The Best of Mad Swirl : 07.09.16

by July 9, 2016 0 comments

“In the process of telling the truth about what you feel or what you see, each of us has to get in touch with himself or herself in a really deep, serious way.” ~ June Jordan

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“ballpointpen14x22cmsoct9-2015” (above) by featured artist Norman Olson.

Mad Swirl’s newest featured artist is just what you would expect for us to love – a multi-talented madman! But Norman Olson brings a lot more than what one might expect from with his inky illustrations. With his almost comic-book styled drawings, we can’t help but feel he’s telling a story here – one of those stories where you’re still piecing together all the details days later, trying to figure out what the hell that even meant. With a mix of trees limbs, human limbs, strange faces and patterns, Olson’s pieces come off messy yet calculated, disorderly and yet completely composed. Take a look and see for yourself – is Norman Olson aware of what he’s creating? Or are these mystifying works more or less creating themselves? Either way, there’s an unshakeable feeling that they needed to be seen, that they have a tale to tell. ~ Madelyn Olson

To see more of Norman’s mad snaps, as well as our other featured artists, visit our mad Gallery at!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forumwe beat a retreat; we minded to meet; we hurt in our want; we went hand in bird; we shook wealth from our shoes; we pimped our power; we ate what we are; we sorrowed and sorrowed and sorrowed some more. ~ MH Clay

Progress of Clocks by Tyler Malone

Look at the healthy grass grown in Dallas,
even in a life of closed eyes, we see the city
quarantined by the gods of July
among skyline bones, weaseling in kitschy graffiti.

We’re all good, with only moderate genocidal relations,
pale riders on paler horses seeking more hurt than Heaven.
And summer has only begun to bleed
as crows see our hope in karma but sing us no songs.

Only a few lick blood off fingers, all of us say in hope. America’s religion,
where there are no saviors for those won’t value others. Still,
something’s in those open holes in chests grown since childhood,

beating as we move mountains of dead through generations,
reluctantly to thoughtlessly allowing others to the top,
adding to our Babel of bodies, all to look God in the eye
and demand it fucking weep for what we love to see die.

July 9, 2016

editors note: Caught in a cavalcade of carnage; we can’t break free. (Read another of Tyler’s mad missives on his page – check it out.) – mh clay

Eternity in Global Warming by Donal Mahoney

A clerk in a health food store
became upset when I said
I didn’t see anything I wanted
since I wasn’t a vegan
or vegetarian and liked my
red meat rare and dripping.

She said I needed to know
Nature is God and
Satan is Climate Change
and if I didn’t eat right
I would spend Eternity
in Global Warming.

I went back to the counter,
apologized with all my heart,
and said I would like to buy
the biggest hand fan in stock.

July 9, 2016

editors note: Forgive us our meat, as we forgive those who meat against us. – mh clay

Whore pair of The Valy/Sillyikon by Gregg Dotoli

Good whores
who mean well
power biblical American
bit smart byte foolish
built on rich soil
pungent soft earth-black
highnumber/red tempter
Share corpus
body corporation
execute gist

July 8, 2016

editors note: Gist or gism? Determined by spin. – mh clay

Sand Dollar by Christopher Raley

I have no power in my name,
no confidence of position,
no money in my house,
no clothes of personal cut.
My love should be poor,
but my love is not.

We were made
in a world without intrusion.
We heard no radio,
listened to no voices,
felt no other’s feelings.
We walked on a strand of white
between a grey, foaming deep
and a forest quietly singing.

We found a dollar and called ourselves rich.
We were warm and it was raining.

July 7, 2016

editors note: The uncountable currency of companionship. – mh clay

the bird freed from form. by James Rodehaver

what is origami without paper?
the bird freed from form,
the hands signing to the void:
we could not bend the air.

i saw the bird in mind before i began,
and just never stopped seeing it.

now she flies where i do,
wings unfolded by freedom,
body untouched by matter,
song uncluttered by shape.

i once saw one hand clapping,
and knew the only bird
who could hear the sound.

July 6, 2016

editors note: A koan constructed for our enlightenment; or, the bird’s. Selah… – mh clay

Don’t you just want to by Gayle Bell

I’ve given to strangers
For a sum or a repast
Or because it was Friday
the cat prowled restless

I have questioned many times
What is this hold, this malady
Your smell surrounds me
Self inflicted blues wail into the night

Wiser friends try to prevail
I tell them,
when you know it’s hot
but want the burn
don’t you just want to
when you know it’s a sheer drop
from the jazz note of b flat

I’ve chased windmills Quixote
But you ride a deuce and a quarter
I inhale the dust your kiss left

Not sad, for I know where that lies
But for my troubles dear jinn
Or a country haint that put roots on me
Daring me to find your mandrake
you hid inside me

Don’t you just want to
Don’t you want that time
Replayed when eyes narrowed
You claimed the part of me

July 5, 2016

editors note: We can’t break from that sweet ache. Yes, we want to… – mh clay

Patchouli Gore by Christopher Barnes

Humbugging commune in Flakyville Desert.
Blabbing through imprisoning screen door,
Lord Kitchener ill-omened the postman.
A tiptoed suspicion of peripheral affairs.
They regressed into a Cinerama El Dorado.
Charles Manson, talisman for fruit-cakery,
Ensnared delirium.
A no-voice chant radiated into sand:
Your mind needs you.

July 4, 2016

editors note: Yes, it does. Join today! (With this submission, we welcome Christopher to our crazy conclave of Contributing Poets. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out!) – mh clay

Damage options by Robert Ford

Sometimes there is no sign of a struggle.
Perhaps they are brought to the house already dead,
molested a little, and then abandoned.
They seem more forlorn this way, inert and muted,
like they simply fell from the sky and managed
to land underneath this particular chair in the kitchen,
or in the middle of apparently random spaces.

It’s different when they’ve put up a fight, however
futile; the scattering of fragments will spread
to several rooms. The heavier feathers
hang like jetsam, beached and unmoving,
while the down, with its filigree whisperings,
takes flight whenever a door opens, almost lighter
than the air it would’ve been used to capture.

July 3, 2016

editors note: Out with a bang or a whimper; out just the same. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Happy Need-a-Read Day! This week’s featured story comes to us from down-under Contributing Writer, Brenton Booth.

The stage that Brenton sets in his tale “The Other End of the Bar” sounds like the perfect devilishly heavenly scene for more than a few mad ones we know. Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick-of-the-week tale:

“Bottled, just what these writers would have wanted in death. It’s all they wanted in life, too. To be bottled. Just don’t find yourself there with breath and words in your lungs. Find your own life, your own way, your own art.”

And here’s a few sips so you could see what we mean:

(photo “Bottles of Beatniks” (above) by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

Jesus! What am I doing! Robert thought to himself. It was midday and he was alone in his tiny room with his mind in the salt shaker.

He is quite strong. He benches 280 and arm curls 130. He is a writer who just lifts weights for something to do. He has been watching a lot of mixed martial arts lately. He loves it. It’s so logical. The most focused, best skilled, strongest person nearly always wins: it just makes so much sense. He wonders about art: Why is it like it is? The weak on top and the strong made to suffer.

He has been writing several years now and sending to editors. Though everything he’s sent has been sent back with polite rejections printed on small bits of paper. Occasionally something else arrives: one editor’s response to a story was YIKES! Another said he should be ashamed of his poor work. And another said he should take some writing lessons.

He has been worrying a lot over the past few weeks. He fears he will quit writing and become a fighter. He even went to the mixed martial arts gym on Castlereagh Street last week and got the timetable. If he went ahead with it, he would just focus on wrestling and kickboxing. It wouldn’t take long to learn. He learned to take a good beating early in life, and since he has nothing else, he could really apply himself to learning it all as quickly as possible.

Every morning after he wakes he looks at that timetable before he does anything else. He has thoroughly studied every inch of that small yellow page, every letter, every word: that piece of paper scares the shit out of him. It makes him think of money, women, and a room you could take more than 5 steps in and not hit a wall. “Fuck,” he said to himself then left his room and headed to the bar on Darlinghurst Road, where he noticed three men rushing out the front door. “Get the fuck out of here, you pussies!” screamed a thin dark haired man just behind them with both his fists raised. Robert had another look at the three guys. He then recognized them. They were Beats. The fucking Beats: Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Corso. They continued running…

Get the rest of your chugalug of a read on right here.

••• Open Mic •••

Notes of Gratitude to the Mad Ones : 07.06.16

(photos courtesy of Dan “the man” Rodriguez)

All we gots’ta say about this past 1st Wednesday is Awww! OK, we have a LOT more words to share, what with ALL the poets & musicians and pics & links & tags & whatnot’s we gots…

A HUGE shout-out to our feature, loco local poet, artist, and all-around mad man, Sean “Ta2” Buttram, who brought his poetic & Brain-iac musical a-game! We never doubted that he would deliver on the badassness and did he ever deliver!

If you couldn’t make it to the show and wish you coulda, there’s some live shot video of Ta2’s feature set right here. (and more where that came from right here!)

Thanks to all who came out to The Underpass & shared in this collective delicious madness. What a night of the beat-utifullest poetry and music it was!

Here’s a shout out to all who graced us with their words, their songs, their divine madnesses…

photos courtesy of Dan “the man” Rodriguez

Sean “Ta2” Buttram

Johnny Olson & MH Clay

Chris Curiel, Gerard Bendiks, & Tamitha Curiel

Mad Cast:
Vic Victory
PW Covington
Jen Bochenko
Paul Sexton
Gnadia Wolnisty
James “Bear” Rodehaver
Opalina Salas
Chris Zimmerly
Desmene Statum
Rob Dyer
Kristine Spinner
Brett “BA” Ardoin
Suza “Hep Kat Mama” Kanon
John May
Reverie Evolving
Hector Ortiz
Harry McNabb
Sonny Wyatt
Catie McClain
Martin Sutphen

HUGE thanks to Swirve for keeping the beat til the wee hours of the night. We got taken to another dimension of time and space on the wings of their jazzy madness!

Thanks to The Underpass’s Leo & Mike for running such a badass & fine establishment and welcoming us mad ones into their home with open arms.

And finally we would like to thank ALL of you who freely shared their hand claps, finger-snaps, hoots and howls with all the mad ones who got up on this sacred mad swirlin’ mic.

May the madness Swirl your way ’til next 1st Wednesday…

Your Mad Googily-Eyed Guy

••• Mad Blog •••

(photo by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

Stand United or Fall Divided by Contributing Artist & Visual Editor Madelyn Olson

I have shied away from speaking up much on hate-crime for a while now, for fear of coming off as ignorant as I feel. This is sensitive – breathing life is miraculous, murder is serious, and I AM ignorant. Not because I don’t care, but because I haven’t had to, it hasn’t been personal – me or mine at the other end of a gun, face to face with injustice, begging for my life to matter, to be recognized. I let others speak before me, for me, I let them mourn. I acknowledge grievances, I keep quiet. It hasn’t been me. It hasn’t been my people. I don’t feel right to speak.

But the fact of the matter is, it has been my people, our people. Our brothers and our sisters, we are ALL witnessing senseless, violent, hateful attacks against the cosmic and vast source in which we all come from and are made of – we experience this life together. We forget.

And though my first instinct is to be angry (and yours may be angrier, rightfully so) as I sit and watch – helpless, hopeless – the act of hate against living beings, what is important here, despite it all, is uniting. What is important here is remembering that we are all connected, a team. When harm is done to some, we all suffer. Just as when we harm others (or justify it), we are not only perpetuating an ugly frequency, but we are also hurting ourselves (and then putting that bad energy back out into the world – a dumb little cycle that hasn’t benefited anyone, ever).

Empathy and compassion are some of the most precious and soft things our hearts are capable of. We are stronger than the cold and corrupt systems oppressing us beCAUSE of our ability to hold each other, to heal each other, to spread and share our softness.

This is a time of revolution – I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels it’s a long time coming, either. It’s easy to be demotivated, even heartbroken, in the face of the idea that we are a doomed, self-destructing species, despite our great evolution into so much potential… but what is important here, is uniting. Is picking ourselves up even when we’re wounded, picking each other up… and not quitting.

These systems in place want us to forget our power. Don’t. These systems will collapse – we won’t. We are stronger. Love is stronger. It is easy to feel hate, anger, fear, grief in the face of such corruption – and we will. But extend love. With your voice, with your actions, with your thoughts, with your prayers – and don’t stop. To prepare for what’s to come, prepare your heart. Tune into that cosmic collective that is our breath itself and you will hear what you need to, we will hear what we need to. Uniting in this, love will win. Collectively, we will rise.


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…

Truth Tellin’,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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