featured in the poetry forum February 11, 2017  :: 0 comments

If there is a graceful way
to eat a mango,
I don’t know it.

What? With knife and fork?
Clean nibbles, small bites?

No thank you.
I don’t want to know this way
of eating mango.

I choose dripping juices,
slithering slices, slurping.
I choose sticky lips
and sticky fingers
I choose rolling fleshy pieces
between tongue
and teeth.
Sugary sweetness,
mother nature’s eroticism,
dripping wet with nectar.
I choose this mess,
this messy mango mess.

And if there is a graceful way
to live my life,
I don’t know it.

What? With carefulness and preparation?
Clean expectations,
small steps? Safety?
Protecting heart,
offensive, defensive?
Securely closed and airtight
like Tupperware?
No thank you.
I don’t want to know this way
of living life.

I choose sudden gushes of urgent,
red hot revelations,
I choose dripping truths,
slithering epiphanies, slurping.
I choose rolling dichotomies of bravery
and terror,
Bloody battles and ecstatic dances
between heart and mind,
Bitter and sweet
deep blue funks and
spectacular orgasmic
laser light shows of living,
glitter and guts, blues and reds,
resilience and redemption
I choose this aliveness,
this live, uncut, uncensored large
living life,
this hot and oozing holiness.

I choose this mess.
This beautiful mess.

editors note:

We choose it, too! (We welcome this mad missive from one of the founders of this Mad Swirl. Thanks, Lisa!) – mh clay

Fifteen items or less

featured in the poetry forum August 24, 2009  :: 0 comments

standing in the
express checkout lane
i count the items
of the chick
in front of me
just to make sure.
and then my items,
just to be safe
and even his items,
the guy behind me
because sometimes
i’m moralistic that way
and i like to keep
track of things
like that.
and if your items exceed 15,
i will not confront you directly,
or out you publically,
just secretly glare at you and loathe you
and judge you and
project all the bad qualities
i don’t like about myself onto you:
and you’ll know, yes you’ll know that i know.

i look to the magazines
to see Jon and Kate
and i’m trying not to hate –
cuz i feel you, Kate, i do
i’ve been a fucking bitch too,
except i didn’t have the world watching
and waiting with glee me
to see me fall on my face
to point while i fell from grace

i look to the aging hippie with her Birkenstocks
and khaki shorts in front of me, she’s made some
very healthy choices,
i see…
organic skim milk small curd cottage cheese.
whole grain bread, the fancy kind,
i’m talking the five dollars a loaf kind.
for bread. crazy.

don’t tell me- no…
she even has granola in her cart
and now suddenly, she has become a cliché.
and then, from out of no-where
i get this crazy thought.
i didn’t ask for this thought, mind you,
sometimes thoughts just come
and i have this stunning epiphany:

this woman
has a pussy
in her pants.
it’s true! she does!
it blows my mind a little
to think of her bush-
hiding out in there, under her clothes
and i start to marvel at
the wonder of it all.
she even has a clit, just like i do,
and someone maybe gets her off,
although from the looks
of her groceries,
it’s likely she does it herself.
and i have to wonder-
is she trimmed all tidy like a porn star?
or is it hairy, and bushy
like a 70s porn star?
is it big and loose and relaxed,
hanging out like an fat old cat
on the front porch or
small and pretty, contained,
folded neatly like a shirt at the gap?
then i take this further and i look around,
taking in every woman
in the whole goddamned Kroger
and her secret vagina.
it’s crazy! all of us! we’re all standing around
with our vaginas safely tucked away, hidden from view.
pretending they don’t exist.
but they’re there.
and the idea blows my mind,
see cuz usually i go around as if
i’m the only one with a vagina,
like the rest of the world might just have
smooth plastic crotches,
like barbies.

and tonight!
i look around this room
and i am thinking
about the hidden treasures
all around me –
hairy, unruly
overgrown temples, neat, polite and friendly envelopes,
sealed with a kiss… and all the pussies in between…

yeah, that’s right… i’m picturing your pussy.

go ahead, you can picture mine.

and the penises! don’t even get me started on the penises!
that’s a whole other mind trip in itself,
all of ‘em hanging around, dangling all casually,
spying on us from behind their zippers
like hidden microphones… don’t even get me started.

cuz in this moment, ladies, its aaaall
about the vajayjay
sacred sexy,
slick or sticky,
the vagina in me
honors the vagina in you.


SO! back at Kroger,
fifteen items or less,
pussies all around me, all i can do is
marvel at it all…
i start to feel
so alive, so real.
to realize we’re all hiding,
we’re all so covered up
all the time, yet within each of us burns a fire,
lives a soul, beats a heart pumping with hot blood,
our vaginas hidden in secret spaces,
moist and ripe with reality.
i breathe in the sweet magical
truth of it all,
all of us, standing in line, with our hearts
and our cunts and
our souls and cocks
and secrets
and treasures and tongues and tales
and groceries and all i can do
is smile and breeeeathe.

its MY turn now, and
YES I have a Kroger Plus Card and YES
i may have 17 items but three items
are the same cans of stewed tomatoes,
so i count them as one.
and YES i have a pussy
and YES plastic’s okay,
and YES i DID, indeed,
find everything I needed today and then some.

and YES I WILL have a great day…
YOU have a great day, too.


featured in the poetry forum July 10, 2009  :: 0 comments

If I decided
not to struggle
what would there be left
to whine about?

If I decided
not to whine
what would there be left
to talk about?

If I decided to
accept what is
what would there be left
to fight and resist?

If I decided to
surrender my grip
what would there be left
to hold on to?

Yet ease calls to me
coaxing smile, gentleness
showing me another way
and I am drawn
to her grace
and I am tempted
by her promises
and I am tickled
by her possibilities
and she says…

child, you don’t need
to wiggle so…
nothing bad will happen
if you

surprise, surprise!
lo and behold!

all those things
that seemed so
heavy once

all those things
that seemed so
important once

all those things
that seemed so
dreadful once

all those things
that made me feel
so small
and so tired
and scared
and martyr-like
all those sad little stories
and juicy little dramas
and tired little sagas…

all of my Favorite Struggles…

they all
shrink down
to their
actual size

as I step UP
into mine.

(The question is ‘will I’?)

starbucks: five of them

featured in the poetry forum March 20, 2009  :: 0 comments

“fuckin this” and “fuckin that”
they show the world
they are nearly men
by fucking everything…

“mom…” says one,
sheepishly on his cell
“can josh sleep over?”

they’re playing with a lighter now
melting things
laughing in their almost grown voices

boys and fire
boys and their bobbing knees

they are silly
in their newly birthed
not yet broken in
new adams apples
legs skinny hairy
angular sharp
goofy laughs
eating ice
crunch crunch
melting things,
burning things

they are annoying
they are loud.
they are children
playing with fire.

i want to tell them
“grow the fuck up”
i scowl at them
i want
to tell on them.

do they think i’m pretty?


March 20, 2009  :: 0 comments

i do not know
i do not know
i do not know
if i want my lashes defined
or plumped.
i hate having to choose
such a thing
as this.
i do not know
if i want to breathe or
if i want to fold up in myself
like a blooming flower
we all go backward
we all fall down
and what if
and i am here
in the Maybelline aisle
at Target.
(Maybe she’s born with it.)

On the Brink

December 20, 2008  :: 0 comments

Are you ready? Get ready. Get set.


is ablaze in your brain
as you feel its flame
spreading across synapses’ bridges
on the brink of creations
wonders and amazements.


is alive in this room
you can feel its pulse driving;
blood flowing through spirit
on the brink of spontaneous combustion
evolution revolution now.

Are you ready? Get ready. Get set.


moves in mysterious ways, delirious ways…

in a book, in a song…

in a stroke of a brush…

in a piece of poetry that cracks you open
and puts you back together again…

in a perfectly timed twitch of the index finger
capturing the beauty of the moment…

in the sweeping arch of a dancer’s back…

in the final scene
of a barely seen
screen adaptation
of the book written
by the author you love
as the song you crave
plays with words in verses
that you painted
just the other day…

in a gentle kiss that lands directly on your soul’s cheek…

in a closed-eye embrace from your Daddy’s little girl,
in a soul-knowing look from your other half of the sky…

in this moment right here.

Are you ready? Get ready. Get set.


can come
on a cold winter’s breath,
chilling you…

filling you…

almost killing you,
leaving you frozen,
broken and alone.


can come
in drip-by-drop erosions,
in imperceptible ways
when seen from day-to-day
but slowly and surely
weaves its way
into your life
in a canyon
of grand proportions.

Are you ready? Get ready. Get set.

Your change is a’comin’.

Your change is now.

Who ever told you you weren’t enough…

they lied.

Who ever told you you weren’t worthy…

they were wrong.

Who ever told you it wasn’t your destiny to change the world…

they were sadly mistaken.

Are you ready?

You are worthy.

Get ready.

You are enough.

Get set.

This IS your destiny.


is anew in this world
as we feel its birth emerging
growth pushing through reality
on the brink of a new earth.
we are the ones.

Are you ready?

Get ready.

Are you set?

Get set

Are you ready?

– johnny olson & lisa olson

picture of us

October 11, 2008  :: 0 comments

when we were young and beautiful, did we know it?
wild fire in our eyes. we didn’t think of being old,
of fine lines forming creases where the smiles burrowed in
and etched their permanent scars and the eyes lost their fire.
we didn’t think of surgeries and mammograms and
blood pressure and magnesium and vitamin D and
bad backs and aching hips and retirement funds and
why the hell are we waking up so fucking early. without an alarm.
we thought of cocktails, ecstasy, bliss and
of course the eternal dilemma: what to wear.

when we were young and beautiful we didn’t know it.
we wished we were something else- thinner. prettier.
we did not have it in us to say ‘i love being this.’
though now we wish we would have.
when we were young and beautiful we didn’t know what we know now.
we’re learning to love ourselves better than we did,
when we were young and beautiful.
that counts for something, right?
oh the trading, the swapping of this for that, that becomes our reality
we trade our youth for wisdom,
our energy for insight, our restlessness for the solid sense
of living in our own skin, owning our own bodies, knowing our own selves
and liking ourselves way better,
being so much nicer to our still sweet
still tender hearts. growing softer, kinder, older, wiser,

maybe we get to keep the beauty, it just shifts
and evolves into some other kind, of what we didn’t have
the experience to recognize as such,
when we were young and beautiful.
i finally know how to love me.
yet there’s a rip inside when i look at the picture of us
remembering what was and wishing
i would have taken better care of it all
that i would have stopped, and breathed into the realness of it all
“these are days…” we sang, as if
the whole world revolved around us
and it did, yes it did.
we were reckless. selfish. careless.
when we were young and beautiful.
but i bet someday way out there in a faraway tomorrow
we’ll look back at today at our middle-aged today-selves
and sigh ho-hum with an ache in our back, with a sad little smile
and think “oh, when we were young and beautiful…”
but mostly we’ll be glad to be here. still here. very here. we are here.
not young. but still so beautiful.

I’ve Been Thinking…

October 10, 2008  :: 0 comments

I want to live my life better. I’ve been thinking a lot about what my life is becoming and how fast it’s moving and I want to slow it down a little.
I want to appreciate more, feel more, I want to be more, see more, taste more. I want to be able to look back on it all, when I‘m done, and think I’ve lived my life well. I’m trying to connect more, to connect with people, with feelings, with experiences. To not take things for granted. All the wonderful people in my life, all the not-so-wonderful people. They’re in my life for a reason. Why? What can I learn from this feeling, this day, this very moment? I always feel good that I have a lot to offer people in knowing me. But what can people offer me? What could knowing that asshole at work offer me? Can I know myself a little better by knowing this person? Can I understand that he’s an asshole because he didn’t get enough hugs when he was a little boy, and now, as a grown-up doesn’t get any hugs at all? What can knowing the neighbor across the hall offer me? What can I learn from this life?
I’m starting to realize that for as much as I’ve learned, there’s still so much I need to figure out. I’m starting to believe that my soul has been here before. Not this life, not these circumstances, but in this world, and I’m in this life now because my soul has lessons to learn from it before I can move to the next level of Knowing. I read somewhere that the reason we’ve had the painful experiences we’ve had in this life is because our souls needed to learn from them. The reason my parents were so caught up in their own pain and misery, too caught up to really nurture me the way I needed is because what my Soul really needed was to learn to nurture itself. The reason I’ve given birth to this amazing little girl is to learn how precious life is, to learn how to nurture, how to truly give to another person, with no strings attached, in my own hands molding her future feelings about herself, her future hopes and dreams.

I’ve been thinking about happiness. It’s not something I attain- “if only I get that promotion, I’ll be happy”; “If I just get that published, I’d definitely be happy”; “I just need a vacation- then I’ll be happy” It’s not about that, because once you have the “it”, then what? Happiness is something I have to create, inside me, it’s not something I’m going to find in the outside world. And when it’s all said and done, what will really matter? Everything in this world is superficial. Items, possessions, none of these things, in the long run, really matter. I’m learning that what really matters are the feelings, the love, the relationships, the impact your life has had on someone else’s, the things you will leave behind have nothing to do with actual things. Learning these things is helping me live my life better. I’m finally picking up on these Life Lessons (who knows how long my Soul’s been at it?) and this Life School is educating me in ways I’ve never dreamed of. I’m becoming an expert on Me.

The Final Unraveling

October 10, 2008  :: 0 comments

There are mites in my head, there are bugs in my bed and they’re eating away at my brain, and god,
the burn
the burn
the BURN is causing so much pain.
I kick I spit I bang my head to get the monsters out of me
but those fuckers are in my urethra now, they only come out when I pee.
I hear the Man, he says to FIGHT and so I do as I‘m told
and that fucking nurse can’t stop me now, regardless of her restraining hold
and I am done, I’m over now, my credits are rolling on the screen and when I close my eyes I see my mother’s rubbery tits hanging over me.
Do you remember mama’s tits? I think you do, you scum
for no one ever touched my Soul the way my mama’s titties hung.
Everyone here is one of Them, they’ll stop at nothing to get their revenge and I can’t fight it, I can’t hide it, they’re taking over, I’m over, I’m done
and in my bed I moan and cry and pray for Christ to come.

Coming to Terms

October 10, 2008  :: 0 comments

Here is my heart, take it please, it is hazardous to my health and it only seems to complicate my life. I remember you, I remember me, when things were so different, so free. Now things are cluttered, things are jumbled and I long for the clarity of what once was. You’re sitting there so nonchalant as if none of this is happening. Maybe you’re onto something, maybe you’re the smart one, the strong one. It’s probably so, since you are there all smug in your spot, the same spot, and I am just pieces, broken parts of what used to be whole.
It’s better now, though, coming to terms, and I begin to feel less; less intensely, less profoundly, and less is more, they say.
I remember you, do you remember me? I really don’t think you do. This is all you see, all you know and I want to scream. I want to cry, because once upon a time we belonged, and it felt right and its been so long since it’s felt right, so long that feeling wrong is what feels right now. I wish I could be like you, so simple that the complications of our lives don’t even touch you, don’t even come near you and you can still pretend, I wish I could pretend like you.
But I’m the one coming to terms. You’re just sitting there so nonchalant.
Here is my heart, take it please, at least just for a while, so you could feel how it feels to feel, like me.