The Best of Mad Swirl : 05.28.16

by May 28, 2016 0 comments

“Nobody is ordinary if you know where to look.” ~ Maeve Binchy

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“battle beast” (above) by featured artist Jeff Skele Sheely. To view more of Jeff’s twisted beatific images, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Gallery at!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forumwe raised a bud from remembered mud; we struggled to rise above the ranks of those who run on shallow tanks; we sought to curb what anger grows with tips o’ the brims of our chapeaux; we listened to what one had to say about the good ole American (Everywhere) Way; we sliced a thin salvation with sharp instruments for sale; we danced aloft with kissing bees in a tree, leaf & nub tickling, riffing breeze; we climbed a staircase, skyward hung, strained to hold on – ring, rang, rung; we embraced a hallucination, clinically not allowed, tranquility found in blood from clouds. Just another week’s work in the Swirl… ~ MH Clay

Time to Reflect by Tom Hall

My first hallucination was the perfect one for me.
I had walked deep into the woods when rain began to fall
It fell so softly bending trees and rustling through the trees
The rain drops shone like blood red beads, descending on us all.

These colored drops turned colorless, following their falling.
The most relieving thing was that it painted nothing red.
To bathe the forest and myself in blood would be appalling.
The colored of the world remained, only the clouds had bled.

It was a warm and welcome thing, the rain had been to me.
I laid upon a massive rock, to let it wet me down.
And then it stopped, as rain will do, the sky had set it free.
I’d had my fill of ambrosia, there was no need to drown.

My Psych took back the pills next day, he had no way of knowing
That sanity is subjective, he’d got my engines going.

May 28, 2016

editors note: Just because it’s an hallucination doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Red rain, baby! – mh clay

The Fish Ladder at Diamond Hill by D. Russel Micnhimer

in some distant far off
sleight of hand
there stands a colossus
on its head

heart long ago
turned to stone
and breath to sand
ringing ringing ringing

eyes above the sheen
of kings
beyond the hollow
logs of barks
recording marks
of shallow ways
beyond their means
with bells that
rang and rang and rang

ears sheared
by cloud fleece tip
scales of kippered pounds
leaving their appointed
rounds writhing on grounds
of incriminations
discovered upward
rung by rung by rung

May 27, 2016

editors note: A precarious climb to the top; wring tight those rungs. – mh clay

May Journal: Friday, May 31, 2013 by Don Mager

Late morning breezes riff the vines and
branches, playing hide and seek with small
promises tucked beneath wide open
leaves. Beside weathered fence slats, yellow
winks along cucumbers and squash vines that
trail down from well-composted mounds. Their
open sweetness imbibes the bees’ probes
and kisses. Pale green and pencil thin,
pears dangle beneath perky leaves set
to start long itineraries toward
ripeness. Fig nubs stand, beneath dark green
umbrellas, erect and hard. Neither
rhyming nor reasoning, breezes riff
streaks of movement down and up each tree.

May 26, 2016

editors note: Our Springtime rascal, the riffing breeze. – mh clay

Scissors Cut Paper by Chella Courington

I can’t stop buying scissors. I walk into Home Depot for red geraniums, leave with gardening shears, green ergonomic handles. Piggly Wiggly for a roasting hen. Shiny poultry shears. At a garage sale I find a pair of hedge clippers. By December paper cutters, pinking shears, hair trimmers — any blades you want are boxed in the kitchen pantry.

Saturday he takes his 14 clubs & disappears. In hot water, I clean scissors. Prop them on the counter before drying with muslin. Each blade I shine with baking soda. In high school I hung with cutters. They used whatever worked — broken glass, coat hangers, paper. Arms tracked with violet scars like stretch marks hidden under long-sleeve shirts.

Reflections in a Golden Eye: Mrs. Langdon uses garden shears to clip her nipples when she loses her baby. Snip snip — easy as pinching off deadheads. Sunday in January, I hold my left nipple between the blades of barber shears. Warm steel triggers goose bumps. Is a nipple like a finger? Can they sew it back on?

Recurrent dream: blades-down, scissors drop from the ceiling, rattling & hissing. Impale the cherry nightstand, down comforter, my Land’s End bathrobe. I crouch in the tub, rocking to the sound of hail. Open my thigh — blood a rusty penny melting on my tongue.

I get an Alabama divorce. He signs the papers & hauls his Titliest clubs, La-Z-Boy & mahogany desk down to Florida. Parting words: The cat stays with you. I keep Moot, the crystal & the condo. Start selling the scissors on E-Bay, box by box.

May 25, 2016

editors note: Slice to a clean slate; sell’em off to start again. – mh clay

America by Douglas Polk

men in suits,
and ties,
tribal warriors,
battling for turf,
believed their own,
naïve ignorant bastards,
boundaries shift,
and borders in dispute,
fears flamed,
culture assigned,
along with taxes.

May 24, 2016

editors note: This is how we roll in the land o’ the free. How about your country? – mh clay

Red Hot Anger by Sheighle Birdthistle

How to pale a red hot anger
When rods of pain stroke
And all day long it grows stranger
Beholden to stronger folk.
An anger that knows no voice
Born nor bred by choice
Leave me die in a quiet corner
Seize the day and all of that
Close your eyes insipid mourner
Remove your mask and raise your hat.

May 24, 2016

editors note: Open face, cool head; take on the after instead with laughter. – mh clay

The Struggle by Michael Marrotti

It’s an excruciating journey
to walk amongst them
when they’re all united
to march against me
Picket signs
they signed
the proclamation
It only took a glimpse
but that glimpse
is good enough
To fuel their shallow tanks
ignite the flame
and burn down a place
they’ll never comprehend
nor even try to see it
in a bilateral
point of view
The only thing that counts
is how it’s portrayed
in the eyes of a conservative
No room for me
on the one way street
God forbid
you do your own thing
They’ll make you feel special
if you’re not like them
will leave you battered
and angry
It’s an endless struggle
I’m pleased to be alone

May 23, 2016

editors note: We can get’em to look, but we can’t make’em see. Alone, indeed. – mh clay

If This Finds You, I Tried by Daniel Lattimore

My sin wasn’t bigger than your sin, yet your name was driven into the mud.
We watered that seed together, and our rose, forever with its thorns, began to bud.
Why? I’m sure your friends wanted to know. I didn’t have that magazine cover smile
or that endorsed glow.
But for you it wasn’t about that. It was about the passion left to the dance floor.
That kind of raw passion that left you craving more.
I couldn’t keep a secret because I wanted them to understand
that the heart resembles blood surrounding a clenched hand.
In an alternate universe, you and I could converse.
They write ballads about criminal couples, and you and I share a verse.
Haha there I am, caught captive in my own home
Plagued by a picture of my youth hanging in the catacomb.

May 22, 2016

editors note: Past partners in perdition, reveling in recall. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need-a-Read? This week’s featured story comes from Contributing Writer & Poet Lilly Penhall. Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about Lilly’s not-for-the-easily-offended featured short, “F.T.P.”:

We’re only as good as those we wish to hold up in high regard. We’re only as safe when we worship predators and apologize for being opened and our insides explored, pulled out.

And here’s a short testimony of this tale to get you started:

(photo by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

“I think you like it rough.”

Her eyes stared at the detective blankly. “Excuse me?”

“And I think…” he sat back in his chair and clasped his hands over his belted khakis, “you didn’t want your parents to find out that you had sex with a black guy. You’re embarrassed, so you said it’s rape. Am I right?” His gold badge glimmered in the fluorescent lights.

“No.” She let out a choked breath. “Not at all. I’ve had sex with plenty of black guys. Consensually. My first boyfriend was black. Plus I’m 28 years old, I could give a shit less what my parents think of who I fuck, which are people of many different ethnicities, ok? I’m not racist, I just didn’t want to have sex with that black guy.”

“Then why were you in his room?”

“I told you, he said he was drunk and lonely and wanted someone to watch a movie with him, I felt bad for the guy.”

“Well, I’ve seen women who have been beat up, ok? They have bruises, whelps, black eyes, marks on their neck, ok? I don’t see a single bruise on you.”

“He choked me until I blacked out, and my jaw was popped out of place…”

“Did they do an x-ray with your rape kit?” He sat up and flipped through her file.

“No, just took pictures. I had marks on my neck…”

He looked up at her sharply. “I don’t see ‘em.”

Her eyes brimmed with tears. “I guess he knew how to hurt me without leaving a mark.” Her head dropped and so did the tears, as the detective told her they’d continue their investigation, after collecting the physical evidence in a few months she could retrieve her personal effects from their office.

His business card between his fingers, he thanked her for coming down to the station, call if you think of anything, we’ll be in touch. It was like some bizzaro-world cop show where the bad guy won. The NWA song “Fuck Tha Police” started playing like a soundtrack in her mind as she walked out of the police station, shaking her head…

Gotta keep reading, don’cha? Well what are you waiting for? Get the rest of your read on here.

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl & Swirve this 1st Wednesday of June (aka 06.01.16) at 8:00 SHARP as we continue to swirl up our mic madness at our mad mic-ness home, Dallas’ badass The Underpass!

This month we will be virtually featuring the fine folks from The Southern Collective Experience. Charles Clifford Brooks III (author, teacher, poet and the founder of The Southern Collective Experience) will be joined by Scott Thomas Outlar (host at 17Numa and Contributing Poet at Mad Swirl) & musician Kaleb Garrett (a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from North Georgia). We guarantee this’ll be a feature you won’t wanna miss! And in case you missed the memo on who/what/where The Southern Collective Experience is…

The Southern Collective Experience is a cooperative born from all genre of life, and from every part on the nation. It is not simply a collection trapped below the Mason-Dixon Line. / Our band of virtuous heathens fly the philosophy that “everyone is south of somewhere.” All of those who share a bloodline infused with blues, feel our gravitational pull. It is life lived real. / A side-passion the SCE invests itself into breaking the stereotypes artists earned, and earn, in regards to lack of dependability, rampant emotional immaturity, and people incapable of working selflessly with other creators. / The SCE is not out to change the world. The Southern Collective Experience is a tactful force. Every genius deserves to digest the truth: You are a genius.

Come on out, one & all. Get a brainful of Swirve, share in the Mad Swirl’n festivities, & if the spirit is movin’ ya get yourself a spot on our list. Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call Mad Swirl Open Mic. Come to participate. Come to appreciate. Come to swirl-a-brate!

P.S. If you’re on Facebook, get on the pre-list at our event page.


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…


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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