The Best of Mad Swirl : 11.24.13 - 12.07.13

"As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." Nelson Mandela

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Digital illustration (above) by Johnny O.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

These last TWO weeks in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we strode through weekend slump, we slogged through occult waters from dog to dog; we illustratively experienced intense autumnal arboreal angst; we worked through the quantum checklist of a poet and erstwhile particle physicist; we saw the cycle, dust to life to death to dust, framed as filter; we heard a cold tale, lonely and mottled with red wine splash, told by the bottle; we endured the umbrage of an impotent snake-charmer; we preened post-nuptial prickles, better with a tit than a pickle. Wrapping the week with thanks in the middle, we went from dog to dog.
We went again, when week to week we wound around a pivot twixt the two.

Then we saw an urban forest, unable to burgeon without a good arborist, attentive tree surgeon; (we skipped one for a Sedona sojourn); we looked into an illusive opening to everything; we assumed an event anterior ensured our race superior; we explored an insatiable appetite which ensures ensuant expression; we tendered triumph over grief in honoring the passage of a warrior chief; we looked at the lack of luster which lingers in life left by art. Hold it closely and ever, else, only emptiness... ~ MH Clay

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

Cold Turkey

Cold turkey is a bitch
For the addicted epicure

Take away the wonder
Of art
And all that's left

Is bug infested mattress
And cold cinder block

© 2013

- MH Clay

(4 poems added 12.07.13)

editor's note: editor's note: Is this a case of being sick and tired of eating yesterday’s chilled leftovers? Or, perhaps the public’s palate has been spoiled by processed sustenance disguised as art? Either way, their fat belly's are rumblin', their hungry mouths are open, and their cold, steely knives are pointed at you! (Check out our illustrious poetry editor’s page for a few more tasty gems!) - jo (Check out our illustrious poetry editor’s page for a few more tasty gems!) - jo


The talkative see him and become dumb
Mortal of prowess
None with the strength of a lion
Like our Warrior Chief
Head so tough like rock
As bald as the garment of a tortoise
With tiny eyes of a cobra
He's our Warrior Chief.

Legend of Akabuku Land
Dressed in a deadly costume of war
None so feared in the Ekong Society
Like our Warrior Chief
Charms suspending on his fat neck
The skull of a red python
A row of magical beads encircling his wrist
He's our Warrior Chief.

Stiff and puffing chests
The enemy of our enemies
None so great in the clan's fighting force
Like our Warrior Chief
He led our young men down the Vale of Mbanta
In one stroke of his akangkang
He returned with another head
He's our Warrior Chief.

In the victory, we sang and danced
Elders nodded and rose their crooked sticks
None with three oil palm-bush awards
Like our Warrior Chief
At the front of his large compound
Stands a shrine with woven palm fronds
A house for the god of war
For he's our Warrior Chief.

- Kufre Udeme

(1 poem added 12.06.13)

editor’s note: With this week's passing of South Africa's "National Son and people's Father," Nelson Mandela, this offering from our Nigerian Contributing Poet is a timely tribute to a Warrior Chief. - mh

Writer’s Block

The mathematics of poetry
is lost into that deep space
As I try
something is eating my
The tongue of my soul
is hanging

- Peycho Kanev

(added 12.05.13)

editor’s note: If we could eat that "block" we wouldn't be starving; tongues out, ever hungry, staring at an empty page... - mh


Sixty millions years ago in a wink
An asteroid crashed to Earth in a clink
Wiped out the dinosaurs in a blink
And made everything else go extinct
Except the hairy one who learned to think
Now he’s called the missing link.

Was it fate or chance for brains to replace
Brute brawn and bulk that fell from grace?
But if the asteroid had missed its footrace
There would be some other creature in place
Perhaps some reptilian one with some scaly face
Proclaiming that they too are from a chosen race.

- Clinton Van Inman

(1 poem added 12.04.13)

editor's note: We're the result of an arm wrestling match between fledgling gods; the anthropoid won! The reptile awaits our demise... - mh


everything in
the simplest
moment of
life is felt
with the greatest
just as it is.
the taste of an orange
in a bowl,
the juice, the sweetness.
the yellow, golden banana
at its side.
the sight of a swirling squirrel
on a branch,
suddenly by
the window.
the pebbles along
a garden path.
momentary cracks into
another world: this one.
rarest gifts, again, measured
by the scarcity of an open soul.

- Carl Kavadlo

1 poem added 12.03.13)

editor's note: Poems are literary openers, lifting cranial compartments, in search of open souls. - mh

Ascension of Polkadots on the Trees
(after the installation by Yayoi Kusama)

The trees along the garden path
and along the city streets
are dying of polkadots
feverish, choked by the fumes
of passing buses, cars
and indifferent passersby
they have shed their leaves
grown weak, listless,
inarticulate even to other trees
even in spring unable to bloom
while puppies urinate at their feet—
they ask on bended knees:
O god of trees and polkadots
why has thou forsaken us?

(1 poem added 12.01.13)

- Neil Ellman

editor's note: Eradicate the host and the pox recedes. To bad for the host, very good for the trees. (Nice to have this ekphrastic utterance from our Contributing Poet, Neil. Google the title to see the art which inspired the art.) - mh


I'm just a dog barking,
I tell my wife who's upset
with my yakking on and on
at our weekly meeting
on a Saturday morning
stationed in our recliners
facing forward as if we were
in the same row on a plane
with the middle seat empty.

I tell her eventually
any dog will stop barking
if you give him a bowl of kibble
or let him in the house
or find his ball and play fetch.
Or do what my mother did
when I was an infant bawling
and woke my father who faced
work as a lineman the next day.

My mother would get out of bed,
grab her old bathrobe
and whisk me to the rocker.
Even to this day,
many decades removed,
it's the best solution:
Put a breast in my mouth
and silence will ensue.
Eventually I may even coo.

- Donal Mahoney

(2 poems added 11.30.13)

editor's note: With eye on areola, all other sounds are silenced...except sucking. (Another one from Donal on his page, for Black Friday recovery - check it out.) - mh

Personality Overdrafting

Born with a deformed heart muscle
You are as timid, introverted and cowardly
As a little quiet chick, but all your life
You have been trying to play tough, forcing
Yourself to be tough-minded, tough-bodied
Like an iron fighter rooster in the legend
Until now your worsening ischemia
Drives you into your old premature self-hood
With cardio neurosis, trembling, all
Thanks to a tenant, a sociopath, a rattlesnake
More evil than Satan, whose greatest joy
Is to destroy you as a petty landlord
Of a rental property full of foreign words

- Changming Yuan

(1 poem added 11.29.13)

editor's note: So, much bias toward tenants' rights; buyer's remorse is this owner's only recourse. - mh

Salamanca Red.

Boiler kicks in.
Unpleasant chill gone.
Dark blood red and soon right!

Spiders that creep me out raise dust across my name
and move to darker spots.

I need love,
kisses around my neck.
Hope from the dark.

Light flickers above my head
The searching hand finds my warming body.
Uncertain we climb the wooden steps.

A gentle screw, ardently turned, pierces my heart.
I explode, gushing over a tired glass.

Alone, she sips from me and rubs her eyes again.
Shrunken heart by a bedroom door.

A long way from the sun kissed vines of Salamanca
we cry together.

- Alan Halford

(1 poem added 11.28.13)

editor's note: A vintage red whine to quaff and quell a cold lonely togetherness. - mh

To Birth Over Boundaries

quiet but determined manifestations
bleed through the languor of a morn in autumn
each second, minute, hour, and day
whether we are aware or not
accumulate into the cycle of seasons
like fractals they rise and fall beyond unfathomable limits
we have no choice but to birth over boundaries
bewildering the strange yet familiar comeliness
ever subtle this shift from death to life
and back again, a metamorphosis
warmth of the dust, the crackle of purgatory
beneath our feet purifying, terrifying and real

- Pd Lietz

(1 poem added 11.27.13)

editor's note: Yes! Unconscious though we be; that "crackle" snaps, pops and prevents our poor attentions from paying anything but full price. (Thanks, Paula! We needed this.) - mh


Looking past the years of the future
To see a time without measure,
Trusting only my eyes to guide me,
Filled with the memories of the milky beginning,
Withstanding magnetism
In the mists of something incomprehensible,
Except by a trained mind,
Like particle Physics,

Seeing the many faces of God,
Hiding within Einstein’s undiscovered equation
For the theory of everything,
That just might not be right.

Believing in the reasoning
Of the universe,
Just trying to keep my feet
On the ground, and live my life
Before the last great supernova,
Lights up the sky,

Before the cosmos go cold and silent.

- R.A. Hernandez

(2 poems added 11.26.13)

editor's note: Hear this poet, speaking from space? Perspective, folks! Perspective! (Another one from R.A., high and hopeful, on his page - check it out). - mh


night comes faster to me now
my silent lover creeping home
temperate gales birthing winds
discards me naked into shadow

transition sinks into my limbs
shaken leaves free fall like sins
mourning sun sets in death's grin
my spirit molts as autumn begins

tears frost from downward lashes
into sorrow my spirit splashes
exposed and naked I live the curse
summer's demise into autumn's birth

- Ruth Morris

(added 11.25.13)

editor's note: From cursed convection, set leaves aflame, to flare and fall beneath cold blanket. Summer. Autumn. D... - mh

Sunday’s Waters

Sunday's waters flow ratched and wretched
over the bones of an old dog

unprotected by the ancient valley's shadow or the
frozen tips of mountaineer dreams and
fly fishing streams
with the gills of evolution


On the soft doeskin she sleep-crawls through
another Saturday evening filled with banal talking heads
and the screams of tepid teenage
angst a floor away. The echo of creaking wicker
snaps her ears back as grandmother leans
into a vodka-cloud exhalation of age and weariness.

It's bedtime again in the land of porcelain dolls and horn-rimmed

Paquita Maria stands ready

with a tarot deck by the bed sheets
laid back to receive her slender form.

The Hanging Man crosses her with nine swords
at her back and a bad day awaits her
in the morning, chastised by church bells and
the dank smell of pew-wood knowing her misdeeds
and those of her cousins the night before. The clock strikes twelve and

Saturday night becomes Sunday morning
with little more than the flinch of a finger

tangled in a pillow case
by strange dreams

of wet clay
from the river bank

guiding Sunday's waters
over the bones of

a tired


- J.R. Carson

(added 11.24.13)

editor's note: The slow erosion of ages and eons, darkly distilled into the draw of a single card. Hang it! - mh

••• Short Stories •••

Need a read? Of course you do! Here's what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick-of-the-week short story, "A Good Student” by Amy Barry: "When we love what we love as hard as we know we love it, what happens when we can’t let go? Love has limits, and they begin when the object of your affection begins to act very human, and speaks the word, ‘Stop!’” Here's a taste to tempt you...

Sean and Rose met in an online chat room. He proposed after their second in-person date, and she said yes. They honeymooned in Bali, and it was the most romantic setting either one had ever seen. One evening they watched the sunset at Tanah Lot Temple. After dark had fallen, they were entertained by the “Monkey Dance” performance with seventy men dancing in a semi-circle around a bonfire. The only music to accompany the dancers was the beats of their palms hitting their chests and other parts of their body, accompanied by chants and shouts. Sean showed an overwhelming curiosity at the hypnotic performance, as if he was under a spell.

At thirty-seven, he had a successful career in the hotel industry, the Housekeeper of a four star hotel, but he was inexperienced when it came to pleasing a woman. He had never even dated before he met Rose. He loved her very much and wanted everything to be perfect for her.

Sean sat on his bed, his eyes closed, and his lips were moving silently. Rose smiled, knowing he was deep in prayer again. He believed the ritual; these voices of love as he called it, would deepen their emotional connection in their art of physical intimacy.

“Om-Am-Hum,” he commenced. He lit incense sticks in the corner of the room.

You wanna keep readin'? Of course you wanna! Get the rest of your wanna 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

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor


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