“Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry.”
••• The Mad Gallery •••
Untitled (from the series “Wiring Simplified”) ~ R. Keith
With this one, we close out R.Keith’s second run in our Mad Gallery. Stay tuned for a new featured artist coming real soon!
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 Forum… we forged our purpose in a mental furnace; we played the odds with gambling gods; we eschewed adulation at a night celebration; we crawled from our cave to stand in the day; we missed a crash in black wing flash; we got a thousand yard stare in an old barber’s chair; we gulped, first and last, from a clean midnight glass. With our whistles wet, we write to remember, not to forget. ~ MH Clay
THE NIGHT REFRIGERATOR by Ruth Z. Deming
Dedicated to my children, Sarah and Daniel, who bought me my new refrigerator on the occasion of my birthday on December 25, 2009.
All is still and dark
and I have awoken
from dreamless sleep
and come to the dark kitchen
The refrigerator is new
brought in on a red dolly
by a man who turned corners
carefully and wheeled
it in like a newborn
in a carriage.
Alone in the night
in the dark kitchen
I hear the sounds of the night.
Is that a moon outside
casting its brightness
onto my table to make it shine?
the recipient of brightness
in my dark kitchen
find by careful fingering
sparkling streakless squeaky
from the dishwasher,
we are modern people,
and no longer go to the well,
but in the dark,
place my glass just so,
pushing the rubber udder
of the water dispenser
on the outside,
for the fullness of the
Then, turning round,
listen for the sounds
of the night
no birds, no winds,
no squirrels scurrying on the branch
The hum of the refrigerator is all I hear,
and heat pumping up from the basement,
we no longer live by campfire
or hear wolves howling in the distant hills,
these are the sounds of a quiet home,
more windows than wood,
the first thing we do,
and the last.
December 14, 2019
editors note: Our first and last; no different than those tales we heard from the lives of the pioneers. – mh clay
THE BARBER by John L. Stanizzi
The shop is wedged
between two whitewashed glass storefronts
in a mall that did not survive.
Nobody comes here —
and the barbershop lodged in the middle.
The barber sits all day in the fat chair,
and smokes Luckies.
In the parking lot
the yellow lines have faded
and the storm has swallowed the barber’s car.
When I was a child
my father would bring me here.
He and the barber would laugh and drink,
and I would sit in the chair,
a mirror in front, a mirror in back,
and count the reflections of my self.
Years later I bring my son to the barber.
He is an old man, happy,
makes me a drink,
My son sits in the chair between the mirrors,
says it’s like watching the barber go far away,
getting smaller and smaller and smaller
as he goes.
December 13, 2019
editors note: Each reflection, a generation passed, until we disappear in the curve. – mh clay
CROWS by Brian Rihlmann
I write about crows a lot
and why not?
like death itself
like the open grave
of the whole goddamned earth
mere carrion eaters
but aren’t we all?
and look how they shine
from a diet of maggots
and rotten flesh
and what daredevils
against our shiny steel
at 75 miles an hour
but they ain’t leaving
their highway dinner table
until the last
and we flinch
at the flash
of those black wings
through the glass
December 12, 2019
editors note: From the cradle to the grave, as the crow flies. (We welcome Brian to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay
Outside by Joseph Farley
The truth was just outside the cave.
That’s what we were told,
but none was brave enough to check.
So we stayed in the dark with the shadows,
silhouettes and shapes mistaken for much more,
enough for the majority on most nights.
Only when too much has happened
can we find the strength to stare down that tunnel
searching for the light of better days.
December 11, 2019
editors note: There be few who turn to seek the light of day. – mh clay
Gods and Demons by Sekhar Banerjee
Sitting at a roadside café in Calcutta
I note preparations
for the carnival not very far. The idols
of the Gods and the Demons
dry under the tarpaulin canopies
in the serpentine streets and blind alleys
After a long time in the wilderness
where the roots of the trees entangle with
the unlettered sleep
and the clouds hung over roofs
I came back to the old city of ornate
manholes and dilapidated frontage
and empty bookstores for some ordinary solace
like the smell of clay Gods and
the Demons with green
skin in the middle of buses honking and
December 10, 2019
editors note: Natural habitat, determined by the nature of the beast. – mh clay
The card players by Jonathan Beale
After the painting, Card Players by Chris Gollon which in turn was after Paul Cezanne’s painting of the same name.
Given the hand; is both first and last
The flat earth table unrelenting
Silently passes – along.
Their daily sustenance:
Tobacco, wine, & omnipotence
That will fade.
Even against that Royal Flush
this conjunction will subdivide
and separate back to
and with ash of the tobacco
they have smoked today.
December 9, 2019
editors note: A queen to the jack and “let there be light” – ashes to ashes to idle acts of creation? – mh clay
The rasp by Hem Raj Bastola
Irradiate the flame.
Benison to beget praying,
Qualities of the Almighty.
Chiseling the eyes
Of an intellect.
By the net of illusion,
Duty-bound; blowing bellows.
In the furnace where charcoal
Into a luminous ember turns.
Melting to modulate the metal,
Irrigating fire with fuel.
Giving life to the furnace,
Blunt tools and weapons,
Soldering to blade.
It is time
To forge the mind now,
In the furnace of wisdom.
Letting bellows to breathe,
And on an anvil to place.
Honing razor of knowledge
By the rasp.
December 8, 2019
editors note: Altered at this altar, shine in your sharpness; wiser be. – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
This week’s Need-a-Read comes to us from Contributing Poet (& now) Writer J H Martin!
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about J H’s “Scratched“...
“When the night could be what gets us high, too many use shadows to discover ways to survive each night and distrust the light.”
(photo “Wrong Side of Life” by Tyler Malone)
••• Mad Merch •••
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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!
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Short Story Editor