The Best of Mad Swirl : 06.01.19

by on June 2, 2019 :: 0 comments

“When the poet makes his perfect selection of a word, he is endowing the word with life.”

John Drinkwater

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Of Course ~ Fabrice Poussin

To see more of Fabrice’s poignantly poetic photos, as well as our other featured artists (45 total!), visit our Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forumwe dissed in deference to god’s girl preference; we lamented the loam of johnny’s new home; we tarried in the time of low rent rhyme; we bodied our dread in hope-baked bread; we found new breath through flame of death; we fumbled to fall, too late, save all; we sought safe whole through burn control. We strike spark, make mark, stand stark; sometimes light, sometimes dark. ~ MH Clay

Postcard from Herington Kansas by Jason Baldinger

fields brown with wheat
fields spotted with cows
fields purple, a clover sea
fields black from controlled burn
still reek of pitch

June 1, 2019

editors note: We call it control if it doesn’t burn us. (We welcome Jason to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Dread by Gary Beck

In the prevailing climate
of imminent destruction
of civilization,
it may no longer be
in our nature
to save ourselves
before it is too late.

May 31, 2019

editors note: So close to the fire we gotta get. No spark will fall on us, we believe it. – mh clay

Eternal Life by Milenko Županović

of horror
in open
of faith
in veins
of death.

May 30, 2019

editors note: Long odds on faith. Is how you see it, how it will be seen? – mh clay

Falling Apart by Durga Prasad Panda

Now, finally, I’ve come
to declare a ceasefire
against my own body
with whom I’ve fought
all these years.

Now my body
looks like a war-ravaged
skinscape; a fallen city
torn asunder by strife
my two hands are at war
with each other. Feet are
vagabonds of the worst order
always ready to drift apart
they even threaten to secede.

My dreamless, liquid eyes
have hardened
into a slippery stone.

My tongue is actually
an unleashed dog
barking endlessly at its own shadow
my fingers carry nothing
but scorn on their tips.

This ruined, desolate heart
pumps only blood of betrayal
from within the despair
of my battered soul
rise long sighs
like dark columns of smoke.

Sitting across the sad,
white corridor of my bones
I go on kneading the dough
of my pain
trying hard to bake
some soft bread of hope.

May 29, 2019

editors note: The ultimate rebellion; overthrow of self. – mh clay

Bloody Mary by Jon Bennett

She has an SRO in North Beach
and she’s a poet
who taught writing at the arts school
until the white wine
caught up with her
“My hotel room could be nice,” she says,
“but when I’m there
all I want to do is leave!”
The room is 9×10
and the one window
looks into an airshaft
If you open the window
you smell hamburger grease,
fish sauce and durian
but if you close it
all you smell
is mold
which is why
she’s always at the bar
“But hey,” she says,
“isn’t poetry great?!”
I look into her bleary eyes
and we both
raise a glass.

May 28, 2019

editors note: Pay by the glass, by the room, or by the poem. Ain’t no “Free!” – mh clay

Johnny Never Came Marching Home Again… by Johnny Olson

(listen to the musical inspiration for this pome)

But he did return.

He arrived in a box with a star spangled​
and blood striped flag, draped with care.

When Johnny didn’t come marching home again (so long, so long)
They gave him a funeral welcome then (so long, so long)…

​A warrior’s funeral.​
​Complete with a 21 gun salute,
​a lonesome rendition of ​
Taps, and a
​finely folded​
consolation flag.
The same flag that came draped on Johnny’s ​coffin.

The boys held back tears, the men stood tall,
The ladies, one by one they called​…​

They mentioned Johnny’s name on the news.
They remembered his life and honored his memory.
They said they would always remember their hometown hero.
They all felt the loss

when Johnny didn’t come marching home.

Johnny didn’t enlist to be a cog in the great war machine.
​But he knew the ultimate price
​might have to be paid
when he raised his right hand and said:

“I, Johnny Citizen, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

When his Country called, he did his duty.
With a lump in his throat and with pride on his side,
Johnny went off to ​fight.

Let reverence and remembrance reign this day (so long, so long)
Remember the ultimate sacrifices made (so long, so long)…​

He prayed.
He prayed every day he awoke alive,
and doubly so at night,
to live to fight another day​, so help him God.

God was there on Johnny’s lips as he took his final breaths.
​So were the fading memories of home.
So were mom and dad.
So were brother and sister.
So were friends and lovers.

And so was this final scene –

​A warrior’s funeral.​
​Complete with a 21 gun salute,
​a lonesome rendition of ​
Taps, and a
​finely folded​
consolation flag.

This is what Johnny saw as he looked up
at foreign skies.

He never asked why.
He knew this was his time.
​He knew this was his duty.
Johnny said his last prayer
and his final goodbyes.
​No fanfare, no fame.
Just another life given,
a sacrifice made
in ​this deadly game
named ​

So may we do our patriotic part (so long, so long)
Be grateful and thankful for this warrior’s heart (so long, so long)…

And remember the meaning of this day,

When all the Johnny’s didn’t come marching home.

May 27, 2019

editors note: Because this is worth reading on this Day…
Here’s to the day when no new boxes come home, no new flags are draped and folded, no new tears are wrenched from newly aching hearts. Thanks to Johnny O for these Memorial words! May we learn, at last, to practice war no more. – mh clay

get right with the lord by J.J. Campbell

i laugh at
the women
who tell me
i need to get
right with the
lord to find
a woman

i doubt the
lord likes the
women i find

May 26, 2019

editors note: They’re found at the Devil’s parties. Amen. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

This week’s edition of Mad Swirl’s Need-a-Read series comes to us from our very own Short Story Editor & Mad Swirl Trifecta-ist (Contributing Writer/Poet/Artist) Tyler Malone!

Here’s what our Poetry Editor, MH Clay, has to say about Tyler’s sleeper of a story Last Night on Earth (TX):

“The dead don’t wake in our noise. We can’t sleep in their silence. Need to make our own.”

And here’s a few lines to get you stirrin’:

(photo “Home’s Head” by Tyler Malone)

Antlers, still attached to frozen plastic bagged deer heads, stare as my husband sits into a sagged old lawn chair in our new garage. Old paint buckets to touch up new scratches we put in our new world pyramid around us. We didn’t need a map to find a home with one another, just a compass. But the damn severed heads should be in the freezer, no matter the temperature of the night, now colder and slower after celebratory move in beers crumple next to our son’s dropped different sized sports balls on the garage floor like a fallen galaxy around the propane heater central star. He’d still be rolling and bouncing his universe if his father didn’t run him off…

Now run that mouse of yours right here to get your read on!

••• Open Mic •••

In case you missed the scoop shared at this past Mad Swirl Open Mic, the Regal Room has closed its doors & left us once again, without a home…

But if there is one thing Mad Swirl is, it’s tenacious! The mad winds have once again guided us to our new home (our 5th in 15 years!) and we couldn’t be more excited to announce it!

Join Mad Swirl THIS 1st Wednesday (aka 06.05.19) as at 8:00 SHARP as we swirl up the mic & break in our new home, RUINS!

To start us off, Chris Curiel’s Swirve (with special guest Clay Stinnett on skins) will get us movin’ with some Mad musical grooves . After that, join in & share in the Mad Swirl’n festivities.

Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call Mad Swirl Open Mic.

Come to participate.

Come to appreciate.

Come to Swirl-a-brate our new digs!

P.S. To get a spot on our pre-list, all you gotta do is give us a “Going” on our FB event page and check-in the night of!

••• Mad Swirl Press •••

Get you your very own copy of The Best of Mad Swirl : v2018!

Our 112 page anthology features 52 poets, 12 short fiction writers, and four artists whose works were presented on throughout 2018. We editors reviewed the entire year’s output to ensure this collection is truly “the best of Mad Swirl.” The works represent diverse voices and vantages which speak to all aspects of this crazy swirl we call “life on earth.”

This anthology is a great introduction to the world of Mad Swirl!

If we have enticed you enough to wanna get you your very own copy of “The Best of Mad Swirl : v2018” then click that mouse right HERE and it shall be done!


Black Sparrow Dress Up

Shell freshly fractured. Soaking wet, chick wobble, cheep cheep cheep, every sparrow starts naked and bewildered. So does this collection. Then page by year by life experience; pinions form, feathers fluff to cover and warm. Wobble turns to wonder, storms weathered. Nest explored as erstwhile shelter, soon to prison turned. Then flight – sweet flight, skyward flutter, windward soar, new lands; new life, evolved from old. Sparrow flies free. – mh clay

This is Black Sparrow Dress by Opalina Salas. Get it. Read it. Fly…

Mad Swirl Press is very honored to be the publishing home for Opalina’s poetic collection. This 80-page beauty is filled with 20+ years of her powerful poetry and complimented quite nicely with a handful of full-color mind-bending illustrations by artist Madelyn Olson.

Black Sparrow Dress is available at (for you long-distance mad ones) for $20.


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

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