The Best of Mad Swirl : 03.19.17

"All art is a confession." ~ Gaston Lachaise

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“The Uncontrollable Laughter of Moonlight Dancing Through the Graveyard” (above) by featured artist Bill Wolak. To see more of Bill’s mad illustrations, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we suffered consternation over proper enunciation; we hefted a heart, empty of hatred; we silenced the chatter of mind over matter; we yellowed the strain of fish down the drain; we enjoyed the elation of self-adoration; we played with the picture of a pliable ingenue; we devolved from decimation to cultural commercialization. These broken pieces, our reconstruction; how we make sense. The stir of the Swirl. ~ MH Clay

Smiling Upon Them by Joseph D. DiLella

weeps inside the stone
family crypts, bones of old
nuzzled close to tombstone of a new one
no more than five, hit by a taxi, just one of thousands
transporting the near dead back and forth
to markets, to churches, to landmarks meant for saviors
who still bleed for sinners and saints
on the smallest of atolls, where rainwater embraces roads
like watery pillows on beds of sand.
Barefoot children still dance
prance like wild animals
chasing each other, or dogs and cats
in cemetaries adorned with plastic roses
aged photos of mothers, fathers melted in ceramic tiles
gracing the boxes, meant to pay tribute to the lineage
of men and women on the island nation decimated
by weapons like Ivy Mike unleashed on Bikini and others
forcing the creation of even more downtown memorials
for gawkers to photo, natives to cherish.
Will U.S. millions ever pay back
the loss of a culture, the ruin of hundreds of tribes?

People who built canoes, fished tuna, baked breadfruit
today drink Coke, eat Fritos, chew betel nut, send prostitutes
to Chinese, Japanese and American ships as payment in full
as, “Hallelujah, I’m saved!” rings from each shiny new church
saving lives by the hundreds each and every day
in exchange for all souls now and forever after.

March 18, 2017

editors note: It’s the capitalist way – world without end. – mh clay

The White Girl by Sarah Henry

Whistler’s portrait
of his mistress
turned up at our
National Gallery of Art.
I didn’t expect to be
struck by the spectacle
of a pale girl
in a long, bluntly
white dress.
A dress like this,
“was only worn at home.”
In private, anything
can happen.
The limp hand holds
a reluctant lily.
That her long red hair
is messy and fetching
is meaningless to her.
Her eyes look so vacant,
you could do anything
at all with her. This
is just a suggestion.

March 17, 2017

editors note: Just a suggestion… – mh clay

Toward Solipsism by Larry Levy

I pull the curtain around me
and go it alone.

I am showered upon –
pin-pricked into submission
by a steady shiver of arrows.
The water runs over me
like greedy fingers
and I feel desirable.

I tuck my cock
between my legs –
my longing turned inward.
I’m beautiful and I ache –
every pore now receptive
to my feminine touch.

Is there no woman
man enough
to man-handle me
as I need a woman to do?

I face the mists
with eyes closed,
and from these recycled tears
feel the pain of every woman
who has ever cried
over a man.

March 16, 2017

editors note: First, you gotta love yourself. – mh clay

Gold Fish and Favorited Color Yellow by Tom Hatch

You’d be surprised what goes in the water
Behind the silhouetted tree leafless in the
Window in yellow light

You’d be surprised what goes in the water
When the door opens yellow light
Streams a leafless tree

You’d be surprised what goes in the water
Below the hearth above a yellow fire
Burns a tree shadow dancing on the wall

I want to get sloppy with yellow dances
Streams and silhouettes
That blend to be a full page that is yellow

Trees are leafless to keep out
Any brown or green
While yellow lovers stare at the blended page

Made larger by all the gold fish
That went down children’s dead
Toilet bowl drains
The non revelry of yellow
Of kids I’ll never know
That have a gold mine in the septic tank
Of dead fish

March 15, 2017

editors note: Down drain because dead; or, yellow? – mh clay

SILENCE by Ruth Z. Deming

Be silent
Be silent when you wake up
in the morning light drizzling
thru your lavender drapes

Listen to the sounds of the world
whether the cars splashing up the
street – oh, so it rained last night! – or
the mournful whistle of the passenger train

Are you afraid to hear the
whispers in your own mind?
Give them room
Give them space
They have a right to be heard!

There’s that squirrel again
outside on the back porch
the same one I saw last week
Peering at me as he nibbles
an acorn – or is it a dreidl? –
as the world enfolds us both, unconcerned.

March 14, 2017

editors note: Again, what we hear between silences shapes our world. – mh clay

Sowing the Seeds of Compassion by Indunil Madhusankha

More than a hundred times
I had wished I would die early
Before I could no longer
look after myself

If I ever happened to be
that old grandma
at least for a moment
I would rather die
than hearing the incessant
insult of the mistress
and its sharp boom
piercing the ears
almost like a wailing trumpet

The old lady was
perhaps in her nineties
Yes, the grey hair and
the pale skin
that wrinkled loose
from the bones
were a credible indication

One day I paid her a visit
and I couldn’t help my asking
why she would bear up all that cruelty
Then, despite the infirmities
she managed to stand up
and gently held my hands
I could well feel the slight
trembling of her chilly fingers

Then she caressed my head
and pointed towards the altar
that bore the sacred Buddha statuette
with the scent of the incense sticks
spreading everywhere
I saw how her feeble eyes
still gleamed with compassion
as she quoted from a Pāli Gātha,
“Nahi werena werāni”
and translated,
“Hatred never ceases by hatred”

From that day onwards
I have been wishing
I would also be blessed
with such a heart
So pious a heart
sowing the seeds of compassion!

March 13, 2017

editors note: From every culture, the elderly would tell us this. Maybe we should listen? (A “Gāthā” is a verse or hymn in Buddhism.) – mh clay

DELICIOSO! by Ricky Garni

By the time I pronounce bruschetta correctly as many times as I pronounced bruschetta incorrectly, I will be an old man, and no longer able to afford bruschetta, and if I can afford bruschetta, I will no longer know what it is and I will ask “What’s that?” and they will say “bruschetta” and I will say, “Who cares, Tommy? I for one, do not.” And then I will eat it and I will enjoy it, and they will say, “Tony.”

March 12, 2017

editors note: Buon appetito! (Whatever your name is.) – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you are in need of something but just not sure what it is, perhaps it's not a case of something blue, maybe all you need is a read. If so, we got just what the head doc ordered!

This week's featured short story, "Malaise" comes from Nadia Wolnisty.

Here's what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say:

"It follows, you wait. The end is always in motion but we don’t feel it because we hope the world and all its wonders spin around us."

"Malaise" starts a lil something like this:

(photo "What Waits? What Don't You Want?" (above) by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

You are sitting at home one Wednesday afternoon when you get a call. 9-1-1, you are having an emergency, the voice on the other end says. You decide to remain calm. You ask her to be a little more specific. That’s not my department, she explains, I can transfer you, but there’s a three-to-five minute hold-time, and by then….I understand, you say, even though you do not. Then what? Then what? Isn’t that the predicament you’re in right now?

Maybe we can figure it out together, says the voice on the other end, who sounds a little too desperate to be professional, as if she were new at her job. Okay, you figure, that’s the only thing to do, so you nod, even though you know she can’t see you...

If that snippet is doin' the trick then you best rush your way to Mad Swirl and get the rest of this read on... NOW!


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 : 03.12.17

"The only people for me are the mad ones: the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who... burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles." ~ Jack Kerouac

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“The Wander’s Eyes Bleeding Neon” (above) by featured artist Bill Wolak.

We revisit an ol’ favorite in our Mad Gallery… and could you really blame us? Bill Wolak continues to win our mad beating hearts with his always symmetrical and ever-enticing collages. The fascinating, layered detail in each individual piece is a little too easy to lose yourself in… and that’s just how we like it! And we’re betting that’s how you like it too… ~ Madelyn Olson

To see our other featured artists, visit our Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we pear plunged, hushed to hear, skinned to the end, rock hunted (hole found), gathered and spilled, drizzled and splizzed, peeped and plummeted. Around and around and around... ~ MH Clay

The Ascension by Jeff Grimshaw

I balanced on the window ledge and scraped the decal
From the window glass. “Now try and find her,” I said,
And fell five stories to my death. But later that afternoon

I wobbled on the window ledge and tapped the window
With a hammer until the cracks webbed across the glass
“This will fall into a thousand shards next time you lift
The sash, O I wish I could see your face then,” I said and

Dropped backwards, seven stories to my death. But
It was nearly dark when I crouched on the window ledge
Drawing dicks and maniacal clowns on the glass with
My grease crayon, “And your whore of a mother, too,”

I laughed, and plummeted 19 stories to my death, my eyes
Never leaving the horrified face of the woman leaning out
Of the window over yours. She was pretty, I thought, though
Of course it’s hard to tell for sure when someone is

Screaming like that. Her eyes were beautiful. I made a
Mental note to ask you for her number as the air currents
Spun me around and around and around.

March 11, 2017

editors note: You can’t make this kind of impression with a dating app. (We welcome Jeff to our crazed conclave of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

HEADING HOME by Roger G. Singer

Farewell to day. The heat layered
high through dawn, spreading wide over
spaces where long shadows formed beyond
ancient obstacles burdened into place.

Night… finally moved in.

People casually scattered. Stars opened
their windows onto a black sky. The desert
diner closed up; its neons splizzed out a last
drizzle of sparked light.

A warm migrant breeze slipped over the road.
Coolness followed, pressing onto the sand and
weeds and anything occupying space.

The car’s engine shuddered and then groaned
into labor breathing. A cylinder war under the hood
struggled to maintain life.

A cloud of dust rose from the car as I tossed a
bottle at the last road sign.

March 10, 2017

editors note: Keep splizzin’, Baby! – mh clay

What starts is never what arrives by Mary Saracino

The wooden door swings open
hopeful feet travel the long road
stepping on stones from here to there
traversing the serpentine path from home to hinterland
dusty shoes, tattered coats
hats soggy from sleet, from dew
bellies hungry for bread, meat, comfort
open fields, lonely mountaintops
biting brambles, wind-blown wildflowers
beneficent bees, boisterous birds
massive oaks, thorny roses
swollen rivers, unfathomable lakes
wind and rain; snow and sun
we begin the journey as pilgrims
end the journey as refugees
longing for where we started
uncertain of where we have arrived
our skin tougher, more wrinkled
our hearts opened, yet weary
our hopes and dreams forever altered by
the weather, the whims of chance
the kindness and cruelty of strangers
the losses and joy, laughter and tears
gathered or spilled along the way

March 9, 2017

editors note: Pilgrim to refugee; may we gather more than we spill. – mh clay

Habitual by Rose Aiello Morales

I shall find a rock
big, hard, cave-like,

Small fire,
a cat or two,
weave moss for coverings.

Crawl space,
one stand up in the middle,
a hole to the world.

There I shall make a life,
dream a fairy world
and venture out feet first.

March 8, 2017

editors note: A happy habitat; good for a stand or a dirt nap. – mh clay

Blue by Amy Barry

Cross-legged by the pond
where the world is quiet
enough to hear the caterpillars,
newly hatched,
munching leaves overhead.

I want to look inside you-
To see your mixture
of love and anger,
the deception residing there.

Your musky scent lingers
in my mind like rays of light;
I lean forward to see my face in the water.
There’s nothing in it
but yours.

No flame reflecting in our eyes.
Every comforting adventure
of skin on skin
will end –
As surely as summer does.

March 7, 2017

editors note: When lover proves to be luster, only. – mh clay

A Sudden Hush in the Wind by Stephen Jarrell Williams

stillness over the streets
over the land
over the mountains

everyone stops
with a spirit to listen

this hush of sound
telling us
so much we do not know

we bow
asking Providence
our purpose

before the storm
blows our flowers from the fields.

March 6, 2017

editors note: Yes! Listen and let no one else tell you what you hear. – mh clay

July Journal: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 by Don Mager

Early afternoon’s minutes dangle
precariously on raw green pears.
Marauding squirrels leap down from slim
Hickories like crows swooping to road kill.
Tugging each pear from its stem, knife teeth
incise chunks of sour nut-hard flesh.
Inviting the ants to come dine, the
wounded pears plunge to the grass. Their falls
are dead with the thuds of cracked drum heads.
Fermenting into soft cidery
brown spots, their relentless unconcern
joins wounded fruit from yesterday—and
the day before. By dawn, they’ll sweat
with cool dew. For now time’s all a waste.

March 5, 2017

editors note: Fruitful or fruitless; it’s in the timing. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Who needs-a-read? Well we had a feline that you did!

This week's featured short comes Contributing Writer & Poet Donal Mahoney. If you have can handle a cat-ostrophic subject matter, then "An Immodest Proposal" might be just the read to feed ya'.

Here's what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say:

"The only natural resource that we should be worried about is human ingenuity. When hungry enough, though, our stomachs and brains will cook up something to save us all."

Here's a morsel to sample to see if you can stomach it:

The other day I was talking to a neighbor who said he found a way to help the poor and improve our environment simultaneously. It’s no secret, he said, that we have a dire food shortage among the chronically poor. It’s also no secret, he pointed out, many of our cities are overrun with feral cats.

Organizations already exist, he said, that trap and neuter feral cats and then let them loose again. These cats, he said, turn up on our porches, tails up, looking for food.

My neighbor is a wild game hunter who has hunted on many continents. The heads of many of his prey are mounted on his walls. He says he should not be the only one hunting feral cats in an urban environment, something he does when he is not overseas hunting bigger animals. He sees feral cats as a viable food source not only for the poor but for anyone who likes wild game.

He’s partial to a dish called “Feral Cat and Dumplings,” a recipe he shared with me after I talked with him in our alley early one morning while taking out the garbage. He had a lumpy canvas bag over his shoulder and said he had had a good night hunting. (He didn’t say anything when I told him I thought I saw one lump wiggling.)

Get the rest of this tail 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 : 03.05.17

"A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, would explain the universe to us." ~ Lucy Larcom

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Vancouver Transit (1)” (above) by featured artist Allen Forrest. To see more of Allen's mad illustrations, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we dreamed Monday mammoth conspirators mass raincoat catheter; we devoured desperate needle dead designers of desolate fears and rainwater heartbreak; we dodged devoid weekend wasters neighborhood hucksters master manipulators daydream dawdlers storm stealing lovers lost. We did, didn't we? ~ MH Clay

In Certain Matters of the Heart by Donal Mahoney

It’s a matter of the heart,
the doctor says,
and he can fix it
with catheter ablation.
“It works miracles,” he says,
“in certain matters of the heart.”

He’s been a cardiologist for years.
“Take my word for it,” he says.
“You’ll be sedated. Won’t feel a thing.”

No excavation in my chest, either.
Instead, he’ll make little holes
in my groin and snake tiny wires
to the surface of my heart
and kill the current that makes

my heart race like a hare
at times and mope
like a turtle other times.
He’s never lost a patient.
“You’ll be fine,” he says.
“Trust me.”

Nine out of 10 ablations work.
I’ll save hundreds a month, he says,
on medications. No more Multaq.
No more Cardizem. And I’ll never
have to wear a heart monitor again.

“Shall we give it a try?” he asks.
“I’ve got an opening
two weeks from Monday.
It’s an outpatient procedure.
You’ll go home the same day,
rest for a week and then resume
your usual activities, even bowling.
Do you like bowling? My nurses do.
I prefer woodcarving.”

“Okay, Doc,” I tell him.
“I’ll give it a try, but tell me,
where were you 40 years ago
when the kids were small
and I was young, like a bull,
and a different matter of the heart
dropped me like a bullet.
Are you sure my heart’s still ticking?
Where’s your stethoscope?
I haven’t felt a thing in years.”

March 4, 2017

editors note: You can lead a heart to fixing, but you can’t make it heal. – mh clay

The Raincoat by Guest Poet David Ratcliffe

A long straight raincoat
would drift through the village;
a thin bald man inside
taller than a telegraph pole.
Oftentimes he’d stride by our
farmyard and I’d shoot him dead
with my Winchester while rolling
for cover behind the dustbin.
His ghost returned recurrently
ever more peculiar, strangely
menacing like a preacher waiting
to claim our pitiful souls.
Regardless I’d tracked down Kincaid,
that no good rustler would swing
that night, and so he did as I waved my
rifle before his scary blue face.
His legs frantic, froglike eyes bulging,
I ran inside shouting, ‘Mum! Mum!
Gary is on the washing line
and he wont come down.’
She rushed into the yard to find the
raincoat holding my brother;
I hid behind the tall rhubarb
relieved to hear his cries.
Through huge leaves I saw the
raincoat leave in loping motion
without saying a word with mum
screaming my name into the night air.

March 3, 2017

editors note: When wet and weathered is better than dry and… – mh clay

The masses by Jonathan Beale

The people: as knights, bishops and queens.
Pawns…Pawns…Pawns. treading the stone
Stone conquers life –
Blood, bone, and flesh.
Are eroded upon this spinning wheel

Desolation is the fear of flesh
Pawns dream (that’s if the Fates allow)
Lives are galleries within galleries
Each October thrives, anew.

They are eroded still, upon this spinning wheel
The oils, now hard, lost the image
Of ages long past, the long past remains
To be uncovered once more

March 2, 2017

editors note: For each of us, it’s a new discovery: We’re stuck in repeat. – mh clay

The Eye of Horus by Paul Sexton

When I think about them
my head hurts.
When I talk about them
other people’s eyes squint.
When I look for them
they are hard to find
except for the signs
the subtle symbols.

Where they live
must be far away,
places that I have never been,
but they must have computers
and telephones
and they must meet occasionally
I suppose,
at the Bilderberg Hotel
or the Bohemian Grove.
What they do there
must be Bacchanal
decadent, even alien
or perhaps it’s all just business
the crunching of numbers
the twisting of fate
the shaping of the destinies
of the faceless
the proletariat.

We should find them.
We should kill them
if we can, but

when I think about them
my head hurts,
so I stop.

March 1, 2017

editors note: They’re not so subtle these days and they’re wearing us down. – mh clay

Woolly Mammoths by Adam Sometimes

Way past constipation and injection marks
We plundered
Ice cold eyes on the hunt for an ice aged myth
Woolly mammoth they called it
But we didn’t care
They could’ve called it certain death
And we would buy all we could and came back for more
Better than sex the addicts say
I don’t know about that
But it was pretty damn close and a whole hell of a lot cheaper
So we chilled
At some slum dog dirt floor section 8 housing in South Detroit
“The hood” we called it before we realized it lived and breathed
It was a white boy adventure
Like a life and death roller-coaster ride
With needles and whores and police chases
And when we were done we rode the two hours back south and passed out without even locking our cars
But there were a few who wanted to ride too often
And they died with needles in their arms
Their mommas crying at the slack jaw lifeless body of their boy that just fed “the hood” and got spit out in his parents
And we soon discovered this wasn’t a ride at all
But a hunting field
With decoy woolly mammoths

February 28, 2017

editors note: Obsessed after ecstasy. Edged toward extinction, instead. (We welcome Adam to our crazed conclave of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out). – mh clay


I sit and contemplate as I look out the window
The darkness is amassing off the coast and for that I’m happy
Today I hope the beach will remain empty
Whilst town will come down after a weekend ravaged
By pointless consumerist binges of those with money
They’ll spend it on beer they see advertised on TV
And sparkling wine thinking its good champagne
Clothes from TK Maxx that’ll fall apart in a couple of months
Everything is set to break and be replaced
Just to keep the economic wheels turning

Today I want to walk the beach and see no one at all
As if it were winter when the beach can become my private playground
I’ll walk someway before stopping and sitting on the pebbles
In order to smoke a joint and take a contemplative moment
A quiet place I can actually sit and think
As round this way during the summer months all we get is noise, noise, noise
The noise of motorbikes being driven up and down
Desperate to pose and be seen as being cool
Loud obnoxious persons who take up the entire pavement
Whilst screaming at each other about what a great time they are having

I’ve seen young women walking through town on a Saturday afternoon
Carrying a huge inflatable penis and thinking they are having fun
I’ve seen young guys walking through town wearing Jimmy Saville masks
About a week after all the allegations came out and they think they are having fun
Neither of these are my idea of having fun
For me I like nothing more than sitting, quiet, and simply drinking
But round here these days there ain’t many places you can do that
What with music ruling all the pubs on St James’s Street
Whether it is country-blues or karaoke disco-pop it’s all here
But put simply on a Saturday night I don’t want to hear

If I want to listen to music I got enough of it at home to listen to
Sitting drinking and listening to The Stooges or Coltrane or some other lost classic
Whilst being able to do whatever I want, smoke, stare out my window or eat some food
And out there, in this town, are people who I want to avoid
Those screaming hen and stag people who very occasionally lay siege to my local
Before realising that here we like beer and spirits not Jaeger bombs and bloody cocktails
Then they suddenly realise that this ain’t a place for them
So they fuck off to West Street to pass on their STDs
And come Monday morning, a time I love as I never work, it feels as if town exhales
Farting the masses out of their weekend psychosis and back to their mundane little lives

February 27, 2017

editors note: Mundane Monday, so good to me… – mh clay

I Dream in Oceans by A.J. Huffman

waveless expanses of blue.
Not breathing or drowning, I float,
an empty cloud in a miserable sky.
I pick at veins to lure companions,
believing the sanctity of devoured
is preferable to the continuous
resonation of devoid.

February 26, 2017

editors note: Open wide. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Happy Need-a-Read Day! This week's featured story, "The Amanda Years," comes from Mark Benedict.

Here's what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say:

"Horror stories don’t always claw from youth, but they do come back from the dead to take a bite or two without asking. Without us wanting, we sacrifice ourselves to monsters and say it’s for love."

And it starts something like this...

(photo "Eternity Isn't Timeless" (above) by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

The haunted trail was a sexy choice, Owen reflected in study hall. It was a perfect combo of darkness and closeness: make-out city, baby. Not that he was particularly anxious about it. He liked being around Amanda Overstreet; kissing would only be a bonus. In fact, he just plain liked her. That purring voice, man! Those swimmy eyes. Owen grinned and tried to get back into his History assignment. She was out of his lanky league, sure, but not by much. If he made a good impression, if they had a great time on this, their first date, then the Homecoming dance, two weeks away, was a real possibility.

The glossy lips. The glistening hair. Amanda looked so amazing when he picked her up, Owen could hardly breathe. And he knew what the glisten meant: that it was a big date for her, too. The night was crisp. The trail was winding. They made fun of the lurking creatures, some of whom were played by kids from school. “Oh, no way,” she giggle-purred, pointing at a sheeted ghost. “I mean, even I could do better.” Kissing seemed soon, Homecoming certain. But then Brett Myers, a zombie currently, a football fucktard generally, broke character to tell Amanda she was looking fine tonight. Owen bristled. Myers was a little too emphatic, Amanda a little too flustered. And then it came: the moment that would haunt Owen for years…

With a cliffhanger like that, how could you NOT find out how this tale ends? Get the rest of your read on here!

••• Open Mic •••

This 1st Wednesday of March (aka 03.01.17) we swirled it up madly in the live way that we do every month. This month Mad Swirl was proud to host the Dallas book release of poet Paul Sexton’s book, “Machine Of Almosting: Poems 1993-2016″

After a mad’n’jazzy set from Swirve, we opened the mic up to all you mad poets, performers and musicians. Here’s a shout out to all who graced us with their words, their songs, their divine madnesses…

Check out the live feed of our FEATURE set.

Check out the live feed of our OPEN MIC set.

Johnny Olson
Chris Zimmerly

Feature: Paul Sexton’s “Machine Of Almosting: Poems 1993-2016“ with performances by

Johnny Olson
Chris Zimmerly
Roderick Richardson
Paul Koniecki
Paul Sexton


Mad Mic Cast:
Desmene M. Statum
Vic Victory
John May
Nadia Wolnisty
Cj Critt
James Barrett Rodehaver
Reverie Evolving
Paul Koniecki
Annika Michelle
Shae Shaw

HUGE thanks to Swirve (Tamitha Curiel, Gerard Bendiks & Chris Curiel) for taking us to another dimension of time and space on the wings of their jazzy madness!

Thanks to all who came out to the City Tavern & shared this beat-utifullest night of poetry and music with us!

May the madness swirl your way! ’til next 1st Wednesday…


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 : 02.26.17

"...once you get to the point where you're actually doing things for truth's sake, then nobody can ever touch you again because you're harmonizing with a greater power." ~ George Harrison

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Vancouver Transit (2)” (above) by featured artist Allen Forrest. To see more of Allen's mad illustrations, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we took our ease with a morning tease; we found a long time lodger in a favor dodger; we dodged some more from a predator; we walked through the mind of a leaver behind; we slipped and slogged in the wisdom of dogs; we lost faith's stand in white-washed hands; we remembered the whole of a beautiful soul, not ugly in absence. Represent! ~ MH Clay

Shoshi’s Ugly Poem by Ann B-D

I think of you stilled
Under the earth,
Clods of clay, and your melting flesh.
Cracking bones,
Shreds of cloth
Clinging to your twisted limbs.
But that is not you, and never was.
This thing, this stilled thing
The most alien and wrong of it all,
This stillness is not you.
You, who were always
So ticking over with motion,
Rhythm, and the juice of the dance.
You, who even as you sat,
Sat alert and bright-eyed and aware.
You, who even when not moving
Had the beat of life running through you,
Waiting for your time
To jump into the circle again.
And it is so wrong, this stillness.
You, gone from yourself,
Yourself gone away and the body left behind,
A lump of putrescence,
Nothing more.
How fine that you are gone, really.
How right.
You would never have stood for this outrage,
This breakdown of holy life,
Of the joy of your life.
You would have been horrified
At what you have become.
Better it’s done,
Done and gone,
Gone away.
But the awful stillness stays.
And this is an awful poem, I know.
But I am haunted by your stillness.
Awful absence of motion
The craziest proof of all
That you are really gone.

February 25, 2017

editors note: Hard to not notice those not here, when they were so much here, before. – mh clay

THE PACIFIST by Stefanie Bennett

Beyond reasonable doubt
There’s an entrapment
The lesion
Of the spirit
Contorts to ~

The abandoned echo,
Hewn into
A judicial
Stone kiss.

Perversity preys upon itself.
Humankind is not
Kind… fevering
The white-washed hands
Of faith’s tactician

Where hearts, hung like
Bedouin relics,
Are made
To be

February 24, 2017

editors note: Makes a combatant’s mouth water. – mh clay


Like dogs
We sit
And we wait

Like stations for buses
Like boards for announcements
Like pigeons for crumbs

As if the end’s going to change
As if it’s going to get better
As if we’re going to get wise

Like Buddha
Like Jesus
Like Muhammad Ali

To say we’re the greatest
Means even less than our words

February 23, 2017

editors note: Just keep waggin’ that tail… – mh clay

Credible Urge by Paul Tristram

He skippers down nightly
under an old piece of tarpaulin,
connected to two trees,
off to the right hand side
of the beach
in the warmer months.
When Winter comes,
there’s the 2nd floor
of the derelict Fire Station
up on the North side of the city.
Busks the harmonica for pennies
outside of Boots the Chemist
most mornings
up until around noon.
Soup-runs evening meals
and bathes in the ocean
no matter the weather.
Carries no trinkets or reminders,
wishes back nothing
which he has lost.
Apart from survival,
is directionless and purposeless,
were never his forte anyway.
Only haunts this city
because it’s far friendlier
than the last couple of places
he tramped.
He’s neither happy nor contented,
just chilling patient,
in his own roundabout way.
For a ‘Credible Urge’
to raise up its head,
as strong as the last one,
which set his footsteps
wandering far away
from that life, wife and children,
his nature bade him leave behind.

February 22, 2017

editors note: It takes focus and determination to stay in the same place. – mh clay

SUPPLICATION by Clyde Kessler

Speed changes the hum from a shadow
to a wall, from a finch to one wild shoat
scrounging through the reeds, oinking
where the parasites have married its voice,
and the herd has wallowed and rooted away
the swamp. Speed is impossible here.
Predation is real. This gator-sized spider
is cupping sunlight in its web. This python
that whispers your name can squeeze stars
through its ribs. The snake’s heart is silent
even when its rough jaws distend around you
and most of the world feels like a gunny sack
on its tongue. The hum is like water spooned
from a cactus far away. You keep wishing
until God does all the wishing for you. You
have felt like running faster than all the water
you are walking on, because the sea is rising.

February 21, 2017

editors note: The water’s span from predator to prey, only a prayer’s breadth away. (We welcome Clyde to our crazed conclave of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Cowardly Soul by Patricia Walsh

Five years’ plans are a lot to take in
A chunk from one’s life irreplaceable
Nationalising train wrecks from another’s sin
A question of language eating home.

Down to the bones of me bum, laughing at poverty
I take on many tasks to see me right
Voluntarily working, suiting the nighttime
Where the moon is cried for all the time.

Slipping in and out of windows, a famously high drop
Underscores a necessity of holding the fort
With a sword in the thatch, fighting whoever
An enemy only bearing factual news.

Nothing to descend. Swearing not to have children
Close ranks with progress, sleeping in time
Wiping hands on the tablecloth in front of spies.

Not wearing a hat to keep secrets in
The dark-furnished bedroom keeps the time
Looking out for favours detached from kind
Not sullying the gait of your colleagues.

February 20, 2017

editors note: Sometimes, there’s courage in keeping out of the way. – mh clay

Morning Wrapped Herself in Negligee by Heather M. Browne

Morning wrapped herself in negligee
Hazy silk and stars
Embroidered flowers stitched
On satin strings

As evening’s final breath lingers
Kissing moonlight tendrils morning dew
His haloed cloud and misty veil
Curtaining his demise

Heat always rises
Equally curling toes or hair

February 19, 2017

editors note: Cohabit the curl; the having which comes from heat. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you're in need of a read, still yo' mind! We got just what you need right here in this week's featured short-short by Ron Parker.

Here's what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about "Be Still My Mind":

"When all you know is an angry language, no one can understand you. You live a mute life with no voice except one that’s destined to be six feet under history, and forgotten by those with tongues that speak for their hearts."

Here's a lil bit to still your mind:

(photo "Jesus Is My Co-Pilot" (above) by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

I was meditating on being grateful for my reliable truck when I transformed into an angry white man directing a fear struck Mexican to pull over. I could see him wondering if his brown ass was gonna be kicked by a Trump supporter.

While approaching the construction vehicle, I noticed the load was held by one strap and glanced at my side mirror to change lanes and pass then looked up to see a large tarp slip under my truck at 70 mph. The Nissan sucked it in like a dog eating chocolate and immediately began evacuating itself of melted and torn plastic while the cars behind became obscured in opaque dust and smoke...

I bet you gotta see how this read ends. If so, here ya go!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl & Swirve this 1st Wednesday of March (aka 03.01.17) at 8:00 SHARP as we continue to swirl up our mic madness at our mad mic-ness home, Dallas’ City Tavern!

This month Mad Swirl is proud to be hosting the book release of poet Paul Sexton’s fourth book “Machine Of Almosting: Poems 1993-2016“

This feature set will have local poets reading pieces from the book including: Johnny Olson, M.H. Clay, Roderick Richardson, Josh Weir, Paul Koniecki and Paul Sexton.

Books will be available for purchase and signing for $15

Come on out, one & all. Get a heapin’ helpin’ of musical mad grooves from Swirve, share in the book releasing festivities, & if the spirit is movin’ ya get yourself a spot on our open mic list. Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call Mad Swirl. Come to participate. Come to appreciate. Come to swirl-a-brate!

Catch us swirlin' up our madness at The City Tavern located at 1402 Main Street • Dallas, TX

P.S. If you're a Facebook'r and want to get on our pre-list, visit our event page and let us know you're gonna be there.


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 : 02.18.17

"A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free." ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“the forgotten (3)” (above) by featured artist Allen Forrest. To see more of Allen's mad illustrations, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we grew up hard or happy, recollections severe or sappy; we cloned a traffic cone; we lost love spoken from pieces broken; we heard a film fest song go like a rongorongo (no girl got, hooked up, not); we pumped out flies with compound eyes, the fruit of propitious birthday wishes; we clammed up on the caprice of come-and-go; we caught the caress of morn's sweet dress, brushing softly, only across the brow of lonely. Comfort in conversation. Keep talking, please! ~ MH Clay

Just Fine by James Brown

If I see u and u don’t see me that’s fine, if I speak to u and u don’t speak back that’s fine, if u judge me and I don’t judge back that’s fine, I speak clearly and if it’s not clear to you that’s fine, if you live in a mansion and I live in a tent that’s fine, you call me crazy and haven’t been anywhere, haven’t seen the things I have nor the pain I have received and dealt with and that’s fine.

Again I will speak clearly,

So drained that I keep this smile to hide all my past and present pains as others have called me many of names that I’m not, been on many of bended knees asking for silence to break the disgracing words of unjustifiable speaking, standing as an entrance and exit and thank you never comes as ungratefulness runs through, the heart has fossilized, tears build and cannot fall and all is fine.

February 18, 2017

editors note: So not fine. – mh clay

Keep Your Mouths Shut by Robert Beveridge

babbling. chains have crushed your arm, rabid lemmings carry you along. how your many abortions felt, on both sides. last request. cholera is your best friend and scurvy visits you every day, bringing presents and wild boars. another sun sets, planets course over your eyes. operation on the terrier a complete success. off the cliff, do come again.

February 17, 2017

editors note: Can’t be sure who’s listening, anyway. – mh clay

Birthday is an indirect object connected with an improper preposition by Bhargab Chatterjee

after the birthday bash
i am tired

of loyalty –
the dry stone of a fruit

the collar of my shirt
is not an enough opening

for pumping out
the flies of myself

in my drawing room
the years cross the edge of my table

and sit
on the window-sill

outside all the compound eyes
gather in the front lawn

and scuffle like people
in the queues before ATMs

the mob is pushing me
into the enormous nucleus

of a Mrs. Malaprop’s cortex cell

February 16, 2017

editors note: And no word is the right word for how we feel. – mh clay

Musings on late night flirting… by Volodymyr Bilyk

I saw an announcement of a film festival in Lviv.
It was about Psychodelic Cinema, but there were no real psychedelic films,
However, there was From Dusk ’til Dawn for some reason.
because this festival was by morons to morons.

i was chatting about it with the girl
with the starfleet insignia i wanted to take off
because…that’s not what the poem is about…

i was chatting about it with the girl
with the starfleet insignia i wanted to take off…
…and proposed my own version of psychedelic film marathon.
One film in particular had her attention
– it was Stay by Marc Forster.
And she wanted to watch it because i’ve mentioned it instead of Lynch’s Lost Highway.

Big deal, huh?

several hours later,
when i completely forgot about this conversation
and was in the midst of procrastinating writing of something
– she wrote “I’ve watched Stay and it wasn’t any Lynch, no-no”

And i was like (cue Julia’s Bison): “Of course!
What the hell was i thinking about when i claimed so?
Was it…a spin?”
I really thought about it for a moment or so.
It was really an engaging act of pointless musing…

And then i wrote:
“I wonder what will happen when you’ll watch Carpenter’s Dark Star.
I hope you’ll write to me something like “it wasn’t any Kubrick, no-no”…
because you know it reminds me of some kind of sacred cryptic spell…

(since this conversation was in ukrainian
that phrase sounded like: “noo ne kubryk, nye”
Which really sounds like a rongorongo spell)

…and if you spell it – it will cause something-something Leonard Bernstein.
I believe you have such powers.
Please Please Please Let Me Get What i Want!”

I’m still waiting for her reply.

February 15, 2017

editors note: Yes, I think it was a Tuesday for me, too… – mh clay

I Exploded by R. Gerry Fabian

for your love.
When you held me
I burst in thousands
of directions.

Now you’ve gone
and I find myself
visiting all those places
and gathering back
all those fragments
of who I am.

Retrieving them is painful
but getting them
in working order
seems damn
near impossible –
at least right now.

February 14, 2017

editors note: One piece at a time, one piece… – mh clay

Starting a New Job is Never Easy by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

My car fails
in front of a line of orange pylons
and I take it as
a sign.

Cars fail all the time,
you say
but I know better.

The pylons are there because of construction,
you argue.

That’s how it may appear to
a layman.

But I live in the abstract,
see the many patterns.

I know how the fates conspire.

Getting out of the car
I take my place two-thirds the way
down the line.

Standing straight
and forever silent,
my arms at my

Not orange yet,
but that’s what evolution
is for.

February 13, 2017

editors note: Naturally selected, a beacon for all. – mh clay

Porch swing by Alexandra Payne

innocence rests in your eyes
I see my grandpa sitting on that porch swing
with a cup of coffee and a cigarette
smoke puffs like clouds above my head
a miniature universe and he is god
he tells me tales of time gone by
about flying kites and falling in love
he says that hope is like a bubble
mirroring the passion in the sky
he says it reminds him of my life
how I never quite touch the sunshine
but I also see my grandmother
standing by the kitchen counter
making peanut butter cookies
and telling me about growing up hard
she said her daddy never loved her
he never told her she was beautiful
he drank his life away
and she hated him until the day he died
and that hatred has eaten her alive, she says
I hear my mother
crying all alone in the bathroom the day her father died
I hear her whimpers pierce the hallway
through her fake smiles
barely reaching my ears before I fall asleep to dream
of my father’s hands
working hard but hating life
struggling just to put me through school
and give me the life he drank away when he was younger
I see a man
who can’t quite mutter the words “I love you”
a man
who was never told how beautiful his insides were
a man
who is struggling just to be accepted
the innocent blueness of your eyes is captivating
but it kills me more than you know
because I see a childhood
that never manifested
and a man with festering wounds in his heart
I see a soul ripping at the seams
but he seems okay
and you act alright
but I know that you are praying to a god you don’t believe in
and hoping in a light you’ve never seen
a light you never hope to see
like my grandfather
sitting on that swing
talking about the good ole days
the ones he can’t get back

February 12, 2017

editors note: We get angst with anticipation, but catharsis with recall. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? If you got a read need that just won't quit, we got the fix to scratch that itch. This week's featured short story comes from Dianne Lowe Breakfield.

Here's what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about Dianne's story "Immortal":

"We’re all living to die, but at time’s end don’t walk into the light, make it drag you in kicking and screaming."

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

(photo "Fog of Time" (above) by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

(excerpt from the short story “Immortal”)

Excuse Me Miss, can I ask you a question?
Oh, no ma’am, I’m not trying to sell you anything
No, no it’s not like that. I just want to ask you something if you would be so kind as to indulge an old man for a little while
Well, what could I do to you in such a public place with this many people milling around and in full sunlight?
You honor me beautiful lady, thank you.
Oh, where are my manners? Please, have a seat.
Forgive me if I am being a little forward, I know how some women are funny about being asked their age but I must. I am going to guess late twenties?
Well, color me pleasantly surprised I would never have guessed you were pushing forty. You have taken good care of yourself That is an excellent quality.
I understand your curiosity about my age and I mean no disrespect but may we talk a little more before I divulge that?...

Get the rest of this timeless 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' Free,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 02.11.17

"The real being of language is that into which we are taken up when we hear it - what is said." ~ Hans-Georg Gadamer

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“the forgotten (1)” (above) by featured artist Allen Forrest.

Mad Swirl is proud to introduce you to our newest visual artist, Allen Forrest. Allen brings us an expressive art collection we’ve been waiting for! His work really draws attention to the space of the page, the white vs. black in high contrast. While some are more obvious than others, each piece seems to make a statement, demanding your attention. Though some of the scenes seem chaotic, there is a sharp and decided cleanliness about them that just… works, in a mad way that we at Mad Swirl especially appreciate. Something tells us you will too. If you need proof, have a look-see for yourself... ~ Madelyn Olson

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we ghosted in symbols, surviving a wreck; we wakened a sleeper, with fever in check; we held back an attack for deeds wrong done; we bailed from the bus of an insensitive son; we sang a dream of life, as short refrain; we sang another, drenched in golden rain; we chose to eat, all wet and juicy, a messy life, all "hot and oozing." We write to win, no losing. ~ MH Clay

Mango by Lisa Carmen

If there is a graceful way
to eat a mango,
I don’t know it.
What? With knife and fork?
Clean nibbles, small bites?

No thank you.
I don’t want to know this way
of eating mango.

I choose dripping juices,
slithering slices, slurping.
I choose sticky lips
and sticky fingers
I choose rolling fleshy pieces
between tongue
and teeth.
Sugary sweetness,
mother nature’s eroticism,
dripping wet with nectar.
I choose this mess,
this messy mango mess.
And if there is a graceful way
to live my life,
I don’t know it.

What? With carefulness and preparation?
Clean expectations,
small steps? Safety?
Protecting heart,
offensive, defensive?
Securely closed and airtight
like Tupperware?
No thank you.
I don’t want to know this way
of living life.

I choose sudden gushes of urgent,
red hot revelations,
I choose dripping truths,
slithering epiphanies, slurping.
I choose rolling dichotomies of bravery
and terror,
Bloody battles and ecstatic dances
between heart and mind,
Bitter and sweet
deep blue funks and
spectacular orgasmic
laser light shows of living,
glitter and guts, blues and reds,
resilience and redemption
I choose this aliveness,
this live, uncut, uncensored large
living life,
this hot and oozing holiness.

I choose this mess.
This beautiful mess.

February 11, 2017

editors note: We choose it, too! (We welcome this mad missive from one of the founders of this Mad Swirl. Thanks, Lisa!) – mh clay

Ever blue Soul by Gregg Dotoli

A silhouette of teal despair
Witness to all we never were to be
and are
Witness to all we never were to do
and did

Eden’s pure spring tears
cleanse the angel-soul face
to be stained anew by
man’s circular devil deeds
a wounded muse

Everblue forever wanders
with pockets of inspiration
never depleted
casting notion and dreams among our lot
raining fine golden hope

February 10, 2017

editors note: At last, some blues to sing; eyes open and in unison. – mh clay

The Last Wall Of My Small World by Pijush Kanti Deb

How to pass you over, my dear?
Localizing all the beauties of nature,
Accumulating all the treasures of El Dorado
Setting all the mountains and oceans thereon
You lie in my way,
Maybe, you are busy writing
The last chapter of my fate,
An opening song of my life-album
And projecting
My last dream
Which comes true
In your body, mind and soul
Beside the last wall of my small world.

February 9, 2017

editors note: From the large, hard-bound Book of Life, maybe our stories go straight to paperback. – mh clay

SHOAH by Brian Wood

Hi my name is Tony and I will be
Your guide today. Just kidding. I could not
Care less. Get the fuck on the bus and shut
The fuck up. I am a teacher at School
Of the Rock, Secondary, Catholic.
It’s my job to counsel and be a role
Model, all “within a faith dimension.”
(Those last four words right from our motto.)
The first stop on our tour is the, uhm, Shri
Swamin… Swamin… Swaminarayan

Mandir something or other. What? Who
The fuck knows. What? Probably named after
Some dude named Swami. It is (I am betting)
A Hindu temple. My old man, on all his
Sober days, said every religion was
Just bullshit, just a new way of stealing.
Anyway, get off the bus, make sure you’re
On the right tour, and ask your guide if you
Little shits have any questions. I’ll be
Out back smoking.

Next stop? Let’s see. Chris, you are a doofus
Times another doofus. Shut the fuck up.
There is nothing I would not give for a beer.
Next stop is… ah… Fo… Guang Shan Temple
Over in Brampton. What? Buddhist, who knows,
A lot of people over there believe
That stuff, or say they do. I know they get
A ton of movie stars in Tibet. Big,
Big, stuff. Anyway, I repeat, ask your
Guide your questions. You know where to find me.

Last stop… Everyone get back on the bus
And shut up. This one is called… Chad… Shad… Yad
Va-Shem. What? Crap, search me, it’s way out
Of my pay scale. Funny, this one time, years
Ago, I did go on the tour, except that
It really bothered me, so I haven’t
Been since. School of the Rock wouldn’t dream
Of paying me twice. I do remember
Our guide said I reminded him why he
Worked there, that men like me were living proof

Shoah was always within easy reach,
That men like me made the trains to Belzec
A sure thing. I heard a kid laugh at that,
But I never got around to asking
What was so goddamn funny. I don’t get
These stupid tours. The prices always go up.
Most kids come back dumber than they left.
Like god from a machine will come down as
Fire. As if sin will be wiped clean. As if
My students won’t be coffin stuffing one
Day, just like me. They will fit
As well as better.

February 8, 2017

editors note: Some still say, “Never again!” (But, some don’t.) – mh clay

Pain Is Comprehension by Michael Marrotti

These clenched
up fists concede
it’s a despicable
world of good folks
being fucked over
by scumbags

Asking the cops
to protect and serve
is like asking
a rapist to use
a condom

no where to turn
for the
victims of society
conjugal visits
and three square
meals a day
if they pursued
the only option
left at their disposal

Police reports
not antagonistic
I know the truth
it’s not the system
or their defense
it’s the fact that
I’m expendable
and dialogue
is fruitless

What else
is there to say
it’s a cruel world
time to sharpen
up the blade
if I gave back
all that’s been
unjustly given
I’m positive
you can quote me
they’d suffer
the benefits of

February 7, 2017

editors note: When the two-by-four rule becomes the norm, enlightenment will be nothing but pain. Alas… (We welcome Michael into our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

The Fever by Kleio B

Dreading the dead,
The cacaphonic wail;
That sinister moon,
The shivering child,
Ran up the stairs;
Covering his head,
In Momma’s hair;
Ignoring that stench,
That soaked-
Momma’s bed.

Cold as marble,
Still sweating a rain;
With shaking hands,
The child again,
Grappling the dark;
Pulled the blanket,
To cover his Momma;
All in vain.

Momma so still,
No flicker of breath,
Lay inert;
In the land of dead!
A sudden crash,
Shook the child;
Sirens blared,
Threatening the babe!

The sound a gong,
Of volcanic make;
Were they taking
His Momma away?
Shaking in shock,
He cried in pain
“Child, it’s a fever!”, she whispered
“Momma’s right here.”
Holding his Momma tight,
The child slept again.

February 6, 2017

editors note: Life as a near-death experience. (Her short stories have already splashed in the Swirl, but now we are pleased to welcome Kleio B into our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her poetry madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

BLACK ANCHORS by Milenko Županović

about the ship
with slaves from
an unknown place
that took shelter
big storm
symbols mystical
magical powers
the sound of
heavy chain
hitting the ground
causing fear among
the population
unknown force
pulling the chains
bound edges at sea
as ghosts
shadows in the night
to the sea
black statues at sea
unknown symbols
island with black anchors
still standing.

February 5, 2017

editors note: Don’t want to be a passenger on that cruise. (We welcome Milenko into our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you need-a-read we got just the one to feed your need!

This week's featured short, "Harvest Road" comes from our very own Short Story Editor Tyler Malone​. Here's what MH Clay​ has to say about this pick-of-the-week:

"Reapers, grim and guileful. Fruit, maybe ripe, but not ready. Sanctuary sought, but unsafe. The only refuge is in the road… Keep moving."

If that write-up doesn't get your get-up-and-go goin', here's a lil' somethin'-somethin' that will:

(photo "Harvest Road" (above) by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter​)

Harvest Road took women and no one was bothered. From God’s eye and Internet maps it was easy to discover the street but miss sidewalk cracks where dark things with wet skin made night sounds, piles of departed and disfigured pets found under lost animal posters, and ghostly annual October Klansmen hanging in mesquite trees. Karen absorbed all this on Harvest Road, but for her a jog was still just another word for a walk. She breezed past what hid in obvious sight, as she had for months since moving into her rented house where spiders dripped from angular branches and spun thin horror stories...

Get the rest of dichotomous read on right here


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

Bein' the maddest,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


The Best of Mad Swirl : 02.04.17

"All of us are mad. If it weren't for the fact every one of us is slightly abnormal, there wouldn't be any point in giving each person a separate name." ~ Ugo Betti

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Chrysalis” (above) by featured artist William Zuback. To see more of William's mad snaps, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we heard from an unhappy hanger; we found a faction of improper fractions; we liked a way of liminality; we tipped away from teetotality; we lamented not o'er absent love; we remembered white before war; we smiled and smiled to remember more. ~ MH Clay

I Remember #02 by Kenneth P. Gurney

I remember my four sisters being only one sister
seen without my glasses on the morning after
three too many pints.

I remember kindergarten as the place
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches went to be tortured.

I remember the easy bake oven
the next door neighbor girls owned
and how their mom cooked hash-brownies in it
and forgot about them when their uncle Larry rang the doorbell
and did not come back to the oven till over an hour later
only to discover we’d eaten half a dozen.

I remember buying a Barbie doll with my birthday money
as a present for Suzie’s birthday a week later,
but my dad thought I bought it for myself
and drank away the next few days and nights panicked.

I remember my first puppy shit on the floor
and I loved him all the same as I cleaned it up
as we worked out person to puppy communication.

I remember the birthday clown that scared me
limped home markedly, after I hit him in the shins
with a home run swing from my brand new baseball bat.

I remember basketball tore up my right ankle three times
and my left ankle two times and broke my left wrist in five places.
I was very, very slow in figuring out
basketball liked me less than I liked eating Brussels sprouts.

I remember screaming every cuss word I ever learned
at three drunk hunters who mistook me and my dog
after they fired shots in our direction,
claiming elk are in season and they purchased their permits.

I remember the ghosts that fill this room
like talc covered hands clapped to a cloud
and they whisper every baby name
I cooed to my daughter as I changed her
as she changed me.

February 4, 2017

editors note: Sweet remembrances. – mh clay

Snow by Ian Smith

Fashionable ladies tripping along white streets
past tall buildings, their long skirts and boots
in one of the many prints of Utrillo’s snow scenes,
remind me of the bare beauty in a world quieted,
whitened streets, leafless trees eerily lit, a wonder
of muffled sound walking to the bus with my mother.

I feel the icy sting, smell the sharp memory,
my hand snow-ploughing a fence, a cheap brooch
I gave her for Christmas glittering on her lapel.
I jog-trot to keep up, listening to the sound of tyres
yowling along Staines Road to my school, the town,
the shock of a dog dead under the viaduct.

She queues; I watch snowflakes duel with gravity
before a sawdust smell, the pet shop, a puppy
that will die of distemper trembling near the stove
in our cold house of post-war rationing
after we carry her home in a box through
a frosted realm illuminated by daytime headlights.

When Utrillo saw his 1934 scene in winter light
he could be excused for believing trouble was over
but the next war changed so much between then
and those dying days of dogs before our emigration.
His picture in my beach shack speaks
of long gone snow, shadows that still come and go.

February 3, 2017

editors note: A whole story in snowfall… – mh clay

My beloved by Ilhem Issaoui

My beloved
Neither the sun nor the moon shall be compared to
My beloved
O clandestine castle haunted by mist and mystery
O stretching fields of merriment silenced forever
O child vicious and precarious
O my adamantine pain and woe
My diaphanous suffering
My battles languished
My pride tarnished
My streams of tears amarulent gliding along
O questions that I fail to answer
My glee soaring farer
And never never
Returning to its abode

February 2, 2017

editors note: Sounds like a love better to have lost. – mh clay

The Perfect Gentleman (3 0z/ 90 mL) by Megha Saha

If sugary dollops of what feels like
the rainbow hits you too hard, then
wait for the maraschino cherry bit that
will come to your rescue and settle
on your tongue; you will let it,
until the insides of the glass tumbler
begin to tremor in sync with the live
scat jazz.

You look around the snug little
place they call the ‘The Great Unwind’
and smile to yourself about how silly
it’d have been of you to have not come
here; the warm gin will eagerly walk
you to silent comfort – like a possum’s back.

The mint sprig scent will come back
to you in a couple of tiny delicate
burps – three if you’re wild, to keep you
from hitting the floor with your head.
And if you’re still feeling oozy and like
less of a person, wait for the trusty
salted lime wedge to tend to your
adamant pout like your grandma would.

February 1, 2017

editors note: With an alcohol escort, attitude adjusted. – mh clay

Virginia’s Liminality and Mine by Kimberly Madura

We call this liminality,
this space that it is possible to stay in too long
this space that it is possible to never come out of.
But there was a before and there will be an after
Now the clamped hold, the compression, middle
we call this transition, in transition
we change
holding until/holding on
until the time when we run out of breath
until we turn blue
until we rise to the surface or sink down
like a drowning
fear can be a good motivator
be it of life or of death
Liminality is
I have decided to leave (live)
to go but not to let go.
I hold on, waiting for the next thing
hoping it will come and when it does
I fool myself into thinking I knew it would all the time,
when the truth is,
I had no idea
After all, it doesn’t always come for everyone,
isn’t that right Virginia?

January 31, 2017

editors note: Those in-between blues; best sung when the “next thing” comes along. – mh clay

By All Counts by Joan McNerney

Proper and improper fractions
have distinctive differences.

Proper fractions study at
prestigious universities. They
attend cultural events and play
at least one musical instrument.
Proper fractions step aside
for ladies patronizing
haute couture shops.

Improper fractions are hooligans.
Each one guzzles cheap beer,
crunching potato chips while
screaming at wrestling matches.
Improper fractions knock over
seniors to reach clearance racks.

Beware of mixed figures. These
hybrids can not decide what they are.
Medication might help them plus
talking therapy so popular today. Never
allow children to associate with them.

Negative numerals should be avoided.
Those will only subtract from your life
flinging freezing rain in your face.
Conversely, positive numerals are
delightful, handing us glowing statistics
and bright bouquets of fragrant daisies.

Never take integers for granted. Do not
allow yourself to be divided but let
all quotients be fruitful and multiply
until that day when your number is up.

January 30, 2017

editors note: Guidelines for a whole life; equal to the sum of its parts. – mh clay

TO END IT ALL by John D Robinson

He hobbled into the room
on 2 crutches, a plaster
caste on one of his legs;
a podgy, baby-faced 18
year old lisping fellow,
with dramatic and
feminine mannerisms;
‘I want to kill myself’
he told me several
times; he waved his
arms around and
fluttered his eyes
and said
‘I’ve tried to end it
all, several times’
he covered his face
in his soft hands and
shook his head
obviously he wasn’t
too good at this suicide
‘What happened to your
leg’ I asked;
‘I tried to hang myself’
he said looking out
of the window; ‘the
rope snapped under
my weight and I fell
crashing to the floor,
breaking my ankle in
3 places’
‘That must’ve hurt’
I said
He pursed his lips and
‘Like nothing
you’ve ever known’
I looked away;
‘I’ll never try to hang
myself again’
he said
‘it was a truly awful
and I wouldn’t
recommend it’.

January 29, 2017

editors note: Like she said, “Might as well live.” – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? Well Mad Swirl has a creative memoir-esque tale from writer N.T. Franklin!

Here's what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about N.T.'s story "Neil Armstrong’s Thoughts about January 28, 1986":

"Frontiers require pioneers, and pioneers require endless traits, but there’s one above all—one trait that keeps us looking to the sky and desiring what’s past the atmosphere and lifeless rocks: Human curiosity, a desire to live above gravity."

Here's a bit to take you off:

My first response to the accident? I was catatonic. “They’re all dead. They’re all dead.” I don’t know how many times I repeated it. I’m sure I sounded mechanical. That was my first response on January 28, 1986 to the shuttle Challenger disaster. At 11:39 in the morning. Seventy-three seconds of that day started the darkest period of my life.

I can still feel the tears streaming down my face. I turned and looked at Janet on the couch next to me. We were two of 35 million Americans watching the launch. She left the room after five minutes of my crying. After that many years together, she knew I needed to be alone.

Nine successful missions. Nine perfect missions. Challenger was a good bird but it was too cold that morning. The icicles at launch time should have sent up red flags. Christa. Dead...

Get the rest of this movin' read right here

••• Open Mic •••

This 1st Wednesday of February (aka 02.01.17) we swirled it up madly in the live way that we do every month. This month we featured… wait for it… YOU! Yes, we featured all you mad ones out there! Y’all brought your A-game (like you’ve ever brought anything less) and swirled up some fine madness together!

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

(click on the pic to get 'em movin'!)
photos courtesy of Dan "the man" Rodriguez

MH Clay
Brett “BA” Ardoin


Mad Mic Cast:
Vic Victory
Paul Koniecki
Kelley Cheek
Carlos Salas
Roderick Richardson
Reverie Evolving
James “Bear” Rodehaver
Hector Ortiz
Desmene M. Statum
Jen Bochenko
Charles Tuvilla
Laurie Lynn Lindemeier
Michael Neil
Annika Michelle

HUGE thanks to Swirve (Tamitha Curiel​ & Chris Curiel​) for taking us to another dimension of time and space on the wings of their jazzy madness!

Thanks to all who came out to the City Tavern & shared this beat-ifullest night of poetry and music with us!

and last but NOT least…

Thanks to The City Tavern​’s proprietor Joshua Florence​ for blessing us with our new digs and welcoming us mad ones with open arms and giving us a swirl’n space we can call home.

May the madness swirl your way! ’til next 1st Wednesday…


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' the maddest,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor