The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.24.15

"“Imagination... its limits are only those of the mind itself.”" Rod Serling

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“No Strings Attached” (above) by featured artist William Zuback. To see more Mad works from William, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

Our newest featured artist, William Zuback, brings us works of seemingly magic with his black and white photography that is really anything but black and white. With beautiful contrasts of light and dark, nudity, tattoos, and an unshakable, undeniable sort of fairytale vibe, William’s work provokes an undying childlike curiosity - ironically with photographs that are really anything but child’s play. The subject’s of these images seem to be revealing a part of themselves to us - vulnerable, yet at the same time guarded, mysterious, straight-faced. There’s a lot to say for these photographs, and they’ve got a lot to tell you, too. You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Zuback Zone! - Madelyn Olson

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we woke to whisper a name at the end of Winter's game; we felt her beauty in a watered walk and a talk-back rock; we saw a solitary mind sliced by separateness; we kept a colorless cowl in a ghoulish bed; we fled a purple cloud, manifested as a man in a shroud; we settled in to a drip off skin; we bowed in obeisance to our inner goddess. We are what we write! ~ MH Clay

Just in case you missed it, here's a taste...

Vagina Monologue Blues In E Flat Live From The G Spot

My inner goddess is posting duck face selfies on Facebook.

My inner goddess is Crip walking to Oingo Bongo 'Grey Matters' on YouTube.

My inner goddess is improvising confessional poems of urbane Ennui mid coitus.

My inner goddess talks before, during and after intercourse.

My inner goddess never read any of the books or watched the movies.

My inner goddess only read the fan fiction that inspired 50 shades.

My inner goddess is just messing with your head

because that’s what goddesses do.

My inner goddess loves to play rock, paper, scissors.

My inner goddess always scissors.

My inner goddess is part Indian.

My inner goddess be making it rain up in here.

My inner goddess can’t dance.

My inner goddess drives a stick.

My inner goddesses’ neighbor is an asshole.

My inner goddess is getting a new piercing.

My inner goddess has a stigmata.

My inner goddess has a Mohawk.

My inner goddess is thinking about dreads.

My inner goddess puffs on a cigar.

My inner goddess blows smoke rings in your face.

My inner goddess is a bad mutha’ fu…

Shut yo’ mouth!

But, I’m just talking about my inner goddess?!

My inner goddess rules!

...with an iron fist.

- Joey Da'rrell Cloudy

(1 poem added 01.24.15)

editor's note: Best bow down to this bitch, keep her in; if she ever comes out, we're f**ked. - mh


Sudden and cold
I felt it
understood to be etched
by your senses
sarcasm dripped
with simple shades
of madness
a trace of you
not forever
on my skin

- Elissa Landrigan

(1 poem added 01.23.15)

editor's note: Boy, sweet duck ain't drenched in you! Thought you'd make a splash, but only left her dry. Boy!? - mh

White hot

The stars are white hot flames
lingering in the ebony sky

as I bleed my life away.
A man as mad as a shroud

of crows crosses my path,
mumbling jibberish to himself.

I turn away as the violet purple fog
hangs in the air like
a chandelier that needs dusting.

- Dawnell Harrison

(1 poem added 01.22.15)

editor's note: Shrug off the shroud and break out your duster. - mh

the pyre

i took the time to look
to see the fresh youthful
skin frothing at the rim
my cup so empty, nearing the bottom
for some time i have hoped for something
a pen, a paper, look, lights,
the thing that is real or happening I’m not sure of

i never knew it could be this way
awake without ears, so quiet
eyes blurred with simplicity
one down, mine
head is tilted, sagging to the edge yet
hopeful for something
any colors, any birds or water for my mouth
so sour and dry spitting sadly at this scream

it could be you, all your fresh
downy powder of rose on my tongue
the tip of you, so slender and quick
relish a ghoul inside my bed
he is all i have left.

- Kayla Siobhan

(1 poem added 01.21.15)

editor's note: A flame to fire another solitude, left with a ghoulish union. - mh


“No friendship only /
the prehensile of the darkness…”

“…utensils of the mind are /
bent from the dehiscence of…”

“…old memories timeworn deeply /
in my mind a scheduled prelude that…”

“…protrudes in violence, silence /
and confinement…”

“… rational relevance of mindfulness /
suffocated by an emotional ride …”

“…downward crash /
with no mental lines …”

“…for thee to cross /
for the lines are distressed …”

“…break marks of hue /
I have lost all …”

“…clues of functional views /
as I transverse…”

“…mayday, mayday in this darkness of solitude."

- James Brown

(1 poem added 01.20.15)

editor's note: A disturbing conversation, held by two sides of one solitude. - mh


A river
Inside the cliff,
I hear the waters
Far down: below.
Desiccated I walk
From your beauty,
And the charm
You have.

Somewhere else
Got you in my dream
Who is going to interpret?
What does it mean?

I am waiting,
To irrigate
A deserted: heart.
Listening -
The echoing cliff,
Semblance of you
To feel.

- Hem Raj Bastola

(1 poem added 01.19.15)

editor's note: What speaks from loss comes back with longing. Oh, thirsty heart! - mh


I will wait for summer!
For grass to grow along the path
To make soft my crawl
Lessen the dust in my mouth,
Pain in my legs, rain drowning my voice.

I will wait for the sun to make it pleasant
So I can whistle and stand high
Pretending flowers heard no cry
Or saw the pain that stung my eyes.

I have borne the cold of being alone
Longed for the perfume you brought to my life
Whisper your name at the lonely end of night.

I will wait for summer to make things right.

© 2014

- Alan Halford

(2 poems added 01.18.15)

editor's note: Waiting to be making, a wrong to put right. (Read another fine poem from Alan on his page; about another waiter - check it out.) - mh

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Howsabout two reads? Our short story queue is bursting at the seams! So for the next couple/few weeks we’ll be squeezing in two. Yes, blessed we be that these fine writers are sharing their word wares with us. And on that note…

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about the first pick-of-the-week tale, "The Oval Mirror" by longtime Contributing Poet & Writer, Mel Waldman: "Mirrors or blank pieces of paper, look into them, unsmudged and unmarked, and see what looks back. Hope that it speaks."

Here's a bit to get you goin’:

On sultry August nights I often close my wet-baked eyes and see the old doc and his oval mirror in my mind’s eye. When I taste the sweat pouring down my olive face and inhale the sweltering heat, I remember how this eerie journey began.

I met Dr. Jacob Lightman, the eminent psychiatrist and founder of Mirror Image Therapy more than three decades ago on a dog day afternoon. Hired as the new director of behavioral health at the Grand Concourse Treatment Center in the Bronx, I had the good fortune to work with him and other creative geniuses.

Yet when the CEO of the medical center, my new boss, introduced us, I was somewhat taken aback by his peculiar appearance. A ghostly man, he looked like an ancient scarecrow. Hunched over, the skeletal man possessed a bony face with other-worldly dark blue eyes. A student of the great Professor Dr. Sigmund Freud of Vienna, he grabbed and shook my right hand and handed me an oval pocket mirror with his left.

“Welcome, Dr. Cohen, to the Land of Dreams,” he said exuberantly. “And please, look at my mirror and tell me what you see.”

Of course, when I gazed at his glittering mirror, I found only my youthful face inside.

“What do you see, Dr. Cohen?” he asked with intense curiosity.

“I see myself,” I said dispassionately.

“Yes, doctor, but what do you really see?”

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 tale, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas” by Ronald Friedman: "Sometimes the bad seed can be beautiful. Sometimes, in the wake of destruction, we’ll find that we love the madness."

Here's a bit to get you goin’:

photo by Tyler Malone

Janice picked up her phone to call her mother. I kept my mouth shut.

I’d offered a lot of useless advice in the past, but had learned to keep quiet. It was almost the end of October and the phone call was just something that had to be done. I was grateful that Janice was willing to call.

“I’m ready,” Janice said, holding up a fist.

“Go get ‘em, Tiger,” I said.

“Mom? Hi.”

I wanted to sneak out to the garage or down to the basement, but my self-serving flight would only encourage Janice to take out her feelings of impotent anger on me. Besides this was our row to hoe together so she deserved all the support I could offer, no matter how weak-kneed or cowardly.

“Sean’s a good boy, Mom. We’ve seen a lot of improvement in the past few months. He’s still loud and hyperactive, but it’s been nearly two months since he bit anybody. That ought to make Aunt Belle happy.”

Janice listened for a moment. “Well, yes, of course it will make Becky happy too. Poor thing.”

Janice listened again for a moment and then said, “That’s improving too. We’ve gone well over a month without any reports of him calling anyone on the playground a fucker.”

Our five-year-old son, Sean, had a moderate-to-severe case of attention deficit- hyperactivity disorder. He was five-years-old and we were considering giving him some medicine, but both his teacher and his doctor had said that as long as we thought we could manage him with behavioral restraints, we were better off deferring medicine as long as possible.

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 : 01.17.15

"What is life? A madness. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a story. And the greatest good is little enough; for all life is a dream, and dreams themselves are only dreams." Pedro Calderon de la Barca

••• The Mad Gallery •••

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

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we mourned a morn built on survivor's guilt; we who wondered what transpires on the morn of shed garments, wondered more; we met monuments mowed with priests as crows; we heard heart-doors crash when our lover left, "no vacancy" flashing in chambers bereft; we shed smock for smudge to smother in smoke; we recompensed sans repentance, a pence to pay penance; we preened in repose for a midnight meet with a love-crossed star. The night is ours, our stories in the stars. ~ MH Clay

Just in case you missed it, here's a taste...


As I lie falling asleep at night
bedroom facing the street
I picture the walls of my
yellow house crumbling away.

Here I am revealed to all in
my striped pajamas
curled up on my side
books, reading glasses and
tissues strewn on the
husband’s side of the bed.

I lie under the tiger blanket
used by Father when he was
dying, a white feather comforter
atop that, an occasional duck
feather quacking its way out.

Noises are few. The furnace
clears its throat. The fridge
hums a Beethoven sonata
and the water dispenser on
the outside is lit up when I
enter the dark kitchen
like the Milky Way.

I sit up.
An unfamiliar noise. Is it
the intruder I’ve been
waiting for all my life?

I open the front door.
The stars pounce on me.
The bird houses quiver.
Barefoot, I step outside, feeling the
cold stone steps, littered
with autumn leaves.
I pick up a red maple and
press it to my mouth.
A star fallen to earth.

- Ruth Z. Deming

(1 poem added 01.17.15)

editor’s note: A midnight tryst with a star-fallen lover. (We welcome Ruth to our creative conspiracy of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page - check it out.) - mh

Set Sale

Here alone
in the dead of this coolish night
I wear cloth spun by hands
I will never hold
Hands which pull water from wells
dug into decrepit soil
filled with excretions of electricity
pulsing through crackling machine looms
spinning webs
I cocoon myself in
a softened shirt costing just under a
decade of dollars
One penny shy, to be exact,
demarcated on a paper tag
which caught my eye and promised
a piece of copper for my green guilt

So I lounge in my trap, my Doom,
as I drag manicured nails over this
woven cage, admiring
comfort that exhorts a soft sigh
from my tender lips
It's easy to ignore the manacled claws
that caress me from afar daily
for far less than the cent I tossed
into the gutter drain

I hope it gets carried by the
waste of my washings,
slides across oceanic slime
and falls into those distant hands

- Robert Wesley

(added 01.16.15)

editor’s note: Consumerism with conscience; a penny for that thought. - mh


in the middle
of the shoe shower
dressed in smock.
(why? been busy
and unwilling to miss the thing)

it was
Withdrawal of a smog
(her whiffet of the stuff)
- been too long and boring mostly -
booted crossly
by 'em all

and so
With rebound backwash of the organ and the Monkees
She stared fascinated
She saw the smoke.
And got the beat of it too firmly

Her woe of smooch
was way too smooth for smother
She smouldered then
and turned into the smudge.

- Volodymyr Bilyk

(added 01.15.15)

editor’s note: From smock to smudge, sense is made from Monkees and cross bootings. - mh


I learned to cradle
my body in my own arms,
to keep my distance,
stifle yawns and sneezes.
I never knew my ribs were involved
in every movement until they hurt,
until she decided the best way
to my heart would be straight
through my chest.

She told me once she heard it snap.
She said this like my rib breaking
was something that just happened,
like I could have prevented it
if I had been less fragile, if I’d answered
her knocking on my sternum
by opening my ribcage like a door
and inviting her inside.

I don’t remember how it happened.
My mind misplaces things sometimes.
What I remember is leaving,
reaching for my seatbelt, the sudden,
absolute pain that emptied me
of thought and breath, driving myself home.

I stood shirtless in front of my bathroom mirror,
studied the layers of bruises on my collarbones:
sick yellow, deep
crimson, throbbing purple.
I counted her teeth in them.

- Logen Cure

(1 poem added 01.14.15)

editor’s note: An open door policy gone wrong. (We welcome Logen to our crazy confab of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page - check it out.) - mh


Alfalfa, mown one afternoon,
is baled in the morning
and hauled away before dark.
But for those few hours,
the bales look thousands of years old:

Sacred stones, arranged
by ancients with wisdom we've lost
to catch the sunlight just so.

And the crows that worship there,
though none come twice, not necessarily,
look so much alike
from one harvest to the next
that they might as well be immortal.

- Don Thompson

(added 01.13.15)

editor’s note: A snapshot of a sacred sanctuary; birds only. - mh


My silence is a Gothic church
where I douse the night
after nirvana.

the foot-steps of fire
and water.
Before standing
on the cliff of the azure morning
I threw
my garments of light away.

- Bhargab Chatterjee

(1 poem added 01.12.15)

editor’s note: Naked time on the morning after Nirvana. - mh


A morning when silence clings
To tree trunks in gardens
To traffic lights
That blink apologetically
To paddocks where ponies
Sensing the invisible
Graze distractedly

A morning with no function
But to pass in anticipation
Of the hour
When life ended
Even lawn mowers
Go about their work

A morning of stillness
Bereft of birdsong
The television’s prattle
Halted temporarily
I scribble notes
Recording thoughts

A morning with no meaning
Without what follows
A film on freeze frame
One image flickering
Soon it will be time
To dress in dark clothes
And assemble guiltily.

- David Subacchi

(added 01.11.15)

editor’s note: Some days it's our turn to break out the black band. Good morning, All! - mh

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Howsabout two reads? Our short story queue is bursting at the seams! So for the next couple/few weeks we’ll be squeezing in two. Yes, blessed we be that these fine writers are sharing their word wares with us. And on that note…

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about the first pick-of-the-week tale, "The Shy Man" by Darryl Lorenzo Wellington: "Artists, these words we spend intimate hours with become us, but what happens when we lose our voices and ourselves in the rich madness all around? In that struggle to learn how to speak, then you'll find something to say."

Here's a bit to get you goin’:

Shyness is climbing a circling staircase.

Shyness isn’t stasis, paralysis, paranoiac fear of leaving the house, venereal disease, fire ants, or rain storms. Shyness isn’t cabin fever. Shyness is ambling along beneath cloudless weather and noticing the same buildings the same houses. Again. Again. The dead lay down. The terribly shy keep walking.

The staircase leads beyond the passages beyond, life’s slow accretion of days, perpetuating his daily, monotonous grind. The rings of hell could not best the monotony. The staircase climbs toward a horizon of mirrors. Reflections. None colorful, nor colorless. The tints slightly blur at the edge of the banisters when meteorological effects intensify, blurring the glass roof tops. And purpling the glass clouds. There are not experiences enough to fill the mirrors. The stairway climbs beyond houses, hints of purple, reds, foliage, greenery, sights, visions, winks and nods, reflections, reflections, daylight, dawn and darkness.

The Shy Man had begun thinking about decrying the terrible sameness. But his feelings were too ambiguous. His emotions weighted by commas, stutters, and hyphens. He wrote words, just words…

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 tale, "Most Pay Homage” by Kim Farleigh: "We wish, sometimes, that it was a short stop after a short drop, because sometimes, to our own dismay, our own demise is drawn out. It lasts so long that we think we've found happiness."

Here's a bit to get you goin’:

David was studying when his father came home. His father's face glowed, same as the mahogany table David sat upon. The wood looked burnished by silver light.

"Elizabeth and I are getting married," his father said.

Frank sat for the first time ever with his son at that table that was owned by Frank's mother.

"When?" David asked.

"The date hasn't been decided yet."

Silence consumed a car's droning outside as if the sounds never existed.

"It's not going to be easy for her," Frank continued, "living with three teenage boys. You, Richard and Rob are going to have to make things easier for her by doing the dishes and setting the table and taking out the garbage, etcetera. But keep this under your hat until the wedding date is announced."

"Okay," David said.

"I'm so in love," Frank declared…

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...

Swirlin’ Madness,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.10.15

"I'm saying look, here they come, pay attention. Let your eyes transform what appears ordinary, commonplace, into what it is, a moment in time, an observed fragment of eternity." Philip Levine

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“East Dallas follies. Yes, the tree was there.” (above) by featured artist Gerard Bendiks. To see more Mad works from Gerard, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we pondered the press of no-thing-ness; we raced to rescue a withered woman, seeking solace in bubbles and batteries; we gloried in self-righteous rage, damned the needs of our old age; we met a moat-muzzled toad, dosing in roses; we went from freedom of expression to commercial compression, from back yard to front; we revered a rat's lesson in death, turned to learn of love instead; we entered empty rooms, we turned old pages, in search of a word gone missing. We ever inquire of muse and mind for perfect words we hope to find; the life is in the looking, the rush is in the writing. ~ MH Clay

Just in case you missed it, here's a taste...

Something is Missing

It often disturbs me awake
Draws me room to room
Each window in sequence
Shades up, blinds open
Even out the front door
Nothing up or down the street;
As always the presence of
Absence is troublesome,
An uneasiness that wanders
Through my day, the way
The house seems emptier
My work more ironic and
The numbing days I get
Through knowing that more
Will follow, a progression
Without any real progress;
Something is missing, gone
With the people I knew
The years I felt whole and
Nothing quite replaces it,
An empty mailbox, silent
Phone, a simple word I keep
Looking up but never can find.

- J.K. Durick

(1 poem added 01.10.15)

editor’s note: Loneliness is doubly painful for a poet, obsessed with the search for the perfect word to describe what's missing... - mh

Poisoned Rat

We found him laying in a back lane
down The Melyn, six or seven of us
barely teenagers and fascinated.
An old English Professor, who always
smoked a ‘Sherlock Holmes’ pipe
whilst walking (And who normally
could not stand the sight of any of us!)
stopped to chat and have a gander.
As we slid a piece of cardboard under
him and lifted him off the cold, hard
concrete and took him over to some
long grass behind a nearby church
laying him down safe out of the way
of angry feet and whirring push-bikes.
He was the biggest specimen that I had
ever seen, (then or since!) about the size
of a size 10 boot and that’s without the tail.
Ancient face all scarred up but they were
all old, healed marks and apart from that
he looked perfect except he did not move
at all nor gnash his ferocious teeth at us.
Instead he just lay there upon his side,
breathing rapidly and watching us with
his shining, intense, clever ebony eye.
We all came back the next morning
but he was gone, body still there rigid
but the spirit had escaped and run far off.
We stole a shovel from a nearby garden
and buried him and Damien said a prayer
and with our little lesson in death over
we went looking for girls to try and learn
about something else just as important.

© 2014

- Paul Tristram

(1 poem added 01.09.15)

editor’s note: Runners in the rat race (some new, others spent) seeking to learn biological truths. - mh

Back-yard And Front-Yard

In the back-yard,
spontaneous and talent-wise
boundary, over boundary, single and others -
each and every lively act of the magical bat
enchanted the tumultuous crowd
to feel sporting in every winning or losing moment,
emotional in their heartfelt expression
and proud to be a part of inspirational history.

In the front-yard,
the same thrilling act is still on -
but quite synthetic and script wise,
well performed by a commercial rod
ensnaring the luxurious mind and foolish brain
to feel more hilarious,
to become ever-blind
and compelled to be a part of a story -
conceived and written by a non-sporting hand

- P.K. Deb

(1 poem added 01.08.15)

editor’s note: Don't like that story from a "non-sporting hand." I'll take the backyard scene every time. - mh


Need squats in my head
obscene and obese, a toad
among roses. Ghost greeds
oppress me most, buzz and fuzz
of untested doses, back road meds,
bee-rows moaning, led indeed.
Loads redder than incest
pose and preen, boast and gloat, muzzle
my mind in a moat.

- Mercedes Webb-Pullman

(added 01.07.15)

editor’s note: So come the consequences of "untested doses." It's a mess in that moat. - mh


My daughter is boycotting
companies that lie to her
or steal from her.
On her hit list so far:
Comcast, Apple, Hertz, Commerce
Insurance, Walmart, Sorrento’s Pizza
and a local gas station.
I warned her
that she’s going to run out
of stores and services
by the time she’s my age.
Fuck ‘em, she said.

- Michael Estabrook

(1 poem added 01.06.15)

editor’s note: Ah, the search for truth in advertising; an endeavor for the idealist. - mh

bubbles and batteries

she shops like I imagine
with venom dripping from Prada
assertively filling her basket with dreams
with invisible powders and voodoo spells
aromas to erase the stench of the day
as if entering the malodorous haze of home
can mask her race to the exit zone

so I follow her down the aisles
the produce mocking her, daring her
canned goods, the symbolism aches to her
frozen desserts...she tears up
knowing how cold it is to be
as she lingers a bit too long before running
to her rescue in bath and beauty
where lilac bubbles flood her senses

but she checked out long ago, long before
longing took over her days, yet she knows
there's a price to pay before leaving
the candy...
ahhh, they strategically place the candy
on your way out...next to the batteries

bubbles and batteries
that's all she needs

- Rob Dyer

(3 poems added 01.05.15)

editor's note: The only antidote for a Prada bite. Run a bath now... (read two more from Rob on his page; a terrifying tale and a sobering slap - check'em out.) - mh

Longest day: Liberation meditation on no-thing-ness

clear night sky with no star or planet or moon
clear day sky without sun or cloud or blue

bare earth without stone or dust, root, bark, flower or seed
ocean without shore or waves, foam, salt or tide

strong music with out beat or note, measure or melody
wind without direction or motion, not inhaled nor exhaled

heart empty of systole and diastole , in and
out lungs always full and empty and still

legs stepping feet tread every step of full path
arms surround empyrean with minuscule hugs

voice of silence embraces matrix of echoes
even AUM fades away

- D. Russel Micnhimer

(added 01.04.15)

editor's note: This is the sound of one hand clapping; assets under management (AUM) hold no-thing to that of no-earth, no-heaven. Ponder this... - mh

••• Short Stories •••

Is it just a dream or do you need a read? It's sometimes hard to differentiate between the two worlds. And nothing speaks to that more than the latest addition to our short stories library, "Dreams That Trip" by Namitha Varma.

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this pick-of-the-week tale: "We should all be so lucky to never know where we sit in others’ minds. Even unclothed, it could be better to still be strangers on a train, because reality may be uglier than how we’re seen in dreams."

Here's a bit to get you dreamin':

photo by Tyler Malone

The train rocked her to sleep, though she drifted in and out of consciousness. Her eyes popped open every five-ten minutes with each jerk of the train. Her mind half-registered the beggars, the vendors, the passengers, her father next to her... Suddenly, she was naked. She was standing in the middle of the field, one very much like her grandmother’s in some corner of Uttarakhand that she never wanted to visit. For a moment, she thought she was posing as Rose in Titanic, waiting for her Jack to wrap her in his arms from behind. But then a crow came and sat on her head, only to fly off in a moment. She was just a scarecrow. She could see the green farm, she could feel the bird claws, she could smell the drying crops, but she could not move. She was a scarecrow…

Wake up and get the rest of your read on here!

••• Open Mic •••

When Mad Swirl invited longtime Contributing Poet, Rob Dyer (aka David Parham) to join us as our feature, we knew we'd be in for a treat. Just how big of a treat this Louisiana poet would bring was what we didn't know. Turns out, it was a heapin' helpin' of some delicious poetry!

Thanks to ALL mad ones who came and appreciated our feature set and participated in our mic madness by sharing their words, their verses and their fine light with us. It truly was a fine night to be alive and in our Mad Swirl world. In case you missed this Mad action, here is the line-up (and a picture show, thanks to Dan Rodriguez) of who was who…

Rob Dyer/David Parham

Johnny O
MH Clay

Mad Cast:
Chris Zimmerly
David Crandall
Opalina Salas
Maggie Smith
Merlin the Magical One
Cj Critt
Konnichiwa Zach Schrotter
Carlos Salas
Tony Hernandez
Yesterday's News
Bo Bowles
Mr DoDirtDaily
Kristine Jessup
Paul Junior

HUGE thanks to Swirve (Chris 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!

And as always, big THANKS to the patron saint of the loco local mad ones, Kevin Christensen, owner of Absinthe Lounge, who has given 122 reasons to give him all the mad props and love that we do!

If you missed the madness, no worries, we captured the swirlin' scene via our Mad Swirl UStream Channel!

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

February: David Crandall


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...

Payin’ Attention,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.03.15

"You have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have." J. R. R. Tolkien

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“The Lady Behind You Is Not Amused” (above) by featured artist Gerard Bendiks. To see more Mad works from Gerard, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we got Big Mama's point in a Christmas Juke Joint; we plucked a name from prayer embers to fly without a net; we purred cat words to a threatened bird; we replayed a new year night - arrives with a ring, is gone with a toll; we crossed the year's chasm with stammer and spasm; we dried a tear ocean with love and devotion; we engaged in business funny to separate drones from honey. Let's bang a drum dry and smile as we fly into this New Year. The Swirl Wants You! ~ MH Clay

Just in case you missed it, here's a taste...


So much honey
Too much money
Sweet corporations
Sticky situations
Stuck it to you
Yes they did
Built a nest
Took the best
Poison Inc
Toxic buzz
Fills you up
With sugar
Injects you
With fuzz
Kill them all
Replace them
Where they
Once stood
And sat
One wonders…
Can a bee
Just die like that?

© 2014

- Gina Nemo

(2 poems added 01.03.15)

editor's note: Tired o' the buzz? Make'em sting. (Another mad one from Gina on her page; for those who like to dig in the dirt - check it out.) - mh

Requiem for a Tear

The heat from my tears
Reminds me of your sweet embrace.
As they flow down my lonely face,
A silhouette of your heart they trace…

Soaked into my skin
The circle begins, again
I remember-
That not a thing can stop the Sun from rising
The light of a new day-
That draws me closer to you is surely shining…

As sure as the world is turning
My heart is beating
To Love you, on purpose.

- Michael R. King

(1 poem added 01.02.15)

editor's note: No greater love than love on purpose. Thanks, Michael! - mh

Nova Annum

Ring in the Nova
Reverberate through
This cosmic chasm
A primal song of joy

The very first chord
Struck at the very first
Of the divine baton

Stare confidently forward
Up to a star filled sky
Each a frenetic
Photon prophet

Future portends
Inevitable collision
With past
A clash to cancel
Both sides of the equation

Into null
Into now

Now is a beginning
Now is a first step
Now is blinking into an early dawn
Now is the first tongue-stammered word

Now is Nova Annum

- MH Clay

(1 poem added 01.01.15)

editor's note: Let the countdown begin! 10... 9... 8... on course for a head-on collision of cosmic proportions between what was and what will be happening. When? Right here and right... 3...2... 1... - jo


New Year's Eve and it's amateur night at the madhouse of fun as the masses invade my regular hangout; my often private playground

They’ve been driven out of their tiny little lives into the full-on glare of just another night for those of us who seize everyday

Delirious from their Xmas over-indulgence they spent the last five days shopping whilst I’ve remained hidden from the excesses of their consumer zombie apocalypse

After so much brutality their bodies just crave a rest but not tonight because its party time!

It’s the biggest night of the year; the first and last time they can actually live this year

As they storm the bar demanding their sparkling wine and Jaeger bombs my mind drifts off for tonight I pretty much sit alone

The New Years of times gone passed and then you and the time we spent one together

It was a glorious night of wild unrestrained heroic drinking with a real vision of beauty; I’m getting hot just thinking about her

We started here, in this very pub I remember that and then suddenly I’m back, sat at the bar pissed off and alone

Upon noticing the time is already quite late a joyous zeal feels my heart as once the bells toll I will be gone

- Bradford Middleton

(1 poem added 12.31.14)

editor's note: This poet's a pro, a perennial seizer of days (and drinker of nights). - mh


No traces of antiquity appear,
I am feline and sublime.
I come and go, as I please,
Clawing the threads of life.

Then there’s the weakling woman,
Her eyes like melted pies,
Chokes on a life chained to her neck,
And fades into the sky.
Sometimes I bring her a dandelion,
That’s comradeship, they say,
But her heart cannot listen,
As she laments the day.

I’ve told her of the Milky Way,
Of stars submerged in sea,
But only when I eye her bird,
Does she ever look at me.

- Liam Connole

(added 12.30.14)

editor’s note: Wise words; not from the bird, but from the one sitting in his seat (comes creeping on little cat feet). - mh


In rind of wishes sticky on lips
and sermons’ echo on facepsalms slipping
in envies squirted on spruce and cedar
whims twirling, spiraled, speckled
gossamer visions of friendships withered
in crevices of an upbeat mien
Your name hidden in prayer embers
I mend among buds of poems
flying on a trapeze
with no one at the other end

- Silva Zanoyan Merjanian

(1 poem added 12.29.14)

editor’s note: Holiday nostalgia; bittersweet images of friendships come and gone. In the end we express for ourselves; no expectations of someone to catch us "at the other end." - mh

A Juke Joint Christmas

Here, at Ida Mae’s,
Christmas dinner is
A huge pot of gumbo
Made by the owner.

This is her family now.

And at four-foot-nothing, she’s
Still “Big Mama.” Everybody’s families,
Friends and lovers? Dead or gone.
They drink to their names either to
Praise or curse.

But some just love the welcoming
Fragrance of piss, cigarettes and
Stale beer.

“Hey, Big Mama! If my wife calls, tell
Her I ain’t here!”

And Ida Mae gives him a smile and a wink
As she strolls to the jukebox to play
“Silent Night” by the Temptations.

- Roderick Richardson

(1 poem added 12.28.14)

editor’s note: Long after the Day is gone, our Holiday memories live on. This one from Roderick recalls one about (someone's, everyone's) Mother Christmas. - mh

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Perfect! Then you really need to check out the latest addition to our short stories library, "Indian Summer" by R.A. Hernandez

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this pick-of-the-week tale: "God bless that Indian summer, where stories burn themselves into the brains of our young bodies, so we wear them until they wear us out and meet us as we slip into everlasting blackness."

Here's a taste to tease ya':

It was about that time that I first started to notice girls. I was twelve and the girls I had known since elementary were growing what my father called “A woman’s curves.”

I would spend the summers with my uncle and grandfather in the country, while my parents went on missions with their church. The house was close to a lake and my uncle had a small skiff that he would let me use. The lake was private and large, hidden away in the deep country of East Texas.

The lake felt as though it belonged solely to us, my family, but it didn’t. It was just off the beaten path. I remember my grandfather saying the land belonged to no man. His mother was a full blooded Choctaw woman. He had a very calm peaceful way of talking. He was the first one to tell me about the lady of the lake...

Get the rest of your read on right here!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of January (aka 01.07.15) 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! We're gonna kick-off our 2015 season of mic madness with an outta-towner coming all the way from Louisiana, longtime Contributing Poet, Rob Dyer (aka David Parham)!

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 and Elvis impersonators... 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.

RSVP (via Book’o’Faces) to get you a spot on our mic list here!

For folks who live out of town but would still like to view our mic madness, we'll be capturing the swirlin' scene via our Mad Swirl UStream Channel.

AND, as you may or may not know, every 1st Wednesday we get all giddy with this swirlin' madness. Here's the starting line-up for our 2015 season:

February: David Crandall


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’ Witty,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 12.27.14

"I am happy to have some friends here in the kitchen." Charles Olson

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Ministerio de Minestrone Mysterioso” (above) by featured artist Gerard Bendiks. To see more Mad works from Gerard, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we gave a short poem to a long night, a long hope for a short light; we faced a tree toppler with his evergreen doppel-er; we indulged our minds with fancies cervine; we whipped a winter bummer with warming thoughts of summer; we wished Happy to you with a dactyl or two; we dined with folks prehensile, kept eyes on their utensils; we wore our resistance on our sleeves until our resistance wore us down to naked. Holiday Hijinx, good will toward men; come back, weekly Swirl, and we'll do it again. ~ MH Clay

Just in case you missed it, here's a taste...

A Bottle of Jack's

“Resist it, don't turn to the spirit.”
I say to myself
each time we're guests at some friend's feast,
each time we host one and play Jacques a dit.*
Resisting the temptation from the flask,
the siren's call luring me into mischiefs,
the perfumed beverage flowing along dirty songs,
vulgar laughters, inconsiderate words,
uttered, whispered, shouted at the face of others.

The ghost-like liquid connects my brain to nothingness,
it leads me to dreadful dead-ends,
blocks energy, shunts capacity, kills sanity.

Jacques a dit:
“rave, stumble, make a fool of yourself,
fall into the intoxications of misinterpretation,
dizziness, restlessness, forgotten caresses,
oblivion, and sofa crashes.”

* Simon Says

- Walter Ruhlmann

(1 poem added 12.27.14)

editor’s note: Every man-jack, jackass jacks around this holiday jumble; when Jack says, we gotta do. - mh

Holiday Dinner in Our House

Mama tried so hard to teach us manners,
Most food you don’t eat with your fingers,
Close your mouth when you chew,
Say please when you ask someone to pass the potatoes,
Say excuse me when you get up to leave the table,
And eat everything on your plate before you ask for more.
But my brothers ate like ravening wolves,
Like they hadn’t been fed for years,
So every meal was filled with reminders,
Slapped hands that reached clear across
The table, occasional tears, some shouts,
Many threats. My sisters sat for hours
And stared at their vegetables
Willing them back in the bowl.
It never worked. My father ate in silence.
The rules never applied to him.
Occasionally he would yell at everyone
To shut up, then he’d get up and leave
The table. One night, he reached silently
For the last pork steak at the same time
That my brother, Darrell, tried to spear
The same pork steak with his fork.
Darrell stabbed Daddy’s hand, drew
The fork back in terror, started to say sorry,
When Daddy backhanded him, and Darrell
Went flying, hit the wall, slid down sobbing
While everyone else sat silent.
Daddy finished his pork steak,
Got up and left the table.
Darrell came back and sat down,
Finished his potatoes while we argued
Over who had to do the dishes
Until Mama told us all to shut up.
She scraped the girl’s green beans
Back in the bowl to save for another night.
We all learned a lesson –
Nobody ever,
Ever forked with Daddy again!

- Kay Kinghammer

(1 poem added 12.26.14)

editor’s note: Forking fun for some Holiday Hilarity! - mh

Yuletide Double Dactyl

Whirlingly swirlingly
Christmastime Holiday
Seasons the greetings that
Wish us good cheer

Plus more than ever a
Merry Noel and a
Happy New Year!

- Harley White

(1 poem added 12.25.14)

editor’s note: Thanks, Harley! Could'na said it better - this we wish to all in this Mad Swirliverse. Happy Holidays to all! - mh


Midwinter must not be the chilled wind,
Emptying tears from a child’s eye,
Shivering a mother’s fear. Midwinter
Cannot destroy the flame of youth,
Nor the embers of age.
This eve, heralding a special day,
Should not be a solstice of despair;
A longing for a Heaven that is not of Earth;
A craving for the end of guilt, survival
Of what was once a life, hearts frozen
Outside a world still full of compassion.
Midwinter would not be the end of warmth
If summer flowered in our minds.
Scattering seeds of our future onto these dark days
Is not an act of desperation
But an act of love for future generations.

- Derrick Gaskin

(2 poems added 12.24.14)

editor’s note: Defy the nay-sayers and the dooms-dayers; a little bit o' hope for the Holidays. (More subversive verse from Del on his page; witch meets Wenceslas - check it out.) - mh

If we were reindeer

If we were reindeer, rustling in the bushes
stealing berries and chocolate kisses
taking moonlight rides
on starry nights with candy cane rainbows
we would slide while ringing bells
and announcing our arrival

If we were reindeer, playing in the North Pole
while Santa Claus reviewed our calls
we’d find new games that would include
all of the reindeer that Santa retained

If we were reindeer, with fur and hoofs
that fly on Christmas eve
giving all the lovely children delight
landing quietly on roofs in mid flight
whispering good wishes to an occasional sight

If we were reindeer, love would be in the air
as we huddled together at the end of our night
singing love songs and cuddling with care
recalling moments we shared
on our once a year adventure

If we were reindeer you would be here

- Peggy Flora

(1 poem added 12.23.14)

editor’s note: All are welcome in the reindeer nation. Too bad its borders open just once a year. - mh

Sap Still Rises

Walking in leafy wood
Trees felled lie obscenely
Spreading dead branches
Waiting to seep into the core
Of their rootless earth.
The same fate awaits
He feels the drums pulse
In his tired brain
Exhausted from searching.
He feels a connection
He feels and finds
A disconnected tree
truncated lying there
Just a headless tree
Its body gone
A rounded layered
Wonder of the earth
Many cycles of life
Etched in its circles.
The sap still rises
He see this and is


- Sheighle Birdthistle

(1 poem added 12.22.14)

editor’s note: Merry madness, our dead decorations to celebrate life. Seasonal saps, we be! - mh

Winter Solstice

The ward clock
the final
the window sees
the last light
dim and die,
on the
day of the year,
the frost,
the rime,
the land
holds sleeping secrets
of renewal and rebirth.

- Michael Corrigan

(2 poems added 12.21.14)

editor’s note: Winter iced and isolated; incubator, rejuvenator. Death is a sleep-through to Spring. (Another magic missive from Mick on his page - check it out.) - mh

••• Short Stories •••

This time of year, everyone has stories. The world is alive and lit with excitement, so much so that the easiest thing to do is become cynical. In doing that, though, you miss something more than cheap commercials aimed at consumerism, you forget something inside you. See, the important thing about this end-of-the-year holiday is that there is no one reason: it’s become humanity’s celebration—a celebration of humanity, the only real religion. This season is what a lot of people live for, but it’s also something that does too many people in, sadly. Unlike emotion pouring out in poetry, I think more than a few Mad Ones have stories to tell about this time of year, good or bad, but all beautiful. Narratives of both losing and gaining humanity among a loud, green and red lit celebration. These are the gifts they bring to us, gifts worth more than anything any Magi could bring. These are the gifts of humanity, to humanity. ~ Tyler Malone

Here's an excerpt from #eggnogriot by Tyler Malone

They wrecked the halls when the whiskey eggnog was snuck into the dorm after finals ended. Jeff was everyone’s hero. He bootlegged enough to of the ‘nog to keep everyone lit and alive until New Years. No one has to leave, joy demanded it. Parents were concerned within hours, though. Then snotty, boggy vomit fell from the dorm’s roof as young stomachs drank and danced for the first time with no one’s permission. Administrators attempted to force their way in but dismantled dorm beds barred the exits. Not even prayers entered.

Media and police park on manicured grass, stealing real estate from squirrels and undergraduates with guitars. They look at a dorm turned into a fortress, castellated with holiday lights in windows. Students didn’t need Christmas presents under trees to turn into laughing monsters, just Jeff’s eggnog...

(added 12.24.14)

editor's note: Why not shake the Christmas Tree a bit, let fall the old adages; peace on earth, goodwill toward men? This young visionary brought something tangible to the party; something impatient youth could touch and taste as real. He proffered party-fuel over platitudes and his masses responded with glee. Christmas saved from eggnog? No! Eggnog saved from Christmas! - mh

Here's an excerpt from New Year by Oleg Razumovsky

On the eve of the new year, Oksana invited me to her place to acquaint with her parents.

In the corner of the room stood the Christmas tree, and in front of it, right on the floor, sat Oksana dressed like a toy from a Department store.

"Well, you look okay, " I told her, not even daring to sit nearby. Her red hair and a resolute face were reflected in a mirror. It rained outside.

"The New Year with a thaw?” I asked as I noticed her father, a truck driver, sitting in a chair, drinking and smoking, emitting an unnatural odor.

I must confess that I did not know whether to join Oksana and decorate the tree or to start drinking like the rest of Oksana's relatives.

"Why are you so shy, boy?" asked their grandmother. I picked up a glass filled to the brim with the real stuff, drank it, and that very moment, an evil spirit left me...

(added 12.23.14)

editor's note: Welcome to the new year, same as the old year, if you do it right, that is. - tm

Here's an excerpt from Christmas Eve at Rosen's Deli by Donal Mahoney

...It's always quiet on Christmas Eve at Rosen's Deli but this time it's quieter than usual. Two regulars, Ruben Cohen and Ruben Goldberg, are the only other customers. They’re sitting at their usual spots at the counter, with an empty throne between them, facing each other in almost matching fedoras and arguing as always about the definition of certain Yiddish words.

Cohen and Goldberg have been arguing about the fine points—and not so fine points—of the Yiddish language for years with no sign of detente. Right now, the argument is over whether kunilemel and shmendreck are Yiddish synonyms, or not. Ruben Cohen says it's worse to be called a shmendreck than a kunilemel and Ruben Goldberg maintains that is not accurate...

(added 12.22.14)

editor's note: Good friends on a good season, over and over, that's the good life, no matter when it ends. - tm

Here's an excerpt from GI Magi by Johnny Olson

When word from our platoon commander came at 1800 hours saying that orders from Regiment was that we were to be heading out on patrol at 2000 hours, in full battle rattle, none of us were surprised. The Corps didn’t give a squat what day it was. Why would Christmas Eve be any different than Labor Day, Veterans Day, or the Thanksgiving that had passed while we were in this sandbox? The war machine doesn’t rest on holidays. That’s a reality all Marines accept. There’s no time for sentimentality in combat. The scuttlebutt was that the Iraqis were on the move, and their flurry of activity was making Uncle Sam and our allies nervous.

After the SITREP, we ate cold MREs and washed them down with stale water from canteens. We grabbed our packs and gear. Checking mine twice to ensure I packed all the bare essentials needed for a the night patrol: flashlight, toilet paper (taking a crap doesn’t stop for holidays either), gloves, Kevlar helmet, flak jacket, gas mask, MOPP suit, goggles, a few extra M-16 magazines, and of course all the superstitious belongings most of us carried but never spoke about. Mine was a rosary, my old-country Italian grandmother's.

By 1950 hours we gathered together, aligned in a loose formation, as ready as we are ever going to be to head out into the unknown. A few of us pondered on the whys. Why tonight? Did Saddam have himself a notion to finally cross that border and head into Saudi? Surely the Iraqis were aware what day it was and perhaps they wanted to catch us when we were feeling unmotivated and homesick. There are no cease-fires because it’s Christmas Eve. And surely our enemy couldn’t care less that most of us were Christians and that we saw this eve as a holy one. Will tonight be the night that the four-month stand-off comes to an end? Wouldn’t that be ironic: to be in this barren desert that some see as holy land and have to face the reality that on this night and in this place, we might be fighting and find out who's closer to God.

The call to get a move out was given. We dropped the talk, got into Marine warrior mode and headed out into the coldest of desert nights. The moon was almost full and all the stars the only playful things in the sky. Our shadows stretched across the sandscapes and our booted feet kept beat on the endless, waterless beach. Keeping our ears and eyes open, we scanned lands for any sign of any life. As I patrolled my eyes kept following one bright star that took center stage in the night sky...

(added 12.21.14)

editor's note: Christmas miracles are gifts from miracle workers. Not angels, though, just flesh-and-bone men and women. You and me. You and me can make miracles happen. - tm


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 : 12.20.14

"I try and write honestly about what I see around me now." Billy Bragg

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Walking around the buzz with the neighborhood” (above) by featured artist Gerard Bendiks. To see more Mad works from Gerard, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we wrapped a raw resplendent reptile 'round colored convergent contexts; we plied a planetary tryst with a cloak of darkness, washed in light; we wondered why a willow weeps; we stifled the strife of a stunted life, sought god's bequest for a day of rest; we ripped a raw ribbon to a single thread, wound down a war for diminished dead; we made a plea for leniency in the light of skeleton cruelty; we plumbed the depths of pointlessness, succumbed to a sick sense of humor. Our significance derived from reality contrived; our spirits survive by the light of our lives. ~ MH Clay

Just in case you missed it, here's a taste...

Of Death and Dying

Pay the ferryman twice, just to be
sure you do not end
up haunting the waters of hell’s only river.

Place remaining coins over each eye to show
your life had worth. Subsequently, purpose
may seemingly echo with shadows of pointlessness.

gods do not lack
a sense of vindictive humor.

- A.J. Huffman

(1 poem added 12.20.14)

editor’s note: With immortal gods our mortal construct, the joke's on us. - mh

Catch my plea

What is with all "that light"
For just another ordinary day
How in the world can it end this way
No warning, no nothing
And there I lay
Not breathing
A heart gone silent
And "that light"
It cannot be
I am not ready
This has to be a mistake
I thought I had time yet
To clean up my act
To wipe off my slate
I've repeatedly wronged myself
The horror show of my transgressions
And a closet load of skeletons
Have been plenty cruel to me
Someone, anyone
Catch my plea
Can I live it over
Do it right, do it better
Try and make amends
Get another chance
Go back once

- Arif Ahmad

(1 poem added 12.19.14)

editor’s note: Everyone wants a "do over." Better done now, than regretted later - forgive yourself. - mh


Darkened skies,
thickly smeared
with petrified cries
go unheard.
Mopped up,
snuffed out.
Eaten up with
screams of hell.

torment reigns
Fists hammering
pent up fury
no mercy strikes
countless blows
where they land.

Smashing skulls
and houses alike,
rage has no preference,
let loose,
rips trees from
their roots,
torsos tossed up in the air
Nothing escapes
the wrath of war
once claws are in,
sunk deep, embedded,
shredding every last ounce of life.
Red slashes
the torn up skies
hanging on but
with a ribbon.

All life removed
war dies down too
nothing left to fuel his fury.
Lies down upon
his blackened bed,
falls into restless sleep.

Death escorts
the shell-shocked
nerves scattered
ashen everywhere
dust settles down
on hollowed ground.
nothing left
bar one lone ribbon.

Hanging loosely
tied yellow.
Barely holding on

To a single thread
of hope.

- Tina Clowes Kay

(added 12.18.14)

editor’s note: A wisp of life remains, in spite. - mh


He holds down a factory job
so he can keep the farm.
Early morning,
he punches in twice,
once via hands squeezing cow teats,
the second with a yellow card
slotted into an old gray time clock.

He's a weary man
after a hard day on the assembly line,
a twilight in the tractor saddle,
plowing up the earth and gravel.

He could toss it in any time,
move to a tiny town apartment,
but the farm was in the family
when there was no town.
And under the bed,
there's a box of photographs,
faded glossies of watching eyes.

On Sundays,
it's church
and visiting his wife's grave.
God's no help,
Clara's dead.
It's a day of rest
with a hole in the middle.

- John Grey

(1 poem added 12.17.14)

editor’s note: To look upon this life as "plight" robs us all of hope and light. - mh

The Willow

Weeping willow
Hanging low
Over a pond.
Water so deep
But the water don’t flow
Graveyard silent
No ripple to see.
Bugs won’t fly
Over the absolute quiet
Bubble of restrained time
Breathless, bereft
Could the willow
Be crying for me.

- Steve Roberts

(added 12.16.14)

editor’s note: Man-tree hyperbole; tree-man empathy. - mh

a night in Venus

death is close
acquire the frilled wings
of a winter moth
and meet me
in Venus

let’s build
a borough with our hands
on the narrow bed
of our bodies
then turn off the lights

- Sergio A. Ortiz

(added 12.15.14)

editor’s note: Death ever close, safe haven built; can't die with the lights on. - mh


One snake sleeps in the forest, by the lake
The other in my bed

One snake knows everything but cannot move
The other knows how to read newspapers

One snake wonders how the moon will shatter
Across our desert
Across our reservoir
An implied destiny followed like a june bug toward the porch light

The cactus wonders
How long it will have to hold the water

Is it really suffering
If pain is forgotten
Or remembered differently

Or loved

When it is loved
The snakes are neon

Land beyond the carnivorous acid burn of Austin
Slither across America
And Eurasia and Ireland and Holland

There will be a bear who will come and break the ice shelf

There is a june bug who will look for light

There is sand in the engine

- Cheyenne Gallion

(3 poems added 12.14.14)

editor’s note: Snake as noun, adjectivally colored. Snake as verb, our winding path in a motionless machine. (See two more mad missives from Cheyenne on his page; them and this, a tripping trifecta - check'em out.) - mh

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? The latest addition to our short stories library, "The Unselfing of Dr. Selby Leigh" by C.B. Johnson, is a bit of a twisted tale about the fine line between smiles and frowns, sane and insane. Yep… right up our mad alley!

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this pick-of-the-week tale: "'Am I happy?' That's the question too many people ask strangers standing behind pews, or athletes throwing footballs, and on rare occasions, the mirror. You can't trust any of them, though, certainly not the face whose lips are asking the question."

Here's a little bit for you to see if it brings a smile and/or a frown to your mug:

Dr Selby Leigh had never been very happy, despite his successes in life. Last Saturday he went down to the village café. On any day before this day it would have been routine procedure. Order a coffee, chit chat a bit with the wait staff while paying and tipping, browse the front pages of the papers, offer a friendly doctor’s smile to the non-professionals sitting about enjoying relaxed village ambience, and get going, hot coffee in hand, quick important patent leather steps.

Except this is the story of a man who played with fire, the fire of his own self.

You may have tried not to notice them, in the supermarket checkout lines, the discount chemists, and the streets of villages that have developed around car parks. You looked away, pretending your attention was caught by something momentarily important. But you looked back in quiet fascination, holding your gaze upon their actions an extra second or two, transfixed by the mini-spectacle of totally abstracted human behaviour.

Dr. Selby Leigh had studied the condition, in the supermarket and at the clinic. He had filled a spiral notebook with observations…

:)? or :(? Either way, you know you wanna, so get the rest of your 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...


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 12.13.14

"Perfectly ordered disorder designed with a helter-skelter magnificence." Emily Carr

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Dinged yet unperturbed. Well, maybe just a bit” (above) by featured artist Gerard Bendiks. To see more Mad works from Gerard, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

Allow us to introduce you to Mad Swirl's newest featured visual artist is the ever-talented Dallas-based Gerard Bendiks. Gerard's photography is self-classified as 'never outside the box' - but that isn't to say it doesn't almost give you the means to escape the box yourself! Bendiks takes otherwise ordinary imagery, close-ups of mundane everyday things and swirls them around in the gloriously mad mind that anyone who knows this artist, knows he has! When he spews 'em right back out (figuratively, of course), they've almost got a new energy, a voice and a light of their very own. You feel like you've discovered the little bit of magic all by yourself when you look at it. But alas, we here at the Swirl headquarters have a hunch that was probably Bendiks' goal all along. But who are we to be hunching for you? We'll leave the hunching up to you to see what we mean. Ready? Set... GO! - Madelyn Olson

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we beheld the hole in a beggars bowl; we entered the dream of a dreamer, a coward stranger, phantom bleeder; we investigated the ins and outs of a back and forth; we gave a hard answer to a gentleman dancer; we experienced one ecstatic afternoon; we fought and fornicated, all fire with no cuddle after; we got some backseat spoonin' from a chance reunion. ~ MH Clay

Just in case you missed it, here's a taste...

Running into old lovers

She almost didn’t know who I was,
‘Tony!’ she exclaimed!
She couldn’t believe it was me.
“Your hair!” she mourned ruefully
“Yes, I know, it’s going!”
We're so old now, she says,
I follow her and her friends to a bar,
Off Lower Greenville,
We stay outside and smoke and catch up,
She can’t take her eyes off my head.
“Does it look that bad?” I ask.
“No!” she’s embarrassed, “I just…
Your hair was so perfect”
We talk about life,
She’s done with school,
Berates me for never going back,
She almost had a kid,
It was a miscarriage,
She feels it was for the best, but
It does hurt some days,
We talk of our times together,
The day we got into a fight because I
Didn’t know how to change a tire.
Alongside an empty back road
On our way home from San Antonio,
Which led to us fucking in the back seat
When a highway patrol car pulled up,
I got a ticket,
You laughed.
You said it was because the old man was jealous.
Me, mad that I was charged for lewd behavior and
You weren’t.
You initiated it.
You had the better job and could pay your ticket.
I eventually had to go sit mine out.
She laughs,
Her friends come back out,
To check on us,
I don’t think they like the fact she talking to a man,
But what do they know, they have no inkling
Of our past together, unless she told them,
When I wasn’t looking,
It all happened so fast, us running into each other,
Last I heard she was moving to Seattle
To work at a radio station.
We talked for so long, her friends had to leave
And I offer to take her home.
She agrees after some protest,
She’s staying back at her mom’s,
Her mom loved me,
We’re not in the car for long,
Before were up to our old tricks again,
Spontaneous love making is the best kind of love making,
It keeps you on your toes,
It lets you know you’re alive and still
Can rise to the occasion.
At a moment’s notice.
You still got it, I tell myself,
She rubs her fingers through my thinning hair
And whispers, "You were my Alexander"
Long ago,
We would stand naked in her bathroom
And admire one another in the mirror,
And she’d whisper those same words in my ear
Without the were, but you are,
"You are my Alexander,"
And I’d say back,
"You are my Cleopatra,"
I kiss her neck after she’s finished
And that’s when I see it
The lights in the back windshield and
A police officer approaching the car,
Flashlight in hand.
And we laugh.

- R.A. Hernandez

(1 poem added 12.13.14)

editor’s note: Alexander and Cleopatra; an epic tale with the full complicity of law enforcement (after the fines were paid). - mh

love is a four letter word

estamos jodido.
she would say that
when she thought
that the stars might wink out one by one or
that her geriatric corolla would burst into flames or
that the liquor store was closed or
that i wasn’t able to come or
that she wasn’t.

once we were fighting at a party
because i was flirting with a girl who lived in the house
she got back at me by pushing my friend down on the couch
and blowing him
in front of everyone.

my friend looked at me and shrugged
so i flicked cigarette ash in his eyes
and he screamed
but she didn’t let him get up
because she wasn’t done yet.

afterwards we went home together
estamos jodido, she said
when i parked the car
i said, no,
solo tú.
she got out and
i reached over and slammed the door and
i drove that death trap over the parking lot and
through the six-foot hedge
that separated it from the river and
the plunge of my dreams.

- Leeroy Berlin

(added 12.12.14)

editor’s note: After the altercation; tow trucks and mouthwash. Love will renew... - mh

An Afternoon

You got 80’s Caribbean fruit twist cigarettes
Green golden hair pink suit flowerbeds
Cucumber afternoons
In orange juice pale blue
Antique spoofs and cooking detectives
Green curtain dishcloths and buttery ham laxatives
Your style is Cav House lippy tile pigeon lips
Cross dressing jitterbugger and fungi kissy tits
Dark chocolate sofa spanking art house Viennetta
Vientiane Brussels sprout bugle loving cum taster
It makes my afternoon just to be with you.

It makes my afternoon
Just to be with you.

- James Cornish

(added 12.11.14)

editor’s note: It makes our afternoon just to read this. A "dark chocolate sofa spanking," please. - mh

Singles Dance at the Union Hall

A skirt too tight on Carol Ann
summoned forth a handsome man

who said he had a foolproof plan
to help her get that skirt off

once the dance was over but
she'd have to take him home.

He couldn't help her now
and interrupt the band.

Carol Ann had often heard
better lines from men and so

she told him she had criteria
to qualify a man who sought

to verify her assets.
First, he had to be a gentleman,

obtain the blessing of her father,
and flash a rock with many facets.

Only then might such a man
have a chance to say "I do."

- Donal Mahoney

(1 poem added 12.10.14)

editor’s note: There's no pick up line for the long haul; pick up nothing or pick up all. - mh



“Do you have
To pace like that?”
Asks my Mom,
“You make me
Nervous when you pace
Like that.”

I sit down
But she doesn’t understand
I pace because
Movement of the body
Better facilitates
Movement of the mind

I pace because
I’m too excited
To sit still

I get an idea
I need to walk it
In order to find
Out whether
It has legs
To stand on

And when I’ve sat back down
I have my answer

- Euphrates Moss

(added 12.09.14)

editor’s note: Sometimes, the poetic process won't pace itself. It's full on or hard stop. - mh

I Once Appeared to William Blake in a Dream

I once appeared to
William Blake in a dream,
I was in mourning,
for daylight had passed into night,
I was a shadow lurking
and he called out
to a vision of me,
through me,
it was raining outside my window,
there were long streaks and
gray streets, obscured,
I could not make out his cry,
it was muffled by oozing time,
by corporeal pain, by loosened screw,
I tasted stale wine on my tongue,
he retched at the smell
and I saw in that moment
I was but a phantom stretching out,
bleeding into void,
I was the nothingness sent to take him,
I was the coward stranger,
the burning savior,
I once appeared to
William Blake in a dream.

- Tom Pescatore

(added 12.08.14)

editor’s note: One man's vision is another man's dream? What's the difference? - mh

Tearful Life

Standing out-and-out,
She looks around with a hopeful sight,
Uncaring for her kids around,
But caring for the passerby,
She hopes to get a coin,
Into her grounded silver bowl,
Muddy site full of monkeys’ shrieks,
She turns to a baby, who cries for her breast,
Still some coins are yet to be dropped in,
She tends to cover an inadvertent uncovered modesty,
Alas! She gets stillness upon her brood,
With emptied bellies for uncounted days,
A monkey drops a banana skin from a tree,
She picks it up and squeezes,
Hoping to get its juice into the mouth of babies,
Now the weather changes,
She also gets threatened by it,
Drizzle turns out to be stormy,
Clutching her idle babies,
She shelters under a tree,
Unjust…unjust, her rags are taken off.
Oh God! You materialize for tearful life, you do, do you?
She beholds her bowl in the same abyss.

- Chiranjibi Niroula

(1 poem added 12.07.14)

editor’s note: Some see life from abundance, others from lack. What's in your bowl? - mh

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Then come here and we’ll share a fine tale with you. Come close. Come “Closer”! Yes, and that’s the name of this week’s featured short-short by Simon Pilbrow!

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this pick-of-the-week tale: "Attached at the hip, the abolishment of the individual, the joining to two souls, it all doesn’t require science, just sacrifice and a word: love—the daily needle poking through the skin and sewing us together, making us not perverts and monsters, but lovers—beasts with two backs."

Here's a more close-up look at “Closer”:

He had been deeply in love, but love had stretched and thinned and wandered in three years. She wasn’t as into him, either. And that gave him panic attacks as he questioned his mortality, his relevance. Three years ago she climbed on him in the back of a taxi heading home. With real animal aggression, she didn’t give him a choice. Those were sublime days. They passed in a beautiful, unhealthy, sleazy fog.

After years, love had become such a routine, logical ordeal that he had had to get out: the claustrophobia or its rational equivalent, was unbearable. Three weeks of cowardice and self-abuse, and he ended it, and the worst thing was that she looked so surprised despite the way he had acted. He felt abysmal for months.

He met some new girls and did the same thing five or six times in a row, but for diminishing duration and for diminishing returns. One always popped up when he was out, only to fall into the gaps made by the last. After each, the anxiety got worse and episodes more frequent. It was a repeating nightmare, the anhedonia and hopelessness had him considering the easiest way to check out.

Get even more up close and personal with this story 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...

Disorderin’ Order,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor