The Best of Mad Swirl : 04.16.16

by on April 16, 2016 :: 0 comments

“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.” ~ Anatole France

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Mom at the well” (above) by featured artist Maria Valentina Sheets.

Months ago, we here at Mad Swirl were swept off our feet by artist Maria Valentina Sheets. This time we’re not quite back on the ground, lifted by her gifts once again. Once you see what she’s got for us, we’re sure you’ll get what we mean – Sheets’ stained glass pieces are like something straight from a cathedral…. but not. The juxtaposition of the traditional and sacred nature of stained glass with the modern and edgy mind of Maria display sky-lit images we’d definitely put in the windows of OUR Mad church, and we’ll bet you would too. Don’t take our word for it though – check out the glass-terpieces here. ~ Madelyn Olson

To view more our other featured artists, visit our Gallery at!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forumwe ran a reel to real and back again; we scratched an itch, inflicted, no doubt, by a witch; we gripped a gun, shot full of verse, looking for the safety; we listened to life through a “veil of cheese”; we danced with an angel in a holy place, salvation glowing on her neon face; we reveled in riffs from a jazz man’s horn; we wrote nothing for free, not even our verses. Words wish wonder while talk is cheap. Add your own value. ~ MH Clay

starbucks coffee brands by Carl Kavadlo

bold is stronger
less caffeine as
the roasting burns
the buzz.
pike is a stronger
less roast
preservation weakens
so you
get a nice high typing
in the morning if you
arrange your sequence
at a reasonable
price too, without
the cabal murdering you.

April 16, 2016

editors note: The price we pay for free wifi. – mh clay


like bones clattering in cloudbursts
I attempt
a clumsy blues riff
tap dancing in the claw foot
after washing away the death of
a great jazzman with
sucking sinkholes of ancient lava
along rotgut rivers of
chopstick vodka
nearing crescendo
riding oak leaf rafts
yeah then
lucking out
electrified in the metropolis of
more blood than Dracula squared
and a hot date with the new waitress at
Yummi Korea Snak
maybe just
slept with her
at worst killed her off
video arcade style
another ambitious barkeep
she crooned like a minor
couldn’t keep her arms to herself
conch drops to the linoleum
so long Ornette

April 15, 2016

editors note: Jilted, maybe. Jinxed, likely. Jazzed, forever… – mh clay

On Meeting you at the Taproom by Scott McDaniel

My church
is lit by neon, not candles.
My sermon
is a drunken philosophical rant blanketed by the singing of a jukebox.
There is wine,
but expect no body of Christ…
there is only your body, dancing
on a bar stool as you smile and lip synch
while waiting on the drinks.

When you return, your hair is backlit by the neon;
as angelic as “The Archangel Leaving the Family of Tobias”

I do love the neon…

There is something sacredly decadent about a neon sign as it pierces
through Marlboro and Camel smoke
lingering together with drunken, fumbling kisses
that taste like Jack and coke.

Give me neon or give me death.
Give me dead bumpers on a pool table with 50 cents stacked on the rail.
Give me a bar back mirror, stained by the smoke of spirits.
Give me vinyl covered stools with holes both picked and burned.
Give me a shake of bones; loser buys the next round.
Give me a shady character in the back that makes all feel a bit nervous.
Give me a bar. This bar.
Give me a woman. You.
Give me, my church.
Yesterday’s church was the taproom.
Tomorrow’s church is you.

April 14, 2016

editors note: Angels, angels, everywhere! – mh clay

Incoming Transmission by Jada Yee

Behind the choir of dial tones, live cotton rounds of provolone,
busy lines of thin-sliced swiss camouflage all that we miss.

Our sensitive ears are layered with but a veil of cheese,
transparencies for elegy…

An old record player scratching its way to life,
sculpted lyrics, falling through a jagged tunnel or cracked drain pipe.

Don’t strain your ears to listen, there’s no reward or commission,
to decipher an ill-received language is to reapply a wet, peeling bandage.

Are ears a better fit on the deaf or on the blind?
When no one listens, can they charge the harshest fine?

How did we allow the intolerant ear canal
to lead such a negligent life, such a waxy cover on the butter knife.

If only we’d give it a turn
to widen our eyes.

April 13, 2016

editors note: Bass tones through cheddar, treble through swiss, volume through thin provolone. – mh clay

MOLON LABE by Jhon Baker

here we are at two in the morning
2.16 to be precise
and sleep is in the past and far from me now
I eat Reality Sandwiches
and drink coffee, black, out from a chipped mug

I seem to be the target of spam lately
and with this I admit to the digital age
fully with handheld computers
and online dictionaries and
the classic writers thesaurus

and I read Bartlett’s book of anecdotes
to substitute for any actual experience
which is a lie
though I sleep away in relative safety
next to a loaded revolver

MOLON LABE – out from my cold dead hands
and of course I speak of poetry
long looks and bedroom post-coital whispers
it is not enough that the sun should rise
in a few hours but that the moon is full

April 12, 2016

editors note: Wouldn’t touch it; much less take it . – mh clay

Supernatural by Catfish McDaris

Sorcery and witchery still flourishes
people need protection, salt strewn
around an encampment helps ward

Off demon attacks, corn meal mixed
with gall of an eagle, bear, mountain
lion, or skunk is potent medicine

Witches live along the Rio Grande,
they steal Mexican sheep and cause
death, beware of shape shifters

Brown and gray corn known as maiz
de brujeria should be avoided, healing
elixirs are mercury, Gonzalez herb,
guayuli, and powdered turquoise.

April 11, 2016

editors note: So many cures for what ails; nothing for what doesn’t. (This one comes from Catfish’s new book, check it out here.) – mh clay

Fantasy by Lily Tierney

A fairy tale in the mind
creating such beautiful
pictures on a reel of

Eventually it runs out
and reality takes over
in black and white.

If only you had more

April 10, 2016

editors note: Keep it rolling till the director says, “Cut!” – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Happy Need-a-Read Day! This week’s tasty tale comes from Mad Swirl’s previous featured Artist Chuck Taylor. Did we mention he’s also a Contributing Poet here at Mad Swirl? Yep. A Mad trifecta-ist!

Here’s what Short Story Editor, and another Mad trifecta-ist, Tyler Malone had to say about Chuck’s short story “Diane”:

“Love! Madness! They’re one-in-the-same, we all like to hope as the beat of our hearts drives us bonkers. Sadly, so say they want the the world, but they want someone else to give it to them.”

If that endorsement doesn’t tickle your curiosity bone, here’s a few nibbles for ya:

(photo “Garbage Roses” – above – by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

The way I see it, Diane, you know, I did her a favor, the way things were going I hate to say it, but I would have needed to kill her, reporters flying in from New York and Los Angeles to interview her and write her up in magazines, she got her colored picture in Gentlemen’s Quarterly, couples we knew were dropping by asking advice on their troubled marriages, all the lesbians in town thought she was some kind of sage superwoman, oh everybody loved her in 1976 and she had kindness and charm, she would take confused boys into our own home and feed them hot meals and let them play with her grown son’s old drums, and street men who smelled like death would crash in the living room and she’d never ask for money, she believed in white magic and prayers and did rituals, curandera she thought she was, but I was her man and knew the dark bruja inside and the arrogance I saw that others didn’t see…

Now go and get the rest of your read on right here.


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…

Path Walkin’,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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