The Best of Mad Swirl : 03.25.18

by March 25, 2018 0 comments

“…the only way poets can change the world is to raise the consciousness of the general populace.”
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Vanguard” (above) by featured artist Jon Marquette.

To see more of Jon’s mad canvases, as well as our other featured artists, visit our Mad Gallery!

(This one tops off his run as our featured artist. But don’t you worry, we’ve lined up one bad ass artisté that is gonna catch your imagination’s eye as much as Jon’s work has. Stay tuned…!)

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum we lost all track of a long conversation; we cried tears for truth, through bottle and blood; we found love beyond stage sensation; we dreamed heaven in a honey flood; we dangled devotion at the end of a string; we imbibed bourbon, dulled memory’s sting; we dispelled despair with a hack and a choke, grappled with grief in a cloud of smoke. Smoke’em if you got’em! ~ MH Clay

He Smokes Her Home by Heather M. Browne

He likes the sound, the scrape
Wooden match scratching worn leather boot
The dent in his thumb and pointer finger
That groove left long after
Her last point

He always lights his cigarette, crooked pinky lifted
With an air, a curve of class married
With his country
She was the classy one
And he draws in deep smoky curls, rolling greys and white
Tugging that old familiar sting, the burn upon his lonely lips
Dragging, long and low, needing to be filled
But smoke doesn’t stay, it doesn’t take up holes
It disappears, gone

His lips only touch Marlboro’s now
Styrofoam coffee cups, a plastic fork now and then
He’s slowly fading, evaporating
Exhaling her wedding veil, filmy and light
The soft flow of her dress, pearl beads puffs down her back
Walking that long aisle to take his side
Ribbons of smoke, gossamer, tying back her auburn hair
He can almost see her eyes
Watching ashes fall
Landing gently, snowflakes out the window on their wedding night
Dropping to the carpet, just like his wife, long ago

March 24, 2018

editors note: Adds sad depth to “smoke’em if you got’em.” (This poem is included in Heather’s recently released collection, Altar Call of Trumpets, published by Red Dashboard. Congratulations, Heather! Read more about it and get your copy here.) – mh clay

EARLY TIMES by Robert Demaree

If you can arrange for adolescence
To coincide with your mother’s change of life,
That will yield a certain result.
Further, if you can arrange to be
An only child, that will heighten the effect.
I’m fairly sure she did not mean things
Exactly the way they sounded:
Well, he talks a good game
To my counselor, depositing me at sports camp;
Who calls that music
Of my Stan Getz LP.
Late in life, she complained about a concert
At the nursing home we’d found:
They were terrible, she said,
And I was in it.

Love is more complicated than you think.

Once or twice we smuggled in a little bourbon,
And she’d smile and click the ice cubes in her glass,
As she had done on Daisy Sanders’ porch
On Rust Pond in June of ’64,
And we would joke about
Those days, those bittersweet
Days of home.

March 23, 2018

editors note: Young look forward and old look back; somewhere to meet in now. – mh clay

how it unravels: by Marisa Adame

me. string. disappearing act looking for the starting knot // tongue- // tied like magician’s scarves that amble without end. mind. twirling. riptides causing ruckus & mayday causing mayhem // a phantom limb of preconceived notions affixed to your wrists & feet. it starts with me // absent. turning trickster in the half- // moon. light as a feather that flaunts its impermanence in wind. the beginning is // me. flimsy. wound up too tight to be wrapped around a hand // & unable to wrap my mind around companionship // i don’t cut myself enough // slack.

March 22, 2018

editors note: How it comes with “no strings attached.” – mh clay

Wings of Light by Hongri Yuan

Each day is a dreamland;
Have you seen my golden palace in heaven?
Many an interstellar kingdom twinkles within that little room of stone.
The music of giants is honey for the soul, that gives you wings of light;
Yet you are surprised as if time had never passed,
When the one armored in diamond escorts you out of the world.

Translated by Manu Mangattu
Assistant Professor, Department of English
St George College Aruvithura, India

March 21, 2018

editors note: If out of here, must be into somewhere, right? (spoken aside, to escort) – mh clay

Better Than Broadway by Alexandria Biamonte

“This doesn’t look like Broadway,”
Remarked the man
Boasting a snide grin.
And I was angry
At first,
Because it’s easy to feel
Working front register
At a coffee shop
In a small town,
When you once
Of fame and glamor
On the grand stage
In the big city.

But then I smiled,
Because I do not need
The spotlight
When I see how my lover’s eyes
Light up.
I don’t need crowds
Cheering my name
When I hear how my lover
Whispers it.
Because this is not
What I thought
I wanted.
This isn’t Broadway,
And these red hills
Don’t say
But you can keep
Your greasepaint and glitter
Because what I have
Is better than Broadway.

March 20, 2018

editors note: Yes, better; especially if the show goes for a lifetime run. – mh clay

Us, years later by Kimberly Madura

Up the broken steps,
between the vodka and the tears,
crying washed out the truths.
We got lost somewhere between
the past and the present.

Somewhere between when those
clear tells fell and the crystal vodka
turned to red blood,
was the trust you needed,
was the truth I wanted.

March 19, 2018

editors note: Sometimes it takes years to break that bottle which blocks the way between trust and truth. (We welcome Kimberly to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay


The piano
The night
And the doubts

If I can make it
Through another week
If I can repair what I have broken

Without a drink
With the money that I don’t have
With all the people who have now gone

This September, it will be forty five
This October, it will be seven
And this November, it will be one month


Like photographs of Shinjuko
Like letters from Sabadell

They are just something
To put down
Something for these thoughts
To tie their petty selves to

Like Guanyin, like beads
Like numbers, like time

Next week

Tell me
Go on, tell me, please –

Does he comfort you
Each and every night?
Will they carry on working
When you cannot afford to pay?
Can you tell me if any of your teachings
Have ever truly conquered death?

I have lost track of all the conversations
And they have lost all track of me

Las Huertas con Carlos
Kunming with Da Ma
136 with The Hurricane

This mind has too many stories
To keep itself occupied
But no attention for the detail

Like the raspberries in the alcohol
Like the mountain brothel honeymoon

I can hear
The glass screen break
And feel it shove
Those Beijing shards
Straight back down my opiated throat

All carved out charm for prostitutes
All blackened blood from a poisoned tongue



Would you forgive?
Would you forget?
Would you ever believe a word of it?


From Khaosan clubs
To dirty Poipet massage parlours
The lies I like to feed myself
Give no reasons and have no answer for
The dust, the shelves, the walls and jars


I nod
I see
I hear

The moonlight shifting
The piano playing

Through these rooms
Through these autumn trees

March 18, 2018

editors note: No apology; apologia only. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you’re in need of a read (which we KNOW you are) then feast your eyes upon Larry’s Karma by long time Contributing Writer & Poet, Carl Kavadlo​!

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick-of-the-week tale:

Death, some of us have a hand in it. A few of us, though, have both.

And here’s a taste to tease your read-buds:

(photo “Behind the Backs of Angels” by Tyler Malone aka The Second Shooter)

“Kerouac would have hated the computer.”

“And why is that?”

“It would be too tempting to change things.”

They always got into that.


The story was good. It was about a fight in a bar which our writer had the pleasure of witnessing, having been then employed as a musician in that bar. The owner, named Nicky Holiday, was fighting a funeral director named Larry Corroza. They were tumbling all over the tables and then five of Nicky’s bodyguards jumped in, too. And you heard all this noise and racket, and these bodies jumping around, you saw.

They were both drunk and the thing just started, but the problem was the next week…

And that there, folks, is what’s called a true blue cliffhanger! We urge you to get the rest of this read on 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…

Raisin’ It,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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