The Best of Mad Swirl : 09.20.14

”I'm alive today, therefore I'm just as much a part of our time as everybody else. The times will just have to enlarge themselves to make room for me, won't they, and for everybody else.” Stevie Smith

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Photo (above) by featured artist Rosie Lindsey. To see more Mad works from Rosie, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we bared the beast who worries us, tried to forget what he never does; we parried a parental posit to present the pariah in the closet; we shunned shame, shone from a shoe box game; we caught cop carried, cat crazy, crowd gawked, street rocked, dirt shirt - stained by low worth; we sevened a septic circle jerk, all talk with no work; we spared no spoken tongue nor sparse resistance to peaceful walk toward nonexistence; we prized a peek at penchants wreaked in righteous justification, raised unchecked ire in neighbor (not neighborly) nations. Angst and irritation salved and saved in a higher plane of observation... ~ MH Clay

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

For the sake of heavens, for heaven’s sake

“The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”

The world bleeds around this most chronic ill
The mother of all conflicts
For such little space, a tiny area on the map
The history of hatred is mind-boggling
The central issue, the bottom line, is NOT ENOUGH LAND,
LAND which the World can help create over the sea
Or little some the expansive neighbors can graciously add

If Abraham was to come alive today
Would he not gather his entire family and probably say
“Do it over, do it better, step it up.”
“Come on people, get your act together, enough is enough.”
Would his say in this day still carry any weight?

Moses, Jesus, Muhammad
How do I feel they are faring up there?
How do you think they are holding out?
Content, ecstatic, full of joy?
Or disappointed, dejected, thoroughly annoyed?

You are so wrong, I am so right
And together we create
For the sake of heavens, for heaven’s sake
Unending bloodshed, this never ending plight
Never pausing, never thinking
That at the end of the day
It is the same genes, the same blood on both sides of the aisle
One Big Unhappy Family
Where misery is shared and so is the destiny

- Arif Ahmad

(1 poem added 09.20.14)

editor's note: 50 days of violence for the sake of someone's heaven; resulting in heaven forsaken. Nobody wins! (Arif joins our crazy confab of Contributing Poets with this poem. See more of his madness on his new page.) - mh


She carried out my execution.

She was dressed in red.
I nearly ate my heart.
There was something about her.
I slipped into nonexistence.

She was dressed in red.
Perhaps it was foreshadowing.
I nearly ate my heart.

I was speaking in tongues.

She filled me with anxiety.
I could not move to save my life.
I was speaking in tongues.
She made me disappear.

I walked in green pastures.
I laid down in a meadow.
I found a peaceful end.
I disappeared without a trace.
I tired of myself.

I could not blame her.
She was kind enough
to end my misery.
I felt her hair brushing on my face.

I found a peaceful end.
I ceased to exist.
It was useless to resist.

- Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

(1 poem added 09.19.14)

editor's note: Ethereal, external executioner to carry out our self-sentence; assisted suicide. - mh


We sat in a circle in folding chairs,
the lucky seven,
I was wearing a party dress that showed my curves
forgot to wear panties, so kept my legs together.

Paul spoke. For the first time I liked him.
Not because he used to be a radio D-J or
his mother was dying of Alzheimer’s in a nursing home
but because he banged his head against the wall
when his daughter hung up on him.

The newcomer was diagnosed two days ago.
He knew nothing about his illness.
He was 22 and had led the life of a gallant well-
dressed pimp
but now guilt pressed him flat in his chair
- a run-over worm.

I stared at him. Nice contrast of
ebony skin the color of a Chinese lacquer box
and peach-colored palms he clenched on and off
in his lap.

He began his confession,
looking down and talking staccato.
I touched his shoulder. Keep some
secrets for yourself, I said. We don’t need to
know ev-ery-thing.

The dam began to leak and
Harry, who worked for a drug company,
talked about his rampant sexuality when manic,
laughed when he talked about the women he made love to,
a few men too, the wife taking off with the
house and the kids.

The newcomer nodded.
You mean it happened to you, too?
he asked Harry.

It happened to all of us, I say.

Harry told about writing a hundred pages of gorgeous
notes only two months ago during his last mania.
Hypergraphia, I said, mouthing the beautiful syllables of a
new word I’d just learned.
Mine, I threw away after 20 years hidden in the attic,
useless horseshit.

The newcomer wanted more symptoms.
I handed him a brochure. Everything has a
name, I said. Whatever you did, they’ve already
named it. They’re pretty smart.

Well, if they’re so smart, he said, why can’t they
fix it?

Well, they’re not that smart, I said.

The newcomer was guilt-ridden over his
sexual escapades. Used the word ‘evil’ to
describe himself.
C’mon, I said. Something big comes over us. We
light up. We glow. Arrive with a halo for godsakes.
We’re like lightning bugs in the dark.
We blink.
Think of the evolutionary possibilities if you’re a
man. Populating your side of the island.

Paul, the guy I finally liked, talked about his old
man shooting his brains out.
Oh no, I thought, now we’ve gotta explain
we kill ourselves to the newcomer.

Derek, I said, turning toward him, there’s
something you need to know.

I know it already, he said. I was 9 when I first got
out the rope.

Hallelujah, brother, I said, slapping his hand.
Well, that’s just fine, Derek. You know everything now.
Relax and enjoy yourself.

- Ruth Z. Deming

(added 09.18.14)

editor's note: Group Dynamics 101; prerequisite courses - Basic Bi-polarity and Manic Hypergraphia. - mh

Cat Fight

Look at this dirt on my shirt,
the hot pink tank top
I wore when I got
dragged across Commerce St.
screaming your name.
I tried to climb the transformers
to get on the studio roof.
I’ll never write another
poem to you.
I love all my bruises,
busted ribs, my
sprained shoulder.
I’m still a dancer.
Your friends are scum,
except one- the one
who painted the devil
on the wall, but he
wasn’t there to say
calm down, it’s okay-
only people who laughed
at my pain and recorded
the show on their phones.
I thought I was a lover
not a fighter,
but now I know I’m a little cat
who’ll break her arm
to be free- a little cat who
loves and fights at the moment-
a little cat who loves her enemy.
The fur went flying that night.
The cops said you weren’t
worth it. Now it’s just dirt
on my shirt-
dirt on my shirt that won’t
wash away.
This is your last poem today.

- Trier Ward

(2 poems added 09.17.14)

editor's note: A shirt, dirt poem; wasted on the not-worth-it. She can't help it and the cops don't care. (We welcome Trier to our crazy confab of Contributing Poets with this accepted poem. And, not just this one; she has another mad missive on love and law enforcement on her new page - check it out.) - mh

From The Shoe Box

Expired vicious sharp tongued
-still staring through the key hole,
Waiting to pounce.
Fury green mould never stood a chance,
Old hag.

You hid buried,
In depths of yellowing pages.
Amongst spit fixed stamps,
Undisturbed dust, dried flower heads,
Forgotten valentines, Seeped in black ink,
Faded slight.

Like you,
Reeked stale.
Stale in compassion;
In life
In dreams
In all less perfect,
Perfect for you.
Even from your old scrawl
My hands felt your sting,

Years of verbal lashings
Dousing in vinegar,
You left a bitter taste,
After placing your thorny crowns.
I thought only Christ haters did that.

But you a lover of the cloth!
To grottoes you flocked
On knees you rocked
Mouthing your praise,
In practice you mocked
As the cockerel crowed three times
You drove the nails into my
Cross over and over.

Now in my own glory,
I sup the finest of wines,
Diluting your bitter taste.
Queen of my throne
While you fade at the
Bottom of the forgotten box.

- Polly Munnelly

(1 poem added 09.16.14)

editor's note: A keepsake only for the sake of keeping? A lose-sake, ready for discard. (We welcome Polly to our crazy confab of Contributing Poets with this poem. See more of here madness on her new page - check it out.) - mh

The Newspaper Clipping

Why did you leave it there on the table
for me to see?

Did you want to enable
me to betray my hiding place?

Did you want me to tell you
what I have feared and what I’ve faced?

Did you want me to cut through
years of unspoken lyrics here-

and-now? Finally? Where I grew
up? You said nothing, loud and clear,

so I read it, and turned to
see if you saw me wipe a tear,

see if you saw me need you,
see if you saw my hope appear,

then disappear, unable
to open up my hiding place

for you to see.
Why did you leave it there on the table?

- Beth DeSeelhorst

(added 09.15.14)

editor's note: A passive-aggressive conversation starter. Let's get out that skeleton and make 'im dance. - mh

Back To You

I’ve had no vodka tonight and yet you’d think
I’d seen pink elephants, or perhaps just
pink roses where there were none. There is
an elephant in the room, to be sure,
and I think he looks a lot like ... well, you know
the type – beautiful books, dusty lips. Don’t see him?

It’s because he’s my elephant or, to be precise,
because he’s not. Mine. But then he is, and so,
what to ask him? What is the nature
of elephant skin? Thick? Obtuse?
Turning away arrows? Capable
of crushing intent, with that blind man’s foot,

while searching only for hay and peanuts, not
memories he’d have to not forget. Perhaps
there is only a crackled mirror
in the room, legends around the frame,
and in it only gray-skinned me looking back.

Not being the elephant, I’d like to forget,
leave if I could find
the door, but the trunk
snakes around me, pulls
me back. I would not be done
quite yet. I would run in the river bottoms.
I would unpack my suitcase in a moonlit room.

- Gayle Reaves-King

(1 poem added 09.14.14)

editor's note: "How he got into my pajamas, I'll never know." - mh

••• Short Stories •••

Got a need for a read you gotta feed? Then the latest addition to our short story collection, "Oddly Mandible" by Neil Rothstein, will surely feed that need-a-read jones! Seriously, this one is quite mad, in the truest sense of the word. Here's what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this pick-of-the-week story: "When there’s nothing left, we’ll have something: we’ll have each other. Then, though, those numbers decrease as well. At some point, somewhere, at some time, the end of everything will be a sexy sight for someone. Silence."

Here's a hit to tease ya’:

“Have we got anything to eat?” she asked, shattering the silence with her jagged crystal voice, “Have we got any fish? I want a fish,” she added, looking at me sidelong, not quite sure of her own motives. Her face was shadowed by the headrest. To me, she seemed like a horse underwater, not struggling but submitting to the environment. In the silence, I realized that she was expecting an answer.

Of course there isn’t any food. We have nothing! I thought for a moment and then shouted, “Obviously there isn’t any food,” somewhat astonished by her question.

She drummed her hands on the dashboard in a rare moment of animation and began to speak in an almost unbroken stream of words. “Then the stuff fell from out my pocket and the woman gawped at my face, proper close, you know, and I thought, what the fuck do I do now? And I was sweating, on the spine line, you know, like that book you read to me, 1984 or something, drippy spine sweat and my thighs felt thickly and I thought, fuck it, I’ll leg it.’’ A brief pause, then in a more melancholic, slower voice, ‘But you don’t, do you? When it comes down to it? It never happens, your feet stick to the floor and that weird coldness that makes you powerless, and I felt tired, really tired, then suddenly, overwhelmingly sleepy, and I could have fallen to sleep right there in the shop, on the pile of cardboard… are you listening? Fucking listen, will you! You’re not even looking at my face—look at my face!”

So I looked at her face and she calmed, somewhat.

Whoa! How will this mad tale end? Guess you gotta click here to get the rest of your fix, huh?


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...

Makin’ Room,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


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