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“Perfectly ordered disorder designed with a helter-skelter magnificence.”
Emily Carr

featured poems

Catch my plea

What is with all "that light"
For just another ordinary day
How in the world can it end this way
No warning, no nothing
And there I lay
Not breathing
A heart gone silent
And "that light"
It cannot be
I am not ready
This has to be a mistake
I thought I had time yet
To clean up my act
To wipe off my slate
I've repeatedly wronged myself
The horror show of my transgressions
And a closet load of skeletons
Have been plenty cruel to me
Someone, anyone
Catch my plea
Can I live it over
Do it right, do it better
Try and make amends
Get another chance
Go back once

- Arif Ahmad

(1 poem added 12.19.14)

editor’s note: Everyone wants a "do over." Better done now, than regretted later - forgive yourself. - mh



Darkened skies,
thickly smeared
with petrified cries
go unheard.
Mopped up,
snuffed out.
Eaten up with
screams of hell.

torment reigns
Fists hammering
pent up fury
no mercy strikes
countless blows
where they land.

Smashing skulls
and houses alike,
rage has no preference,
let loose,
rips trees from
their roots,
torsos tossed up in the air
Nothing escapes
the wrath of war
once claws are in,
sunk deep, embedded,
shredding every last ounce of life.
Red slashes
the torn up skies
hanging on but
with a ribbon.

All life removed
war dies down too
nothing left to fuel his fury.
Lies down upon
his blackened bed,
falls into restless sleep.

Death escorts
the shell-shocked
nerves scattered
ashen everywhere
dust settles down
on hollowed ground.
nothing left
bar one lone ribbon.

Hanging loosely
tied yellow.
Barely holding on

To a single thread
of hope.

- Tina Clowes Kay

(added 12.18.14)

editor’s note: A wisp of life remains, in spite. - mh



He holds down a factory job
so he can keep the farm.
Early morning,
he punches in twice,
once via hands squeezing cow teats,
the second with a yellow card
slotted into an old gray time clock.

He's a weary man
after a hard day on the assembly line,
a twilight in the tractor saddle,
plowing up the earth and gravel.

He could toss it in any time,
move to a tiny town apartment,
but the farm was in the family
when there was no town.
And under the bed,
there's a box of photographs,
faded glossies of watching eyes.

On Sundays,
it's church
and visiting his wife's grave.
God's no help,
Clara's dead.
It's a day of rest
with a hole in the middle.

- John Grey

(1 poem added 12.17.14)

editor’s note: To look upon this life as "plight" robs us all of hope and light. - mh


The Willow

Weeping willow
Hanging low
Over a pond.
Water so deep
But the water don’t flow
Graveyard silent
No ripple to see.
Bugs won’t fly
Over the absolute quiet
Bubble of restrained time
Breathless, bereft
Could the willow
Be crying for me.

- Steve Roberts

(added 12.16.14)

editor’s note: Man-tree hyperbole; tree-man empathy. - mh


a night in Venus

death is close
acquire the frilled wings
of a winter moth
      and meet me
      in Venus

let’s build
a borough with our hands
on the narrow bed
of our bodies
then turn off the lights

- Sergio A. Ortiz

(added 12.15.14)

editor’s note: Death ever close, safe haven built; can't die with the lights on. - mh



One snake sleeps in the forest, by the lake
The other in my bed

One snake knows everything but cannot move
The other knows how to read newspapers

One snake wonders how the moon will shatter
Across our desert
Across our reservoir
An implied destiny followed like a june bug toward the porch light

The cactus wonders
How long it will have to hold the water

Is it really suffering
If pain is forgotten
Or remembered differently

Or loved

When it is loved
The snakes are neon

Land beyond the carnivorous acid burn of Austin
Slither across America
And Eurasia and Ireland and Holland

There will be a bear who will come and break the ice shelf

There is a june bug who will look for light

There is sand in the engine

- Cheyenne Gallion

(3 poems added 12.14.14)

editor’s note: Snake as noun, adjectivally colored. Snake as verb, our winding path in a motionless machine. (See two more mad missives from Cheyenne on his page; them and this, a tripping trifecta - check'em out.) - mh


Running into old lovers

She almost didn’t know who I was,
‘Tony!’ she exclaimed!
She couldn’t believe it was me.
“Your hair!” she mourned ruefully
“Yes, I know, it’s going!”
We're so old now, she says,
I follow her and her friends to a bar,
Off Lower Greenville,
We stay outside and smoke and catch up,
She can’t take her eyes off my head.
“Does it look that bad?” I ask.
“No!” she’s embarrassed, “I just…
Your hair was so perfect”
We talk about life,
She’s done with school,
Berates me for never going back,
She almost had a kid,
It was a miscarriage,
She feels it was for the best, but
It does hurt some days,
We talk of our times together,
The day we got into a fight because I
Didn’t know how to change a tire.
Alongside an empty back road
On our way home from San Antonio,
Which led to us fucking in the back seat
When a highway patrol car pulled up,
I got a ticket,
You laughed.
You said it was because the old man was jealous.
Me, mad that I was charged for lewd behavior and
You weren’t.
You initiated it.
You had the better job and could pay your ticket.
I eventually had to go sit mine out.
She laughs,
Her friends come back out,
To check on us,
I don’t think they like the fact she talking to a man,
But what do they know, they have no inkling
Of our past together, unless she told them,
When I wasn’t looking,
It all happened so fast, us running into each other,
Last I heard she was moving to Seattle
To work at a radio station.
We talked for so long, her friends had to leave
And I offer to take her home.
She agrees after some protest,
She’s staying back at her mom’s,
Her mom loved me,
We’re not in the car for long,
Before were up to our old tricks again,
Spontaneous love making is the best kind of love making,
It keeps you on your toes,
It lets you know you’re alive and still
Can rise to the occasion.
At a moment’s notice.
You still got it, I tell myself,
She rubs her fingers through my thinning hair
And whispers, "You were my Alexander"
Long ago,
We would stand naked in her bathroom
And admire one another in the mirror,
And she’d whisper those same words in my ear
Without the were, but you are,
"You are my Alexander,"
And I’d say back,
"You are my Cleopatra,"
I kiss her neck after she’s finished
And that’s when I see it
The lights in the back windshield and
A police officer approaching the car,
Flashlight in hand.
And we laugh.

- R.A. Hernandez

(1 poem added 12.13.14)

editor’s note: Alexander and Cleopatra; an epic tale with the full complicity of law enforcement (after the fines were paid). - mh

Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum

welcome to the Mad Swirl poetry forum. we have collected poetry from the maddest poets from the maddest corners of the world and have showcased them here in the forum just for you. this page is in flux, living and breathing, evolving and changing constantly... so please come and come often for the latest submissions. if you would like to submit poetry for the forum please see our submissions page.

staff poets

MH Clay
Cheyenne Gallion *
Tyler Malone
Johnny Olson

contributing poets

Sheikha A.
Haris Adhikar
Arif Ahmad *
Ann B-D
Jhon Baker
Claude Barrett
Amy Barry
Gene Barry
Hem Raj Bastola
Gary Beck
Gayle Bell
Mike Berger
Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Sheighle Birdthistle
Alan Britt
James Brown
Heather M. Browne
Melanie Browne
Sissy Buckles
Arun Budhathoki
Francesca Castaño
Bhargab Chatterjee
Kanchan Chatterjee
Sunya Chavi
Ralph-Michael Chiaia
Quinten Collier
Virginie Colline
Michael Corrigan
Rina Angela Corpus
Laurie Corzett
Hal J. Daniel III
Holly Day
P.K. Deb
Beth DeSeelhorst
Joseph D. DiLella
Paul Donnachie
Jesse Doughty
J.K. Durick
Rob Dyer
Joseph Elenbaas
Neil Ellman
Michael Estabrook
Joseph Farley
Zach Fishel
Ryan Quinn Flanagan
Peggy Flora
Ralph Freda
Taylor Gall
Rafael Andrade Garza
Derrick Gaskin
Silas Gorin
KJ Hannah Greenberg
John Grey *
Jake Grieco
Tobias Griffin
John Grochalski
Kenneth P. Gurney
Alan Halford
Chris Hamilton
Zachary Scott Hamilton
Charlotte Hamrick
Dawnell Harrison
Paul Hellweg
R.A. Hernandez *
Michael Holme
Paul Hostovsky
A.J. Huffman
Clinton Van Inman
Ivan Jenson
Randall Johnson
Jericho Joyce
Santosh Kalwar
Peycho Kanev
Carl Kavadlo
Michael R. King
Kay Kinghammer
Paul Koniecki
Craig Kurtz
Michael Atreides Lair
Elissa Landrigan
Todd Macaulay
Donal Mahoney
Ally Malinenko
Louis Marvin
Brendan McCormack
Catherine McQuade
Silva Zanoyan Merjanian
Bradford Middleton
Steven Minchin
Rose Aiello Morales
Ian Mullins
Polly Munnelly
Gina Nemo
B.Z. Niditch
Chiranjibi Niroula
Lisa Olson
Stephen Page
Jeffrey Park
Irena Pasvinter
Lilly Penhall
Robert E. Petras
Patty Dickson Pieczka
Timothy Pilgrim
Douglas Polk
Nalini Priyadarshni
Christopher Raley
Sam Rapth
Gayle Reaves-King
Roderick Richardson
Pere Risteski
Luke Ritta
Sy Roth
Walter Ruhlmann
David Rutter
Gianni Sacco
Opalina Salas
Paul Sexton
Lisa Shields
Kayla Siobhan
Willie Smith
Desmene M. Statum
Alex L. Swartzentruber
David Thornbrugh
Melani Grace Tiongson
Paul Tristram
Kufre Udeme
Mel Waldman
Anthony Ward
Trier Ward
Harley White
Bill Wolak
Brian Wood
Changming Yuan
Chris Zimmerly

* new entries (12.13 - 12.19)

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