' on... now... now... NOW! Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, every every EVERY there is! Wanna join in the mad conversations going on in Mad Swirl's World? Then stop by whenever the mood strikes! We'll be here...


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 04.30.16

“Everything starts as somebody's daydream.” ~ Larry Niven

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Saint Francis at Northpark” (above) by featured artist Maria Valentina Sheets. To view more of Maria's beatific works, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Gallery at MadSwirl.com!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we wet dry thoughts with green and water; we traded Byron for balls, but still loved it all; we embraced our beast in a free fall feast; we grabbed a piece of light on lease; we flew fancies in fours and fives; we walked a cold road in the vertex of snow; we wrestled our demon for love from our ghost. Yes! Robin must love. ~ MH Clay

Chatting to a spirit in the garden by Michael Holme

I can’t hear you
calling my name anymore.
It used to be as fresh as dew
from my breath;
a stream
dried up in silence now.

The panics have gone.
I sleep nights without sudden
sprung awakenings.

Forgive me,
I’ve moved my wedding ring.
Who would want me
with mind and body unfit
and with no capacity to provide?

Lucy puzzles me.
She didn’t seem to recognise you
in the home where you passed.
She’s missed you before;
on your long infections absence.
She’s only a dog.

What would we be doing
now it’s summer again?
selling up?
living in Morocco,
drinking gallons of mint tea in Marrakesh?
Joking, my parents wouldn’t bless that.

Incidentally, I didn’t go to church today. I might
have fallen out with them again.
I’m trying to accept
we all share this destiny,
but I’m only forty-five.

We’ve had a robin and a wren
nesting this year. I sit outside
watching the parents.
They fetch grubs.
I wish you could see them.
Maybe you’re here
a second ahead?

You’re listening.
For the first time
I don’t feel odd about being alone:
hope it’s Okay,
I’ve got a “Bestie” on Facebook,
like a sister you understand.

I’ve still got my problem with work:
honesty. I can’t present
a mask, it leads to pain.
Love should ALWAYS trust.
It’s not easy when everyone
is happy to kick sand
in your sun-blistered face.

Robin keeps landing on the washing-line;
a silhouette against a cloudless sky.
Even planes leave no trace.
He’s been eighteen inches away
once or twice.

Robin must love.

April 30, 2016

editors note: We all have ghosts to catch up with our time. – mh clay

What Does A Vertical Line Form by Bhargab Chatterjee

the morning
is snow white,
only snow.
grass blades
are as dead
as her skin,
converge at the corner
of the nearest road;
other roads
have merged
with the dense forest.
measure me
from the nearest road.
i know,
the distance
remains in the vertex

below snow.

April 29, 2016

editors note: The shortest distance between two points is too cold. – mh clay

Haikus 1 & 2 by Shirin Hasrat

Haiku #1

Thunderous clouds
Flashes of lightning
God taking selfies

Haiku #2

Leaves gossiping
Breeze spreading rumours
Storm in a tea cup

April 28, 2016

editors note: Then post both to social media (thumbs up, smiley face). – mh clay

Dark fortnight by Hem Raj Bastola

Is hindered
In my garden.
Waxed by winter
Freezing so pale.

A furrow…
Did plough
In the ocean of my heart
And the current
An electric shock…

My eyes are blind
Meteor from the heaven
And galaxies not seen
None of the milky ways

It is so dark.
And dark
Where is the light
You took on lease.
Goblet of your dew

In a dark fortnight
How am I to satiate
My thirst…
Without your face.

April 27, 2016

editors note: Spring; sprung in slow sips from a light goblet. – mh clay

Feast by Ursula Barretta

The restless thrill of living
blasts into my face
like a funnel drops from an Oklahoma wall cloud
and wind sucks the breath out
of my lungs and thrusts me on my back.

I’m new then as my tired body slips away
like a snake sheds skin
as I see the earth around me.
I thank god or Anybody for the feast before me.
What does one do with this dangling on the edge –
this free fall of wanting to
feed ravenously on the world?
I eat like a wild animal –
devouring warm flesh,
crunching bones and licking fat,
spitting out sinew until
there is nothing left to rot or pilfer
and in the end
I am mindful not to choke
on the enormity
of such a big catch.

April 26, 2016

editors note: Those newest to the feast feed fastest. So much to swallow, so much to taste. – mh clay

Takeoff by John May

Suppose I spelled “LOVE”
On your bare stomach in cocaine
And quoted Lord Byron?
I mean, I don’t have another bump to my name,
And I’ve memorized Byron
Like I’ve memorized the wrinkles on my balls…

But the love is still there, right?

It’s all that we have left,
And we’ll trip our faces off on that stuff
Raving through the night
Until our swirling hearts
Separate like grease and water…

Love for years and years or
Love for three hours, forty minutes, and
A fifth of Bacardi:
I love it all because I love you.
Monday’ll still come,
Even if the flight is cancelled,
And I’ll still take off from
That airport, where blue lights
out the small window, past the wings,
Mean goodbye for now.

April 25, 2016

editors note: An erstwhile philandering Lothario with love in his heart and frequent flyer miles to log. – mh clay

Shall I wait for dawn to come by Ilhem Issaoui

Shall I wait for dawn to come
And bring his fragrance
To the thoughts dry
Like a jejune land
The night is amarulent
Cacophony penetrates it
I shall close the eyes
Perhaps, tomorrow
There shall be green and water

April 24, 2016

editors note: Dry night, dry pages. Bring a wet day, like ink and tears. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Happy Need-a-Read Day! This week's featured twisted tale of love comes to us from the land down under by the hand of WJP Newnham.

Here's Short Story Editor Tyler Malone's take on "In Vino Veritas":

'These are the moments at the tips of our fingers, on the tips of our tongues. Uncork, undress, find yourself exposed and drink.'

If that editorial commentary didn't grab ya' where it counts, here's even more of a tease for ya:

(photo "Future Drunk Love" - above - by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

I hit the bell boy up for breath mints and on the way up to the bar in the lift and finger combed my hair and repeated my drunken mantra which I believed would allow clear speech:

A proper cup of coffee from a Proper copper coffee pot A proper cup of coffee from a proper Copper coffee pot A proper cup of coffee. I hit the bar and ordered myself a bracer.

She didn’t take much locating: she was the only woman in the deserted bar. She sat by herself at the end of the bar.

I drink my bracer and take her in searching for an opening line, a gambit, some leverage that will allow her to see beyond the human Hesperus that I had seen whilst attempting to groom myself in the mirrored lift. I order another bracer and this time tell the bartender that I would like to meet the lady at the end of the bar. He agrees to book introductions conditional on a fine bottle of wine, suggesting an Australian vintage: ‘05 Grampians Shiraz. He winks at me as he quickly précised a review for me with full-bodied and perfumed given innuendo. I agree and he opens a bottle for her explaining that it was from the gentleman who wished only some convivial conversation.

She puts down the novel she had been reading as the barman brokers the suggestion of booking with a fresh drink. She looks to me and smiles and gestures that I should join her.

She smiles again as I seat myself next to her and raising glasses we toast each other with cheers; clinking rims and drinking deeply...

If you think you know how the rest of this drunken love story goes, guess again. It's a thicker tale than you may think. Get the rest of your read at Mad Swirl!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl & Swirve this 1st Wednesday of May (aka 05.04.16) as we continue to swirl up our mic madness at our mad micness home, Dallas’ badass The Underpass Bar!

This month we feature poetry editor, poet, playwright, actor, musician, mad co-conspirator, and all-around top-notch soul…MH Clay! Join MH & musical guest Earthlinger as we celebrate the release of the newest publication by Mad Swirl Press, ANGST

(ANGST is 40 pages of poetry by MH swirled up with art by Jeff Skele Sheely. Come join us and experience this "Mad ANGST-full Rant!" and buy you a limited & numbered edition of this mad-licious collab-creation)

Come on out, one & all. Get a brainful of Swirve, share in the Mad Swirl’n festivities, & if the spirit is movin’ ya get yourself a spot on our list. Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call Mad Swirl Open Mic. Come to participate. Come to appreciate. Come to swirl-a-brate!

P.S. If you're on Facebook, get on the pre-list at our event page.


The whole Mad Swirl of everything to come keeps on keepin' on... now... now... NOW! Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, every every EVERY there is! Wanna join in the mad conversations going on in Mad Swirl's World? Then stop by whenever the mood strikes! We'll be here...


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 04.23.16

“Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.” ~ Prince Rogers Nelson

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Hard to get a signal – John and the ladder” (above) by featured artist Maria Valentina Sheets. To view more of Maria's beatific works, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Gallery at MadSwirl.com!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we saw art as life and capricious wife; we rooted as little ran one up the middle; we ran another, from 1001 daggers into 3 hot cups; we an injured cajoled to laugh and roll; we chimney swept for spills not wept; we found inspiring a climber climbing; we were old uncouth to kick at youth. Live it like you mean it, every minute. ~ MH Clay

That Thing You Kicked In The Knees Called Youth by Samantha Hawkins

Remember when every prayer you drew
through gritty brown lips sounded like Alleluia
and tasted something like watermelon candy

Remember you were never the brightest of gems
but you shined like a diamond anyhow
Where the light danced off of your facets

Remember your edges felt lovely to bask
in the brilliant commentary of the sun

Remember you had teeth for soul and bone for spirit
and you ran all your relationships through a grater
purely for the thrill of flesh-colored confetti

Remember you were once the frustrated virgin
with a week’s worth of borrowed lunch money

Remember the world was your massively endowed hooker
you raided her Victorian secrets like they were candy
and left gaping holes of red through her fishnets

Never mind the shortcomings and contradictions
life was all about the contractions

Remember being drawn to questions that laid more questions
which in turn mated with question marks
but you often ran out your welcome with the ellipses

Remember the sky was not your ordinary dead end
just another mile marker on your highway

Remember you and the angels engaged in heavy pillow fights
made hammocks out of the cumulus clouds
then played hopscotch over the contrails

Remember in the morning you awoke to the slow swish
of windshield wipers clearing the mist in your head

April 23, 2016

editors note: When that thing kicks back; don’t dodge it, grab it. Never let go… – mh clay

Climbing Mounts by Gene Barry

In memory of Joan O’Leary

Life is running around in small shoes,

is seated with groups of the elderly,
the retired, the pre-op, the post-op
and I see that door with Push and obey.

Over the child screams and laughter
a penury of happiness is sidelined
and I feel myself pallbearing as
sibling sounds fill my emptiness.

For Joan is that popular Sherpa,
a mist tampering with my heart;
I have assembled her future with
shavings from her workshop floor.

I am helplessly drawn to taste
the fruit of her stories, am held by
the enveloping of a conveyor
of her summits and peaks.

Meanwhile the shy are out-there,
the out-theres more quiet,
the tone deaf are pleasing ears,
new safe hills are being climbed and

I am a well tended field of roosters
awaiting her hands, an unloved
belly swollen Kenyan child
who has just fallen in love.

April 22, 2016

editors note: From summits of remembrance we bring our dead to life. – mh clay

Multifidus by Leilanie Stewart

They’re lined up in rows
but still uneven
It offends the eyes, the mind, the soul
The tip of the iceberg…
Brown and red – maybe yellow,
you’d be a fool to argue,
let the chain of thought slide down
the flaky guttering
into the bowels of the-
empty chimney

It’s a vessel, only a container
for part of that which is dead
and free
Still, the angles left
on the hollow shell are irregular
and it torments, even blisters
a life fragmented

Don’t even try to understand
what has already been
and passed,
emitted into the ether
like a puff of smoke.

April 21, 2016

editors note: Chimney sweeps; pushing yesterday’s soot into piles of understanding. (It’s a stretch.) – mh clay

Intransigent land by Lakshmi Ganapathi

I sit there watching
The grains of age-old earth
Displaced into mid-air
By bare little feet
Running skipping and hopping

A brief reprieve
from selling their wares
for a game of catch
As business is slow
this time of day

The tourists have retreated
to their sheltered coves
where over beers
they would post
the day’s photos
receiving a hundred likes
from across the globe

There he sits
His arms as thin
as the rusty wheels
of his chair
His eyes dart
ever so intently
tracking the footprints
his friends leave
on the intransigent land

Then she walks
by his side
tracing the scar on his cheek
down which beads of sweat file
She cajoles him to join

And off they go
Her tiny hands pushing
Their laughter piercing
the silence that is creeping
through the ancient cracks
of the temples that once again
recede into their solitude

Till tomorrow dawns.

April 20, 2016

editors note: A friendly difference of opinion; laughter wins over pain. – mh clay

The great wall of China at -19 by Luke Ritta

My brain is thumping.
My face is burning.
My mustache has frozen over.
My thighs feel like slabs of marble.
My body feels like it is being stabbed by 1001 daggers.

But then I see a sign! A fat white cat is sleeping next to a window inside a cafe. I run in and drink three cups of hot green tea.

My organs.
My senses.
My bones.
My blood.

They all very slowly come back to life.

April 19, 2016

editors note: An ancient formula for rejuvenation. At -19, add 3 to 206; reduce 1001 to zero. – mh clay

Little Slot Boy by Robert L. Martin

Little slot boy that you are
Running through the middle
Lost among those big ferocious giants
Who eat little boys for breakfast
As lions eat Christians
And missiles overpower spears

Life made giants for football
And made you for knitting sweaters
Don’t venture onto the gridiron
Life is short enough
You are up for the kill
Stay home where it’s safe
Little slot boy,
Where are you going?

Oh no, you’re lining up in the slot?
Or hiding in the backfield?
With all those giants all around?
Now you’re getting lost in the middle
And they can’t find you
When they see you, you are dead
You, you little needle in a haystack
You little Speedy Gonzales around the bend
You greased pig, you invisible little brat
You’re in for a great big spanking
When they find you if they can
What is that you got in your hands?
Is that a football you’re carrying
Across the goal line?
Hurray for little slot boys!!!
Hurrah, hurrah!!!

April 18, 2016

editors note: Underdogs everywhere, arise! Hurrah! – mh clay

Art by Wayne Burke

no kids
no wife;
sometimes it seems
as if life
is not worth
the living,
and like I missed the boat
but then
whenever I start to write
I think
this art is what
I have to love:
as fickle as it is
as un-glamorous in the
as moody in the night
as meaningless as it
sometimes seems–
in all its flaws
and wrinkles
it still comes through
for me
still there
whenever I reach
for it,
from the dark
or from the most desolate

April 17, 2016

editors note: Fickle mistress though she be; can’t live with her… – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Happy Need-a-Read Day! We got a fine read to feed your need on this fine day. Here's what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this slinky story:

"Darkness for many is celebration. It is life. It is love in infinite blackness, where the only light at the end of the tunnel is a scream."

Here's a few morsels of "Serpent’s Tale" by Andy Tu for for you to sink your fangs into:

(photo "Giver of Knowledge" - above - by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

My eyes are like diamonds, finely cut in the mirror. The outlines of my face waver, melting into the cracked walls behind me. My tie represents who I am. Neat, perfectly-strewn, nice. Together.

There is no image in my head as I drive through the night. No faces of my dead mother or vanished father, just the recurring voice of that waitress.

You want fortune cookie?

Today is my birthday. I have celebrated alone at this restaurant. There is no family riding in on the trains from out of town, no friends decorating my apartment while I’m away. There is just me, and this smooth paper that remains from the cookie. I rub it in circles between my thumbs and index finger as I steer toward the address on the back of the paper.

367 Eastbrook Ridge

The trees along the sidewalks point at me with their branches. Look, they say, there he goes again.

This is where the address would be, if it were real…

And with that cliffhanger, we leave you to slither your mouse on here and get the rest of your read on


The whole Mad Swirl of everything to come keeps on keepin' on... now... now... NOW! Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, every every EVERY there is! Wanna join in the mad conversations going on in Mad Swirl's World? Then stop by whenever the mood strikes! We'll be here...


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 04.16.16

“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.” ~ Anatole France

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Mom at the well” (above) by featured artist Maria Valentina Sheets.

Months ago, we here at Mad Swirl were swept off our feet by artist Maria Valentina Sheets. This time we’re not quite back on the ground, lifted by her gifts once again. Once you see what she’s got for us, we’re sure you’ll get what we mean – Sheets’ stained glass pieces are like something straight from a cathedral…. but not. The juxtaposition of the traditional and sacred nature of stained glass with the modern and edgy mind of Maria display sky-lit images we’d definitely put in the windows of OUR Mad church, and we’ll bet you would too. Don’t take our word for it though – check out the glass-terpieces here. ~ Madelyn Olson

To view more our other featured artists, visit our Gallery at MadSwirl.com!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we ran a reel to real and back again; we scratched an itch, inflicted, no doubt, by a witch; we gripped a gun, shot full of verse, looking for the safety; we listened to life through a "veil of cheese"; we danced with an angel in a holy place, salvation glowing on her neon face; we reveled in riffs from a jazz man's horn; we wrote nothing for free, not even our verses. Words wish wonder while talk is cheap. Add your own value. ~ MH Clay

starbucks coffee brands by Carl Kavadlo

bold is stronger
less caffeine as
the roasting burns
the buzz.
pike is a stronger
less roast
preservation weakens
so you
get a nice high typing
in the morning if you
arrange your sequence
at a reasonable
price too, without
the cabal murdering you.

April 16, 2016

editors note: The price we pay for free wifi. – mh clay


like bones clattering in cloudbursts
I attempt
a clumsy blues riff
tap dancing in the claw foot
after washing away the death of
a great jazzman with
sucking sinkholes of ancient lava
along rotgut rivers of
chopstick vodka
nearing crescendo
riding oak leaf rafts
yeah then
lucking out
electrified in the metropolis of
more blood than Dracula squared
and a hot date with the new waitress at
Yummi Korea Snak
maybe just
slept with her
at worst killed her off
video arcade style
another ambitious barkeep
she crooned like a minor
couldn’t keep her arms to herself
conch drops to the linoleum
so long Ornette

April 15, 2016

editors note: Jilted, maybe. Jinxed, likely. Jazzed, forever… – mh clay

On Meeting you at the Taproom by Scott McDaniel

My church
is lit by neon, not candles.
My sermon
is a drunken philosophical rant blanketed by the singing of a jukebox.
There is wine,
but expect no body of Christ…
there is only your body, dancing
on a bar stool as you smile and lip synch
while waiting on the drinks.

When you return, your hair is backlit by the neon;
as angelic as “The Archangel Leaving the Family of Tobias”

I do love the neon…

There is something sacredly decadent about a neon sign as it pierces
through Marlboro and Camel smoke
lingering together with drunken, fumbling kisses
that taste like Jack and coke.

Give me neon or give me death.
Give me dead bumpers on a pool table with 50 cents stacked on the rail.
Give me a bar back mirror, stained by the smoke of spirits.
Give me vinyl covered stools with holes both picked and burned.
Give me a shake of bones; loser buys the next round.
Give me a shady character in the back that makes all feel a bit nervous.
Give me a bar. This bar.
Give me a woman. You.
Give me, my church.
Yesterday’s church was the taproom.
Tomorrow’s church is you.

April 14, 2016

editors note: Angels, angels, everywhere! – mh clay

Incoming Transmission by Jada Yee

Behind the choir of dial tones, live cotton rounds of provolone,
busy lines of thin-sliced swiss camouflage all that we miss.

Our sensitive ears are layered with but a veil of cheese,
transparencies for elegy…

An old record player scratching its way to life,
sculpted lyrics, falling through a jagged tunnel or cracked drain pipe.

Don’t strain your ears to listen, there’s no reward or commission,
to decipher an ill-received language is to reapply a wet, peeling bandage.

Are ears a better fit on the deaf or on the blind?
When no one listens, can they charge the harshest fine?

How did we allow the intolerant ear canal
to lead such a negligent life, such a waxy cover on the butter knife.

If only we’d give it a turn
to widen our eyes.

April 13, 2016

editors note: Bass tones through cheddar, treble through swiss, volume through thin provolone. – mh clay

MOLON LABE by Jhon Baker

here we are at two in the morning
2.16 to be precise
and sleep is in the past and far from me now
I eat Reality Sandwiches
and drink coffee, black, out from a chipped mug

I seem to be the target of spam lately
and with this I admit to the digital age
fully with handheld computers
and online dictionaries and
the classic writers thesaurus

and I read Bartlett’s book of anecdotes
to substitute for any actual experience
which is a lie
though I sleep away in relative safety
next to a loaded revolver

MOLON LABE – out from my cold dead hands
and of course I speak of poetry
long looks and bedroom post-coital whispers
it is not enough that the sun should rise
in a few hours but that the moon is full

April 12, 2016

editors note: Wouldn’t touch it; much less take it . – mh clay

Supernatural by Catfish McDaris

Sorcery and witchery still flourishes
people need protection, salt strewn
around an encampment helps ward

Off demon attacks, corn meal mixed
with gall of an eagle, bear, mountain
lion, or skunk is potent medicine

Witches live along the Rio Grande,
they steal Mexican sheep and cause
death, beware of shape shifters

Brown and gray corn known as maiz
de brujeria should be avoided, healing
elixirs are mercury, Gonzalez herb,
guayuli, and powdered turquoise.

April 11, 2016

editors note: So many cures for what ails; nothing for what doesn’t. (This one comes from Catfish’s new book, check it out here.) – mh clay

Fantasy by Lily Tierney

A fairy tale in the mind
creating such beautiful
pictures on a reel of

Eventually it runs out
and reality takes over
in black and white.

If only you had more

April 10, 2016

editors note: Keep it rolling till the director says, “Cut!” – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Happy Need-a-Read Day! This week's tasty tale comes from Mad Swirl's previous featured Artist Chuck Taylor. Did we mention he's also a Contributing Poet here at Mad Swirl? Yep. A Mad trifecta-ist!

Here's what Short Story Editor, and another Mad trifecta-ist, Tyler Malone had to say about Chuck's short story "Diane":

"Love! Madness! They’re one-in-the-same, we all like to hope as the beat of our hearts drives us bonkers. Sadly, so say they want the the world, but they want someone else to give it to them."

If that endorsement doesn't tickle your curiosity bone, here's a few nibbles for ya:

(photo "Garbage Roses" - above - by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

The way I see it, Diane, you know, I did her a favor, the way things were going I hate to say it, but I would have needed to kill her, reporters flying in from New York and Los Angeles to interview her and write her up in magazines, she got her colored picture in Gentlemen’s Quarterly, couples we knew were dropping by asking advice on their troubled marriages, all the lesbians in town thought she was some kind of sage superwoman, oh everybody loved her in 1976 and she had kindness and charm, she would take confused boys into our own home and feed them hot meals and let them play with her grown son’s old drums, and street men who smelled like death would crash in the living room and she’d never ask for money, she believed in white magic and prayers and did rituals, curandera she thought she was, but I was her man and knew the dark bruja inside and the arrogance I saw that others didn’t see...

Now go and get the rest of your read on right here.


The whole Mad Swirl of everything to come keeps on keepin' on... now... now... NOW! Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, every every EVERY there is! Wanna join in the mad conversations going on in Mad Swirl's World? Then stop by whenever the mood strikes! We'll be here...

Path Walkin',

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor