The Best of Mad Swirl : 11.25.17

by November 26, 2017 0 comments

“Let your mind alone, and see what happens.”
Virgil Thomson

The Kissed (above) by featured artist Mike Fiorito.

To see more of Mike’s colorfully crazy collages, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forumwe experimented with texted sex (swiped right); we enumerated every love lost; we sluffed a slight to find our light; we rhymed orange rooftop squeezed from tossed; we thought to unstuff thugs from thanks; we self forsook when fully cooked; we achieved poetic stasis in some new ekphrasis (times 5). Just keep those pen(cil)s moving, folks! ~ MH Clay

In Choosing to Work with Forbs and Flowers by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Potomac Series 9 by artist Nancy Ramsey

At daybreak, when Granny revisits her greenhouse, to
Transform objects trouvé into flower pots, birdbaths,
To stick rococo petals ‘tween muted crystalline panes,
The morning sky colors pink and gold.

Otherwise, landlocked gyres’ allied rhetorics founder,
Eliminate no caches of womanizers, child abductors,
“Mild” terrorists. Cooking shows don’t avert futures,
Can’t exempt worthy friends from fine print.

The cost for behaving like a “good girl,” mid socially
Esculent peers, remains palpitations, insomnia, weight
Gain, sorrow. No one believes she hankers given her
Age, size, relationship status. Nevertheless, all roses require pruning.

Gambeson-decked elders crave cuddles, supple words,
Adulations, notwithstanding seemingly squishy covers.
Gardening’s verdancy correspondingly requires praise.
Islands emerge even as lonely human beings suffer.

November 25, 2017

editors note: This is one of five ekphrastic works, part of a larger collaboration between KJ and another artist:

Creative folks need to actualize their potential beyond their specialties. Accordingly, American painter Nancy Ramsey and Israeli/American writer KJ Hannah Greenberg are collaborating on Exchange Rates, a collection of one hundred sets of work.

Each artist is fashioning twenty-five inspirational poems and twenty-five inspirational pictures to which the other is conjuring responses. The pair’s journey through these two hundred, total, pieces is meant to encourage other visual and verbal artists to take risks, to affirm talent’s multidimensional quality, and to exemplify ways in which creatives can grow.

Follow KJ’s progress on this Developing Book on her site, here. Check out the other four poems with pics on her page. – mh clay

The Sickest Burns by Brendan Gillett

because you always know
where my skin is
the most raw
you have earned
the right to know
the settings on the stove
perfect for
roasting me, charring
my tenderness until
I can wear it like
memories, intimacy,
the pleasure of
fire, absence of sting
in favor of slow-
cooked perfection
these flashes add up over time
I am well-done now
take me out
eat me

November 24, 2017

editors note: The perfect recipe for… disaster? (We welcome Brendan to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

White Meat by Tyler Malone

Give thanks enemies don’t throw the best feasts.
Green bean butter knives spread pre-prayer rolls passed from
our honored guest prophet priest president with a mouth for
cranberries oozing from tin cans like sick cow tongues
still wasting lives building memories uninvited to Thanksgiving.

He listens, our prophet priest president, with dichroic interest.
Vietnam Dad didn’t collect bodies, only stories repeating
from when wide open Austin carried tower bullets to forever,
but not to Vietnam where Dad was first called a racist.
“I’m Irish,
nothing but bad potatoes, finger splinters, nothing to look at
but when I do look into a mirror, at least I don’t see
a nigger.”

Our prophet priest president asks to give thanks.

Give thanks slow animals don’t think quickly.
Give thanks all time is a food pyramid.
Give thanks it’s not sugar but it’s sweet.
Give thanks stuffing crawls inside by design.
Give thanks our skeletons always fit in last season’s coat.
Give thanks! Change the world or change the channel!

Give thanks you’ll get a eulogy and hear even more.
Give thanks your shoes have a goddess’s name, your soul’s saved.
Give thanks you can spell CRUCIFIX but never need one.
Give thanks you don’t know the black hole of a gun barrel.
Give thanks you don’t know why the black hole on your heart

gives thanks.

Give thanks we’re not dead, we only slouch that way.
Give thanks we don’t hate, we only talk that way.

Winds ring trees Irish roughhewed into pews for natives
out of mountains, hungry for Irish daughters and their saving god,
potatoes that never see a damn thing, especially not disease,
prophet priest president
who all the whites know and love as much as whites can—
with respect.
Corncobs don’t hear whispered new words, new languages
as honey licked off broken fingers dirtied by church bombings
and suppertime phone screens cataloging absurd scriptures.
One’s eyes see all, warm bodies under bridges, cold corpses on asphalt,
anthologies of new wars for new decades in new billion-year-old light.
Loud prayers of suppers, silence in streets, entertainment for a prophet

Championed our best but bled of goodness from wrists dripping
to the ground where America was made, where spit dark clay made men
draw lines in backs kept from our front door while
behind locked windows and open mouths sits a country that doesn’t exist
but it’s been built by hand by generations by blessing
at the devil’s right hand, so grab your loved one to your left for grace.

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin vineyards in bloom.
Feed for the wolves are starved and our mouths are empty.

We’re served
what animals become when they don’t run, we’re what happens when they sit
with an invited prophet priest president who loves that we don’t hold light,
the phantom touch of what we should be
never returns
as canned cranberries spill out in the shape they were contained.

November 23, 2017

editors note: Oh, the thanks we could thank until, like stuffed turkeys, we’re thanked full. Let’s shirk the shameful and thank again! – mh clay

Juggling Oranges by Jeff Grimshaw

Watch, Anita! The cloud’s blotted,
(The one that looks like Larry Fine), the
Sky’s sliced (or do I mean
The skies?!),
Blurred, it’s
An edible parabola!
Pale hot blue &
Pale blue ice
Carved into the air
By my orange thunk! & thwup!
Every impact spreads
The citrus ripple
To another dozen
Dilated nostrils!
I own every nostril between here
& Tompkins Square, Anita
(& most of the eyes)!

The pebbled skins pink
At Manhattanhenge
& we retrieve

Our glasses from the freezer,
My juicer from the sink,
Your t-shirt from the shower head

& sip until the sky

November 22, 2017

editors note: Citric assignations in the big city – fresh-squeezed! – mh clay

Mainspring by Sanjeev Sethi

Quarantine by quality is enough confinement.
Let us not add the angle of moral amplitude.
Woodsmoke of ceremonies fails to enter my
porch, connections fasten without formalities.

Tristfulness arrives with certain defiance as
though proving a point. I spurn its summon.
Like the gnomon, I light my mind’s wick to
usher me away from the lightlessness.

November 21, 2017

editors note: Don’t need another’s compass to keep us in the light. We make our own choices. – mh clay

Every Woman I’ve Ever Loved by Lot Grundy

The sun and the moon were her eyes
The bright stars were every smile she gave
She was the depth of darkness in between
and her voice echoed before she spoke

Our dreams rhymed and we visited from time to time
it was always a surprise and it was always sublime
The sun and the moon were her eyes
Under her gaze I could burn and I could glide

She was a bird in my arms and when she sang
I listened but could not understand
She wept the darkness of night
so a stone cast into the sky would be swallowed by her tears

The sun and the moon were her eyes
and they were exactly distant from mine
In her smile every bright star glowed
and flowers grew in her laughter

She bit like an avalanche when I walked the road from her heart
The sun and the moon collided and the stars were washed black
The depth of night became thin as her taught lips
When she spoke the words I knew before she spoke

The sun and the moon were her eyes

November 20, 2017

editors note: Forlorn lover, seeking light; tossed by tandem eclipses into lonely night. – mh clay

Migratory text by Timothy Pilgrim

Ritual journey, known trip
unknown. Tunnel behind,

vaginal, dim. Locked
in memory, blissful ride

amid anemone, cosmos,
buttercup, rose. Lover

now silent, breathing low,
thumbs busy on her phone.

November 19, 2017

editors note: Oh, the pain; she’s about to swipe left. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Need a read? Well whether you do or not, we think you’ll need to read The Firestorm by longtime Contributing Writer, Jenean McBrearty.

Here’s what editor MH Clay​ has to say about this featured short:

A colossal case of, “What you heard is not what I meant!” So much strife over who meant what, when it’s what you don’t mean that can hurt you.

It goes a lil something like this:

(“much ado about meaning” photo by MH Clay)

What did Gary Hartnel expect for Pell Grant funded education, the classical intellectualism? For that he would have needed a passport and a time machine. No, these were the days of hurry-up and get a piece of paper and a job days. By 2005, however, learning Latin and Greek, or studying philosophy in the original German, was thought to be waste of time. Not the teaching, just the learning. Who could remember all those declensions, propositions, and paradoxes when there was Facebook and twitter to distract the mind?

But Gary wasn’t your average Millennial. At twenty-five, the acetylene torch artist had a welding certificate hanging on his wall, a decently furnished apartment in Danville, and four-year-old Toyota Tundra that was three payments shy of being paid off. It isn’t surprising he got a lion’s share of the available pussy in town, but, wisely, he didn’t want to clutter up his pursuit of the American dream with a wife and somebody else’s kids, either. By thirty-five, he was a homeowner. So why did he clutter up his life with a firestorm?

It was, he maintained for the rest his life, an accident…

That there is quite the cliffhanger, eh? What firestorm did Gary find himself in? Will he get outta it? You’ll never know if you don’t click here!

••• Mad Swirl Review •••

Another Mad Review: MACHINE OF ALMOSTING by MH Clay

POETRY: 1993-2016
By Paul Sexton
Poeticus Mundi Publishing
Arlington, TX 2017

23 years represents one-third of a man’s lifespan here in the great state of Texas. One third of any life represents a lot of growth and change, peppered with bits of joy and pain. One third of a poet’s life, lived in space and on the page, presents an evolution of awareness and development of voice.

MACHINE OF ALMOSTING is an autobiographical collection by our Contributing Poet, Paul Sexton. These 204 poems take us, chronologically, through 23 years of his experiences; from early observations of his surrounding world to forming his philosophical perspectives to surviving in the work force; from finding a mate to having children to separating from his mate to the heartache of divorce; from awakening to the realities of corporate control to bouncing through the single life again; from finding another mate to losing that mate through tragedy to struggling for meaning in what’s left over. That’s a lot to pack into any life. From this poet, in his unique voice, there is a lot with which we can all identify.

It’s Paul’s voice which makes this collection so engaging. (We read it over a couple of nights, like one would read a novel or a biography.) He turns life circumstances into poetic reverie; sometimes with exhilarating eloquence, sometimes with biting, sardonic wit.

Of these 204 poems, we earmarked many which we thought best exhibit Paul’s range of voice and subject matter. We could print them here, but it would be better for the reader to buy the book and read them all…

Get the whole review 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…

Seein’ What Happens,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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