The Best of Mad Swirl : 12.14.19

by December 15, 2019 0 comments

“Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry.”

Muriel Rukeyser

••• 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 Forumwe 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


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
for water.

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?

And I
the recipient of brightness
in my dark kitchen
find by careful fingering
a glass
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,
and listen
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 —
hollow buildings
and the barbershop lodged in the middle.
The barber sits all day in the fat chair,
reads porn,
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,
sips his.
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
he says
and why not?
they’re everywhere
like death itself
like the open grave
of the whole goddamned earth
often despised
mere carrion eaters
and scavengers
but aren’t we all?
and look how they shine
from a diet of maggots
and rotten flesh
and what daredevils
they are!
how defiant
against our shiny steel
bearing down
at 75 miles an hour
but they ain’t leaving
their highway dinner table
until the last
possible second
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
parks flowering

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

Being oblated,
Irradiate the flame.
Benison to beget praying,
Qualities of the Almighty.
Chiseling the eyes
Of an intellect.

By the net of illusion,
Entrenched human,
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)

If that tease “Scratched” the surface & piqued your interest, do not hesitate to get your read on 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

Leave a Reply