The Best of Mad Swirl : 12.22.18

by December 23, 2018 0 comments

Against the ruin of the world, there is only one defense: The creative act.

Kenneth Rexroth

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Mad Swirl is mighty pleased to bring back visual artist Stephen Vanderhaar with more crazy cartoons, illustrating silly scenarios only a mad mind like Vanderhaar could dream up. Suffice it to say, we’re glad an i-mad-gination like Stephen’s isn’t going to waste and we’re honored to get our glimpse into it. You can get a glimpse too, right here!Madelyn Olson

To see all of Stephen’s swirly’n’silly scenes, as well as our other featured artists, visit Mad Swirl’s Gallery at!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we dissected a day to make grief’s way; we tripped a sad path in the aftermath; we filtered words like spoken birds; we gleamed in the light of cold star night; we poked a skull to meet life’s lull; we piqued in the power of the Christmas flower; we chose to be deceived by the one we had believed. We all know, it’s all show; but, such a sweet show it is. What the hell – no “L.” ~ MH Clay

Santa by Madelyn Olson

when i confronted my mom,
demanding the truth,
she told it.

i ran to my room, tears soaking my face
as if i hadn’t approached her,
determined to know it.

i felt so deceived!
clinging to the remnants of things i believed
to be true (that way children do)

“the cookies, too? you guys ate them?”
she solemnly nodded. my innocence
withered, rotted.

then she said
‘we can pretend you never knew!’
and i agreed (i liked to be deceived by
make-believe things…
and still do).

December 22, 2018

editors note: Looking for your Holiday lie? Pick the one that makes you smile. – mh clay

Poinsettias by Ty Malone

Sporadic stone edges aren’t precious gifts
inside wide throats swallowing sparse praise.

Fingers in orange soil pull rootless weeds—
miracles, gifts never asked for but forced on all.

The secret is never keep it to yourself.

Insistent life breaks earth, opens hope that
our dead don’t rise as earth spits crooked flowers.

What’s given are wildflowers grown on buried grandfathers
never knowing love should flow like whiskey off chins.

Christ’s birthplace of hay accepts kings
but desires sacrifice in all shades between
mountains, marred seas, any world bodies drop.

Field weeds spill, bless corners of carpet church steps.
Wrinkled petals under fingernails stain as blood.

December 21, 2018

editors note: What plants, pulled, can plant; perceptions, previews, post-mortems. – mh clay


Leaves skitter across the concrete –
Hamlet at the skull poking fun,
acting oh-so very discreet.
Hurray, I’m 69 – sidewise Cancer – everyone!
Although I’m in fact a Scorpio-Libra cusp.
Meaning I’ll die unbalanced, crazed with lust.
So – who gives a tinker’s curse?
For me they are already warming up the hearse.

December 20, 2018

editors note: It’s the way we go; might’s well keep the motor running. – mh clay

An orchestrated night by Hem Raj Bastola

When I was:
Playing a dream
An owl in me peeping,
Night was deep and
My subconscious

Waxing moon,
In the sky illuminant
Growing each night.
And a flowing river beside,
Milk white, mirroring;
Pulling my eyes.

Pin drop silence,
Whistling river where:
Orchestrated molten light
Of heaven dances here
In the deep ravine.

Cold night out
Freezing, to adore
The unfiltered
First-hand experience
Of life.

December 19, 2018

editors note: On a cold lit night, warm to the dance of your inner orchestra. – mh clay

No Filter Required by Joshua H. Baker

Evening light in morning disorients
qualities not from winter geometries
Rather as if every eyeballful filtered
Through paint company color decks

Sunrise, starfish, salamander

We compulsively check weather apps
learn Air Quality Index as buzzword
Clear lungs, itchy eyes, a symptom
To the west, tinted murk worries

Amber, apricot, tangerine

Entire childhoods passed without fire
Only jokes about umbrellas and mossy toes
In this new damaged and in-denial world
Masks, paranoia, poison-tinged headlines daily

Safety, international, hunter orange

Smoke and haze drift with weather systems
Plot coups, form their own isobar stories.
Sunset, moonrise photos require little editing
For just the right piece of social media flair.

Papaya, Princeton, burnt

Flames aren’t just for California anymore
Sociopolitical discourse now imbued with the bizarre
This orange world is ablaze daily, no filter required
To reach a ghastly orange nexus of pollution, corruption

Marmalade, sandstone, sunset

December 18, 2018

editors note: Filter, falter, full tour… – mh clay

the aftermath of a rejection letter by Carl Kavadlo

no gold in the air
stahl’s world of
perpetual darkness.
no fields of dreams
in my backyard today.
I’m a gunshot wound
to the head, a blues song
bleeding from broken
finger tips. I’m a
bukowski man instead
of some others.
…some of the others
with cheerier news.
no funny jokes like:
after math is English.
aftermath is only sorrow.

December 17, 2018

editors note: Sorrow is how some sums add up. Gotta do your own math… – mh clay

DAYS by Robert Demaree

How was your day,
Not having a good day:
Someone else’s lexicon.
One day follows another.
He thinks of bad days,
When his father died,
Losing his job:
You land on your feet,
It all works out.
Days and years merging,
A life:
Was it just last Thanksgiving
That she left…
Why he does not require
Going back to Quoddy Head,
Chooses to remember that blue day
In August of ’85.
One day follows another,
One year then the next.
He tries not to use
Words like segue.

December 16, 2018

editors note: Grief is an ever present hole; does not shrink with days, only grows more familiar. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Happy Need-a-Read Day! This week’s featured short story, Riding the Roads comes to us from Contributing Poet & Writer, Ruth Z. Deming.

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

“Love one night at a time until it’s time for the last night of love.”

“At Home in the Weeds” by Ty Malone

Grab the wheel and get this hit-the-road read on right here!

••• Mad Blogs •••

festive photo courtesy of Ty Malone

Merry Mad-ness & A Happy New Swirl

It’s that time of the year when we emote our inner most happy (or other) to any and all with whom we share these days. From now until New Year’s Day, and a little beyond, we will be seeing Holiday verses from a few of our Contributing Poets and Staff here at Mad Swirl.

Poets from our whole Mad world have sent us their best poems as presents for all of you to open each day and enjoy. Thanks to them and to all of our friends in the Swirl. We wish you the best of the season and look forward to a Mad New Year in 2019.

Jingle Bells! ~ MH Clay


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…


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Ty Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

Mike Fiorito
Associate Editor

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