The Best of Mad Swirl : 11.09.19

by on November 10, 2019 :: 0 comments

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.”

Carl Sagan

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Untitled (from the series “Wiring Simplified”) ~ R. Keith

This month we welcome back one of our favorites (though admittedly it’s hard to pick ‘favorites’ when it comes to the gallery), the great R. Keith. Combining a variety of vintage pictures with ripped up text (captions?), these collages have a stark mystery to them that always captures our attention. We don’t quite know why and we don’t quite know how but R. Keith’s works manage not to ask the questions but give the answers. Answers to what, we haven’t quite figured out yet…but we think that’s the fun part. Get an eye-full right here! ~ Madelyn Olson

To see ALL of R’s crazy collages, as well as our other featured artists (45 total!), visit our Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forumwe up and ran from the Karma Man; we dreams imposed on blooming rose; we grieved in pain on a homebound train; we watched an advance in games of chance; we awaited release, being jailed for peace; we fumbled letters, watch words dear, working ways to spell out f-e-a-r; we tattooed best in a dream quest. It’s all in ink; what we dream, what we think. ~ MH Clay

Tattooed Love by Catfish McDaris

My old man played the blues
and dragged me from Biloxi,
to Chicago and Paris, one day he
quit speaking and forgot his guitar.

He sat in a chair for five years
eating chicken and drinking whiskey,
then he turned into a butterfly before
my eyes and flew out the window.

I woke with a dog shit tongue, my
chest was covered with a dried
blood-soaked towel, it was saffron
colored and stank of tequila.

A tattoo of Jesus walking on water
adorned my freshly shaved torso.
Holy guacamole I thought, now I’ll
probably be touched by the finger of God.

I met a beautiful Mexican senorita,
she said, “You’re tired and I am too.
but we are two different animals,
you need rest, I am run over

Worn bald at the edges and can’t
get much traction. With time you
will rejuvenate. I am a black chunk
of rubber on the road of life.”

We traveled north to the valley of chilis
hanging crimson from adobe vigas, at
night we slept under a Frida Kahlo moon
dancing horses licked our faces awake.

November 9, 2019

editors note: Without the tattoo, it could all be a dream. – mh clay

Fear by Polly Richardson (Munnelly)

Fragility screams, choking breath.
Etches itself, sharping as it moves
Ambiguously, freezing fight- flight
Raring itself painted gold, blue or

amber, anything to grapple on,
leaving its listeners popple bewilderment.

as the bullet kisses,
The moment enough strips bare,
as piss streams booted out by bladders,
that silence thumb- turns pages in foxholes
*Ledwidge, his pencil – did you?
Were your eyes sliced into slivers, laid out?
turned up begging to run on their stalks?
Did ears bleed to drown out – colour the sounds?


The pause before hands smashed you into wall
the moment girl is selected as woman to please
to death do they part,
The boy who loves him first steps to say I am…
the blinded footfalls passing invisible asking- can you spare?
That spotting at 10weeks, silencing quickening- gestation muted
forever in dream whispers of imagine ifs,
the cow before slaughter last lowering,
to stand face mirror, whisper I am, this is, I love you.
Waking up to face shadow huddles pointing sneers, snarling
black dog unleashed,
The moment you say goodbye,
stepping into yourself, removing fungal layers of each
Fragility scream, choking breath
Raring itself

*Ledwidge, Francis; 1891- 1917, Irish poet from Slane, Co Meath, Ireland; Killed in WW1 by a stray shell, July 31st, 1917

November 8, 2019

editors note: Caught quivering in the spell of the spelling. – mh clay

MY NIGHT IN JAIL by Milton P. Ehrlich

Time seemed to have stopped
as I clung to cold steel bars.
It felt like I was held in chains
in the Inquisition’s private hell.
Sleep was not a possibility,
and my shoulder still hurts
from a thwack by an angry cop
who hated me for marching
with “Veterans For Peace.”
I couldn’t get the stink of shit
out of my nose from a toilet
that wouldn’t flush, while I waited
for Lenny, my college classmate,
an ACLU lawyer, to get me out.

November 7, 2019

editors note: Pitched into the pokey for proffering peace. – mh clay

The Miracles of Money by Jon Bennett

I see him while I grind away
at penny keno, hoping to turn
$5 into $15
He’s wizened, thin
a smoked hock baking
in cigarette smoke
and he has 1,000s,
odd in this backwater town
One day I sit beside him and watch
“You live in Lakeport?” I ask
He blinks in amazement
that someone has chosen
to talk to him
“All my life. Are you
an angel?” he asks
He’s serious, and I realize
he is insane
“No,” I say,
as he hits
another jackpot
“Good one,” I say
“The miracles of money,” he says
looking toward the heavens
and the angels
forever circling
his head

November 6, 2019

editors note: Believe or bet; it’s a gamble all the way. – mh clay

Homegoing by Gayle Bell

The media portray someone’s last breath
slowing beeps on the monitors
one long continuous beep
When they took my daughter off the machine
There was silence
my halted breath
She sighed
looking like she was having
the most beautiful dream
I stood over her
willing her to let go
Letting her know we would be ok
I told her your grandmothers waiting
I pictured her running until
her granny laughed swooped her up
I hope that’s what really happened
My hands like Rosary beads
On the train from Bakersfield
A needed visit with my son
Sharing grief, joy and belly ache stories
I stood in the observation car of the Amtrak
from mountains to desert
A pretty good description of my emotions
Somebody wrote Help Me
in the sand in El Paso
under a duct tape sky

November 5, 2019

editors note: Some go out, some come in. Hello! Goodbye! – mh clay


The manifest of my dreams
in spring
is written cool, bland,
lyrically lazy
about the green shrubbery
and the yellow brown roses
come ugly upon a trailer park Easter

…a bit of leafy stem
sticks its head above
the loam

and this is our Jesus!, our poetry!

November 4, 2019

editors note: Jesus in every flower. Resurrection in every Spring. – mh clay

Unfettered By Your Moral Darbies by Paul Tristram

…and without a shadow,
or a ghost of a conscience to speak of.
He strikes an England’s Glory matchstick
across a [NO SMOKING] sign,
with a theatrical flair, and arrogance…
which sensitive folk can taste upon the air
for a good, full mile radius.
He cups, tattooed-knuckled hands,
beneath the rim of a Herbert Johnson’s
(Nunquam Non Paratus)
grave-dark, razor-sharp trilby,
courtesy of New Bond Street, London,
setting light to a Lebanese Black laced,
expertly crafted, Old Holborn roll-up.
He exhales a loose skull & crossbones,
and smirks, in a complicated manner…
then, whistling Smetana’s ‘The Moldau,’
as the night-time rain visually electrifies
the outline of his swaggering aura,
he sets off, at an ambling-gait…
in your general direction.
Why? Well, the word on the cobbles
is that he’s bought your ‘Karmic Debt,’
and the ‘Cashing-In’ of such a matter
always promises to be an Alchemic mix
of the Sublime and Psycho/Fantastical.

November 3, 2019

editors note: No one is prepared for sublime payback when brought by such a scary dude! – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Who Needs-a-Read? So help us Sophia, we know someone out there does!

Saturday’s featured short story came to us from Contributing Writer Mike Lafontaine.

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about Mike’s story:

Whatever energy keeps us looking and hoping for something under the atmosphere won’t spark a wildfire in your life. You will. Be the wildfire you want to see in the world.

Here’s a few pithy lines of Mike’s The Sophia Energy to get you contemplating:

(photo “Purrfect Woman” by Tyler Malone)

I believe God is a woman. Why do I think God is a woman? The creator of all living things? I think it happened after the accident (I’ll get to that later on). For the longest time I tried to understand my own purpose. I used to look up at the stars and feel somehow I was in the wrong place.

Gnostics believe in the Sophia Code, or the Sophia Energy which is a fractal energy, an all-encompassing energy field which is God. An energy where the creator exists which in quantum mechanics its holographic in nature. That energy is feminine that’s why I believe God is woman.

Before the accident. I was a normal kid, my parents did not have any of my problems as far as I could tell, they died in a car accident when I came home after semester break my freshman year.

I was the driver.

I was in a coma for a very long time. I came out of it. They did not…

Ride the rest of this spiritual rollercoaster right here!


This very touching tale comes to us from Vivek Nath Mishra.

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about Vivek’s story:

The hands of creation aren’t the same but that doesn’t mean they’re hands of destruction. They’re just meant to cradle something else, maybe not life and death, but maybe built to hold memories.

Here is a bit of Hands to get your mid-week read goin’:

(photo “Encyclopedia of the Skies” by Tyler Malone)

I remember my mother had built a small terrace garden on the roof. I was around fourteen years old then and I helped my mother in her endeavors. She had built a room size steel cage with whatever money she had saved for years. It was impossible for her to do gardening on the roof without any guard as mischievous red faced macaque monkeys would destroy her plants. My father used to give her some money for the household expenses and she saved a little amount for her terrace garden.

After years of saving, she finally ordered for a steel cage and got a mason working on the roof for the cage. I remember I was so excited for the terrace garden. I would take the pots, plants and a bucket of water on the roof with my mother.

She had planted many seasonal flowers on the roof. Marigolds, cosmos, geranium, dahlia were common in our terrace garden. We would go together to a nursery and buy plants for our roof garden. On Sundays we would clean the roof and give a shower to all the plants…

Dig on into this fertile literary soil right here!

••• Open Mic •••

This past 1st Wednesday of November (aka 11.06.19) Mad Swirl once again whirled up our open mic madness! Once again we did our thang at the historic Top Ten Records! HUGE GRATS to them for opening their arms to us Mad ones & shout out to all you mad poets, performers, artists and musicians who helped swirl us up some googily madness!

This month we celebrated our 15th year of open mic madness! It’s was hard to believe it has been 15 years since we first hosted our event at Absinthe Lounge back in 2004. Such fine Mad mic memories from back then and a whole lotta new ones to make as we venture forward!

Here’s the Mad ones that contributed helped us Swirl-abrate of landmark year by sharing their poetic & musical gifts with us:


Chris Curiel (trumpet)
Carlos Salas (pocket operator)


Johnny Olson
MH Clay
Suza “Hep Kat Mama” Kanon
Chris Zimmerly
Opalina Salas
Paul Sexton
Brett “BA” Ardoin
Devorah Titunik
Tony Robinson
Susan M Duval
Martin Hache
James “Bear” Rodehaver

~ intermission ~

Harry McNabb
Alan Gann
Josh Weir
Colby Charles
Afton Claiborne

Here’s a visual of who was who (HUGE grats to Rosie Lindsey for these mad snaps):

Mad Swirl Open Mic : 11.06.19

Thanks to ALL WHO CAME to support the launch of our creative collaborative love-child & share in this googily, loving, laughing, lasting night of poetry and music!

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 scenes that was right here…

••• Mad Merch •••

The whole mad swirl of merch begins right here, at our online store! If you haven’t already got yourself some mad threads to sport, then you’ve come to the right post.

We have Mens & Ladies tees in all sizes & even MORE colors. We also brought back mad mugs to fill with your favorite coffee, tea and/or whiskey! Hoodies! Tank Tops! Phone Cases! Stickers!

Come browse & if something catches your eye, get a little something-something for yourself & while you’re at it, get a little something for your nearest & dearest mad one in your swirlin’ world!


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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