“The whole mad swirl of everything to come began then” ~ Jack Kerouac
••• The Mad Gallery •••
New Madness Hangin’ in our Gallery!
If the name of our newest featured artist rings a bell it may be because he is no stranger to our lil Swirl. (He also has no affiliation with the American basketball player and shoe salesman/evangelist who happens to share his name… as far as we know;). We bring you Chuck Taylor, Poet, Writer AND Photographer! Chuck recently presented us some visual treats, so specially flavored that they need to be shared. Though the subjects in Taylor’s photographs can at times seem simple – a mailbox, some railing, feet on pavement – they don’t make us feel very simple by looking at them. If anything, the nature of his photos – the contrast of light and dark, hard and soft – stirs up something more, something deeper – and there’s nothing simple about it. We’ve got a feeling that’s just what Chuck intends when he points and clicks his photographic eye, though; all we ask is that he keeps it up, we’re hungry for more already. Are you hungry? Then get your photo feast on! ~ Madelyn Olson
••• The Poetry Forum •••
This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we washed in water, no more to roam, saved by the hope of home; we searched far and wide for the place where childhood heroes hide; we wouldn’t full moon waste to find out how freedom tastes; we lost sight of love to gain a wider view; we sought new light through doors walked through; we left the worst of us, engaged in wholesale exodus; we validated our existence, couched in divine coincidence. Come see, come saw – seven come eleven. ~ MH Clay
PRAYER LINE by Roderick Richardson
The older I get,
The longer this is.
Wanting to save,
But I’m no god, you
Can say I got it
Bound by the chains
Of reality. Looking
Across a field of hope,
Fenced in the end
So, I look up and I…
When (if) there’s good news,
My soul lifts with
As though I had
Something to do
March 12, 2016
editors note: Get him on the main line, tell him what you want. (Damn! No signal out here.) – mh clay
DRZAVE, PARDON GRADOVI by Sabahudin Hadžialić
STATES, PARDON ME, CITIES
In the little town
across the seven seas
lived a small nation.
This nation could fit into one city.
and nowhere else.
At least that’s what little nation’s Emperor thought.
And one day some people left the city.
They were the first to leave.
Followed by the second.
And the third.
Emperor, pardon, Duke
was left alone.
The name of the city ?
perhaps this is a story
of your… city.
March 11, 2016
editors note: Had enough of city, state? Pack it in, expatriate. – mh clay
Darker Doors by Ken Allan Dronsfield
You may live within the storm;
repel the harshest rains.
Dance through it all
feeling less of the blame.
Walk through brighter doors;
unveil a light once again.
Love yourself through it all;
impervious to pain; feeling no shame.
March 10, 2016
editors note: Open the door! There’s light on the other side. – mh clay
Growing by Scott Wordsman
the most beautiful
house keys. You leave
me just enough
awake to watch
– from Poem with Pepper Spray and Bottle Opener by Graham Foust
I’m still in the process of moving,
she said, out. My reply must have
been something like fine because
what other words has a shrug
learned to say? In high school
I fixed my geometry gaze
on that wave of flesh between
belt-loop and back, an ocean
of ivory smashed by a coast
of red or blue or the hue
of the day, sharply enhanced,
because I wore glasses
that I didn’t need––fifteen
from Wal-Mart, dollars
I mean. My stare, though aged,
has not traveled far. This
morning I watched her, storming
and mad, shoving her under-
wear into a sack, followed by
shirts, then all of her books
and a grimace reserved
for what I’ve become, mistakes
I have made; and sad as it sounds,
I would ask for it back––
the protractor days,
uncomfortable lust, and why
I insisted on trying to love
a creature whose penchant
for resplendent lace
I would dream of for hours,
curled up in the shower.
March 9, 2016
editors note: What we can’t call back becomes our growing. – mh clay
2:30 A.M. by Jasmine Davis
The train’s whistle is echoing past my window
and I can’t help but wish it would take me away.
Take me on a one-way adventure, Mr. Conductor.
Get me out of this town.
I want to follow the tracks until we come to an abrupt stop.
I want to watch familiar faces get off at their destination,
as unfamiliar ones take their place.
Look out your gray tinted window at those views!
The sun setting, the moon rising, the countryside.
Let’s spray graffiti across the siding and call it a masterpiece.
We’ll tear holes in our seats until there’s enough to represent our hearts,
And then we’ll bandage them back together again with all our broken parts and call it one.
We can climb to the surface,
Proudly proclaim the wind as ours and let it catch our hair.
This is what freedom tastes like.
Take me away.
Show me all life has to offer
and all it doesn’t.
March 8, 2016
editors note: In those early hours, eager are we to hear the call. “All aboard!” – mh clay
Po by Archita Mittra
In that red-bricked house we don’t call home anymore
There was an attic, where I and my Po
Would play all night in the dust with a brass telescope.
These midsummer nights were long and star-ful, filled with
Orion and Canis Major and other secret names
We made up, that I won’t tell you.
Besides, there was a trunk filled with old and magical stuff
Like a transistor, broken china dolls and some carefully folded things-
Love-letters for someone who never knew how beautiful
Their names could be. Anyway, in that sepia-tinted other world
Of me and my Po, I was a princess of the clouds in a
Dusty gown and Po was whatever my story wanted him to be.
And one day, when he was a Merlin-y magician
In a crumpled top-hat and soiled gloves, I told him
To bring me the moon. And out of the thin golden air
He conjured me this shiny brass telescope. To see the twinkling
Little stars and the castles in the clouds and spy
The wheezy old lady on the moon at the spinning wheel.
Even as my Po spun tales of battles and trenches and starless
Skies and monster rats that ate up all the dead men
In black boots but never ever my Po.
Even as I dreamt of my own secret no man’s land
Among the trail of the stars and smoky nebulas
Over my dust-scented attic sky, just for me and my Po.
So when the smoke rose up, swirling around us
And the rat-flames ate up all the love letters
And my Po became a phantom because he couldn’t run
Fast enough, it was only the rats and mustard gas
I was thinking of-those greenish-yellow fumes and the eating
Of all my Po’s friends but never ever my Po
Because he was invincible. So when my superhero
Died, I waited and I waited for him everywhere, all the time
Day after day, but there was never ever my Po
To claim the eagle-headed walking stick or the paper
Cards I would make or teach me what the golden-little
Button-knobs of my brass telescope did
When I turned them to search far and wide,
Like a knight searching for his distressed damsel
For all the lost things I never ever found.
And even when we moved into new rat-less places
I would say my prayers, like a sincere girl
Dear Lord, please don’t let the rats get me ever..
Forever and Ever. Amen. And then add a post-script
I want my Po, for Christmas, if it’s okay with you
I got A in Arithmetic and didn’t cheat from Sophie
Except the last answer because I really couldn’t spell e-phe-me-ral
And I promise promise never to cheat again if you give me back
My Po from whatever dungeon You’re hiding him in.
But somewhere we all lose the war
We lose the places we’ve called home before
We keep on losing ourselves
And we don’t know if we, at all
And brass telescopes don’t always open up to
The castles and the kingdoms in the clouds
Where my Po is surely trapped, waiting for me to save him.
So I count my stars in my dreams,
That no men’s land of colour and fantasy
Of hope and wish and memory
Where I drown myself over and over again –
A child trapped in a woman who can never give up
Who can never stop mourning.
Even as shooting stars pass me by, I am listening
To a transistor playing a broken tune
Till something switches off.
March 7, 2016
editors note: Rescue our childhood heroes, so they can rescue us. – mh clay
WONDER WORKING POWER by Brian Wood
On any Sunday morning in your mind,
Probably in winter, a man steps in
To a large baptismal font, or as we
Much preferred, tank. “The old now cast away
For the new. The old ways of sin now purged
For the new life of grace. Baptism just
An outward sign, but a sign nonetheless.
Let us pray.” The rolled up shirt sleeves, in lieu
Of his normal jacket and tie, tell us
That today a few of us will put on
The incorruptible. “Jason, join me,
Would you?” Jason we have known for years and
Works part-time at the local Petro Can.
Nervous at first, he tells us why he’s here.
“When my mother drank too much, we hid. My
Dad left early. He could not take it, so
My sisters and I, we kept hiding. Jill
Got married and so did Laurie. It was
Just me now, hard to hide when there’s only
You. I came to this church because….” He points
But doesn’t need to. “I… Greg invited
Me.” He motions his head shyly towards
Greg, in the same pew eight years, with the same
Yellow brown tie. They exchange smiles. “This church
Took me in and cared. Nobody else cared.
No one. Then Jesus took away my sin.
It rolled away… and now I am, now I
Am—” “Free,” our pastor whispers into his
Mic, in tears himself, as are many. The
Hurt of only knowing slightly, when you
Should know deeply, stings. A few seconds pass,
Very still. On a nod, Jason pinches
His nose and tilts his head, the pastor taking
Him in his arms, and after he has said
“In the name of the father, the son, and
The holy ghost,” briefly dips him in the
Water. Once Jason is back on his feet,
Winds whip up high. “Praise Jesus! Thank you God!”
He bounds out of the tank and we can hear
A soul leap free forever. A child sees
This and sees the hand of the Lord wiping
Away all tears. Later, when age gives what
You hope is wisdom, you think you’re either
Lucky, born into a family who
Cares, or you have Jason’s mother, in which
Case no sleep is ever sound enough. They
Don’t often baptize at the old church now;
Like speaking in tongues, or singing “There’s pow’r
In the blood of the lamb,” people have moved
On. Perhaps corruptible was always
A better fit. Or they’ve lost the eyes of
A child, who saw grace falling all day
Everywhere, as snow deep in winter.
March 6, 2016
editors note: Salvation in sanctuary. All god’s chillun jus’ wanna be safe! – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
Need-a-Read? This week’s read you need comes from prolific Contributing Poet & Writer, KJ Hannah Greenberg. We think Short Story Editor Tyler Malone nailed the perfect tease with his editorial comment:
“Greater than any other pleasures, art is endlessness with passions and poisonous to any person that wants to peek inside the hallow heart of it. They can just fuck off.”
(photo by The Second Shooter aka Tyler Malone)
Bam… there it is! But if THAT’s not enough to get you reading, well then this story isn’t in your “need” category anyway. But if it did get your “need” interested to read “Milk Thistle and Fenugreek” then here ▼ ya ▼ go ▼
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