“Now” (above) by featured artist Brett “BA” Ardoin. To see more Mad works from Brett, and our other contributing artists, please visit our Mad Gallery.
“If a guy’s got it, let him give it.” ~ Benny Goodman
••• The Poetry Forum •••
This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we met a man mole with an ass whole; we remembered our fallen, furled in flags; we reminisced on Summer’s bliss; we watched moon preside o’er night’s demise; we turned away from Winter’s tug to recall Autumn, warm and snug; we snatched at strings from apron to kite; we bought a book of words to rhyme with life. A wondrous week of remembrances, written to make us strong. ~ MH Clay
OCCURRENCE IN THE BOOKSHOP
for a very long time
i wanted to have a dictionary of synonymous words
simple reason – i want to know more
and it offers you an opportunity to speak just like you’re castin’ a spell
few days ago
i visit a bookshop
and while wandering there
i see the book i wanted for so long:
Caravanskiy’s Practical Dictionary of Synonyms,
And so i take this book
and go to the salesgirl
and she looks just like i feel:
– pencil skirt
– no bra
(but i saw the book called “Bra” near her)
And she smiles to me A LOT
in different manners:
– mock smile, shy smile, grateful smile, playful smile
and this famous enigmatic smirk
– she smiles so much – you can draw a study of smiling from her
– she has this strange presence
you know – something in her style that shows me
– there must be a Pulp song in the air
so i give her the book –
and she says:
“one moment, i’ll go to the backroom and look for another copy…”
She goes there
and resumes the conversation:
years ago –
when i was in high school –
i hated dictionaries
and always tried to tear them to pieces
and then kindly reassemble them into something more pleasant to me
you know – chaos reigns”
and i say “yeah, i know that”
and she laughs and returns from the backroom with another copy
and continues talking while holding the book before me:
“you know –
i still think
they make you go in circles
instead of moving forward –
i know it’s not my business
but i can have a certain kind of influence on your vocabulary experience…”
And so she takes a bottle with a blow-gun
and perfumes the book with some dizzy flavor
And then she gives it to me and says “Have fun”
indeed i have – A LOT –
I can’t flip a page without smelling it
and gettin’ really dizzy.
BUT i think it’s all right.
Now reading this dictionary is like diving
You need to hold your breath
You have a very limited amount of time
And you need to stay very focused –
You need to get to the point – period.
And somehow she knew i needed it.
I guess she got it just by looking in my eyes.
Another tremendous achievement of the kindness of strangers.
A weird manifestation of concern and care.
– Volodymyr Bilyk : May 30, 2015
editors note: Here’s to the joy of continuing education – and book shop smiles. (We welcome Volodymyr to our crazy confab of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay
Chan chain smoked Camels.
He wore Aqua Velva.
He loved Bebop Jazz.
He was a Marine.
He fought in The Battle of Guadalcanal.
He used to fuck my mother.
My mother was a cunt.
Chan taught me how to fly a kite.
– Larry Jones : May 29, 2015
editors note: A father figure to fly above mommy issues. – mh clay
The leaves sail away.
Time skirts by, spilling over the cracks where
blankness gathers in the bruised cuts.
I start to roll an extra skin upon my flesh,
shaking yellow and gold specks torn out of the sycamore boughs,
flinging the tail ends into dispersed air.
Neither wild veins of winter
nor clover-scented grass take refuge in my bones,
but the startling cold carts off the promise of early autumn warmth
that would draw relief across the nearly frozen pond.
Breaths become tinged with plumes of white cotton,
bleak and dry,
scarfing over the back of my neck
as the last dregs of summer melt into the limbs,
the inner barks, the perennial roots.
Pearl droplets with newly formed shells dance across my head,
coast on pale wings.
I sense and hear the raw congealing,
like fractured earth hardens over shaky ground–
my ankles wade low in transcendental drifts,
where, from their chill-bound delicate turns –
faint, fluttery strains of the autumnal song
yearning for a sunflower summer.
– Lana Bella : May 28, 2015
editors note: Let warm recall thaw frozen bones in impending winter’s now. – mh clay
Sunrise after the Solstice
the stars are gone with the black
without a trace
without footprints to follow
where they fly
starlings are already bright at their perch
singing spells to raise the casing of day
watercolors, salmon and pink, paint
impressions of mountains and cloud-scapes
dreams waiting to be awakened and real
nearby, lumbering shadows flee my room
deserting to the silent hallway
soon, the sun will intercede
the sky be crowned
pure, firm, fearless like fire wild
and there, the slivered Moon, once her own
glory will lose her iridescence
yet, stay at her post
as if she were called to be matron
the sun’s sole pale attendant
– Michael Parker : May 27, 2015
editors note: The daily duel; sun triumphant, subservient moon. – mh clay
My summer pome,
like sunlight off the pavement
hurtin your eyes,
but the trees are singing
and kids in the park
Sometimes I remember
so much about my life
that it seems I’ve
to start over
or at least
with different memories
And despite everything
I think it’s possible
to be free and easy,
like bugs and grass stains,
if you believe
you’ve ever heard
and just go.
– Bud Faust : May 26, 2015
editors note: Dealing from a deck of shuffled memories; every hand, a new beginning. – mh clay
Johnny Never Came Marching Home Again
Johnny never came marching home again
But he did return.
He arrived in a box with a star spangled
and blood striped flag, draped with care.
When Johnny didn’t come marching home again (so long, so long)
They gave him a funeral welcome then (so long, so long)…
A warrior’s funeral.
Complete with a 21 gun salute,
a lonesome rendition of
Taps, and a
consolation flag. The same flag that came draped on Johnny’s
The boys held back tears, the men stood tall,
The ladies, one by one they called…
They mentioned Johnny’s name on the news.
They remembered his life and honored his memory.
They said they would always remember their hometown hero.
They all felt the loss
when Johnny didn’t come marching home.
Johnny didn’t enlist to be a cog in the great war machine.
But he knew the ultimate price
might have to be paid
when he raised his right hand and said:
“I, Johnny Citizen, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
When his Country called, he did his duty.
With a lump in his throat and with pride on his side,
Johnny went off to fight.
Let reverence and remembrance reign this day (so long, so long)
Remember the ultimate sacrifices made (so long, so long)…
He prayed every day he awoke alive,
and doubly so at night,
to live to fight another day, so help him God.
God was there on Johnny’s lips as he took his final breaths.
So were the fading memories of home.
So were mom and dad.
So were brother and sister.
So were friends and lovers.
And so was this final scene –
A warrior’s funeral.
Complete with a 21 gun salute,
a lonesome rendition of
Taps, and a
This is what Johnny saw as he looked up
at foreign skies.
He never asked why.
He knew this was his time.
He knew this was his duty.
Johnny said his last prayer
and his final goodbyes.
No fanfare, no fame.
Just another life given,
a sacrifice made
in this deadly game
So may we do our patriotic part (so long, so long)
Be grateful and thankful for this warrior’s heart (so long, so long)…
And remember the meaning of this day,
When all the Johnny’s didn’t come marching home.
– Johnny Olson : May 25, 2015
editors note: Here’s to the day when no new boxes come home, no new flags are draped and folded, no new tears are wrenched from newly aching hearts. Thanks to Johnny O for these Memorial words! May we learn, at last, to practice war no more. – mh clay
*[Enter a] Laid back “Chia-Pet” from way back… (Face plant)
I ate off of con men like “no trade back” place mats.
From Gabe’s moon’s orbit to dark projects morbid
there’s no forfeit.
“…Get absorbent or get to being corpses…”
I’m as horrid as foreign… Check the pass portage.
“Call security Doug!”
(No part’s part of your club.)
If I was made in Taiwan, my guidon would fly on
a pillar of “hi Moms,” Micro minded. (Mental ion)
I’m on, but not on my own shit, like shape shift
“Nay say and intake eight dicks!”
I can see they hate this…
…can’t fade this… (No chop shop)
Eraser faces get nibbled on like hot wings or pork chops.
(Ride on by at 9:09.)
“My oh my… Why oh why?!?”
*Animal farm [and] Caesar’s got a clever trying to dine on swine.
My life story’s an allegory
and so gory. [It’s] Animorphing.
I’m left to find the room to make them ambulatory.
I’ve got every piece flat of my bright orange race track.
Even the round-about that I stole from the kid around the way. (Man…)
…In other words I’m all in…[I] Missed the boat but crawled in…
…Doggy paddled my way passed my grave
while greased wheels spin.
I low fived Poseidon.
*Ray Liotta style
“Good looking out though…”
My name isn’t Johnny but the pipes keep calling me out though.
*Smashing high notes (like I was an alto.)
“…The tight rope’s far from parallel.” (I’ll be damned if I fall though…)
“This shit sucks!”
[It] Grasps at straws like greedy love birds…
*[Enter] the rather burly fury of Mother Hubbard
*Expose the gun show
(with romance novel structure –
– I’d prefer to keep the main attraction under covers –
– to tickle imaginations)
Imagine your infatuation.
You probably picture me as an amber jaded animation.
Slice antiquated magazines for jagged placement
[of] collaged features, just don’t expect any affirmation.
I’m a virtuous patient staying patient because it’s a virtue.
I’ll hurry up and wait, nod along like I really heard you,
ignore the curse clues and even except the absurd, too.
(Just don’t ask me to accept that my life decisions concern you.)
There’s not a piece of me that will reside peacefully
in a scenery as passive as the greenery.
Equally, I feel a fool while out of touch,
being a black smudge and throwing my hands up.
Passed what was once my goals.
Passed my prime (passed warm) like ash coals.
[I] look like a man. (With a crab’s soul.)
“Ass hole?” – I’m a whole ass that laughs bold.
“Mole man?” I’m deeper then Marilyn Monroe’s
[I’m a] Cave creature wearing a skull that’s apparently gold.
[Wielding] An obsidian limb conditioned to carry and hold.
*Wave it at the prime meridians of invalids (who go –
too far from their homeland of “do what you’re told.”)
[I’m] Proud actions mixed with passion.
If you get to clashing, I’ll get my can of whoop-ass and
*Punch meat (like Rocky Tiger Eyes.)
…Hit you where my lighter lies and leave you seeing stars like fireflys.
“’Bout time to retire”
*I pack up my crops in a box
(I call them props and load them up on a packing mule or an ox)
– Vincent Olson : May 24, 2015
editors note: A lot to pack in a box here; crazy meandering ox here. – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
Need-a-Read? “Echoes” by A.K. Sartor sure packs quite the emotional punch in just under 1,000 words.
Here is what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this pick-of-the-week tale: “The last person on the planet will still look at a dead black telephone and hope it won’t ring, and that’s happiness.”
Here’s a couple hundred bites to tease you with:
photo by Tyler Malone
Ralph got the phone call around 3:00 pm. The sun was at that place in the sky where it always seemed to hit his eyes the hardest. He had gone inside to take the call, a welcome relief from the afternoon heat. The relief didn’t last long. The voice was dripping with prepackaged compassion, and the official tone made the message seem all the more empty. After hanging up, there was nothing he could do but walk back into the heavy summer air waiting for him outside.
Ralph went to the front of his barn, which seemed so big and empty. Bales of stacked hay loomed over the entrance-way like somber prison guards. He began to intently pace the aisles, unsure what he was looking for, but sure it was there, somewhere. The pens were vacant, the wood rotted. He tried to remember the last time he heard a noise in the barn, a sign of vibrant life. He could not. Traces of the animals remained; food troughs with scattered feed left clinging to the corners, stains on the floor that never quite got wiped up, stray hairs and clumps of fur that obstinately stuck to the gates.
Ralph looked up into the rafters. The barn seemed so tall, so hollow—like an ancient cathedral, a taunting reminder of the faith he had lost. Not even a crow cawed in the dusty gloom. This was not the barn he had once seen as his refuge. It couldn’t be, and it never would be again.
As he left the darkness of the barn, Ralph cringed against the glare of the sun, lifting a weathered hand in front of his face. He began walking, past the fields of lonely horses and angry cows, past the future miscreants of neighbor children, past the dirt road that went to nowhere.
He stopped at the simmering and stagnating pond, staring at the algae growing on top—a cruel imitation of life. Mosquitoes and gnats swarmed the area, transforming the pond into a toxic zone; like a vat of boiling acid rather than the peaceful body of water it had once been. The stones lining the pond resembled death row prisoners waiting for their execution, peering in, searching for the ones who had gone before them.
Get the rest of your read on here!
••• Mad Swirl Open Mic •••
Join Mad Swirl at the NEW Absinthe Lounge this 1st Wednesday of June (aka 06.03.15) at 8:00 sharp, when we Swirlers & Swirve will whirl it up madly in the LIVE way that we do every month now for OVER 10 years! This month we are featuring Irish poet, writer, & McMad man, Brendan McCormick (via Skype)! If you haven’t had the pleasure to catch Brendan on the Crazy-Frantic-Transatlantic-Mad Swirl-Up’s we’ve done in the past, you are in for quite the McTreat! To say the quality of craic is gonna be thru the roof is an understatement…
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 & other miscellaneous loco locals… 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.
P.S. If you can’t be here LIVE, you can view the whole show via our Mad Swirl UStream Channel! Just click here at 8:00pm (CST) and watch the mic madness swirlin’ live.
P.P.S. AND, as you may or may not know, every 1st Wednesday we get all giddy with the swirlin’ madness. Here’s who we will be featuring next month:
July: John Kelly & Stefan Prigmore
August: PW Covington
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…
Short Story Editor