“Imagination… its limits are only those of the mind itself.”
••• The Mad Gallery •••
Walls, Dreamers & Diet Coke ~ Alan Gann
Check out ALL of Alan’s social-commentary collages, as well as our other featured artists (46 total!) at our Mad Gallery!
••• The Poetry Forum •••
This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we seasonally pleased to massacre trees; we yuletide jived to drink and drive; we let lights above recall perfect love; we myth destroyed when, couldn’t wait, saw some cookies on a plate; we tried metaphor make up, belied help for a break up; we sought heaven missed in past abyss; we struck to ignition an angels’ sedition. We scribble on something, spark novas from nothing. ~ MH Clay
Blue Nun by MH Clay & Chris Zimmerly
12/21/18 after being in Deep Ellum
I feel the blue nun, she’s on the edge of a ready to harvest field of bounty.
The sting and sizzle
Of sister’s swizzle
Ignites the inner eruption
Blink. The fields are ablaze, angels screaming
RUN. (You are the one we love, take my hand)
Run. The stumbling nun
Hands on ears
Eyes agog on approaching ever
In the middle of infinity, we exist now.
A roiling rampaging bull knocking down a shotgun shack
Butting us forward
To fall flat or bounce
Ripping open Heaven, be here now
With our snorkels, parachutes, and helmets
Deep dive, boys
Into it, into it now
Dig a little deeper, dig deeper now
Angel or Nothing
December 28, 2019
editors note: Rampaging angels; it’s bliss or abyss. – mh clay
Lost Angel by Milenko Županović
In the mirror
of the past
December 27, 2019
editors note: This is us; earthbound, looking for what we lost. – mh clay
Paper Cut by Henry Bladon
The best way to get her attention
would be to run my finger
across the edge of the paper
then I could tell her
all about her hermetically sealed heart
but that would be something
she wouldn’t understand
I could say it feels like
my life is stuck in a rainy car park
and that’s how it feels being with you
I would add that I have decided
I’m going to drive someplace else
but that would be something
she wouldn’t understand
So instead I ditched the metaphors
and walked away
but when I looked back
she still didn’t understand.
December 26, 2019
editors note: A poet’s plight, muddied by metaphor. – mh clay
‘t’wasn’t by Johnny Olson
Seven years old
December 25, 2019
editors note: Oh, Well! When the truth is out and the spell is broke, we conjure a different holiday joke. Or… don’t forget to eat those cookies. Jingle Bells, Everyone! – mh clay
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS by Brian Wood
Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας. Luke 2:14
The cars race along like they’re at a track meet,
Everyone in a hurry. Six o’clock. People speed
Right past you, unseeing. Just like last year…
They forgot. And now have a million things to do.
Evening rain falls on their heads, reflected in street
And car lights. “What about something for that guy
At work? I think he said a hamper. What about my
Mother? Right, she said flowers. Dad? A mere
Grunt, said ‘Anything would be fine indeed.’
Cards for relatives I don’t see. Uhm, something new
For my ‘special’ someone. Her hints are oblique…
Something like this through every head,
Even the ones so far from God they don’t mean
To even pretend to care. How could He
Matter? The ‘merely’ secular has no room for mystique.
So why the fuss? Especially all those tacky signs.
Why the shopping & the hustle & the lines
And the sighs at the cash machine?
(“I should have gone to Wal-Mart instead.”)
And why, above all, why the sudden charity?
Anchors who sternly tell you about Unrest In
Pakistan pause, blink once or twice emotionally,
And then earnestly wish you the best of the season;
Stores play song after song celebrating the redeemer—
A man who would shut their business down within
Seconds. Even the beer companies get profound,
The tone subdued, ancient hymns thundering in the background.
In car ads, very briefly, the shilling stops for some reason,
As the couldn’t-be-happier mixed-race family
Stares & grins at the brand new Beemer.
And goodwill towards whom? Christmas,
Just like poetry, makes nothing happen.
We can sing carols all we want, & never cease,
But the men in caves will keep planning our death;
Nor does it end hate or bring even fleeting justice
To the near, far or middle east. Fear & war always prevailing
Over the child born in Palestine, his parents fleeing
Caesar. His beginning did not bring peace,
Nor did his end. We read that he was forsaken,
Asking the unanswerable with his last breath.
Still, even the atheist & agnostic treasure this time,
Their trees, like the devout, a spire of hope.
Something in the season grips us, despite
The shouting ads & clanging clichés, reindeer
And a little drummer who triumphs in rhyme,
Or Mommy kissing Santa Claus at half-past two.
On that late December night, the frost reaches you,
As your breath blooms clouds, almost white,
A clear full moon reflects on the steep slope
Of snowy streets. It stops you, the frozen sheer
Beauty. You turn the corner, & someone has dazzled
Their tall cedar; the blinking lights a symphony,
Sparkling, little bubbles of rhapsody, tiny stars,
Reminders of a love so perfect no hatred could destroy.
Rachel, you are a bliss slow unfurled;
You make the old new, & the new, bright;
You were there in the beginning, daily my delight.
I hear her, in the north, singing to the auroras,
Her soul an aria, fanfare & harmony,
As she repeats a sounding joy.
December 24, 2019
editors note: This year, let’s find our joy in someones, not somethings. – mh clay
christmas sucks by Rob Dyer
some days are better
than others that aren’t
but Christmas just sucks
you know you don’t like Uncle Bill
then why are you hugging him ? get real !!!
and your sadness about not getting anything… screw you !!!
you should be thankful you ARE !!!
did you REALLY get anyone anything that matters ?
Oh yea… WHAT ??? A watch… woohoo
a new toy… China thanks you
how about something with potential… like… a GUN !!!
you know… where you can have an impact… be remembered… HA !
what did you get last year ? HUH ?
Don’t recall… sounds like you didn’t get what you wanted !!!!
Oh, and what did you give ??? I bet you remember what and more so, how much it cost !
ok, ok… so I’m an asshole, right ?
walk to the mirror
DON’T LOOK AWAY, DAMN IT
now, question your every deed this past year
think hard and long and true
can you remember ?
the tip you picked up off a counter
the guy you cut off that morning
flipping the bird to that old lady
not showing up for your kid’s game
calling your wife a whore
telling your husband you were at the mall, when you were… ???
forging your time card at work
oh, enough you say ?
fair enough then… I’ll stop
heck, it’s Christmas time
Merry Christmas… now go out and enjoy yourself at those parties everybody’s having… maybe print this and bring it with you for laughs… get all snookered up and drive home…. maybe you can help someone else have a Christmas they can remember… for all the wrong reasons.
December 23, 2019
editors note: A Grinch’s grab for hollow-day cheer! (Rest Ye Merry) – mh clay
Tannenbaum by Walter Ruhlmann
The view this room offers is an inescapable landscape,
mountains covered with snow, walls at insurmountable height,
icy peaks and green trees gently powdered with cotton dust,
coating of icing sugar, specks of cocaine, flour ash, flower pollens;
the green trees are our friends.
Soon we will cut off these tall pines and pin them in our homes,
dress them up, make them up, fastened them in fancies –
hustling tart Tannenbäume.
Golden garlands, silver stars, chemical snow sprays,
glittering metallic shapes, figures of angels, Santas, and Virgins,
all copulating in the coniferous scent, as dizzying
as the many spruce forests enclosed in bathroom fragrance aerosols.
Overheated, they will soon lose their million needles on the floor,
some will even keep stuck in the carpet;
no vacuum can ever get rid of them,
even trying to pick them up with thumb and finger will remain infeasible,
most of them will hide deep and become invisible.
Eventually thrown in the street, the pavement will be their cemetery, million corpses,
miles of tombs, aisles of disfigured majesties, torn trees, emaciated limbs, and naked branches.
December 22, 2019
editors note: “O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree! Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!” With preservation techniques lacking, we like you once a year. – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
To kick our week of holiday hijinx, we bring you a twisted tale from Daniel Lind.
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone had to say about this twisted Christmas tale:
“Seasonal disorders can be killers. But so could everyone who enjoys the season.”
Here’s a bit of “The Clause Conundrum“ to your Ho-Ho-Ho-lidaze goin:
(photo “Off of Body Experience” by Tyler Malone)
“What we gonna do now?” asked Zim, tugging his elf sleeve.
“I dunno.” Nico scratched his pointy ear. “Hide him somewhere?”
The two elves stood beside the sleigh in waist-deep snow, considering a headless situation. Icy gales snatched packages and toppled them overboard into the darkness.
Panic filled Zim’s frail voice. “We can’t just dump him! This isn’t my fault.”
“You’re the bloody map reader. How could you miss the low bridge?”
Snowflakes, big as an elf’s fist, hurtled through the air and splatted onto their caps. Soon, the deer would turn into popsicles, and they’d be stuck in Siberia forever.
“I warned you about an obstacle,” said Zim. “You should have flown over it!”
The lead reindeer sneezed and shook its head.
Zim pointed a finger at the animal. “Shush, Rudolf! Let the grownups figure this out.”…
If you see where this tale is goin’ then you surely wanna dig into “The Clause Conundrum” right here!
Mad Swirl’s Eve tale came to us from our very own Short Story Editor Tyler Malone.
Here’s what Poetry Editor MH Clay had to say about Tyler’s not-so-humbug humbling tale:
“On this Eve of eves, two seek refuge. No room, no inn, nor manger; just shelter in each other and songs of the season. Noel!”
Here’s a few lines from Tyler’s seasonal-inspired “Look Down From the Night Sky“ to get the feels flowin’:
(photo “Somebody’s Sleigh” by Tyler Malone)
Around narrow trunks, thoughtlessly spread lights wrap bare trees reaching towards the end of the year. Etched initials on bark are all that exists, nothing lives in the trees. No shadows cover main street’s potholes as Christmas steps dry out on downtown asphalt, the only audience for strung lights atop closed businesses. By the nativity scene between a Spanish-speaking Baptist and a Methodist church, a Christmas miracle thrives–a bar’s “open” sign blinks.
Kent ignores an obvious Christmas gathering on the open dance floor alive with music he remembers from high school and takes to bar corner. Most nights the corner is for spiders, but on the best nights there are dropped dollar bills from dropped people.
Behind the bar straggle substitute teachers Kent hasn’t remembered for years. They pour beer to the top like they’re at a baseball stadium while Kent counts unwashed rings like a retired football coach counts losses. No TVs hang. What happens here happens in the dark. No ceiling, no floor, just drinks tall enough to fill gaps. A message from a recent ex buzzes and asks how he is. “Just at a bar for one drink.”
Over his shoulder, a voice from the dance floor asks, “Are we counting drinks tonight?” The voice fits perfect in time, only out of the past.
Kent hides his phone but his face brightens. “Absolutely not, especially tonight.”…
Santa sayz look up the rest of “Look Down From the Night Sky” right here!
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…
Short Story Editor