The Best of Mad Swirl : 11.29.14

"Artistic temperament sometimes seems a battleground, a dark angel of destruction and a bright angel of creativity wrestling." Madeleine L'Engle

••• The Mad Gallery •••

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

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we traced the track of an insomniac; we blew the riffs of an actor off his blades; we exalted, selves extracted by starlings and stupid and unstopped life; we nattered another night watch, numb with noise; we gave thoughtful thanks with shirts off for football pranks; we found a soporific sifter, confuser, not loser, night lifter; we bequeathed a bubble of happy chance to deal with desert circumstance. We are wake-talkers, not sleep-walkers. Thankful wielders of each week. ~ MH Clay

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


Battle wary, ready for rest, to shelter.
Close this sorry chapter; relax, restore.

No space to listen, reflect, learn how
we could peacefully heal.
Its all teeth and claws, everyday wars,
every night prayers of repent. Every
penny spent to hold back the blame,
shame, certainty that all paths forward
lead to more of the same.

Earth spins; we want answers that
assure us yes, so wise, we are Messiah’s promised.

Wealth of starlight, bed of Earth.
Every miracle seeking birth.
Behold, welcoming evening lights,
drowsy trees, cozy homes, familiar rites.
Abundant feasts, merry meets, gift of returning friends.
Deeply desired peace, belonging, generous amends.

I send you a bubble of better days.
Ease of peace in contemplation, bliss of
transcendent imagery, artful conversation.
Feel complete
if only for this moment.

Caught up in days’ parade; now take it in.
Peaceful moments safe with friends and kin.
Joys of open grace, sad tinge of loss.
Simple blessings, call of goals beyond.

Taste the bittersweet of long accumulated earth,
carbon bonds descended through time and dust.
Skeletons broken to rebuild from waste
carry potential energy into ancient deserts that tomorrow
we learn to bloom.

- Laurie Corzett

(1 poem added 11.29.14)

editor’s note: From this wasteland will come blooms in the desert. Poetry is prophecy! - mh

Night is lifting out

Night is lifting out
like some kind of stain
and here I sit
between the entrance and exit
of the sky
I exist in this place
in the overlap
that binds the drift and the rise
I am most comfortable
in such lukewarm confusion
where nothing found
is what it seems
and everything lost
will reveal itself and be restored

- Bekah Steimel

(added 11.28.14)

editor’s note: We await, after loss, the joy of finding; the angst of anticipation. - mh

Shirts and Skins (Thanksgiving Mornings)

Maze-fed country boys pray to one god on game day
before televised tradition, when morning games pre-game adulthood.

By late afternoon’s traditional feast, all will be NFL MVPs.
Super Bowls, not equations, couplets, complex histories or simple metaphors
inspire, only giving thanks to bodies maintained to be entertained.

Balls, the hopes of inner-cities—it’s the same as for country rats
raised on Nike and gravy-laced overtime heartbeats,
time spent dreaming about being the sexiest men dead or alive.

Some boys savagely skin themselves, demanding nudity with
Gatorade-stained mouths, cornucopias of curse words.

Shirts and skins!—the death sentence of fat children.
Running, like swimming, is safe in a shirt: no one knows what’s underneath—

Games are wars, and boys know bodies don’t matter, only the body count
over grass the color of badly born babies born to be picked last.

Savages and sweat-dressed saviors pretend to play
with knuckles the color of Sun Dancers, the game is everything
we were born to be and be thankful for.

- Tyler Malone

(1 poem added 11.27.14)

editor’s note: On Game Day, it's the winners who give thanks; the losers wash the dishes. (This Thanksgiving Day missive comes from our own Short Story Editor and poet, Tyler Malone. Hey, Tyler! Thanks!) - mh

the sun is a secret legend in the dark

on nowhere's edge
the blinds let in

a runner
of moonlight

like some old movie
we forgot we loved again

the deep regularity
of your breathing

tells me you
may really be asleep

our neighbors are

branches on windows
and tongues

against the gin
writing and writing

i am numb with
silent noise

you roll in
to me

and i
am lost

- Paul Koniecki

(3 poems added 11.26.14)

editor’s note: In the mid of night, the sun is only a story. A warm body is real. (Paul will be our feature poet at Mad Swirl Open Mic, next Wednesday at The Absinthe Lounge. See two more of his new mad missives on his page; come out next week to hear him read - maybe some of these.) - mh


There are things that make you come out of yourself:
starlings suddenly swooping up out of the trees,
scared off by car horns and four-letter words,
or it was just collective urge to write
out visual grammar gone berserk:
all dots and commas and asterisks
gone crazy against the sky.

Startling from our point-of-view,
usual from theirs.
Together a thing that makes you come out of yourself.

There are things that make you get over yourself:
“Why do cars keep losing their tire lids on the
side of the road?” “Can you imagine that
for me and describe it really good so
I can imagine it too?” And “You
can be stupid but only if you
let me be stupid with you.”

Startling from our point-of-view,
simple from theirs.
Together a thing that makes you get over yourself.

There are things that turn your selfdom inside out:
when a fellow says he almost met his maker,
and weeps not from fear of losing his wife
(or his life), but from shock and awe of
almost meeting his maker; would your
heart rip out of its bag of bones to
catch up to this kind of love?

Startling from our point-of-view,
humbling from his.
Together a thing that turns your selfdom inside out.

- Beth DeSeelhorst

(2 poems added 11.25.14)

editor’s note: Surprises come from within when awakened by happenings without. (We welcome Beth to our crazy confab of Contributing Poets with this submission. See another awakening poem and other madness on her new page - check it out.) - mh


One of my actors
in my Original Theater
roller bladed
to his audition
he had tunnel vision
of his lines
with an eidetic memory
so I kept my eye on Adam
he left us
for the Big Apple
since I had no funds
to pay him for his worth
then went to Hollywood
and became a star
but when I needed him
he always came back
to us in roller blades
until he fell off
listening to Coltrane.

- B.Z. Niditch

(1 poem added 11.24.14)

editor’s note: In this screenplay, the story writes itself in roller blade time; actors speak in jazz riffs. - mh

Long Wait

A swim at the beach by night
and a bottle of cheap ‘Port’.

Beans and weenies at the hotel.

The muted sound of a Sax from
an open window across the alley.

An orange moon begs to share
light despite the drawn curtains.

Love lies dying in the dark
she exhales like a deflated balloon.

Alone now—

Once again, fighting the long
wait until dawn.

Out of drink…
Out of smokes…
Out of luck.

Losing the fight thus far.

- S. A. Gerber

(added 11.23.14)

editor’s note: "All good things come to those who wait!" say those who got what they waited for. - mh

••• Short Stories •••

Who’s hungry for some words? Although “Big Thanksgiving Snow” by Donal Mahoney was apropos for this past Thanksgiving, the message it delivers is timeless.

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this pick-of-the-week story: "Come, let us celebrate at the table of humanity this season. All seasons, for everyone. That could be Heaven: putting food into your body while you allow others to live in your heart."

Here's a taste whet your reading appetite:

…At eighty Mrs. Day is legally blind with one good leg. She has a staff of her own to help her walk to stores and then back to her little house. The staff is at least a foot taller than she is. It was a gift from a now dead neighbor who was handy with tools and liked to carve and whittle. Mrs. Day needs that staff this Thanksgiving Day as she makes her way through drifts of snow, an unusual amount for this first big winter holiday.

With nothing in the fridge except old bread and prunes, Mrs. Day hopes to find a diner open. Even Jack in the Box is closed for Thanksgiving so there will be no coffee with a Breakfast Jack to go but Mrs. Day has time today to find one place that is open. And she knows that one place will probably be Vijay's Diner, where she's a customer on days when every other place is closed.

Vijay came to the United States long ago when Mumbai was still Bombay. He cooks for everyone every day of the year, whatever God they worship or ignore...

Tasty, right? Wanna keep feasting? Then move your mouse right here!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl & Swirve this 1st Wednesday of December (aka 12.03.14) at 8:00 sharp, when we will swirl it up madly in the LIVE way that we've been doin' every month now for OVER 10 years! This month we close out of 2014 season with one of the most electric and eclectic poets and performers we know, Paul Koniecki! We never know what kind of madness he will swirl up for us but we do know it's gonna be a show you do not want to miss.

After our feature set we urge you stick around to get yourself a spot on our list... first come, first on the list! Which means... get there early!

Come one, come all! Mad poets, musicians, actors, singers, circus freaks and Elvis impersonators... come-n-strut-yo-stuff. Come to participate. Come to appreciate. Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call Mad Swirl. RSVP (via Book’o’Faces) to get you a spot on our mic list here!

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

January: Rob Dyer & David Parham


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


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