The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.05.19

by on January 6, 2019 :: 0 comments
Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance. Carl Sandburg

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Nightmare Mirror ~ Stephen Vanderhaar

To see all of Stephen’s swirly’n’silly yet perfectly profound scenes, as well as our other featured artists, visit Mad Swirl’s Gallery.

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we liked where we sat with our lizard tatt; we met the girl who would change the world; we made a list of best intentions; we checked again, resolved inventions; we sought a place to scatter ashes; we looked for meaning in schoolyard clashes; we vied for verity from life’s polarity. It’s a zero sum pendulum. Keep it swinging. ~ MH Clay

Something Else’s Thoughts by Dah

Darkness grows gray
then bright
then dark
again turning gray

We are two parts of gray’s polarities:
the simple and complex,
the sound, soundless,
black, white

I sense everything is beginning:
the before-world, after-world
the open entrance, closed entrance

My thoughts have become something else’s thoughts
because I never know what I’m thinking or worse, why
was I thinking it?

I want to be ordinary, mundane, a basic pebble
an empty soul with no opinion
I hear talking inside my head but it’s not my voice:

Every cloud quivers to be rain
every rain falls to be an ocean
every ocean becomes a cloud

I answer without thinking:
Yes. No. But never maybe

Should I speak or should I listen?

January 5, 2019

editors note: As we simmer in this cycle, keep mum. (This is the title poem to Dah’s new collection. Get your copy here.) – mh clay

Schoolyard Game by Mike Horan

There are circles within squares,
Squares perfectly painted
Corners crisp as an ironed shirt
Sharp as a razor tongued wife
The circle not quite as perfect
One curve scuffed from..
Paw prints?
A red rubber ball, the size of last year’s Halloween pumpkin,
Sits off-center
Rocking back and forth in the breeze.
There is something to this configuration
An alignment of mathematical possibilities that
Might explain everything
Some meaning to ‘why?’ if I just squint hard enough.
But the circle within the square with the red ball
Sits silent under the cloudy blue sky.
A breeze stirs, a slight exhalation, so faint
It’s felt not heard.
It has to mean something, doesn’t it? The circle, the square,
The ball?
A crow perched on a wall ponders the same, I know,
Muttering, shaking his head, fluffing feathers until
A loud screech signals the release of a
Horde of 8 year olds,
Bearing down on me like the
Last wave at the end of the world,
Flowing around me like a boulder in their river.
Red ball picked up
Some go into the circle
The rest shake out in the square
And begin a game that involves
Hand slapping
Throwing the ball as hard as they can
At someone’s face
And screams of ‘cheater!

January 4, 2019

editors note: Making meaning from the melee is a dodgy deed. – mh clay

We Can Never Live Where We Want by Marianne Szlyk

A friend’s ashes clump by a red bush.
His quizzical, bearded ghost
peers in at interns opening mail.

He had been happy once
as he wandered by the river
drinking bad coffee.

But I feared being caught
scattering his ashes
into slow, black water.

I feared clambering
over rusted shopping carts
while police watched above.

Now my ghost can’t leave town,
ashes mingling with the cat’s.
Our urn is the pin

upon which I, no angel, dance.

January 3, 2019

editors note: An issue of ethics over real estate for ashes. – mh clay

New Year’s Resolutions : Comprehensive Manual by Irena Pasvinter

So, here it is, the newborn year,
All fresh and pink like a postcard baby,
Full of promise and irresistible urge
To engage in notorious resolutions.

To lose weight,
To write a book,
To go to Paris,
To learn Japanese,
To look at the stars,

Go ahead, take a clean sheet of paper
Or open a file from scratch
And write them down,
One by one, as they come.

To lose weight,
To write a book,
To go to Japan,
To learn Chinese,
To taste Chateau Margaux,

In no time you’ve filled out the page.
Well done! Preserve it for the future usage.
The urge is satisfied now.
Welcome into the New Year.

To lose this bloody weight,
To read a book,
To watch a movie about Japan,
To learn a hundred words in Chinese,
To taste Premier Cru,

As the year grows you adjust your plans.
Your resolutions wane
Like so many moons.
Nothing new under the sun…

To hell with this bloody weight.
Better read a book,
Watch a movie about Japan,
Learn a poem in French,
Drink a glass of wine with friends,

So, here you are again,
Awaiting for another New Year.
It’s time to look at your resolutions list
Which we preserved so wisely.

To lose weight,
To write a book,
To go to Japan,
To learn Chinese,
To taste Chateau Margaux,

If you find anything you achieved, kudos to you.
Now take the aforementioned list
And tear it into tiny pieces. This makes
Perfect snow for your New Year tree. Whatever.

To lose weight,
To read books,
To go to the cinema,
To learn Latin,
To make New Year’s resolutions,

Repeat the next year and for many years to come.

January 2, 2019

editors note: In case you didn’t get around to this yesterday; here’s a guide to building your list (or, your resolve not to have one). – mh clay

INTENTIONS by Madelyn Olson

1) go to yoga once or twice a week again
2) actually eat the produce you pay to get hand-delivered to your door
3) make smoothies with it 4) i don’t know. just stop letting it rot.

5) commit to a hobby or volunteer work 6) or both if you can swing it but lets not get crazy
7) judge less. i know you say it’s because you’re a creative type, or whatever, but we both know it’s not just innocent observation.
8) you think some mean shit 9) just cus you don’t say it out loud doesn’t make it not mean

10) finish reading more books
11) make it your personal practice to write every day
12) even when you don’t wanna 13) maybe even especially then

14) stop being so afraid to learn new things. it’s your ‘talented and gifted’ complex, we know, but it’s not an excuse 15) you don’t have to be good the 1st time or even the 20th time

16) still try, though 17) still grow

18) eat less dairy and bread if you can and 19) if you can’t, don’t be hard on yourself
20) focus more on art from a business perspective. put in the effort. you want to make this a career someday, act like it.
21) move out of town. you love it here but you might be outgrowing it.
22) take probiotics 23) make mushroom tea 24) don’t settle for toxic relationships just to have the space filled

25) emptiness welcomes fullness and 26) endings welcome beginnings and in that vein…

27) stop holding onto things for their sentimental value. a few things is fine.
28) find a therapist 29) come to terms with death 30) leave the country again 31) go for more walks
32) get a dog. you’ll walk more.

33) tune your eyes to see opportunity in things not going as planned
34) microwave less dinners 35) buy less beauty products
36) stop convincing yourself that you will be a better version of you if you just buy this one last beauty product
37) it’s a sham

38) moisturize and stop picking at your skin
39) express soft sappy love when it begs to be expressed. you don’t have to play tough and cool. you are rarely apathetic or disinterested so stop pretending to be.

40) pick a topic or two to learn more about and buy some books about it 41) budget better
42) spend less time on your phone and more time actively loving on pets
43) be nice even when the world seems pretty mean
44) come up with some affirmations and affirm yourself 45) forgive yourself

46) forgive everyone else even though in your stubborn heart you don’t feel like anyone who has wronged you deserves it. they might not but do it for you.

47) surround yourself with beauty
48) unplug when you need to
49) don’t let the world make you cold
50) i mean it. don’t do it.

January 1, 2019

editors note: Whatever our intentions for this New Year, may they lead you to 49) and 50). We mean it, too! – mh clay

Revolution by Kerby Purser

You don’t know it, but you inspired me today
You threw your hand out of your window in a peace sign as you were changing lanes
And I’ll never meet you
I’ll never know your name
It wouldn’t matter if you were Jewish, black, or gay, because we really are the same
And maybe it is the end of the world
“The final stage of Evolution”
Well, so what if it is?
I’d like to see a revolution
I’d like to see people care
about a little bit more than the box office
or what celebrities wear
I’d like for people to pay more attention
to the words that they choose
And the things that they mention
But it’s just me wishing out loud
I’ve got my head in the clouds
All I want from humanity is a reason to be proud
Because we are going downhill
Or maybe it’s just the way it’s always been
But I want better than mundane if this really is the end
I haven’t lived long
But I’ve had enough time
to appreciate the night sky
and the way that words rhyme
I can’t help but feel
that we’ve lost that sense of real emotion
It’s what we try so hard to kill
with our mindless ways to pass the time;
drugs, alcohol, social media,
and all of these TV shows about crime
But it’s not too late, we don’t have to destroy ourselves
I’m trying to change the world
and I’m asking for your help

December 31, 2018

editors note: I’m in! Happy New Year! – mh clay

Biography with Lizard Tattoo by Jeff Grimshaw

I thought I was the king of the garbage cans
But now I know I am a fabulous invention!

The fly strip over the kitchen sink drain
Is a choral symphony with a nutty fugue in the last movement!

I want to turn on the faucet and see a silent movie with Buster Keaton,
A new one! & I want a picture of a monkey on the label

Of my soda bottle! I want more blue everything,
Please! I used to be a strawberry,

But then I got hip to the whole strawberry thing
& now I am full of moons and half moons

Right up to the eyeballs. My light is reflected light
But it is still sweet as butterscotch,

& the witches on roller skates slow down
To say nice things about my lizard tattoo.

December 30, 2018

editors note: Ain’t no resolutions without resolve; know what you want (and what you have). – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you’ve got one of those Need-a-Read feelings, then stop your scroll-roll & get you some of this week’s featured tale, The Worst It by Short Story Editor & Mad Trifecta-ist (Contributing Writer/Artist/Poet) Ty Malone!

Here’s what Associate Editor Mike Fiorito has to say about this pick of the week:

The worst “it” is never the same old thing. The worst “it” is new every time it rears its evil head. And sometimes that head gets shot through with holes.

The House, the Steeple by Ty Malone

Get your read-need fed right here!

••• Open Mic •••

To ALL ye yin & yang hangers, ye yang & yin winners, ye lookers for the new, ye bookers of the blue skies beyond the auld lang syne… ye transformers & reformers & resolved heart warmers came & shook the old & new together to make a “now” like no other at Mad Swirl’s New Year 2019 Open Mic!

Here’s a shout out to all who witnessed this mad transformation & graced us with your words, your songs, your divine madness…

Notes of Gratitude to the Mad Ones : 01.02.19

(click to start the slideshow : photos courtesy of Dan “the MAN!” Rodriguez)


Johnny O
MH Clay



Mad Mic Cast:

Tamitha Curiel
Carlos Salas
Opalina Salas
Brett “BA” Ardoin
Emmeline Miles
Colby Charles
Harry Mcnabb
Emilie Catlett
Josh Weir
Tom Farris
Rebekah Armstrong

GREAT BIG thanks to Swirve (Chris Curiel trumpet, Chris Holmes skins, Tamitha Curiel vocals) for stirring the Swirl the best way in the world!

More HUGE thanks to Regal Room’s Thad Kuiper & staff for makin’ our stay most righteous.

And lastly, but never leastly, thanks to all who came down to Deep Ellum & shared this loving, laughing, lasting night of poetry and music with us!

May the madness swirl your way! ’til next 1st Wednesday…

Johnny O

P.S. In case you missed the LIVE feed, your eye can spy on the Swirl’n scene that was right here…

••• Mad Blog •••

t’was 20 years ago today that Mad Swirl began to whirl our way! Yep, a full score ago, our creative outlet, Mad Swirl, was born! I still can’t believe we’ve been swirlin’ together since way back in 1999. Who woulda thunk that an idea to start a small local zine would have evolved into the worldwide presence that it is today? Not me! But here we are…

Thru the years we’ve been going in but never outta style. We always strive to raise a smile and that’s why we’ve been here all the while. So may I introduce to you, the Mad staffers you’ve known for all these years?

The Mad Swirl Staffers today: Ty Malone, MH Clay, Cheyenne Gallion, Johnny Olson & Madelyn Olson (not pictured, Mike Fiorito)

HUGE GRATS to all the Mad Staffers, MH Clay (Poetry Ed), Ty Malone (Short Story Ed), Madelyn Olson (Visual Ed) & Mike Fiorito (Associate Ed)… for all you’ve done to raise and love on our creative love-child! (separate but equal shout-outs to former Mad Staffers/Co-Founders Cheyenne Gallion & Lisa Carmen too for helping plant those mad seeds all those moons ago)

Today, in 2019, we are still goin’ & growin’ & flowin’ to bounds unknowin’ & we’ll keep shufflin’ after because the ones for us have been, & always will be, the Mad Ones!

Here’s & cheers to another 20!

Mad Love,

Johnny Olson
(Chief Ed & Founder)


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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