The Best of Mad Swirl : 11.30.19

by December 1, 2019 0 comments

“All my inspiration comes from life. That’s how it never stops, in a way.”

Marina Abramovic

••• The Mad Gallery •••

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

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 praised protagonists of the pen, learned to love them more plus ten; we watched a pompous jerk grow fatter, stepping on us to climb his ladder; we got more than we gave from a freshly dug grave; we passed on pluck for dreamers’ luck; we recalled crisp days on childhood loam, grandma’s tea and home sweet om; we lifted head from desperate sand, looking out for sharks on land; we gleaned old meaning from a new Spring cleaning. It’s an empty page we crave… ~ MH Clay

Spring fragments by Jeff Grimshaw

A brief dance across smashed vacuum tubes announcing ‘Spring!’
From cardboard speakers damp & broken, wandering
From one abandoned shed
To another, this mattress still infested
By teenage wildlife till late morning & a network of Christmas lights spread
Over the kitchen table blinking green blinking red—

The garden hose kinked and re-kinked around the hose-cozy,
A massive drop of warm water suspended from the rusty nozzle for (can it be??)
Hours while we faux-eclipse the sun
Through the blue & red gels in our 3-D specs (also cardboard), un-
Earthed from storage boxes.
‘Also dig my fez,
Out of the same box in the attic,’
Said I, ‘like sick!’

Twilight: combing glass out of the sneaker treads,
Enormous plastic banners unfurled on the lawn (actually ruined water beds),
You preserving on pixels some shiny fragments of the day,
Me stuffing others into metal cans, and rolling them away.

November 30, 2019

editors note: When the next one comes around, keep your camera ready and your trash cans clean. (Read another mad missive from Jeff on his page – made us laugh out loud. Check it out!) – mh clay

Key West by Lisa Moak

Desperation isn’t always
found in dark places.
Sometimes it lurks
in sunshine and sand.

It smells of salt air, fish
and Coppertone
instead of cigarettes
and booze.

It’s not a destination
as much as a spot
in your heart
or a corner in your head.

Key West is an island
at the bottom of America.
Shake us up and we all
land at the bottom somewhere.

Lay in the sun too long
and you burn.
Scratch an itch
until it becomes infected.

Cause a feeding frenzy
with a drop of blood.
Bury your head
in the sand if you must,

but please
whatever you do,
don’t let the land sharks
find you alone.

November 29, 2019

editors note: Give them no access; shelter in place, lick wounds alone. – mh clay

The things I remember about her house by Janette Schafer

The cold splash of whole milk in my mouth,
the creamy tongue-feel of what it is to be fed.

The icy coolness of hose water, the metallic bite of it
as I open the back of my throat and guzzle.

The taste of my grandmother’s fudge, still warm from the double-boiler;
thick dense sponge of chocolate between my teeth.

The crunch of boots on frozen ice-snow; crackle-crunch chill wind,
entombed in layers of coat, vest, snow pants, leg warmers,
ski mask, thermal underwear, scarf, hat, earmuffs,
mittens over gloves of Michigan winter.

My first sip of tea (and every sip of tea I’ve had after)
when the water is so warm—too warm—hurts my tongue but only just,
herbal flower honey sizzle ginger cinnamon chamomile,


November 28, 2019

editors note: Wherever you spend today, may it make memories like this. May you whisper, “Thanks!,” and be at peace. – mh clay

Reality and Imagination by Paul Hellweg

Natural yearning seeks fulfillment
imagination the soul’s savior
reality doesn’t give a rat’s ass
about good or bad,
kind or cruel,
gentle or severe,
the hell with all that
according to Plato
the just society
is everyone doing best what they best do
and that includes imagination
dream the dream
a target to aim for,
reality or imagination
the choice is yours
as is the path
luck or pluck
the entitled expect one,
everyone else, the other.

November 27, 2019

editors note: Your dream made real? Imagine that. (Paul has a new collection out, “Ode to a Drunken Muse.” Our own Associate Editor, Mike Fiorito, has written a Mad Review of it. Check it out and get Paul’s book here.) – mh clay

Self-centered to the Extreme by David P. Kozinski

You may be Saturday’s child all–grown
moving with a pinch of grace
You may be a clown in the burying ground
or just another pretty face…
– Robert Hunter, “Althea”

You find my skull
with its crooked little smile
and just as you heard them
in airless corridors
and quieted galleries
the clocking footfalls
above an ornery shore
resound a while.

Who works harder, the digger
or the dug? Whose sign scores
the chosen tombs but the fool
with the wisecracked mug?

November 26, 2019

editors note: We all look out from within. – mh clay

Meretricious Iconoclast Gets Loaded Promotion by R.W. Haynes

I never meant the man a lot of harm
Except when his sharp elbows sharply struck
An unoffending neighbor, a sitting duck
For the meanest weasel on the farm.
He had to push mercilessly to seize
All the rewards he saw in professional life,
And careless colleagues felt his hidden knife
Before they knew about his ugly disease.
He sought to tower over all around
Wearing those stealthy elevator shoes,
And hoped his fame would lead the evening news
As he trampled all his competition down.
So now there he is–look, shade your eyes–
Atop the imperial dungheap, telling lies.

November 25, 2019

editors note: Sounds like the weasel who whacked me (and you, and you, and you). – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

This week’s Need-a-Read comes to us from Contributing Writer N.T. Franklin.

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

When so many think rage gives them a voice, maybe doing what’s right could speak louder than any self-pity ever spoken.

Here’s a few very visible words from N.T.’s “The Invisible Man”

(photo “Starved for Fuel” by Tyler Malone)

Fall wind bit through William’s threadbare coat producing a shiver. He pulled the coat tightly around his neck to cut off the draft. The coat used to be snug, now it wasn’t.

William was somebody in the military, but that was five years back. Since his discharge he hadn’t adjusted well to a noncombat environment.

An endless string of temporary jobs, one crappier then the next, finally dried up. He stopped looking ages ago.

He’d spent three months at the homeless shelter. Maybe four. The days blended into one another and the weeks into months. He’d officially become one of the non-people on the streets. Invisible.

Today’s brief bit of panhandling yielded less than five bucks, but that was enough. Plenty enough to avoid the soup kitchen. Too many judgmental eyes on him there. Several canned food items were still under a dollar at the overpriced convenience store on the corner.

William entered the store and winced at the sound of the door buzzer. Soup, beans, and canned fruit were halfway down the aisle on the left. He usually gave a nod to the always-smiling Elyja, the night clerk, but didn’t see her at the till…

Get the rest of this all-too-real story (with a hopeful twist) right here.

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl Open Mic THIS 1st Wednesday of December (aka 12.04.19) at 8:00 SHARP as we swirl it up at once again at Top Ten Records!

To kick things off, Chris Curiel’s Swirve (with special guest Carlos Salas on pocket operator & Clark Walker on skins) will start us off with some Mad musical grooves. After that, hosts Johnny O & MH Clay will invite all y’all to join in & share in the Mad Swirl’n festivities.

Come to participate.

Come to appreciate.

Come to Swirl-abrate!

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

Top Ten Records is located at 338 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, TX 75208

••• Another Mad Review •••

Ode to a Drunken Muse by Paul Hellweg

Alien Buddha Press (March 3, 2019)
Available at Amazon

Ode to a Drunken Muse, published by Alien Buddha Press, is a collection of poems by Paul Hellweg. I love Hellweg’s play on the Keats odes, though we can expect that he has other ideas in mind than dancing around reciting verse with Greek boys.

Many of the poems are loaded with heft. I hear the hollow emptiness of lonely moments in these pieces. But I also hear Hellweg’s ironic voice. What I especially like about this collection is that the poems are enjoyable to read. Many are terse, packed with heavy thoughts on life, on death. Or reflections on other writers and artists. They are tuneful and ring in your head…

Read the whole review written by Associate Editor Mike Fiorito right here!

••• Mad Grats •••

It’s not so much what we have, it’s our freedom to have it that inspires us. We here at Mad Swirl receive great art, words, and verse which we, in turn, get to share with all of you, all around the world, every day. That makes us grateful and we choose this day to say, “Thanks!”

MH Clay, Poetry Editor

Madelyn Olson, Art Editor, is thankful for…

hot coffee on cold mornings, mountains on horizons, live music, goats, art, the ability to create, basil, john, eating and laughing and drinking with my best friends, the jitters before a vacation, pops laugh, mamas smile, both of their hugs in equally important ways, the candles that my friend makes, swimming in the greenbelt, a full day of drawing, light rain on the roof, trees – especially when the leaves are orange red yellow, songs that give me chills, traveling by foot in a new place, a great big stretch, her eyes, her freakin laugh, the way her shirts smell, winning at pool, chicago, lessons in retrospect, the ways pain has served me, the ways i adapt heal evolve and learn, my room at night with candles lit and music playing, the ocean, cigarettes when I’m drunk even though I shouldn’t, sleeping in, my plants, plants in general, laying in the sun when the sun doesn’t hurt, being right in the middle of a great new book, vegan pizza, curly hair, clouds, finishing a project, feeling good sore, friendships that pick up where they left off, waking up somewhere new and beautiful, waking up at all every time, laughing so hard it starts to hurt, cows, soft blankets, breeze & buffalo cauliflower.


Mike Fiorito, Associate Editor, says in seventeen…

It’s Thanksgiving Day!
Help make others their best selves;
and be your best, too.


Tyler Malone, Short Story Editor, reflects…

Count the Ravens

Hands of ravens,
a head of tequila
counting leaves’
cast shadows from
random bare light.

Those are thanks,
small visions, seeing
ourselves, our shapes.

Grateful are bones
never saying thanks
to blood, a never
abandoned feeling,
as if you should
have a home.

(The pie image above is by Tyler, too.)


Johnny Olson, our Fearless Leader and Editor-in-Chief, concludes…

Giving of thanks…

That’s the true spirit of this day and one I strive to maintain and attempt to attain day-by-day. I truly try to freely give a sincere attitude of gratitude at every predawn morn I’m blessed to receive. I pray it, every day, knowing that everything I have, have had and will have is gifted and never a given.

The cognizance of blessings alone begets holier appreciations of what I do have. I know that someday I may not have all that I do. I may have more. I may have less. But right here, right now I have everything I need and daily I pray for and give thanks for…

A roof over my head to keep the heat in & my head dry on cold & damp gray days, to keep me cool and chilled on hot & humid summer days, sheltered and secured always.

These clothes that cover my mortal flesh & bones, sometimes fashionable, most time not, but what I got is usually sensible, always practical, definitely comfortable.

The food on my table to sustain the life force swirling in me and our fellow man that gives us animation, free will, and divine imaginations.

The labors we trade to get paid so that we can afford these aforementioned hierarchical necessities needed to live another hour, day, month, year.

A deep love in my heart for this precious gift called life and deep reverence for all who have come and gone & for those here and now, the nearest and cherished loved ones coloring my world thru these many moons so fine & divinely.

This deep-seated peace in my soul, my hearth, a source of retreat, of meditation, of experience, of expression.

I pray every day for these precious things to hopefully guarantee I do not take them for granted.

I pray knowing that even if it’s just me listening in, the reverence I have for these everyday blessings will always bring a deep-seated appreciation of these spiritual, material, creative, monetary & wellness prosperities.

I pray, with all my might to say the two simple words that, when sincerely paired, carry so much meaning and emotion:


••• 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…

Bein’ Inspired,

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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