The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.31.15

“I need this wild life, this freedom.” Zane Grey

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Glam Slam” (above) by featured artist William Zuback. To see more Mad works from William, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we received reconciliation made 'tween a great father's butler and a whispering shade; we withdrew as requisite provider from a hard-core consummate backslider; we fell confused as ignorant fodder, invaded by an unnamed, insidious squatter; we shed our singular semblance for ageless age and common remembrance; we scraped a star, a narcissistic streamer, a non-nattered note to an imbecilic dreamer; we stripped a king sadly, chased a rabbit, cleared a corner, cocked justice madly; we were granted a glimpse, a stolen glance, into a poet pilfering underpants. Holy, holy! The pen is holy! The words are holy! Reading is holy! Everything is holy! ~ MH Clay

My Underpants

I found them on the bathroom floor
after my cousin and her boyfriend
left for Ithaca. They were green
with gold stripes and they weren’t
mine. I stood there for a long time
considering them. They weren’t
dirty but they weren’t exactly clean
either. They were unwashed.
But they weren’t unclean the way
a dead bird is unclean, or the way
an unsanctified thing or an unholy thing
is unclean. I picked them up, and did I
smell them? I want to say I smelled them.
I may have smelled them because
they weren’t unclean and they were undoubtedly
my cousin’s boyfriend’s and he is a good man,
not a holy man but a good man with a good
job in Ithaca, New York and an excellent beard.
Of course I thought about returning them,
sending them back in a mailer or small brown box,
and I thought about washing them,
though they weren’t mine and they weren’t
unclean, only unwashed, and they weren’t
sexy, only colorful. They were more colorful
than all of my underpants put together.
You will want to know I am wearing them
as I write this. Much time has elapsed
since that day in the bathroom. My cousin
and her boyfriend have gotten married.
I have gotten married myself. My wife
has no idea about the provenance
of the green underpants. She thinks they are mine.
She washes them with my underpants
and her underpants, and she puts them all
in a sweet-smelling pile on top of the dresser.
I think there is something a little holy
about a pile of clean underpants on top of a dresser.
I think that putting them away in a drawer
would be like putting your light under a bushel,
or like locking a bird up in a cage,
or like packing up a good green thing
in a small brown box
and sending it far, far away from you.

- Paul Hostovsky

(2 poems added 01.31.15)

editor's note: Her: What were you wearing under there? Him: Under where? (Another mad missive from Paul on his page; the only question - check it out!) - mh

Silly Rabbit

It’s kind of a silly mess
the rabbit went deep in his hole
so I followed
with carrots in tow
to choke the illusion
and rape all conspiracy
with madness and justice for all

King Nothing is naked
an empire dethroned
run to your corners
all lies are exposed

- Scott Thomas Outlar

(added 01.30.15)

editor's note: It's a brisk run in the naked day when attired in illusion. Keep your corners clear! - mh

Note To Self

You thought
not a thing, but mélanges, miasmas, mishmashes
with surrealism under your breath, loud skunk of drug
in exhalations of the foolish sublime, irrational
little figments of imagined greatness that blossomed,
blooming idiocies like black orchids, orchestras
senselessly burning-down your tricks with the screech
of a bow. Who are you,

imbecilic dreamer? From what womb have you most lately
arrived? Palls of natty high-rises, scatalogically scatting-out
your identity for how long? Hipsterish hysterics howling
as you snort the white lines of magical illusions
you may be free as a poet? Who, really,

do you think you are? Conked-out and dreamin’, yeah, you,
fingernails scraping on a star until its Van Gogh sunshine
runs in mawkish directions? Tripping on Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s
“Disbelief in Yourself Is Indispensable”? “While you’re alive
It’s shameful to worm your way into the Calendar of Saints….”
Oh man. Holy Sovieticus, the ethic

of vice-grip women and the gente of genitalia. You, too,
dance invitingly on your airs of dictatorial empowerment and
of course your canto Italiano—which is not real.
Oh Chicago, city of strong thigh muscles, do me like me.
Oh Vancouverite vassal-whores of self, endlessly written in
the bathroom mirrors of your dreams. Write-down, swing low,

- Addie Soaraki

(1 poem added 01.29.15)

editor's note: Sort your self-indulgent narcissisms from your poetic proclivities. Miasma, indeed! (Addie has contributed many mad missives to our Short Story Forum. With this, he joins the ranks of our Contributing Poets, as well. Well done and well come, Addie!) - mh

On Looking In

A sweet semblance of maturation seeps
from the pores of a teenaged girl who,
only after the awkward exchange
of buying tampons from a CVS clerk
(a family friend), wonders if instances
of seemingly singular embarrassment
are shared elsewhere.

What of growing older?
Showering with colder nights,
singing songs of pompadoured idols
who are singing back, but not for her,
nor anyone she knows.
All this quickly manifests,
bleeds like leaked mascara
on a phony marble desk.

Tests taken and flunked
from evenings spent tasting
someone else’s brain,
defining passion as this
fallen angel who has feasted, too,
on the mortal fruits of fuck and fondle,
subscribed to the belief
that when carnality is homework,
algebra can occupy itself

I have known this brain only
to be a pale orchid,
a little lesion on plant-stem,
exasperated by seasons’ worsts:
a ceaseless summer heat,
winter snow that does not melt.
It is only between,
in the mild months
of clouds and tepid rain,
when pain is understood
as no longer singular,
but a pivot on which
we spend our spins,
and it is only after this
that we can graduate
to agelessness.

- Scott Wordsman

(added 01.28.15)

editor's note: Learning from lust to achieve a degree of agelessness. Ah, sweet school! - mh


Has crept into the house with us.

There were a few rooms free
And we thought about renting them out
Easy money and easier
But something else has made its way in.

We are trying to decipher when it entered
Maybe we left the doors unlocked
We did not board the windows
Either way, it is our fault.

We wonder where it is –
We only feel its jellyfish presence
It is in our atmosphere
But we wonder where it lay down its foundation
And all of our grave stones.

We wonder about the stages
But there are too many words and
Each answer halts at a question.


The flowers are rotting and it is not even the season
Something has crept in and it enjoys
Gore and needles, the package.

We grasp at means to feel a sense of control
Something spreads like the plague.

I was told that my grandfather summoned us all to his grave,
I was told it meant something –
Perhaps this something is it.

Has crept into the house with us
And it is taking my grandmother.

- Alainah Aamir

(1 poem added 01.27.15)

editor's note: Perplexed we are, so fallen in, when another one falls out. Whence comes despair? (Congratulations to Alainah! She joins our crazy confab of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page - check it out!) - mh


I watched over her while she kicked dope
sweating and
twitching and
screaming obscenities
“Fuck you and all your holier than though
bullshit, “she said
She promised me
it was going to be the last time
that she would screw up this bad
and who was I to judge?
I tried to drag her from the jaws of death
but she just kept
slipping back

I sat by her at the doctor’s
all the blood and
the pus and
the nose burning stench
as he lanced one abscess after
I had never
seen someone I cared about
in this much pain before
but what choice did I have?
I was trying to pull her from the gutter
but she just kept
slipping back

You know, I told myself
I loved her but I didn’t know
what that word even meant
She was just my new addiction
and the purpose and power I felt
was what was really in my grip
when I thought I was holding
her hand

I listened when she relapsed
as she lied
and she lied
through her teeth
that she was sober, that she
was clean
I didn’t want
to push her out
of my life forever
but that’s exactly what I did
Instead of me, lifting her up
she was only
dragging me down
so I let go of her hands
and watched her disappear
as she just kept
slipping back

- David Rutter

(2 poems added 01.26.15)

editor's note: We try to hold on as along as we can, but sometimes we have to let go of that hand. Such a sad thing... (See another sad but searing strophe on David's page with a link to access his new book, writing as Max Mundan, "Junkies Die Alone" - check'em out!) - mh

The Service Suicides

The American soldier suicides from the Afghan and Iraqi wars have gathered on the porch of the former president’s house in a wealthy neighborhood of Dallas.

They are shades, mostly invisible. The secret service guards are trained to spot what is tangible. The shades wait patiently most of the cool October day until the twilight comes. Finally one steps forward and rings the doorbell.

The shades of suicide do not have the best eyesight, and so when a man answers the door in the late light, they assume it’s the former president.

“Sir,” the shade spokesman says, “may I address you as the Indians do, as the great father?”

The man at the door seems to nod and the shade continues. “We are here, your loyal soldiers now passed, to put your troubled heart at ease, great father. We know that terrible nightmares must haunt you daily over the innocents killed in your two wars. We can’t speak for all, but we–the soldier suicides of your wars--have come to say we have forgiven you, and our families, which have suffered so, will someday in the future, forgive you. Go forward, great father, and live in joy and peace.”

The suicides then leave the porch and float away into the star-filled heavens. Up and up they go, the thousands, like smoke rising from a fire. The man–a butler–walks down to the curb to check the mail. He smiles a little, noticing the flurry of October leaves spin off the wide lawn.

- Chuck Taylor

(added 01.25.15)

editor's note: Great fathers are oblivious to what their butlers know; service men to service man. - mh

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read… or two? Our short story queue is still bursting at the seams. Yes, blessed we be that these fine writers are sharing their word wares with us! So, on that note…

Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about the first pick-of-the-week super short-short, "The Weary Enforcer” by Kleio B: "All you can hope is that there’s some humanity beneath the actions of monsters."

Here's all 98 mad-nificent words:

Her hands hurt. With great effort she whipped them. Born in the family of enforcers, she was destined to live cruelly and punish offenders. The queue of little labours persevered with their burdens, sometimes their backs broke with the weight. She would strike the poor creatures until they shrieked in action. With the advent of winters, she became brutal. There was less time and more to gather. Queen Ant wished to show her gratitude to her subjects, but protocol demanded otherwise. She cursed her obligations as she thrashed the weary ant that had dropped the granule of sugar.


Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about the second pick-of-the-week tale, "A Kentucky Derby Hat in the Hay Maze” by Kasra Omid-Zohoor: "The spontaneity and oddness of people and the lives we all lead, that’s where real adventure is found. The mystery of the little things are what’s grand."

Here's a splash:

photo by Tyler Malone

At this hour, we had the hay maze all to ourselves. Guarding the entrance stood a gang of white pumpkins on a bed of scattered straw. Tower rested his foot on the largest one as he pointed to Katie's milk colored Kentucky Derby hat.

"You wanna put that wedding cake in the car?" he asked.

"No, watch me beat you guys with it on," she said.

Tower laughed just once, then his phone rang and he walked off to answer it.

"So you guys have animals growing up out here?" I asked.

"Yeah, and we had horses but we had to sell them all when my parents got divorced."

I didn't say anything for a moment, until I said, "I'm sorry."

"It's fine. My Dad worked for an oil company, so he took international assignments after that. I got summers in Norway and Brazil."

"Cool," I said.

"Hey, don't tell Tower since he's, like, my boss now."

I nodded as Tower returned. On the count of three, we shot off through the hay maze in different directions. As my path grew darker, I began running my fingers along the parched straw walls. Soon, though, I reached a dead end, but on the other side I could hear waves crashing. I spun around, made two quick right turns, and then ran out onto the beach.

Catch the whole wave here!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of February (aka 02.04.15) at Dallas’ Absinthe Lounge at 8:00 sharp, when we will swirl it up madly in the LIVE way that we do every month now for OVER 10 years! This month we will be featuring mad genius guitarist and swirlin' songwriter David Crandall!

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... 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!

For folks who live out of town but would still like to view our mic madness, we'll be capturing the swirlin' scene LIVE via our Mad Swirl UStream Channel.

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:

March: Harry McNabb
April: Merlin the Magical One
May: Opalina Salas, Maggie Smith, Desmene Statum
June: Brendan McCormack
July: John Kelly & Stefan Prigmore


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’ Wildly Free,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor


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