Mad Swirl Open Mic : 02.01.23

Mad Swirl Open Mic : 02.01.23
Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of February (aka 02.01.23) as we continue doin’ the open mic voodoo that we do do at our OC home, BARBARA’S PAVILLION as well as from our Mad Zoom Room (broadcasted via FB Live)! Starting at 7:30pm, join hosts Johnny O & MH Clay as we will kick off these[read more]

The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.21.23

The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.21.23
What is really beautiful must always be true. Stendhal ••• The Mad Gallery ••• "Restless as Driftwood" ~ Bill Wolak To see all of Bill’s wonderfully trippy illustrations, as well as our other resident artists (50 and counting!) take a virtual stroll thru Mad Swirl’s Mad Gallery! ••• The Poetry Forum ••• This past week on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum... we made[read more]

The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.14.23

The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.14.23
Genius unrefined resembles a flash of lightning, but wisdom is like the sun. Franz Grillparzer ••• The Mad Gallery ••• "Unexpected Silence" ~ Bill Wolak To see all of Bill’s wonderfully trippy illustrations, as well as our other resident artists (50 and counting!) take a virtual stroll thru Mad Swirl’s Mad Gallery! ••• The Poetry Forum ••• This past week on Mad[read more]

The Vigorish

We should have a better way of branding
all those things
we find significant and troubling
things that shout to be
ethnic cleansing
the emotional toll overwhelms us
why not think of these things in terms of
so they don’t look so bad, maybe just call them
maintenance or overhead or CAP X
since they are a portion of us
but not the whole

We don’t like reliving
forests scared stiff by lightning and power lines
tidal waves brutalizing our coasts
glaciers de-icing
flotsam from the Ganges the Yangtze the Irrawaddy
the Rio Grande
choking our seas into submission
why not simplify things and
call it the interest come due?

We have better things to do than choke
back tears at what we see
let us apply a mathematical model or
algorithm to what dismays us
since this fraction is so small
a pittance on that ticket to Ravinia
or Fenway Park or Cedar Fair or Orlando
a surtax at the toll booth the box office the gate
where we wait all breathless
for the show to start
all it is is us getting tithed
for our presence here
a service charge
call me lazy or distracted
but I’m getting tired of being reminded that
all these things will not just go away
these mass shootings the third-world skin auction
assault rifles with detachable box magazines
all of which
statistically speaking occupy
a razor-thin measure of our attention
isn’t there a word to lump them all into one
as stuff we have just learned to live with?
there must be

Recently Published

Birthday (Le Quatorzième)

(with thanks to Sara Becker)

What a joy to be alive!
to feel I’ve cheated time
I’ve won, I’ve left my watch

elsewhere in a drawer, in a gilded[read more]


Thank God for clever people, you know?
The mind like an ant hill,
the mind like a box knot,
the mind like a twisted tongue tucked
too far into

the[read more]

When I drink…

When I drink freezing cold water
from the Britta in the fridge, I sit on the edge
of the Pennypack, trailing
my fingers in the water, clouds
swirling overhead[read more]

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

I don't look like a murderer, do I? According to the State, I am. The newspapers think so. Those empty-headed anchors on the local evening news agree. As for social media, I can't even. I know the cards are stacked against me. The killing happened last summer on the outdoor patio at the town's favorite watering hole. I am not sure how this incident started but start it did. The victim was loud and obnoxious. She was also slappy, something of a biter, and known to hit people with a closed[read more]
Story Lines

Story Lines

Mick went out that evening. There was the Purity Restaurant over on 7th Street and 7th Avenue. Mick was a little down on his luck, figured 7, 11…dice, numbers like that. The Purity used to be owned by a couple of Greeks and is now owned by a couple of Italians. It also relocated from Union and 7th recently in 2005 to 7th and 7th, changed the marquee from the color green to the color purple. The new sign is smaller than the older one. As Mick walked in, he noticed a pretty brunette woman, early[read more]
Graves Ville

Graves Ville

It was no small scene when they woke. The dead lay in pine boxes. Decomposing bodies leaked through holes at the bottom of their coffins—maggots had tunneled through contaminated soil and suckled on the evil roots of trees. Worms transformed into snakes. The snakes slithered back into the boxes. They ate at the foul-smelling flesh. Brains left behind bled into roots, circulated, and howled in the branches—their secrets blew in the wind. On Halloween night, the earth shook, caskets broke through the ground in the cemetery, the mindless turned into zombies and[read more]