“All of us are mad. If it weren’t for the fact every one of us is slightly abnormal, there wouldn’t be any point in giving each person a separate name.” ~ Ugo Betti
••• The Mad Gallery •••
“Chrysalis” (above) by featured artist William Zuback. To see more of William’s mad snaps, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Mad Gallery!
••• The Poetry Forum •••
This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we heard from an unhappy hanger; we found a faction of improper fractions; we liked a way of liminality; we tipped away from teetotality; we lamented not o’er absent love; we remembered white before war; we smiled and smiled to remember more. ~ MH Clay
I Remember #02 by Kenneth P. Gurney
I remember my four sisters being only one sister
seen without my glasses on the morning after
three too many pints.
I remember kindergarten as the place
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches went to be tortured.
I remember the easy bake oven
the next door neighbor girls owned
and how their mom cooked hash-brownies in it
and forgot about them when their uncle Larry rang the doorbell
and did not come back to the oven till over an hour later
only to discover we’d eaten half a dozen.
I remember buying a Barbie doll with my birthday money
as a present for Suzie’s birthday a week later,
but my dad thought I bought it for myself
and drank away the next few days and nights panicked.
I remember my first puppy shit on the floor
and I loved him all the same as I cleaned it up
as we worked out person to puppy communication.
I remember the birthday clown that scared me
limped home markedly, after I hit him in the shins
with a home run swing from my brand new baseball bat.
I remember basketball tore up my right ankle three times
and my left ankle two times and broke my left wrist in five places.
I was very, very slow in figuring out
basketball liked me less than I liked eating Brussels sprouts.
I remember screaming every cuss word I ever learned
at three drunk hunters who mistook me and my dog
after they fired shots in our direction,
claiming elk are in season and they purchased their permits.
I remember the ghosts that fill this room
like talc covered hands clapped to a cloud
and they whisper every baby name
I cooed to my daughter as I changed her
as she changed me.
February 4, 2017
editors note: Sweet remembrances. – mh clay
Snow by Ian Smith
Fashionable ladies tripping along white streets
past tall buildings, their long skirts and boots
in one of the many prints of Utrillo’s snow scenes,
remind me of the bare beauty in a world quieted,
whitened streets, leafless trees eerily lit, a wonder
of muffled sound walking to the bus with my mother.
I feel the icy sting, smell the sharp memory,
my hand snow-ploughing a fence, a cheap brooch
I gave her for Christmas glittering on her lapel.
I jog-trot to keep up, listening to the sound of tyres
yowling along Staines Road to my school, the town,
the shock of a dog dead under the viaduct.
She queues; I watch snowflakes duel with gravity
before a sawdust smell, the pet shop, a puppy
that will die of distemper trembling near the stove
in our cold house of post-war rationing
after we carry her home in a box through
a frosted realm illuminated by daytime headlights.
When Utrillo saw his 1934 scene in winter light
he could be excused for believing trouble was over
but the next war changed so much between then
and those dying days of dogs before our emigration.
His picture in my beach shack speaks
of long gone snow, shadows that still come and go.
February 3, 2017
editors note: A whole story in snowfall… – mh clay
My beloved by Ilhem Issaoui
Neither the sun nor the moon shall be compared to
O clandestine castle haunted by mist and mystery
O stretching fields of merriment silenced forever
O child vicious and precarious
O my adamantine pain and woe
My diaphanous suffering
My battles languished
My pride tarnished
My streams of tears amarulent gliding along
O questions that I fail to answer
My glee soaring farer
And never never
Returning to its abode
February 2, 2017
editors note: Sounds like a love better to have lost. – mh clay
The Perfect Gentleman (3 0z/ 90 mL) by Megha Saha
If sugary dollops of what feels like
the rainbow hits you too hard, then
wait for the maraschino cherry bit that
will come to your rescue and settle
on your tongue; you will let it,
until the insides of the glass tumbler
begin to tremor in sync with the live
You look around the snug little
place they call the ‘The Great Unwind’
and smile to yourself about how silly
it’d have been of you to have not come
here; the warm gin will eagerly walk
you to silent comfort – like a possum’s back.
The mint sprig scent will come back
to you in a couple of tiny delicate
burps – three if you’re wild, to keep you
from hitting the floor with your head.
And if you’re still feeling oozy and like
less of a person, wait for the trusty
salted lime wedge to tend to your
adamant pout like your grandma would.
February 1, 2017
editors note: With an alcohol escort, attitude adjusted. – mh clay
Virginia’s Liminality and Mine by Kimberly Madura
We call this liminality,
this space that it is possible to stay in too long
this space that it is possible to never come out of.
But there was a before and there will be an after
Now the clamped hold, the compression, middle
we call this transition, in transition
holding until/holding on
until the time when we run out of breath
until we turn blue
until we rise to the surface or sink down
like a drowning
fear can be a good motivator
be it of life or of death
I have decided to leave (live)
to go but not to let go.
I hold on, waiting for the next thing
hoping it will come and when it does
I fool myself into thinking I knew it would all the time,
when the truth is,
I had no idea
After all, it doesn’t always come for everyone,
isn’t that right Virginia?
January 31, 2017
editors note: Those in-between blues; best sung when the “next thing” comes along. – mh clay
By All Counts by Joan McNerney
Proper and improper fractions
have distinctive differences.
Proper fractions study at
prestigious universities. They
attend cultural events and play
at least one musical instrument.
Proper fractions step aside
for ladies patronizing
haute couture shops.
Improper fractions are hooligans.
Each one guzzles cheap beer,
crunching potato chips while
screaming at wrestling matches.
Improper fractions knock over
seniors to reach clearance racks.
Beware of mixed figures. These
hybrids can not decide what they are.
Medication might help them plus
talking therapy so popular today. Never
allow children to associate with them.
Negative numerals should be avoided.
Those will only subtract from your life
flinging freezing rain in your face.
Conversely, positive numerals are
delightful, handing us glowing statistics
and bright bouquets of fragrant daisies.
Never take integers for granted. Do not
allow yourself to be divided but let
all quotients be fruitful and multiply
until that day when your number is up.
January 30, 2017
editors note: Guidelines for a whole life; equal to the sum of its parts. – mh clay
TO END IT ALL by John D Robinson
He hobbled into the room
on 2 crutches, a plaster
caste on one of his legs;
a podgy, baby-faced 18
year old lisping fellow,
with dramatic and
‘I want to kill myself’
he told me several
times; he waved his
arms around and
fluttered his eyes
‘I’ve tried to end it
all, several times’
he covered his face
in his soft hands and
shook his head
obviously he wasn’t
too good at this suicide
‘What happened to your
leg’ I asked;
‘I tried to hang myself’
he said looking out
of the window; ‘the
rope snapped under
my weight and I fell
crashing to the floor,
breaking my ankle in
‘That must’ve hurt’
He pursed his lips and
you’ve ever known’
I looked away;
‘I’ll never try to hang
‘it was a truly awful
and I wouldn’t
January 29, 2017
editors note: Like she said, “Might as well live.” – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
Need-a-Read? Well Mad Swirl has a creative memoir-esque tale from writer N.T. Franklin!
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about N.T.’s story “Neil Armstrong’s Thoughts about January 28, 1986“:
“Frontiers require pioneers, and pioneers require endless traits, but there’s one above all—one trait that keeps us looking to the sky and desiring what’s past the atmosphere and lifeless rocks: Human curiosity, a desire to live above gravity.”
Here’s a bit to take you off:
My first response to the accident? I was catatonic. “They’re all dead. They’re all dead.” I don’t know how many times I repeated it. I’m sure I sounded mechanical. That was my first response on January 28, 1986 to the shuttle Challenger disaster. At 11:39 in the morning. Seventy-three seconds of that day started the darkest period of my life.
I can still feel the tears streaming down my face. I turned and looked at Janet on the couch next to me. We were two of 35 million Americans watching the launch. She left the room after five minutes of my crying. After that many years together, she knew I needed to be alone.
Nine successful missions. Nine perfect missions. Challenger was a good bird but it was too cold that morning. The icicles at launch time should have sent up red flags. Christa. Dead…
Get the rest of this movin’ read right here
••• Open Mic •••
This 1st Wednesday of February (aka 02.01.17) we swirled it up madly in the live way that we do every month. This month we featured… wait for it… YOU! Yes, we featured all you mad ones out there! Y’all brought your A-game (like you’ve ever brought anything less) and swirled up some fine madness together!
Here’s a shout out to all who graced us with their words, their songs, their divine madnesses…
(click on the pic to get ’em movin’!)
photos courtesy of Dan “the man” Rodriguez
Brett “BA” Ardoin
Mad Mic Cast:
James “Bear” Rodehaver
Desmene M. Statum
Laurie Lynn Lindemeier
HUGE thanks to Swirve (Tamitha Curiel & Chris Curiel) for taking us to another dimension of time and space on the wings of their jazzy madness!
Thanks to all who came out to the City Tavern & shared this beat-ifullest night of poetry and music with us!
and last but NOT least…
Thanks to The City Tavern’s proprietor Joshua Florence for blessing us with our new digs and welcoming us mad ones with open arms and giving us a swirl’n space we can call home.
May the madness swirl your way! ’til next 1st Wednesday…
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…
Bein’ the maddest,
Short Story Editor