The Best of Mad Swirl : 09.21.19

by on September 22, 2019 :: 0 comments

“What really matters is what you do with what you have”

H. G. Wells

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Inexhaustible As Light Dreaming ~ Bill Wolak

This one closes out Bill’s latest run as our featured artist. Stay tuned next week when we unveil a new featured artist and works!

To see ALL of Bill‘s crazy concoction of collages, 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 heard choir hummin’s to heavenly summons; we sticky reached for life’s sweet peach; we fell in the hole of a wasted soul; we submitted a petition to cease competition; we found no peace from a moonlit beast; we smoked and rolled toward out of control; we flaunted the fact of our high-wire act. It’s like riding a bike; eyes on the horizon and keep those pedals movin’. ~ MH Clay

Circus by Beate Sigriddaughter

On the tightrope
of your condescension
I find myself
astonishingly nimble.

September 21, 2019

editors note: Lofty makes loose. – mh clay

JAZZ SMOKE MADNESS by Bradford Middleton

It was Monday night and I was out on the town
Reading some poems to the enthralled masses
As the magic takes hold, the weed tonight is strong
Leaving me just drinking beer as anything else
Would surely send me insane, unable to read
And no one wanted that, not tonight.

The show grooved on down with talk of old times
From one of the greatest old voices I can ever
Remember; Princess Margaret, Spike Milligan and
Dizzy Gillespie have never all featured in one piece
Before and I riffed along with Salt Peanuts as she
Sat reading her piece my mind delirious with the jazz.

When I got up to read I saw a few old faces dotted in
The crowd and so I began reading one from the first
Book after a London introduction to a New York bar
For a Brighton crowd and finally four poems later I
Was done and returned to the bar to carry on
Drinking, thankful that people seemed to like it.

At the end of the night I got waylaid and eventually
Found myself at the home of another poet, we talked
Shop, we talked football, the return of Timmy Cahill
And about our plans all whilst drinking and chain-
Smoking this insanity. I remember at one point
Shortly after arriving I managed to roll four one
After another and we passed them back and forth
Whilst drinking our high-strength lager before I
Nearly died of laughter, five whole minutes of out
Of control wailing, laughing at something I really
Can’t remember right now confirming to all that
The edge had now finally arrived and beyond,
Well who knows? Will it mean that my mind is well,
How can one say it, fucked?

September 20, 2019

editors note: F’d, indeed. It’s enough to be it, let alone, say it. – mh clay

The Beast of Moonlight by Dmitry Blizniuk

My soul is gray like foam in a saucepan.
I pick up scattered socks, tights,
wish goodnight to my younger son,
check if the door is locked
to prevent the warty beast of moonlight
from finding our souls,
which remain unprotected till morning.
Now nothing can stop us from
romping on pink horses of dream
in rainbow marshes, but I still linger
like a Siberian tiger on an ice rink.
I cling to a book before going to sleep.
I put it down – the seconds of life melt
like sweet snow on the lips,
And I have already nearly melted.
But a sudden thought
yanks me out of the somnolent landscape.

A wild recollection
breaks into my mind like a burglar with a gun.
A small town, a nasty autumn, a bus, fields of stubble –
sutures are open,
but the threads are still there –
someone has removed the golden fetus of the sky.
She cried silently, hiding her face
in her wet hands, Medusa in a kerchief,
ashamed of her own withering eyes,
changing everything around not into stone,
but into a pulsing ulcer, into a diamond of shame.
The salty taste of tears.
Suffering is like a woman inside a marble block.
Knock-knock – she can’t sleep in there.
Where are you from?
Why did you come to me at this time of night?
I’m not a sculptor, and I’m not a vandal.

Another fragment of memory has attached itself to the first one:
a boy is alone at home late at night.
A chamber pot at the window. Heavy curtains.
Dim, sifted light of street lamps –
they look like black giraffes, and they are his best friends.
The dulcimer of loneliness whines slowly.
With such a sound, interns pull out teeth in a morgue. . .
But the waltzing swamps of sleep approach,
and the Creator drops pencils from His hands.
I hear a slight snoring, a rhythmic growl of the fridge.
A deep sigh in the heating pipes quickly fades,
and a green warty paw of the moon beast
gets out softly from behind the curtain…

September 19, 2019

(translated by Sergey Gerasimov from Russian)

editors note: What lurks behind YOUR curtains? – mh clay

Suffering is not a competition by Agnes Vojta

There are no judges
who weigh one person’s grief
against another’s,
no trophies
for the heaviest burden,
no ribbons
for the most deserving despair.

Do not compare.
That others have survived
worse will only add guilt
but not lessen
your depression.

You must still pull
yourself out of the swamp
by your own hair,
yourself healed.

There will be no spectators
applauding at the finish line,
no paparazzi snapping,
no journalists waiting for an interview.

Only you
will know
that you have made it,
with nothing to show
but your heart still beating.

September 18, 2019

editors note: Selah! – mh clay

Soul is a Wasteland by Shelby Cross

Finger in my face
I would almost grab it
if I had the might to fight
but mouse is more house
less feeling than I care to admit
most days

Harsh words
scare my self-respect
right under the carpet
lives there with the dust mites
dead pieces of myself
maybe the rest will die too
while I wait for you
to be gentle with me
spirit always free

Tied to me must be
like dragging a dead leg behind you infection setting in
mottled skin I’m dying too
Mirror mirror face blue who’s the fairest
fair is
fare is owed to you
for carrying my blues
place to place
My soul a wasteland
desert sand through your fingertips
falls on parched lips
cry for summer seas, beach beers
cheers to the good times
You open your eyes to find… me
Not the headstrong
drive all night to get to you
sing song kids to sleep
deep in thought
fought for every minute of life Me

I buried her
in the dirt under every rug in the house
I have swept pieces of her
into the corners of children’s mouths
so they could laugh her into the wind breathe her in
My skeleton doesn’t live in closets
it sits in chairs
works bone grinding bone days
pays debts to make waves
in the desert sand

September 17, 2019

editors note: Inside and out, yes, be gentle. – mh clay

DRINK TEA by J H Martin

A savage beating
With a monkey wrench
A spine smashed in two
By a scaffold pole
And a mob waiting outside
All of them armed
With sticks bats and knives

Last night I dreamt
Of all of these things
And many more besides

But this morning
When I awoke
I found that nearly
Eight years had passed

Now –
I don’t want revenge
And I don’t have
A magic double-edged sword

All I want
Is to stop this mind thinking
That it understands
And from willing this fool
To do what its
Brief blossoms want

To eat this fresh peach
And to keep on eating it

Until its shape
And its colour
Its skin and its taste
Become no more than a peach
And still no peach at all


That’s all any fool dreams

September 16, 2019

editors note: The beating and the balm, a fool’s dream. – mh clay

Ellington Lives, in Heaven, in Hell, on YouTube by Ethan Goffman

Angels dance on piano keys
spontaneous, blinding
hither and yon, traversing black and white.
Perfection in motion.

The marriage of heaven and hell
gorgeous chaos, tumultuous harmony.

A horde of horns
leaps in,
a mad chase
call and response.

Angels dance
a garden
of forking paths
a circuitous maze
each twist, turn, zig, zag, shuffle, leap, pirouette
perfectly planned.

This heavenly choir
satanic convergence
cackling cantankerous conversation
howls from hell to the heavens
in devious delight.

Our hosts from high and low
romance the raw repressed
bounce and bubble
a cacophonous choir.

Rocking in Rhythm,
summoning us all
to heaven
and beyond.

September 15, 2019

editors note: Proof! The devil’s music? Stolen from above. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

This week’s edition of Mad Swirl’s weekly Need-a-Read series comes to us from Contributing Writer Susie Gharib.

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about Susie’s “A Bolt, A Blot

“The world we’re in becomes us as we fill it, stuff it, infect it with what we carry around secretly only to spill it as soon as we can.”

Here’s a spark to get your readin’ motor runnin’:

(photo “Causing Sparks” by Tyler Malone)

The fighter jet decimates each cloud. Smoke cloaks each house with a pall of dust. The smell of burning tires enhances the stench of smoldering rubbish that emanates from the metal containers punctuating our streets and lanes. A car squeals its venom terrorizing the heart of night. The rattle of bullets rends the air like a snake, ensnared. I inhale the odor of discord, of regional and civil wars, and burst in tears at dawn. Some were just writing poems; some were hoarding gold. Some were calculating how much tomorrow’s meals would cost. Some were dreaming of love wrapped up in a box. Some were devouring books to secure a future job. What have we done to deserve this gall?

I have never seen severed heads before! Television screens have turned into licensed horror and gore. I cling to my beads and pray before the invisible Lord…

Get the whole shock of “A Bolt, A Blot” right here!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl THIS 1st Wednesday of October (aka 10.02.19) at 8:00 SHARP as we swirl it up at our temporary Mad mic loco home for OCTOBER, Top Ten Records!

This month we will be revisiting 2008’s Mad Swirl Blue Note Issue. It’s hard to believe it has been 11 years since we released this collection and thought it due time to resurface this mad-tastic line-up!

In case you weren’t there back in 2008 (or need a refresher), here’s the Mad ones that contributed their poetic & musical gifts for this collaborative project:


Chris Curiel (trumpet)
Gerard Bendiks (skins)
Tamitha Curiel (vocals)


Johnny Olson
Cheyenne Gallion
Lisa Carmen
Paul Sexton
Opalina Salas
MH Clay
Desmene Statum
Josh Weir
Roderick Richardson
Chris Zimmerly

After the feature set, hosts Johnny O & MH Clay will open up the mic to invite all y’all to 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 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!

P.S. October’s open mic will be ending earlier than usual so come early to get you a spot on the abbreviated list!


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…

Doin’ It,

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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