The Best of Mad Swirl : 08.22.15

“Art is the most beautiful of all lies.” ~ Claude Debussy

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Carefree As the Journey of Perfume” (above) by featured artist Bill Wolak. To see more Mad works from Bill, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... wwe quelled the quizzers, drawer snapped shut; we fell into a free zone freak out, kissed fangs, spilled milk, wished we could sneak out; we sharpened acuity on obliquity; we sought levity in brevity; we were red tennies' fodder on life's teeter-totter; we picked our preference - poets over pundits (poetry over their pale patter); we versed our best in a tailorbird's nest, sanity for our party guests. Wake, or party; one equals the other. Let's live it up to write it down. ~ MH Clay

Schizo-I by Bhargab Chatterjee

a bus moves slowly over a torn page of history
i feel a push on the back EMPTINESS in a
puddle@familyplanninginindia grass-blades flicker
in the sun here green is OBliterated rain objectifies
the summer heat and the characters of a love story
published in a school magazine the nest of a tailor (?)
bird doesn’t depend on its country’s inflation in
the sweltering summer days good and evil have faces of
triumph it’s QUEER that Adam’s desire breaks the wall
of nature a self is viewed “as an aesthetic and ethical
object to be created and cultivated” VIOLENCE
“schopenhaur has described the surging dread that washes
over man when all of a sudden he loves his way among
the cognitive forms of appearance” in the form of social
revolution “whoever in this intellectual sphere began
talking about the immorality of the soul was immediately
excommunicated” the cabinet ministers lean forward
over the table while they exchange views about the forth-
coming budget the creepy = trendy looking monster
was discovered dead by the side of a pond sitting on
a tiny branch of a tree a crow looks at the CATAPULT
where the prime minister of its country sits with a package
for the poor

my book-case is full with old reeking papers waiting for
fleshy MUSHrooms + party guests

August 22, 2015

editors note: ​Nature, nurture, not sure, hard to bridge the gap; gotta hold it all together till the party guests arrive.​ – mh clay


Be that as it may
And that being said
At the end of the day
We must all be led
Down the long winding road
Adding to our heavy load
By kicking the linguistic toad
Down a hackneyed mode
Or having the price to pay
For another banal cliché
As the moronic
Call everything iconic.

August 21, 2015

editors note: Can’t say it better, “the moronic call everything iconic.” Yes! Thanks, Hal! (Chow down on another of Hal’s mad missives on his page – check it out.) – mh clay

Off Balance by Stephen Jarrell Williams

Off balance
They keep us
From liberating ourselves

Numbing our news
Hyping our games
Locked in with thumbs up

Omission of truth
Covered over with false flags
We’re nonchalantly hijacked

Speed in our milk
Salt on our wounds
Born dream-drugged

Eyes drifting backward
Butt heavy
Brain light

At this rate
Waiting for the mushroom cloud

We’ll probably throw confetti
At the special effects

Stir-crazy for more
Guzzling drinks
Pinching the next-door neighbor

She’s an ample broad
Eagerly kissing the frog
Anything for a sex spank

When we finally fall
On our smug faces
We’ll just call for room service

The guy in red tennis shoes
With an endless appetite
For more and more of our ignorant souls.

August 20, 2015

editors note: Maybe we could keep our feet if we all wore red tennis shoes… (We welcome Stephen back to the fold of our Contributing Poets with this submission. We’re happy to see his mad missives on his own page again – check it out.) – mh clay

Welcome by Serpil Karisli

Welcome to life
When words flow between the clouds
When the past is showing you the roads
Welcome to love
When you lose your touch
When you close your eyes
Welcome to homelessness
To the dark and the light
Take a seat
Let the play start
And see between the lives
The drunken light
When the waves touch the sea
And the shades in the mirror
And say goodbye

August 19, 2015

editors note: Yes, just so. Glad you could make it. Now, there’s the door… – mh clay

Obliquity by Walter Ruhlmann

Everything is oblique in this place, nothing is straight.
All is slanted, diagonal, sloping. Stones roll, holes form:
rain makes the terrain even more hazardous –
those drops that fell are giant shovels digging in.

As I see it from where I lie
somewhat sunbathing in the moist, fresh air,
green grass, grey clouds rushing through the sky –
one could fear they’d crash in one of the mountain tops
just like this plane did months ago – or the roof tops –
one erupting from this village lost in the snow
when winter comes
and nothing else, other than crowds skiing from dawn till dusk, matters.
All this whiteness cannot erase
the lunacy, the forlornness, the ridiculous size of this place.

He may well stare at all these trees –
branches rather, sticks that emerge from the soil,
cut off after last fall when the saint chain sawed the remains of lust.
No sin has been performed since then, all became flat again,
unlike this place where only the walls have to be straight and vertical.

August 18, 2015

editors note: One’s straight talk is another’s tangent. What your angle? – mh clay

Poisoned Dairy by Scott Thomas Outlar

Twisted, tortured, turned over
into the free zone, freak out
on the theory, conspiratorial cartoon
hallucinations near the border
of reason and insanity

Draw the lines
and drink the poison
passion falls hard in the garden

Kiss your fangs
and get the blackout

Drain the prism
it’s a whitewash

Scarecrow fever in the haystack
search after needles for scabbed veins

Sucking daydreams
through a bent straw
spill the milk and cry all day

August 17, 2015

editors note: Pity the poor border bumpers, ravished by their fascinations with the edge. Turn from them to fall into your own abyss. The edge is everywhere. – mh clay

CHANGES by Stefanie Bennett

That drawer with its two handles,
One in, one out;
Files on the evergreens,
Files on the banished…

And dust inspectors
Lolling about the hall;
And crusades of custom-built
Panicking muses come to stare

– Come to sound.
Come to turn you on.
Come to ask why
You’ve settled in –, vanishing.

Come to suggest you ‘fill in’
The questionnaire
While invisible spells strike
Moloch’s vacant chair…

I was there. I saw the emery claw
Tug unsuccessfully
At the two-handled draw
– One in. One out.

August 16, 2015

editors note: Keep those files in order; categorized by darkened deed. Keep the drawer closed. (We welcome Stefanie to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. There’s another new poem in your future, plus more of her madness, on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Howsabout two?! Well then you’ve come to the right place! We got two tasty tales that you'll surely want to devour

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about the first pick-of-the-week tale "Dream On" from Contributing Writer & Poet Louis Marvin: "In space, no one can hear you scream for love."

Here's a boost to take-off on:

Who minds making love to a beautiful woman? B5 was a man like any other, and making love to a lady who had powers was indeed special. But it was late at night when he dreamt of his soul mate and his reason for being. He fought this before, when to him it was nightmare. Now it was a floating dream, same as a child’s. He knew she was safe, he knew that they were safe. The three of them.

He floated from the ship then turned around and looked at the Monkey Wrench. Then he floated into space, not quick, not slow, as time had no meaning. He came upon that burned out meteor, the safe haven of his beloved. He was afraid, and it was not his to control, He came within a foot or so of her. She opened her eyes, no screaming nightmares. The monkey, like a child, opened his eyes too, and he was still, while staying snuggled next to her. The clawing had abated, that natural instinct to lash out at being trapped in this strange cocoon...

Keep orbiting this story right here!


Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about our second pick-of-the-week tale "The Self Apart of Harriet Sparks" from Contributing Writer C.B. Johnson: "That part of you that lives in your shadow might not only look like your shape, but it could be more you than you are."

Here's a spark or two to get you lit:

(photo by Tyler Malone)

On the day of her mother’s book launch, Harriet Sparks unlocked her second self. This was convenient because she had previously cancelled an important date, in fact a romantic date with a boy, so as not to disappoint her mother. While she didn’t care much for her mother’s free verse she cared deeply about their relationship, and so she would not miss it, this singular event in her mother’s life.

Harriet decided that she would attend her mother’s launch and her second self would be instructed to attend the date. Harriet wanted to go on the date, but the second self, who was otherwise near-absolutely identical in every physical respect to Harriet, right down to the last freckle, did not have braces on her teeth. This detail was important and Harriet believed it would be to her significant advantage in getting the romantic attachments of the boy she had wanted to name as hers since school began.

The second self of Harriet Sparks sat across from her at the kitchen table and listened to Harriet’s briefing. The second self of course had no knowledge of the boy, who was Lamont Parkinson from Harriet’s English class, and so Harriet gave a tour of a terrain she knew well, using the boy’s social media photo albums. Harriet also had to instruct her second self in her crush’s tastes in music, television, movies, and literature. Harriet patched together a taste profile from a combination of stickers she had seen on his laptop, graffiti on his library bag, and questions he had asked in class.

Lamont Parkinson had reportedly seen a movie on the only other date he was understood to have ever been on, with Elinor Ransom. The boy’s movie review, which circulated verbally among Harriet’s nearest and dearest, was three words, “Just so menacing,” and the friends were unanimous in their opinion that the review wasn’t really about the movie, but was a review of Elinor Ransom herself, who had chosen the romance comedy in question.

Neither he nor she had asked the other out again and Harriet had jumped at the opportunity...

Feel what we mean? Get the rest of your sparks 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...

Bein' Beautiful,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 08.15.15

“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.” ~ Charles Bukowski

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Coaxing Light Out of Nakedness” (above) by featured artist Bill Wolak. To see more Mad works from Bill, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we opened our home to a holy father, served coffee, he wasn't a bother; we shared a first encounter with a long ago bygone; we hied a hot wind tanka; we created all from a bluebird's call; we bit down on bird, caught god, ate all, sat sated; we kissed bliss from popsicle lips; we watched with sore thighs to mop with sore eyes. Hope runs deep, soars high. Write it out, read it like prayer. ~ MH Clay

I cannot do the splits by Contributing Poet Timothy Pilgrim

the way blonde cheerleaders
in mini-skirts land hard,
slap both thighs at mid-court —

one leg out front, straight,
the other stretched back,
toes pointed, everything taut —

bounce back to their feet,
cartwheel around, five times
or four. Hope, however,

does leap up, seek bright sky,
gain height, write a love poem
on damp parchment, in Greek,

before coming down, janitor
once more, still dreamy,
to mop the gym floor.

August 15, 2015

editors note: Me neither, not without traction and painkillers. Let’s write poetry and keep the mops handy. – mh clay

Popsicle Kisses by Contributing Poet Johnny Olson

A bubblegum song plays
On an oldies station
Carries him back
To more innocent days

Remembering playground
Games of tag, (you’re it)
Trying to steal kisses
From the raven haired girl
Who had popsicle
Flavored lips
And a voice that
Tasted like ice cream
To his still wet behind the ear drums

After school
He walked her home
And waited for the golden moment
To sneak a kiss
And taste her popsicle lips
Before the dinner bell rang
And sent him on his way

August 14, 2015

editors note: Bring back those golden oldies. We miss that kiss, so sweet to repeat (Read another mad love poem, a sad love poem, on Johnny’s page – check it out.) – mh clay

coyote by Guest Poet Sara Trattner

i was born on hind legs
brushed fulvous tail against coarse grain
dropped tonight’s prey at my own paws
i will take this from you
can wear its flowing
like crushed glass in fists
smear it on my whiskers
as war paint
call myself a hunter
is what hunger feels like
to feel the bird writhe
in my mouth
to crush that flight
with steamroller jaws
you will see me
a mess of teeth
and groan
mess of gnash
and bitter
i am gleaming under a blood moon
is a blood moon
and i
am no pack animal
i will pray
to no god
whose claws are not thick with mud
like mine
with predatory lust
this trickery of light
does not a god make
let me wrap myself around this nighttime
start a forest fire
this burning
is not whiskey
but goes down just as jagged
like glass
in fists
you will not feel
a thing
but this howl
screams stars to the ground
they will fall at my paws
like you will
i will take this from you
and i will know
how to be sated

August 13, 2015

editors note: Carnivorous logic corners god, become prey. Crunch! – mh clay

Mutterings maybe Muse by Contributing Poet Polly Richardson (Munnelly)

Bluebird calls,
his raspy sultry tones,
almost teasing,
just there,
right there
Ohh there
words spin,
wink as if stars out of reach.
From dust to burning
burning deep,
burning red,
I stand meek, feet toeing frozen earth
longing for green grass,
flowing manes or just flow,
Spluttering mutters – he calls.
Stripped to inner core,
empty, half full
or momentarily sane?
only just seeing for sake of
seeing but not seeing,

Bluebird’s calling,
perched on dead wood
I write, hear
his words
necking inner voice – this voice, amongst
his whores
the barmen,
fucking madmen,
penned in his lines
couplets, verse
puffing last fags.
His gesturing wing beckons
my parched lips cradling inner wars,
pours another JD as if mothering
this poet flying half full – just,
gulping in
spinning words
spinning – trying.

August 12, 2015

editors note: Bluebird of happiness or missing muse? Maddening for all purveyors of verse. – mh clay

Sakura’s Tanka by Contributing Poet Sissy Buckles

Santa Ana winds
parched air, the day we parted
with secrets unshared –
I’d rain hot bliss poems down
your body, beguiled for keeps

August 11, 2015

editors note: With rain like this, I’d toss my umbrella. – mh clay

Someone you were acquainted with by Contributing Poet Ilhem Issaoui

Do gaze at my face
O owner of eyes that are purer
Than my grief
O owner of voice
That recalls the softest dewdrops
O vendor of sentiments
That imbue the rocks with feelings
Aye with feelings…
Do I bear a straw of resemblance
With someone you were acquainted with
Nay nay
I was long ago a bygone to you
Beset by heavy dust
Whelved already
You ask
Who am I?
I reply
A passer by
A passer by…

August 10, 2015

editors note: There it is; that look into a stranger’s face which comes from a strangely familiar place. (We welcome Ilhem to our confab of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

THE POPE COMES TO VISIT by Contributing Poet Ruth Z. Deming

I had the honor of hosting the Pope from
Argentina in the spare bedroom of my house.
He was testing the waters before his official
visit to Philadelphia come September.

His white helicopter landed in the
back yard, its frightful noise scaring the cardinals and even the
bluejays, as it swept up dry leaves from the grass, blowing
them everywhere. They stuck to the screen of my back porch
art studio.

The Pope dressed in street clothes so he wouldn’t be recognized
by curious neighbors. I lent him the purple shirt worn by my ex-
husband when he visited, and told him the reason why I
left him. The Pope sighed and nodded his head.

We took our coffees out in the front yard and sat on
lawn chairs. We kept the conversation light, no talk
about gays and lesbians or the importance of abortion.

“You have such a variety of flowers and birds and
keep your bird bath filled to the brim.” He rolled his
“Rs” like the ocean waves that brought him to the

I stood up and twirled around in my blue-sequined
dress. Luckily I remembered to wear panties.
“I so love them,” I said, as a long-beaked chickadee
flew into his painted bird house.

“After I retire,” said the Pope, “if I do, no one can
predict the future,” he took a sip of his coffee,
“I will spend quiet mornings quite like this.”

I wondered where that would be, but he answered my
“The Lord God above will show me the way, as He always

I looked at this man seated in the green lawn chair
with his thin white hair and merry brown eyes
and asked if we could pray together.

He took my hand in his and began to sing softly
“Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”
The red-tailed hummingbird alighted on his shoulder
small, pulsing, long beak pecking at his cheek

All I could do was stare.

August 9, 2015

editors note: Awe of the office gives way to the officer’s awe of life. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Howsabout two?! Well then you’ve come to the right place! We got two tasty tales that you'll surely want to devour

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about the first pick-of-the-week tale "A Spring Awakening" from Contributing Writer Darryl Lorenzo Wellington: "We all should have a Great Awakening on a daily basis. It should be spring time all the time, when we find comfort in our own bodies with our own hands."

Here's a few winks to awaken you:

Seventh grade chemistry class. Kenneth dug deep, like a planter’s hand. He worked a potter’s green thumb. He scratched his thinly haired groin beneath the school desk. Mrs. Garvin, his infatuation, used a walking cane that tapped tapped tapped. Her skirt fluttering in synchronicity. O Mrs. Garvin wielded her cane, O she tapped tapped broken pieces of blackboard chalk, O Mrs. Garvin clutched his multi-colored dick, Kenneth imagined, as her death stick rattled, her subterranean tap tap tap echoing up from spring’s disturbed soils as Kenneth’s green thumb encountered a belt buckle. Begonias screamed at the schoolhouse window. Fleurs outside the recreation area sprayed like summer cats.…

Don't. Stop. Don't! Stop! Don't stop! Get the rest of your read on here!


Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about our other pick-of-the-week tale "The Love of a Dandelion" from Contributing Writer Mike Fiorito: "rimates shooting rockets into outer space but ignoring the brilliance we can see with our own eyes—the human condition as we continue to dive into the endless blackness and find the center of creation."

Here's a bit to get your feelers feelin':

(photo by Tyler Malone)

Even as a boy, he felt yellow, even just looking at it on a page, his skin heated by its invisible rays. In school he drew suns with fiery light rays shooting off of its surface.

“You should draw something else, Colin,” said his teacher Mrs. Lipshitz. “There are trees, grass hills and houses, too.”

“I like suns. I draw suns. I love their light. They make me happy,” he said, his green eyes sparkling with faint yellow streaks.

She tried to understand, nodding her head, looking down at the drawing on his desk. The other kids drew stick figures and bent trees, but his suns were explosive, like he’d visited their surfaces. His suns boasted fiery lakes, passionately real and alive.

“What an imagination you have,” said Mrs. Lipshitz.

“I draw what I see,” he replied.

“And what do you see?” she asked.

“I see the immortality of yellow. Even suns and flowers come and go. But yellow is forever.”…

Feel what we mean? 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...

Bein' Simple,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 08.08.15

“The artist need not know very much; best of all let him work instinctively and paint as naturally as he breathes or walks.” ~ Emil Nolde

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Belonging” (above) by featured artist Bill Wolak. To see more Mad works from Bill, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we bilked a burden, bucked not borne; we glowed in the bones of Gaia slumbering; we journeyed to be jilted, love's bloom wilted; we spoke the hard questions for answers unspoken; we studied steadiness, standing stock still; we wrested words to wield pronounceable wonders; we foisted forgiveness for personal peace. Borne in the bones of blooms and queries. Written and read to right our wrongs. ~ MH Clay

I Forgive You… by Gianni Sacco

I forgive you…

For what you did. You didn’t know what your actions would do. You were young and hurt. I’ll give you that. I’ve been there myself and know the consequences my own actions have caused. It seems I inherited more from you than first meets the eye.

I forgive you…

For leaving me alone when you’d pick up my brother and sisters. You surely didn’t see the hurt in my watering eyes as the house emptied and I was left alone, lonely. I had my toys to play with. They did a good job of distracting me… for a little while. But deep down I knew I wasn’t included. I learned to deal with the feeling of exclusion. I’m alright now.

I forgive you…

For leaving the child-sized me to sort out who was daddy and who wasn’t. Heavy things for such a tender and young heart to deal with. But because of that, I found daddys everywhere. Teachers, coaches, friends fathers, big brother, uncles, TV characters. I looked and found my daddy in hundreds of role models… but never in you.

I forgive you…

For leaving me to carry on another’s name. I ended up carrying it well too. Even passed the name on. My crooked branch off the family tree has been extended now. 3 times, actually. It’s a shame they will never carry your name. They will pass on this court-induced alias for generations to come. Your blood being carried on the wave of another man’s name.

I forgive you…

For making me seek you out. For waiting for me to ask you the million dollar question instead of telling me. I guess you never realized the clouds of questions that followed me since I could remember. I assume you assumed I didn’t question it at all. I assume a lot.

I forgive you…

For never acknowledging the little boy that still lives inside of me. He speaks to me at night, when all the din of the waking world fades away and all that’s left are twilight dreams and nightmares. It’s when he calls for you that I come. He cries for you to hold him. I hold him for you. He pleads for you to see him. I see him for you. He begs for you to call him son. I call him son for you. Eventually he calms and melts in my arms. I tell him that the fault is not his, but yours. I whisper that the loss is not his, it’s yours. I hold him and tell him he doesn’t have to forgive you, just because I do.

August 8, 2015

editors note: In the end, forgiveness benefits the forgiver more. (See another take on how a bastard bears all on Gianni’s page – check it out) – mh clay

Words by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Fragrant stuffed packages,
Scalloped assemblages,
Tiny dim sum dumplings
Honeyed, cute dainties.

Like middens, where
Shells, shreds, lithics,
Other artifacts, rest
‘Til recouped for use.

Wee phonaesthetic branches,
Twisted from moss, trees,
Hang low over city streets,
Are extant during ceremonies.

This passel, that reliquant
Gruff crusts, debt, sunshine,
Penurious bairns with rich
Debutantes, all together.

Words make sennights unlike
Days marked by painting,
Pottery, whistling, yoga;
They trump limited vitality.

Manifestations coined in
Mots turn many lessons,
Cull creative arts’ core,
Form our culture’s epaule.

August 7, 2015

editors note: Speak them or eat them, this says a mouthful. – mh clay

Still by Chuck Taylor

You better be still. You better be still, still as your mother tried to teach you, way back in a time you don’t remember. All the animal motions, divine and volcanic, will get you only so far.

Roller coasters, a hard, wind-whipped rain, your sports car approaching a curve at ninety—I would never make light of these grand fulfillments. They have their place, but you better be still, learn to sit as you see people wait for a train or a bus, not with resignation, but with a mind at rest, at peace, in the place of the timeless flower.

Whatever you are running from–be it time, be it death, be it the grief of a broken heart, or the suffering that rides with life, learn to be still like a cat waiting at the door. Gather patience like moonlight on a cloudless night, and study the familiars nearby, say a chair or a table, say a sunlit windowsill or books lined up on a shelf.

Know that they come to offer help, wordless like the great beautiful paintings in a museum, in touch with the timeless we carry in our body and mind.

August 6, 2015

editors note: It comes when we aren’t seeking, when we cease stressing; it comes… – mh clay

Simple Matters by Scott Wordsman

These are the days when your body feels
like a mound of meat stuck on thick
twin skewers or a bike trudging on
with two flat tires. Shifting your flesh
from one room to the next, you ponder
The Great Migration of six million people
and why you never learned in school
of the guys who just sat down and died
without thinking twice. Maybe in a movie,
a photograph, you saw them, yet only
through the stories of the living did you
witness the lives of the dead. Gone
are the ballgames, great steak dinners
hearts in trees with four initials, two
adjacent, welded together forever
or whatever that means. When I read
my poems to my parents, they look
down at the floor or into their hands
as if tucked within the cracks
of their skin, answers would appear:
answers to questions like Why bother
making the bed in the morning? Who
holds you at night when you sleep
alone? If I fix my dog, can I fix my life?
When my phone dies, do I die too?
The world is becoming only a place
for those with legs and transient hearts.

August 5, 2015

editors note: Asking the right questions, making sense of the answers; not so simple (We welcome Scott to our crazy conclave of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay


at this point where I am walking
towards you savoring the moment
for something which I now know
you knew so you spoke and then
suddenly I did not have you
you did not have to permit me and as for
that which I then did not fully
understand and still don’t I had not a
clue but because I inflicted the fine
you were just disappointed in me
and I frankly admit I must have been
amazed but the feeling that was
attached to that was most of the rea-
son that perhaps it happened the
way it did and as for me who des-
ired happiness I still had to pass into
another life as if I were reincarnated
as someone else and so as if my
monopolized lines excluded me
from the typhoon of your emotions
and then if that which cannot be
thrown high enough to take a chance
is where I could not now how far I
would have to go to possess your
love and so now I think I have achieved
safety and blame myself no
longer I do not have you any
more but that’s okay and here we are

August 4, 2015

editors note: Another case of “You are Here!.” Origin to destination with story in between. – mh clay

CORNERWAYS by Lana Bella

Mirage comes to where she is sleeping,
under an old beech tree.
Light bleeds through her not knowing
the dark has gotten there first;
they pass cornerways,
brushing up stares and blossomed threads.
Had waking crept over her eyes to let tiny
slits of blue sky sneak under the lids,
she would see her skin has been sewn with
a pink suit of the early dusk,
brain neurons have caught hold of flirting atoms,
and fingertips have spanned like butterflies’ wings–
sensing naked air from the breaths of earth-coiled roots.
Mineral wisps settle like something had thrust through
the smoky grass,
its shapeless gown braids gold of small bright birds
and yellow leaves
melting down in lush mimosa over her gathered elbows.
She is a quiet cocoon cast inside the standstill of time,
blue veins hunt for scorched mercury–
where the things of dark spruce up the flesh,
and the plumes of light glow through the bone.

August 3, 2015

editors note: How’s a prince to wake this sleeping beauty when kissing corner ways (We welcome Lana as our newest Contributing Poet with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Who Am I to Burden You? by Louis Marvin

Annie sang a sad song, while they died of aids, smiling for the camera, on the Live 8
the smile said, “Who am I to burden you, with my death?”
So instead they gave, in their dying time, smiles all around.
They gave, when all was being taken, when the light was soon to dim.
Oh mother, oh Mother Theresa, oh mother, where are you now?
In my dying time, I would not presume to burden you.
So the last you see of me, is this lovely smile.
Good-bye. And their song was over.

August 2, 2015

editors note: Another slice o’ the soundbite cycle. Appeals to our mercy chalked up to marketing. No ears, no ears. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Well then you’ve come to the right place ‘cos we got two tasty tales for ya’!

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about the first pick-of-the-week tale "A Shout of Bones" from Contributing Writer Addie Soaraki: "In the end, we’re all just bags of bones for the gods to sort."

Here's a shout to please your readin’ eyes:

(photo by Tyler Malone)

Happy would have been the astral night when nothing moved of its own accord but moved instead according to indistinct laws none of us supposedly normal people comprehend, yet as we walk together, my girl and myself, downtown streets echo like the distancing and forlorn tunes of a Shakuhachi flute, an end-blown Japanese instrument that, while it does exist in time with various aspects of any child’s long-buried Pokemon deck, has nothing at all to do with us.

Let us emphasize the “nothing” part of our detachment. Nothing is wrong with me. Nothing is right with me either. Although I am holding Clarissa’s hand in my own hand, it is as if our hands are “equipment,” not signs or even symbols of some sort of abiding-yet-lonely expression of mutual affection in the face of vast, implacable forces no one really cares exist or not.

We were sitting on a bus stop bench at around six in the evening on a Tuesday afternoon, ships of clouds moving together into an armada of vapor when the bus suddenly squealed to a stop and accidentally (or purposely?) popped a seemingly careless pigeon with its one-ton wheels, a loud noise not unlike that of an automotive backfire but nevertheless organic in its embrasure against the instrument of Death as we seem to believe we know.

Seeing the hollow cavity of the crushed pigeon was like looking into an extra thick balloon made of skin. I could see no bones. Bloody mess formed a quite beautiful splatter pattern that perhaps Jackson Pollock would have appreciated during one of his drunken, front-yard spectacles of throwing paint onto a canvass. In that sense, the death of the pigeon of rainbow neck was simply not original here in this urban hollow overseen by rows of empty skyscrapers.

Is there a pigeon Heaven, I asked Clarissa.

Heaven is for the birds, Clarissa laughed. And with that I felt the bomb go off.

The bomb. Not a real bomb. Only a fragmentary insight exploding my head…

Get the rest of your read on here!


Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about the second pick-of-the-week story "The Swim Club" from Contributing Writer Ruth Z. Deming: "One must dive deep, head far enough down to where the ears pop and the mouth fills with breaking water, before you know how the oxygenated world really tastes. Once you master the art of drowning, all that’s left is the bliss of living."

Here's a bit to get ya swinnin’:

Look at me. Four days later. The black and blue marks only get denser and that arm of mine. “Go to the doctor,” everyone tells me. “You might have a torn rotator cuff.” It’s the arm that’s the worse. When I got home from the competitive swim, with Band-Aids on my feet, I couldn’t move my right arm. Although I could peel off my bathing suit, I could barely get into my lacy green nightgown.

Everyone was there at the Upper Moreland Swim Club. I had practiced for weeks and even had my stylist Nicole trim my hair so I looked rather like a boy.

Artie shouted: “Ready! One-two-three,” and then shot a toy pistol into the air.

Ten men and women jumped into the Olympic-sized swimming pool. The same swimming pool that David Berkoff, an Olympic Gold Medal backstroke champion, had practiced in, right here in our town. Not in California or Florida, but tiny Upper Moreland, Pennsylvania.

I’m a breast-stroke champion in the forty to fifty age bracket. Like David Berkoff, when I hit the water, I stay submerged as long as possible. I’ve developed the lungs of a bagpipe player. But Berkoff was surprised one year at the Seoul, Korean Olympics, when a black-haired Japanese swimmer, who swam without a bathing cap, beat him by 13th of a second.

After the swim meet, we ordered food from the snack bar and sat over in the picnic grove. I fluffed up my hair so it would dry nicely, as I munched on a hot dog with spicy mustard and drank down a chilled bottle of Coke.

“This is the life,” I said holding up my Coke for a toast.

“Hear! Hear!” said Michael.

These were my friends. Funny, I was a shy little girl who could barely mumble out loud when I got to kindergarten. But in first grade, our family joined The Upper Moreland Swim Club and life began to open up for me.

I still haven’t met the man of my dreams. My childbearing years are just about over. There’s a reason for this. And it’s a damn shame. It’s also a secret that I almost had to reveal when I excused myself at the picnic grove…

Get the rest of your read on here!

••• Mad Swirl Open Mic •••

(photos courtesy of Dan “the man” Rodriguez. Check 'em all out here)

Oh what a night it was in the land of Swirl’n mic Mad-ness! As Swirve started their jazzy madness, the crowd found their way to the stage with their heads boppin’ and their fingers snappin’. As the last notes were fading away, hosts Johnny O & Chris Zimmerly got the show goin’ with an introduction of Texas Beat poet PW Covington! PW took us on down the roads that only he knows and goes to. Did’a miss it? But no worries, you can still view it on our Mad Swirl UStream channel.

After a brief intermission, the mic got opened up to the mad ones who filled the Lounge. And what a night of the beat-utifullest poetry and music ensued! Here’s a shout out to all who graced us with their words, their songs, their divine madnesses…

Johnny O
Chris Zimmerly

PW Covington

Mad Cast:
Suza Hep Kat Mama
Dan Evans
Carlos Salas
David Crandall
Alan Gann
Kelly Cheek
Opalina Salas
Konnichiwa Zach
Bear The Poet
Vic Victory
Elliot Pickens
Mike Adriani

HUGE thanks to Swirve (Chris Curiel, Tamitha Curiel, & Gerard Bendiks) 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 Absinthe Lounge, who has given 126 reasons to give all the mad props and love that we do!

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.

We look forward to ALL the m-adventures to come! Stay tuned…

September: Sebastián Hasani Páramo


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...

Breathin’ & Walkin’,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 08.01.15

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” ~ Herman Melville

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“The Death Mask of Friedrich Hölderlin” (above) by featured artist Bill Wolak. To see more Mad works from Bill, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we skirted sartorial sadness, vied with a verisimilitudinous valet; we suffered the lack (32 times) of a poetry app; we exposed the etymology of 3M, nemesis of this fine femme; we suffered a deficit, charitable cupids, enduring the hubris of government stupids; we flashed our fill of sexual frustration, our lackluster lust to a wow-less crowd; we saw a survivor, creative contriver; we opened eyes to demise and all that can arise, today. Today and ever; be now, be now. ~ MH Clay

Today by Steffen Horstmann

A helix of flames spiraled in your eyes today,
As a soothsayer spoke of your demise today.

Beneath Thracian tombs defiled by Romans
Djinns scour crypts seething with flies today.

Mystics decipher koans whispered
In zephyrs rife with lisps & sighs today.

Plumes of smoke are roiling above pyres
From where flocks of phoenixes rise today.

Clans of nomads are possessed by demons
Sages were dispatched to exorcise today.

Cassandra dreams of ships gliding on waves of fire-
An omen of war the sea’s repose belies today.

A wraith’s shrieks reverberate through caverns
In an echo the raving wind amplifies today.

The immense shadows of soaring wings melt
As condors are subsumed in the sunrise today.

The litanies of prophets are echoing in caves
As whirlwinds form in Elijah’s eyes today.

August 1, 2015

editors note: A lot’s happening today. Poets, pay attention. – mh clay

NOT LIKE THEM by Bradford Middleton

Getting here has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done
This life is not for the faint-hearted and I’m just glad to be sitting here writing this little poem
I remember all the obstacles that have been placed in my way
The days at school when the last thing on my mind was education
Back then it was all about survival and avoiding the bullies who wanted me dead
It all started so long ago now I can barely recollect
But I remember being made to walk up and down the classroom by an old teacher who wanted to cure me of my in-step
There was another time a kid I never really liked grabbed my pen and pad and threw it in the pond telling me that our kind shouldn’t be doing things like that
Secondary school wasn’t much better, the bullies were bigger and there were more of them
But somehow I survived, escaped intact by taking them on at their own game
Living so close to school I got all the training the one-hundred metres champion would need
Beating the bullies, even when they brought their bikes, home in a blur of limbs and will to survive
After school I naturally became a Goth thinking that was maybe the way to get people to ignore me
But that seemed unlikely in retrospect, a six-foot beanpole of a lad dressed head to toe in black
Just made it more obvious that I wasn’t like them and whilst now I may dress differently my spirit remains undiminished
Forever until the very end will I remain the one who is simply not like them.

July 31, 2015

editors note: To all of you with undiminished spirits – identify! – mh clay

National Day, 1 March 2015, The Republic of Abstinence. by Daniel Roy Connelly

In March, Sex is another route through your defences, as it hits from a point beneath your firewall
Capricorn, 2015

I am robed, heavy towelling, belt double knotted.
The gown stops just short of my Achilles.
Sex is already strafing on its belly on the balcony.
The radar fails to pick up the ground-to-air assault.
Sex can see all the way up to my presidential guts.
Sex sprays a whiff of Sex past my ankles.
The scanner fails to detect it.
Sex tickles the hairs on my quads.
Sex evanesces clean through my skin.
Balaclavad Sex Threads shoot spasms through my abdomen.
The stunned crowds below have started to laugh.
I must be pulling strange faces.
Perhaps my peaked cap is atilt.
I remembered to mute the microphone.
My skin is covered in unexploded goose-pimples.
Sex drones lower chains along my arms.
They have flown through my wall of fire, it is a massacre.
Sex raises me above the crowds to heaven’s sanctuaries.
Security is nowhere to be seen.

July 30, 2015

editors note: Here is proof; hallucinations come from lack of this. – mh clay

Mon Dieu by David Subacchi

Monsieur if it didn’t sell it went into bins
This is a business, we can’t give food away
Nobody would buy from us again
They’d just hang around outside
Waiting for stores to close
And for the hand outs
We are a country of revolutions
But that would be
Taking things too far

Madame we had to make sure
So we put bleach into the bins
To poison the unsold food
If we didn’t do this
These desperate people
Would steal from us
They would climb
Into the containers
To salvage the contents

Mon Dieu now the stupid government
Has made laws to prohibit all this
How easily they shame us
With their political rhetoric
Caring little for our profits
Worrying only about the votes
Of the weak and sentimental
Whose hunger we must now feed
Breeding our own destruction.

July 29, 2015

editors note: A voice from the foundation upon which others build the welfare state (We welcome David to our crazy confab of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Rehabilitation Required(?) by A.J. Huffman

men and machines.
My trichotomous needs.
I choke on associated

July 28, 2015

editors note: Rehab or resignation? Choice is debatable… – mh clay

32 Poems by Michael Estabrook

After two and a half years
mentored by a famous Beat poet
from the 50s and 60s
he finally produces a booklet of 32 clean
lean poems.

“The title poem – Bouncy House –
was inspired by your daughters”
he tells his son
and his son’s wife
as he hands them the booklet.

They say “Thanks, how nice”
as they put down their iPhones and leaf
through the pages for a minute
before picking up their iPhones again.
“That’s great” they added and that was that.

July 27, 2015

editors note: Isn’t there an app for this? – mh clay

Meeting by John McGinley

Today I had a meeting.
I opened my closet door and shouted in,
“What should I wear today?”
My closet replied, in its low baritone voice,
“What sort of meeting is it?”
This was a good question – it was for my adoption.
“It is for the position of son.”
After a few moments of thinking my closet said,
“That’s very odd. Are you not too old to be a son?”
Infuriated I screamed,
“Who are you to tell me what I am too old to be?”
My closet sighed and gave me a collared cotton shirt, overalls, sneakers with velcro
and a pasta stain.
“Begone potential son.”

July 26, 2015

editors note: If clothes make the man, can a closet make a son? Potentially, yes! – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Well then you’ve come to the right place ‘cos we got two tasty tales for ya’!

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about the first pick-of-the-week tale "Things I Remember" from Suvi Mahonen: "I’m clean, I swear! We all say that as we bathe in madness we love the most as we pray people want to touch us and praise our beautiful refuse. Sometimes, though, we catch a whiff of what waves off of us, and it’s too much to catch wind of again, ever."

Here's a bit to pique your reading’ eye:

(photo by Tyler Malone)

The weirdness finally wears off when there’s only five minutes remaining. It takes the dregs of my limited self control to stop myself from jumping off the nutter couch and pointing triumphantly at Laura and shouting ‘Ha!’

I don’t move. But my face must have. Because she pauses in the middle of her sentence.

“You wanted to say something?” she says, arching her eyebrow in the way that she does so that it disappears behind the thick black upper rim of her funky Gucci glasses.

I think quickly. “I was wondering what happened to your old pot plant?”

She glances over her shoulder at the empty space on her desk between the computer and the inbox tray where a tall, spiky, phallic-like cactus used to sit. She turns back. “It died,” she says simply.

I can tell she doesn’t believe me. I don’t care. I’m still pissed off she suggested Olanzapine “Just in case.”

I knew I shouldn’t have told her what had happened at the hospital.

As soon as I did I realised I’d made a mistake. It was the look she shot me. Something about it said here we go again.

Her chair squeaked as she’d leaned forward. “What did you say you saw?”...

Get the rest of your read on here!


Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about the second pick-of-the-week story "Ado" from Ron Riekki: "Dance in the violent breeze, because you already live and breathe inside the madness daily."

Here's a bit to get ya goin’:

I had a girlfriend who got caught up in a tornado. And I mean up. An actual tornado. It was in Iowa, I think. One of those shitty vowel states. She was babysitting and took the kids to a silo apocalypse shelter that the crazy farmer dad had made and the youngest kid wanted her stuffed giraffe named Ollie or some crap like that and my ex- went back in the house for it and on the way back out the tornado actually picked her up and she cried once after sex telling me the whole story, saying that it felt like God loved her so much that He was showing her what it’s like in Heaven. And I couldn’t say she was talking like a nut case, because we’d just had sex and there was a blanket’s wet spot that was actually from her pond of tears from sharing this event that, to me, just seemed kind of stupid...

Get the rest of your read on here!

••• Mad Swirl Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl at the NEW Absinthe Lounge this 1st Wednesday of August (aka 08.05.15) at 8:00 sharp, when we will swirl it up madly in the LIVE way that we do every month now for OVER 10 years! TThis month we are featuring Texas poet PW Covington!

After our feature set we urge you stick around to get yourself a spot on our list… first come, first on the list! Which means… get there early!

Come one, come all! Mad poets, musicians, actors, singers, circus freaks & other miscellaneous loco locals… come-n-strut-yo-stuff. Come to participate. Come to appreciate. Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call Mad Swirl.

Mad Love,
Googily-Eyed Guy

P.S. If you can’t be here LIVE, you can view the whole show via our Mad Swirl UStream Channel! Just click here at 8:00pm (CST) and watch the mic madness swirlin’ live.

P.P.S. AND, as you may or may not know, every 1st Wednesday we get all giddy with the swirlin’ madness. Here’s who we will be featuring next month:

September: Sebastián Hasani Páramo


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 : 07.25.15

“The big artist keeps an eye on nature and steals her tools.” ~ Thomas Eakins

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“The Unexpected” (above) by featured artist Bill Wolak. To see more Mad works from Bill, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

Mad Swirl is proud to introduce to you our latest visual artist, Bill Wolak. If his name is ringin' a bell it might be because his words have appeared in our Poetry Forum since 2011. This time Bill comes to us sharing some of his poetically mad visuals. Most of these canvases are exclusively black, white, and grey - somewhat gothic - and nearly always symmetrical collages. Each piece has an almost mystic and medieval air, though the selection strides through subjects (for example: legs, a penis, is that a butterfly wing?). We here at Mad Swirl pride ourselves on knowing mad work when we see it. And in this case, Wolak certainly didn't let us down! If you don’t believe us, let your senses check Bill's works out for yourself and you’ll see exactly what we mean. - Madelyn Olson

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we broke away from unpleasant obeisance; we thwarted the thrill of the close-up kill; we engaged in pursuit of Polaroid perfection; we sprung for the Spring, to learn a new thing; we hoved a high, hopeless factuality; we suffered the loss of relentless rascals to ensure the unending vibe; we wrought words of perfection to keep our direction. Outward gaze, our piquant depictions, staged establishment predilections; peeled away, exposed addictions - stand alone or not stand at all. ~ MH Clay

Switch Your Groove by Paul Tristram

Scattergun out all of those poisonous bullets
whilst sucker-punching that dark cloud
from around your slowly clearing head.
Germinate new energy and adrenalin
way down at the heart and soul’s core,
it’s the middle that matters, always.
Purge and vent the anger and frustration,
then count your blessings and lucky stars,
you made it through and out the other side.
Deconstruct depression, slap apathy away
from your face, put your best fighting foot
forward and brave the brand new day.
Take that bolthole you cleverly kept hidden,
drop the past baggage away from your back.
Time to start over again stronger and wiser,
switch your groove and get onto the right track.

July 25, 2015

editors note: Anytime you need to give yourself a good talking to, these words would do. Thanks, Paul! – mh clay

Dire Prediction by Gary Beck

Service men and women,
police officers,
other functionaries
vital to society
insufficiently appreciated
by bloated consumers
frequently sheltered
from traumas of life.
Now that we are removing
the capable blue-collar class,
outsourcing jobs abroad
complementing the flight of capital,
the growth of servitude jobs
does not inspire confidence
that we will retain
men and women
who will walk through fire, bullets, blood,
to protect us.

July 24, 2015

editors note: Prediction or prophecy? – mh clay

The last heartbeat by Bozena Helena Mazur-Nowak

It was a day like any other day
an early Monday afternoon in May –
and she was already dancing with the Angels
as her mother read that farewell letter.

She fell limply from the white cliffs
to the ocean whose waves gently bathed her feet,
their susurration a farewell prayer,
then taking flight she rose,
soaring skyward –
riding the winds with wide spread wings
like a white seagull.

The last heartbeat whispered
“Forgive me, Mom
Now I’m happy”

July 23, 2015

editors note: Why choose early departure? Poets imagine. – mh clay


There was no sunlight before today
We saw only shadows kept at bay
It was stark; it was bleak in a way
That used to be Tunisia of yesterday

Freedom came with the sacrifices they made
Thanks to our martyrs fear will fade
Our heroes were gone out of shape,
But their names will remain on the tape

Tunisians revolted against those in power
Obliging them to run and leave their tower
By repeating slogans: Out! Game is over!
People woke up and finally became sober

Ministers stayed hours then left!
That was the quickest shift
Some took the revolution as a bull!
They were ready to ride to the full!

I warn off those having selfish demands!
My Tunisia is the most sacred of lands
Nationalism is not a kind of brand!
I will kneel and kiss her pure sand

As a citizen I will change my birth date
And each 14th of January I will celebrate
Let’s leave selfishness and greed
Love and Unity are all we need

Democracy cannot exist all of a sudden!
Let’s first work to get rid of that burden
Stop complaining about political rights
We need patience to carry on the fights

Let’s work! Let’s save our lands!
And fight for dignity, not personal demands!
Tunisia today is no longer the same
Her betterment should be our single aim

July 22, 2015

editors note: Poetic visionary fervor and ideals. Can we remember? Can we renew? – mh clay

yellow puke suit by Chase Spruiell

waster paper. into the bin.
clumsy hands. clumsy words.
inconsistent machine. blabbering
human. on the fault line of
true feeling. bankrupt emotion.
purged from readings of Kurt
Vonnegut. another’s words.
in my mouth. mixed up sputtering.
false emotional vomit. dressed
for the parade. yellow puke suit.
21st century literature. dressed
in yellow. proud of the purge.

Bukowski would buy me
a beer.
Here’s to you, Hank.
Kurt, too.

you are what you eat.

July 21, 2015

editors note: Ah, yes! The false starts, the iconic influences. I could use a new suit; think I’ll eat some kale… – mh clay

Why We Have Drones by J.K. Durick

Early on killing must have been close up
With something sharp, a dagger-like stick
Or stone pushed home, up so close that
You would almost embrace your enemy
Feel his strength yield a bit, up close you
Could hear his last words, even when you
Didn’t understand them, you heard them
Even smelled and tasted them, felt them
On your cheek, a last word and his last
Breath, then the nothing of his death
A dead weight to push aside or lay down
Perhaps stumble over, blood literally on
Your hands, your weapon, your clothes
The smell and feel of it, a reminder of
What you have done, hard to wash away
Something that intimate must stay with
You, follow you, haunt you, and play games
With your imagination, reversing the roles
The blade piercing your stomach or chest
Your blood, your last words, or changing
The partner in the dance, your best friend,
Your wife, your children, killing them all
This close up.

July 20, 2015

editors note: Easy, when one can do it through a screen. Why not? We do everything through a screen. – mh clay

drifting away by Linda M. Crate

seeds of truth
naked beneath your tongue
refuse to be uttered,
and i shy away
because mother taught me not to
make waves;
i waxed and wanned and disappeared
like a new moon—
yesterday i opened my eyes and
decided that life is too short
for me to wait on you
to step onboard my ship and do anything more
than to drill holes in my dreams,
and so i will throw you
like tea;
you will be forgotten as all history is
someone will make the mistake of repeating you
but i cannot warn them
there is too much distance i must yet
i will be long gone before you realize
and you will try to call me back
to find that i was not the
same person as yesterday and i will no longer
obey you or your ridiculous

July 19, 2015

editors note: A tea party rebellion of personal proportions. Nice! – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Good! We got just the read to feed your need!

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this pick-of-the-week tale. "SGLI" by Texas poet & writer (and Mad Swirl's August Open Mic feature) PW Covington: "The dead dictate the lives of the living, that’s how it’s always been. Your ghost will do it too. Absence, sometimes, is more of a problem than presence."

Here's a few lines to get your need fed:

photo by Tyler Malone

$400,000. SGLI.

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance.

Fucking Robbie.

I hadn’t even heard he had been killed until I got all the paperwork, forwarded from that years’ old address on the base in Kansas. He had died in Mosul, or somewhere like that. Some kind of explosion. I found his name online in a list of soldiers killed that month, but it didn’t say exactly how it happened.

Benefits awarded “By Law,” the paperwork said. I guess we were still technically married. No one in his family even told me. His parents always hated me. I hear that they buried him at that big Army cemetery in San Antonio. I heard it was free. I imagine there was a bugle and a flag.

Fucking Robbie.

I didn’t even have a checking account. It took me over a week to find a bank willing to let me open one, just so I could deposit the check. I couldn’t find any other way to cash it. I have the starter checks, brochures about mutual funds and Certificates of Deposit. The lady at the bank said that I need to “put my money to work for me.” Is it really my fucking money?

It still isn’t real to me. How am I supposed to feel? I was on the phone begging for a couple of extra days to pay the light bill, while that money was doing whatever it takes to clear and post to my account. It took five days, there was a weekend involved. I got cut back to like 15 hours a week at the dollar store because it’s the summer now and kids are out of school. They always hire three or four students. I put in for a job with the city a few months ago, but never heard back from them. I think I didn’t do good enough on the typing test they made me take at the employment office over in Cuero.

What now? Does any of that even matter?…

Tempting taste? If you’re hungry for the rest, get read feast 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...

Seein’ & Stealin',

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 07.18.15

“You can play a shoestring if you're sincere.” ~ John Coltrane

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Photo of Swirve's Chris Curiel taken by Dan "The Photog Man" Rodriguez

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we got real (no shit, we did); we sang what we would, poorly poured if we could; we tried to pass on one who went on (and on and on); we pondered the profundity of purpose; we pondered more, near and far, rose and star; we counted the lines of a life account; we jumped into star-crossed bliss, engulfed in unknown mist. That's what we hoped and why we jump - always jumping. Jump! ~ MH Clay

THE EDGE by Jeffrey Park

some might call him
or seeker,
peeping tom,
rattler at locks,
one who charges full tilt
to the end
of the earth,
and stretches
and slices his finger
on one of
Saturn’s razor-thin rings,
and allows his
own eccentric orbit
to carry him
and down
and into the mist.

July 18, 2015

editors note: Follow the explorer, seeker; peep and rattle. It’s the only way to know what lies beyond the mist… – mh clay

Sixteen Inspired Lines by Ralph Freda

It has taken me a lifetime to learn
that the Moon – in all its mystery – is simply itself
… and this is the hardest thing to learn

I know for certain, very few things, anymore…

I know for certain the Universe is an empty place,
and the love we provide gives it Meaning…

I know for certain the one I love is somewhere
out there, in this world –
I have been too long without her; and I fear I am insane…

I know for certain that the people who truly love me are fewer than the fingers I have on one hand;
and when they have gone, so too, will have I…

I shall not be left to survive,
beneath the ridiculous, mysterious, eternally condemned Moon…

July 17, 2015

editors note: Oh, Moon! Tell us the sound of one hand counting…? – mh clay

t​he too deep rose is infinite by James Barrett Rodehaver

​t​he rose is pushing inland.

i have long pondered the quiet rim of unbearable madness.
a coffee bean falls to the floor,
to be crushed but never used.

the delicate balancing act of twin unhappinesses,
lost love and hard life,
while making it all look like it glows, effortlessly.

one hole in the sock, where the toe pokes through,
trying to pull it back in your sleep.

the storm on paper, on viridescent screens,
that no one really knows, until the power goes out,
and all we can hear are thunder and sirens.

the faint cry to the earth of “mercy,”
after you realize you’re in a poor man’s deja vu.

the rose is etching itself upon our hands.
i have long pondered the stark truth of unbearable madness.
the revolving door of paychecks come and gone,
and the bills that take them.

the silence in the house of the lonely spinster,
and the cries that pierce the night like a gunshot in the distance.

that one spot in the middle of your back,
that you can never quite reach,
like a secret key to contentment.

a cart full of new groceries,
but the card says denied,
just as your stomach rumbles like a ghost.

lying on your back looking up at the night sky,
asking the universe if we are alone,
and the universe suddenly answers back “no,”
and suddenly you count the stars,
estimate the planets,
and begin to worry,
just barely able to sanely cope with one world,
so you reply back with, “well, why not?”

the rose folds itself into a star.

July 16, 2015

editors note: A rose is a rose is a reason to question everything. – mh clay

PURPOSE by Beate Sigriddaughter

What is the purpose
of a polar bear?


And that is my purpose
as well.

July 15, 2015

editors note: Yes, exactly! – mh clay

In Remembrance of Muzzles Past by Steven Minchin

We’ve passed on

unrestrained you go on
on without control
continually igniting out loud
like the Hindenburg inflated
with vocal accelerants
erupting on their own
you go on spewing
-a disaster without concern-
like the Hindenburg with verbs.

July 14, 2015

editors note: Rip it or zip it! – mh clay

If I could by Opalina Salas

If I could
Just hold on
To the tail ends sweeping
The talk
And mediocre
Could blind my eyes to your dissatisfaction
Close my ears to the silence
Break open windows in the airless room
Love the loveless
Sleep the forbidden dreams
In masks and riddles
And know your broad shoulders
Told no lies

Poor red
Pour red
In me
These violent things
I cannot sing

If I could
Intercept the gravity
That pulls my arms
And legs of scaffolds
Open wings
And claw marks
To questions
And tumble in your hair
That gives me pause

Poor red
Pour red
In me
These violent things
I cannot sing

If I could
Stub toes of journey
In the meandering night
And hear the music
Not aided by keys of smoke
But by your gentle sighs
Even so I long for the melodies
Unending in our love

Poor red
Pour red
In me
These violent things
I cannot sing

If I could just
Crack like sunshine
On the turning land
Burnish the fields
And plump the opiates
Of their moaning tendrils
Could blind my eyes to your dissatisfaction
Close my ears to the silence
Break open windows in the airless room
Love the loveless
Sleep the forbidden dreams
In masks and riddles
And know your soft lips
Told no lies

July 13, 2015

editors note: Oh, yes! If we could (a pour for the poor), we would… wouldn’t we? (Another mad missive from Opalina on her page; something for breakfast – check it out.) – mh clay

Speaking real type shit by James Brown

So many times an unforgiven breath
Carried the words, “you don’t do this,
You haven’t done that” truth, the real
Facts I done most of all that, took care
Of you type shit.
Speaking on weak shit, lying through
Your teeth type shit, keep that weeping
type shit, It was all good out on your
creep type shit, slick type shit.
Every time I lift my feet type shit you
get that meekness type shit and hide the
freak type outfit, I’m not weak like that I
just don’t indulge in that type bullshit fit.
Most of the time I just want to be left alone
Type shit and not hear that preaching type
Shit when you sin too type shit; now feel
Me on this real type shit.

July 12, 2015

editors note: Well, this is the real shit. No shit! – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Well then you really don't want to miss out on "The Love of Fathers" by John Lewis

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this pick-of-the-week tale: "Our greatest love is our greatest pain: ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a women, we make our suffering special, something we think the stars and god truly care about. "

Here's a bit to get your need feedin' goin':

I woke early, shaved, taken a cold shower, then with a glass of fruit juice and some crackers, I occupied my favorite chair before the television. It was to be a twenty–overs cricket match, meaning excitement non-stop. The channel messaged that the match would be televised thirty minutes later because they were wishing a happy Father’s Day to all fathers. Also, the phone lines were opened for persons to call in and have their say about us fathers. I seized the opportunity to slice some cheese and tomatoes to go with the crackers, but all the while half my mind listened to the callers. Most of the callers spoke ill of fathers. I found my chewing accelerating as my anger increased. Even the female moderator joined in the verbal father-thrashing. Eventually, I dialed that call-in program:

“Good morning, my dear. Thank you so much for reminding us fathers that today is Father’s Day. Usually, on Mother’s day my wife receives a special breakfast in bed. Here I am, on Father’s Day, eating crackers with cheese and tomatoes—put together by yours truly. My wife is still in bed.”

“Be honest with yourself. Do you deserve better treatment?” the moderator challenged.

“Certainly! I have made that clear to my wife on several occasions when the pain from her hardheartedness got to me. I am now immune to her indifferent attitude towards my need for the occasional pampering. Note, miss, that our children never regard such abuse of daddy as neglect on their mother’s part, because she gets up each school day to prepare breakfast for the family. Somehow, dads are viewed as heartless law-givers, against whom the rest of the family must take a stand, as if we had used the women against their will and are consequently doomed by law to compensate and protect the injured parties. There’s also this expectation that fathers must devote all, even their time and attention, strictly to concerns deemed important by wives. For example, wives feel offended when politics and other serious matters engage some of their men’s attention, unconscious of the fact that their husbands stand on the front line, facing God and Government on their families’ behalf.”

“Okay, sir, you’ve…” the Moderator intercepted.

“Please do not interrupt me! I am speaking on behalf of all fathers…

Can't stop feedin' that read need right there, could ya? Then 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...


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 07.11.15

“almost exquisite, the slight madness” ~ James Tate

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Battle Fatigue” (above) by featured artist Paula “Pd” Lietz. To see more Mad works from Pd, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we found bird kill to be no thrill; we meted love from mattered metaphor; we wound romance 'round a whiskey glow, why it was you, we'll never know; we thought Summer, thick sighs, ants on thighs; we made from broken night, lives to stand in morning light; we upended the origin of original sin; we followed the flow of creative course, to Alpha, to Eternal River's source. Common source, common destination; commonality. ~ MH Clay

Solitary river by Hem Raj Bastola

Aesthetic hallucination
One mad station
For creation

Have I
Understood of life
Looking for the rooms
Adventure to the unknown
Beyond the horizon
My eyes are

That cloud
Of a void sky
Loitering free
Shapeless mind
Thinking and thinking
Never become

In the air
On the ground I walk
Experimenting with mystery
Collecting the fossils
From a solitary

July 11, 2015

editors note: A 21st Century Siddhartha, living his path aloud; isolation, experimentation, aesthetic hallucination. (Another from Hem Raj on his page, post-earthquake in Nepal – check it out!) – mh clay

Fish on Friday by Abigail Wyatt

Fish on Fridays is ok, I suppose:
for most of us it’s no more than a relic
from a time long before;
like cold cuts on a Monday
from the family joint
that used to be
the week’s big event:
a nice piece of topside
or a leg of spring lamb –
there being far too much
fat on the breast –
served up with mint sauce
made from mint fresh
from the garden,
chopped up with vinegar
and sugar to taste.

Not roast pork, of course:
though some of us do like it,
many see the pig as unclean;
a scavenging creature –
as, indeed, are shellfish –
and injurious to our
spirit and our health;
and some say no beef,
because the cow is sacred;
some, no alcohol,
and some no tea or coffee;
caffeine, being highly addictive,
tends to undermine,
apparently, our physical
and spiritual health.

All religions considered,
it’s a bit of a mine field,
especially having people to dinner:
after all, you can’t always tell these days
what a person’s beliefs might be.
It’s a good thing, though,
that they have sorted one thing out;
as a wife, it puts my mind
at rest to know it.
It’s the kind of thing that can
make you anxious
and keep you from your sleep.
Now I don’t have to worry
that my husband will go hungry
because, if he’s ever
facing starvation,
now there’s a fatwa
that says it’s ok
to go right ahead
and make a meal
of me.

Except that now they say
this is a ‘only a joke’;
or, worse, that it is
‘only propaganda’;
so that now I am attacked
for mocking those
who sharpen their knives
and polish their forks
ready to plunge them into me;
but, whichever way you cut it,
the unpalatable truth is this:
that the gods don’t seem
to care much for us women.

So, guys, if you –
and your gods –
want to win my respect
stop raping and stoning my sisters;
stop paying me less
and then making me pay
a dozen different ways every day.
Stop selling my daughters,
stop calling me names
and making me ashamed
of my bright body;
and stop spinning those lies
about ‘wickedness’ and ‘sin’
and how it all originates
with me.

July 10, 2015

editors note: Nothing fishy here! An appeal for equality on all fronts. Listening, Gents? – mh clay

DAWN by Tom Montag

and morning’s silence.
From the other

side of night, when
you cross over, if

you can, if you don’t
let go, you, too, may

bring them back, these
broken things from which

we make our lives.

July 9, 2015

editors note: Gathered in a torn satchel, we salvage what we can for morning; building bright futures. – mh clay

Raisin in the Morning by Taylor Gall

You’re a
little raisin
baking on my back
smiling in the
chilly March
sun, but
dreaming about
July will
smell like flowers
and be thick with
in July we will
stay up late.
We will drink
beers on a front lawn and
be raisins together,
the ants

July 8, 2015

editors note: A love prophecy; made in Spring, fulfilled in Summer. Hand us a beer and damn the ants. – mh clay

It was you by Peggy Flora

at the hour of midnight
on whiskey covered floors
with bar stools and noise
through the back door
a leather scented wind
sitting upon the motor
the vision became

a smile and glow
of red and yellow
a faint resemblance
of a colored road
marked by needs
only seen in the heat
of a long kept secret
to feel the breeze

weakened by the knees
in black night rumblings
Letters and numerals
Crept around truths
Of more meaning
But for an evening
It was you

July 7, 2015

editors note: In the questionable night, answers arrive unsolicited. It was you. – mh clay


(“This is the second of our reign.”)

What flew through the air today was sight not sound,
Although the trees swayed anyhow,
Stunned. Light broke through these dull
Clouds late, as if even the air around us
Had had enough of brooding, scowling skies,

Skies with no light or hope. And my wife
Out there for a walk as a metaphor for
All this, unplanned and unasked. For my
Long week she will find an excuse to treat
Me like I could be the only thing that

Matters, this instant and forever. On the most
Mundane Monday she finds ways to
Bring small lights and grace notes to a
Life otherwise contingent—deals on the phone
With those not in my control.

Not all compacts endure. But this one
Does, its essence an ionic bond,
And I can’t wait till you come back,
Though it has been mere minutes.
My soul pants after you, as the psalmist
Said. There could be no other analogy,

No other synecdoche, nothing on this
Earth has Rachel stand in for anything
Else. Even metaphor, Rachel as the
Sun, say, gets only so close. If there
Is the perfect word canvas, look at

A prayer wheel, set on fire with hope, where others see only
Dark; picture a murmuration of starlings
Where others see only shapes against
A late winter sky.

July 6, 2015

editors note: Here speaks love as love, not metaphor; sweet.! (In the light of recent Independence Day celebrations, a fine write on Brian’s page; words from any president, two and a half terms in – check it out!) – mh clay

APOLOGY by Mark Senkus

young boy with pellet gun
aiming at anything moving

a tree swallow fluttering near its
nest hole far up the birch tree

an innocent pulling of trigger
a dead-on kill
and then the swallow’s mate
out the nest hole and
shrieking her mourning
across the thinned air

flustered and uncertain
the boy carefully aims and
shoots again putting down
the mate

trudging home feeling life moving
backwards like lost footsteps
hoarding the shame of his
accumulated future all
at once.

July 5, 2015

editors note: Let regrets over triggers pulled influence future pointing of the gun. Peace, first! – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Good! We sure got a killer story for you!

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this pick-of-the-week tale “The Bully, the Psychopath, Libby and Lorraine“ by Contributing Poet & Writer Donal Mahoney: "Some people are looking for love in all the wrong places–and those wrong places are people. People in shadows. People with stories. People with monsters living inside their brains. Monsters who only know the taste of blood on their tongue."

Here's a few slices to get the blood flowing:

photo by Tyler Malone

Fred was a bully who always bothered Lenny on the way to school. Fred was four years older than Lenny. One day Lenny told him that when he grew up he would kill him. Fred laughed and probably didn’t expect to see Lenny that night, twenty years later, when Lenny waited for him in the alley next to his garage.

As usual, Fred got home around midnight from his work on the second shift. When Fred got out of his car, Lenny said, “Hey Fred, remember little Lenny, the kid from grammar school.”

Fred said he didn’t remember Lenny and that’s when Lenny swung the machete his grandfather had brought home from the Pacific after World War II. Then he stood there and admired his work, smiled and watched Fred’s head roll a few feet like a bowling ball.

In the morning a milkman found the head and the body and the story was in the papers for weeks as people wanted to know who did it but Lenny couldn’t tell them. They wouldn’t understand that it was simply a matter of a bully paying the price for what he had done years earlier to Lenny…

Don't leave the bloody scene without knowing how this tale ends! 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...

Bein’ More Than Slightly Mad,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor