“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth / There is no happiness like mine. / I have been eating poetry.” Mark Strand
You may have noticed that there is a new voice hanging out in the Forum this week. Yep, you noticed right! Mad Poetry Editor MH Clay is swirlin' it up in South Africa for a much deserved hiatus (give a listen to his mad South African rant right HERE). What were we to do? What we did was ask longtime contributing poet and mad man in his own rights, Tyler Malone, to be guest poetry editor in MH's absence. Big shoes to fill but Tyler has done so beat-utifully! Here's what Tyler had to say about this week's poetry while playing in our mad sandbox...
It’s that time again, when Mad Swirl dunks you into a spicy seven-layer dip of poetry. Lick your lips as hedgehogs stay trim via liberal politics, and then slip into a secret shell to be enjoyed on another afternoon, simply to mate after you find your garden tools aren’t where you left them—they’re adrift, but it’s all okay. The kisses are worth it.
If there was a week to be allowed to dance to Mad Swirl’s mad mariachi music, there’s no way it could have been better. This last week, poetry spoke up for itself—the editor just enjoyed the ride. And you, dear pretty and precious Mad Swirl reader, should do the same. - TM
Just in case you missed it, here's a taste...
Keeping Imaginary Hedgehogs Trim via Liberal Politics
It’s possible to keep imaginary hedgehogs trim by making them do push-ups,
By flailing those who fail to work out the matchmaking machinations
of “twaddle” and “xylophone,”
Moreover, by running them past families of dust bunnies,
who otherwise contently breed beneath sofas,
Through wooded profundities, alongside of business entities,
in the middle of calculus homework,
Together with odd representations of life, including umbrae, penumbrae, and antumbrae.
Likewise, today’s technology affords the rescue of frightened chimeras;
Amidst personal bumbling, we can extract myths instead of cottoning our frustrating
Inability to convey the morals of night classes, of barstool warmth, of park benches.
Horned critters, their eggs excepted, future husbands,
also dogs, remain redeemable via grim mentations,
Like: baseball stats, worldwide electronics, budgie cages,
ghostwriting, plus psychology primers.
Gelatinous monsters, of course, will be rescued,
saved among types of heinous outworlders,
Since their palpable lessons bring to the fore notions that
monstrosities composed of feral beasts, too,
Will be saved when belly dancing, home birthing,
tincturing herbal medicine, or eschewing our race,
Nullifies Earthly wrong-doing, to the tune of our near genocide; such insights warrant reward.
Despite their colony’s limited habitable land, heroes can’t have too many hatchlings.
What’s more, academic fortes, keen on criticizing ancient rhetorical theories,
Promise to legitimize hedgerows and two-timing algae,
to provide footnotes at the speed of sound,
To concern themselves with the mortal danger
currently associated with reptilian modes of neglect.
Middle-aged women, mothers, spouses, too,
will have to foreswear to fair play with aficionados
Insistent upon exit interviews, upon shedding boring writing, upon basket weaving.
- KJ Hannah Greenberg
(2 poems added 06.18.11)
editor's note: Poetry is for the people! Writing is a hobby as well as a lifestyle. In stylized Quintains, Channie weaves all the madness she can into a beautiful basket and offers us to take a bite—a big bite—of the apples inside. Trust her, once you’re hooked on the good stuff, you’ll never drop poetry for wicker. Chew on it and check out another poem on KJ’s page. - tm
It was exactly what would happen if you drained
all the color from
and the kind of light blood you only bleed from skinned knees
and threw it all together
and called it hair
and that's what i was looking at
when he grabbed my hand
stared deep into my eyes
I never knew a girl with lips so pink.
I didn't know what he was thinking,
Which was highly unusual,
Until he kissed me.
And his blue question mark eyes,
Searched for an answer I didn't have.
They caught us on a security camera,
That turned all its pictures blue.
And I pretended I loved him,
So they wouldn't tell anyone,
That I kissed the boy with blue eyes.
I used to have a green dress,
I would hide in the grass with him,
just us two.
Kissing only when a cloud passed overhead.
It was our little game.
But then his face flushed green jealous,
Because I looked so pretty in my little green dress,
That his took his hand and slapped my cheek.
And I feel down, and hid from him in the grass.
Green in the green.
- Lauren Sukin
editor's note: The evolution of what we love sometimes morphs to something that doesn’t love us. Loose lips and closed fists sink ships. “Kisses” uses the archetype of color effectively—to the point where a reader wants a color to be the savior. But that’s acceptable, since green is the best color our eyes can absorb. It’s a shame that death chooses to dress like a Hot Topic kid, though. - tm
Ravenous for the lightning from your touch—
Let alone, other propensities & such—
I heard you laughing & I wondered…
(ringing in my ears like thunder)
When was the last time I made you laugh?
It was as good as it could ever get
From that first moment on the day we met…
I held it in my hand for a second
Thought I had a good grip—
Letting it slip, it fell through my fingers…
(Damn how the loss of Love lingers).
- Michael R. King
editor's note: All it takes for a truth stemming from an epiphany to shatter our comfortable situations is a second, maybe even just a moment of a second. After it’s all said and done, and all you have left is your own hand, unwrapped, and not around a former love’s; all you really have left is to figure out which is worse: Remorse or regret? - tm
MY GARDEN TOOLS AREN'T WHERE I LEFT THEM
'I recently had a very pleasant experience,' my aunt wrote on her blog. 'On an impulse I joined a one-man masquerade. I lay down in the street and pretended to be a speed bump. I will spare you the gory details, save to say my garden tools aren't where I left them. A common misconception about toasters: the glow of their inner mechanism calls attention to the lesions on very yeasty bread, and the undertones resulting of this interaction bare close semblances to the calls coming from the plumbing, which are as spooky as the cry of the creature desperately seeking a cave to follow you into. While getting beaten the shit out of in pool halls does not perpetuate the mean, destructive myth about depleted serotonin levels in the hideously deformed. Psychopathy uncoiling into the inhuman, asbestos embodiment of one painfully intimate O.J. Simpson. Only an experienced chunk of taffy, when aiming a hairdryer at it, mutates into a flesh-colored origami crane. I THOUGHT turning into a speed bump would be a terrifying prospect for my dysmorphophobia; I'd taken a placebo, ya know? - which I knew well and which I trusted – and already, in my head, it was ramifying into images of a translucent, if tire-tainted, carapace lying in the road, crammed up against the sidewalk. I looked like a glass condom. In one bed-time story, a scary omen got really heavily sedated – the boy hero had potted it with a dart gun or something – then collapsed on the floor and was revealed to be a bed sheet. Pfff. And in another, artificial resuscitation was administered to a robot that had swooned at a picnic. 'What are you worried about?' they demanded when he came to. 'The calculation machine you used to revive me – it is extremely valetudinarian.' 'Yeah? And?' They thought him an ungrateful prick. 'Well, I now have extreme anxiety over this and that, and one thing and another.' 'Such as?' 'Well...'
- Tyson Bley
(2 poems added 06.15.11)
editor's note: This poem should come with a disclaimer: WARNING! SYMPTOMS OF LYING IN THE STREET LEAD TO A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH. Though, it’s also a cautionary tale. If one wants to go on a Google journey to see if their aunt blogs, don’t. Also, dear Swirler, head over to read "FAKE BLOOD" on Tyson’s Mad Swirl page. - tm
Simply to Mate
Instead of watching another football game
I excuse myself, leave my wife and daughter
in front of the big screen,
shuffle as unobtrusively as possible
into the bedroom to watch Great Migrations –
Race to Survive on the little TV atop the dresser.
I’m not much of a football fan, really.
I’m not as manly as I know I should be,
I’m thinking, hoping my pretty wife
isn’t looking at me disdainfully
as I slink away.
If this had been back in college
when she was palling around
with big Don, her macho football player friend,
more than eager and ready
for him to ask her out, you know
I’d be right in there watching the stupid game
with her, cheering the team on,
slapping 5 for each goal scored, perhaps
even downing a beer or two in the frenzy of testosterone.
All this, of course, to show her, to prove to her,
that I’m a man, yes indeed, a real man,
a football fan, a football loving fan man.
But for right now, for tonight,
I’ll hide away in the bedroom
watching in complete fascination
as the Okavango Zebra herd stops at nothing,
over ancient migration paths,
risking lion attacks and disease,
starvation, cheetahs and hyenas,
to reach the salt lick
and the river beyond that simply to mate.
- Michael Estabrook
editor's note: Sports could be just a bunch of men chasing balls around. Well, not if we’re talking WNBA or some other fatuous pastime. This walks into a packed Chili’s Bar and Grill, where Jerry’s Cowboys are playing on a dozen plasma screens, and switches the televisions to Romanticized animal porn, and what life is really about—survival, habits, salt licks and sweaty sheets. - tm
there is a pretty woman walking
briskly, she darts by the apples
it is crowded with distracted shoppers
my boy’s hand is gripped in mine
she doesn’t look to either side
but briefly at her watch and a list
I notice her trendy high heels
and wonder if she has a date
maybe an appointment
to have her hair cut and styled
maybe it’s the first time they'll meet
or she's seeing an old client
I feel my ring with my thumb
reach to touch my son’s hair
he wrinkles his nose and
says “you’ll mess it up”
- Heather Brager
editor's note: The few steps a women takes in public becomes her defining moments for another person that needs to know just what she is up to. Writing about one tiny image is a tact a writer uses to stay fresh, current, or sane. In this case, though, the curiosity is too much. The stranger, according to the narrator, needs to own up and tell us of their intentions. Some people just look like they need a TSA shakedown so we can all accept them walking around our apples. America, what a dangerous place to wander out into. - tm
Secret of the Shell
In my dream, my mother and I are
outside Grandma's old, painted-white house;
inside, the remains of my uncle, a pilot, lie
in a casket, lid closed.
He's in heaven now, they say.
I see his airplane in the fathomless blue
and imagine it
coming straight toward us! There will be
no escape. I am just a child. I run
to the back yard, where the dirty
green sea threatens to spew out
its secret. With a thousand voices
and languages it whispers in canon
words I cannot comprehend.
a salty hand to beckon, Come
here, and teasingly holds out
a Conch shell as though there is
in the hollow
spiral of sound;
in the emptiness
it wants me
to go inside
- Wynne Huddleston
editor's note: In dreams you can’t close your eyes or plug your ears—the unsettling sights and obnoxious obstreperous noises attack before we can think ‘why?’. But when awake, this is why you keep your eyes wide open during the scariest parts of movies. You know you’re going to be spooked and jump, losing both your popcorn and your marbles, but you just gotta see what you don’t really want to see. - tm
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Guest Poetry Editor