The Best of Mad Swirl : 07.16.16

by July 16, 2016 0 comments

“I try for a poetic language that says, This is who we are, where we have been, where we are. This is where we must go. And this is what we must do.” ~ Mari Evans

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“ink5x7inches1-17-2016” (above) by featured artist Norman 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 found our muse in a loss for words; we flew the coop of a crazy bird; we flipped a lid; we ungilded the grid; we extended the finger; we let love linger; we marveled at a man on fire; we measured a mystery from higher and higher. Up and on from dawn to dawn. ~ MH Clay

Obscured vision by Hem Raj Bastola

I read
Your face
On the way I walk
Face to face smiles
I answer a question,
Who am I
To appreciate

I climb
The tower,
Blurred past searching
Horizon to horizon, peep
And I find you
Among the clouds.
Oh! Beautiful stranger
Am I impaired
In vision
Or are you

For the angles
Of your beauty
My defunct
Clinometer is
Unable to measure
The height
Of your mystery.

July 16, 2016

editors note: Amorous altitudes render dizzied discourse . – mh clay

How I Know The Human Ego Is Not Combustible by Samantha Hawkins

Because I once saw a man set fire to his own left arm
and when he fell with the flames

He saw only his shirt and tie shred away
and not his own skin unbraiding in a column of smoke

He smelled like fried steak
and he could taste the gray ash collecting on his bottom lip

But he swore it was someone else’s limb burning blue
he was just getting the backlash

And when a thoughtful passerby offered him some water
he shook his head through the plumy clouds of tar

for somewhere was a man on fire who needed it more
Though his reflection stared stoically back at him
(from his spirit pooling on the ground)

with metamorphic hair and sunken sockets

He carried on, just carrying on
And he figured the sun was having fun at his expense

Then he scratched at a scab he mistook for an itch
and he marveled at his radiant fingertip

July 15, 2016

editors note: Fire? Ain’t no fire! – mh clay

To the only friend I ever had by Sergio A. Ortiz

“A hummingbird of love between your teeth” ~ Federico Garcia Lorca

This is the journey I propose: let’s wake up
without wanting to possess the world,
breathe the music of galaxies,
and in the evening dew
quench our deferred passion.
should be the pursuit of shadows,
this desert
where the fear of losing you is hidden
in the ancient filth of daylight.

July 14, 2016

editors note: A game-changing proposal. – mh clay

Taunting by Jada Yee

Do you scream, my wide-eyed pet?
Is it really a yawn escaping from your mouth?
Because, bits of you are missing;
chewed, pulled, twisted, and ripped away.
Something foreign has grown on you,
milky and unclean,

and yet I will stare
in a way that does nothing for your benefit.

I am an owner, unfairly blamed with neglect,
but I reject such conviction with a guilty finger;
proven to push straight-spine buttons.

Middle finger, you fiddle so well with the air.

July 13, 2016

editors note: Neener, neener, n-e-e-e-e-ner! (We welcome Jada to our crazy confab of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Electric Rainbows by A.J. Huffman

burn out. One stripe
at a time waves a final flare, falls to
gray. The hollows echo the empty
sentiment of stale breadcrumbs
over roads revealed as not-quite-gold.

July 12, 2016

editors note: Power fails, colors fade; entropy for all. – mh clay

Jar of Chaos by Angelica Fuse

like Pandora
we opened the box
we asked why

sure, the gods said,
here’s a whirlwind,
a cocktail of spite,

all the answers
you want and some
you don’t.

July 12, 2016

editors note: Many we don’t. Who asked for more? – mh clay


In Vermont, Professor Ledge
taught flute and ate corndogs
in springtime. He sported
a patchy beard, an amputated arm,
and the students called him Saint
Rattlesnake. He smelled of peonies
and violets. One day after practice
I asked him if he wanted to cop some
junk. I dig it, but can’t. A flicker
of excitement in his eyes, he shrugged
and grimaced, and that surprised me.
I don’t know why — I thought I had
a new client who’d sacrifice groceries
for nods of smack. Mr. Ledge was no
invalid, nor hostile. I followed him
home once, knocked on his door.
He invited me in, pulled back the curtains.
On the sagging couch an ermine stole lay
on the arm rest. Bongos surrounded us.
Can you — he interrupted me with a sigh
and retrieved an enameled model aircraft
on a nightstand. Warriors these pilots were,
Matthew. Nothing to long for. Strolling
to the kitchen, we unlatched the door
and climbed a ladder to the roof.
Take a leap, kid, be a warrior,
he dared, a rattlesnake in his eyes.
Fuck you, fluteflake, I answered,
hauling more ass than I knew I had.

July 11, 2016

editors note: Didn’t your Momma teach you never to play so close to a ledge? – mh clay

I Don’t Know What To Say by Lilly Penhall

I don’t know what to say
There is so much wrong in the world today
And I don’t know what to say
About injustices being perpetrated
By people who look like me
Against people who don’t look like me
Cause looks seem to be more important than ever these days
And I don’t want to look like one of them
Even though I am
I don’t know what to say
If I say “Black Lives Matter”
Do I sound like a white hypocrite?
Can I stand up for your people without standing against mine?
Can I love the Anglo in me in spite of their wrongs throughout time?
I don’t dare say “white” and “pride” in the same sentence
Might as well put on a white hood
Or tattoo a swastika on my face
But I don’t know what to say
Because I relate less to the people of my own ethnic background
And yet I don’t wanna be accused of cultural appropriation
When my radio station
Is tuned to soul music
Instead of country
Cause I like Eartha Kitt more than Travis Tritt
Cause James Brown feels good like Zac Brown never could
But I don’t know what to say
Lest I look like EL Fudge
Ya know, those little elves
Vanilla cookies with a chocolate center
Is that what I look like when I sing along with a rap song?
Yeee boyeeee
Baking cookies in my tree
Let me be honest with you
I know I look like a fool but I can’t help it
Do you know what it’s like
To have your heart rate increase
And palms sweat when you know
The “n-word” is up ahead in the song
When you’re singing along?
Can I say it if I’m just repeating Drake?
If I say “n-word” does it just sound fake?
The “n-word” is an inward expression for those with African blood in them
But I can’t say it just because I’ve had an African-American in me
But inwardly
I feel more pride when I see
A powerful African-American woman
Accomplishing great things
If I hit “Like”
Does that make me look like a feminist
Or like I’m trying too hard?
I don’t know what to say.
I don’t say much on social media
Because I feel it’s not my place
But I support my sisters and brothers
From other mothers
Because I know inside we are all from the same Mother
Who created us to be different from each other
Because if we were all the same
What would we learn? What could we change?
I understand that I will never understand your struggle
But I’ll defend with my life your right to fight
And I wanna be on the side that’s right
Without looking like I’m making up for being white.
I was born this way just like we all were
I’ve made it my mission to not let my looks define me
But looks seem to be more important than ever these days
That’s why I don’t know what to say
So I’ll let my actions speak for me
And treat every person like a human
Regardless of what I see
The color of skin has never mattered to me
I just want you to see that I’m just being me
Not a poser or a faker or a “wigger”
I had to fight against racism too
In my own family
Oh they act like progressives while masking their hate
My dad likes to sing the Stones song “Brown Sugar”
But the first time I brought a black man home
He told me to “stay with my own kind”
I was ashamed but I knew I would never change his mind.
Fine. I decided to change
The world so my kids will never hear those words.
We’re all the same kind, beautifully different in our own ways.
Born full of love and taught to hate.
Not me. Not my kids. It changes today.
Because now I know what I need to say.

July 10, 2016

editors note: Now she knows. Do we? – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Happy Need-a-Read Day! If you do indeed need one, you’ve come to the right post!

The pick of the week this week is Night at The Dakota by Steve Slavin. Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about it:

“Rarely is what we are is what we really need to be. Embrace that fact more than embracing the beast under your skin.”

And here’s a bit of a teaser to tempt your tale reading tummy:

(photo “The Right Time” (below) by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

Nobody likes “the professor,” but he does throw great parties. Lots of good-looking yuppies, excellent food and an open bar.

A distinguished professor of psychology at the City University, he owns a huge apartment in The Dakota, a landmarked building on Central Park West. He never could have afforded it on his salary but he earns substantial royalties from his pop psychology books. They include such titles as Relations That Last Forever, How to Make Great First Impressions, and Anger Management for Dummies.

You would think that the professor would have a great store of personal experience to draw upon but apparently his social life revolves entirely around his parties. He stands at the door most of the evening greeting his guests and checking their names on his list. If you are not on the list then no amount of begging will get you in.

Pushing sixty, the professor is not an attractive man. With a Trump-sized head looming over the scare-crow body of an Ichabod Crane, he’s a rather unusual looking dude. On the bright side, he has a ready-made Halloween costume.

Caroline and I met at the gym. She’s what guys used to call “a real looker.” Fantastic body, angelic face, and Midwestern nice. Me? Just another plain Jane from Queens. Or, as I sometimes overhear some man saying, “Nothing special.”

Caroline is one among New York’s tens of thousands of aspiring actors, few of whom ever progress beyond a handful of unpaid showcase productions. But she does make a nice living doing commercials.

She confided that most of the men she knew were actors, and you know what that means.

“They’re gay?”

“You betcha!”

“Hey, y’know what, Caroline? Why not come with me to some parties? You’ll meet tons of guys – and all of them will be straight.”

“How do you know, Holly?”

“’Cause they hit on almost every woman they meet.”

“Sounds charming!”

It just so happens that this weird professor is hosting a party on Friday night. And get this: He lives in The Dakota.”

“Rosemary’s Baby! John and Yoko! Oh, and Judy Garland, Leonard Bernstein, and Lauren Bacall! You know, Holly, next to being in a Broadway play, I think visiting where all those stars lived would be almost as much of a kick! Heck, I’d go just to see the building!”…

That’s quite a teaser! How could you stop now without reading the rest of this story? You can’t! Get the rest of your read on 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…

Doin’ It to It,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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