“Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings.”
••• The Mad Gallery •••
Global Executive – Alan Murphy
To see all of Alan’s calmly chaotic collages, as well as our other former featured artists (48 in all!), visit Mad Swirl’s Mad Gallery!
••• The Poetry Forum •••
This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we stood out in starkness, wrote out of our darkness; we put on a good face, to not tear up our place; we saw the decade’s scandals as ash from birthday candles; we whimsically wangled a gulp of ham jangle; we gave tips for grooming to spirits come looming; we panned a pavilion, all tatterdemalion (feastly beasts at heel); we engaged in a game of shaping a name (dream, unseemly real). Our muse we embrace while we shelter in place (hope she hugs us back). ~ MH Clay
NAMING SHAPES by Spencer Smith
I first see it gleaming on blue carpet—
a splash of sunlight escaped from cold outdoors
through an irregular space between
bent slats of metal blind. This coin
of questionable geometry cannot be picked up,
but still I must save it in the pocket of my memory
so the meaning is not lost before I find it.
I name it Ben, and hold vigil until
it elongates, fades, disappears.
Days slip past before I notice a smudge of ink
on my finger—a miniature Rorschach
that I turn left, then right until I recognize it:
Hello, Ben. I impulsively lick my finger and press
down on a canvas of notepaper to stamp the image,
but it is backwards and incomplete,
unfamiliar and uninvited. And now my tongue is bitter;
I have ruined my blue tattoo
and lost Ben once again, a casualty of saliva.
Now months have elapsed and I suddenly stop
on the sidewalk, earning a well-deserved curse
from the shrill woman behind me. Ignoring her,
sunlight pressing my spine, I bend down slowly to study
the heelprint in fresh dirt among young grass,
sides already calving glacier-like, water seeping
into the depression that smells of earthworm,
but there is no doubt—Ben has shown his face
and I feel resolution close by.
It is Wednesday and I am perusing Shakespeare,
or actually devouring John Grisham,
and I dip into my pocket, annoyed,
to silence the screaming guitar riffs
I have unwisely chosen for an unknown caller.
A stain on the wall hooks my passing gaze,
shockingly familiar in shape
as I snap a curt greeting at the phone,
and a soft voice responds, “This is Ben.”
March 21, 2020
editors note: What to say? Maybe voicemail avoidance is better. – mh clay
anxiety liner notes by Cal Wenby
the rigid certainty
familiar of terror
quick manoeuvres panicked into
what was and is wide open
late arrivals wigging
out on snow slides in low forests
waded through vague
pulse of lost button
floated ownership shares vital in
of heart lamp
blended anywhere are hammers
souled animals brought whole
to the heel
March 20, 2020
editors note: Slog through to sacrifice sans supplication. – mh clay
I Am the Exorcist by Jeff Grimshaw
The dead haunt me because they think
No one loved them when they were
Alive. “I have some bad news for you,”
I say, plugging in the toaster
They unplugged last night,
“Nobody loves you now either.
Stop hiding my razor. Stop appearing
In my closet. Stop doing whatever it is
You do to the 1% milk that makes it
Go bad in two days. And you know
How they say hair and fingernails
Continue to grow after death? Well,
Apparently it’s true. You’re a mess.
Never mind my razor, take my toenail
Clippers. I’ll get a new pair. Too bad
You died wearing those polyester pants,
Huh? I don’t know what the hell
You were thinking. All the rest of Eternity
In a Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt. And you
Didn’t even sign an endorsement deal. I
Don’t suppose at this late date there’s
Anything you can do about that breath?”
There is a sudden sense of cold air
Vacating the premises, and I go back
To my NY Post and morning coffee.
Tonight another restless spirit will try
To haunt me, another restless spirit
With undead armpits and K Mart sneakers
When I’m finished with you
You’ll be sorry you ever died.
March 19, 2020
editors note: No rest for the wicked… – mh clay
I gulp the ham jangle by J. D. Nelson
canning coy was a crisp dink to live in the woods for a while
skeep was a flour warbler
now a song cat for achy head
the piano lamps with the doctored fridge
that folk talk in the second dream
the arctic fleece to withstand that sugar
here are the barn numerals for that planet
now for the half walk
willie was a spock
March 18, 2020
editors note: Take a quick pic to post, then dig in – food’s gettin’ cold. – mh clay
Piece of Ash by Gary Glauber
World is burning with fiery unrest
while my winter blows icy trees
with wavering irrelevance.
Every statement’s a lie
invested with political leanings:
Sinners as saviors in mad jumble
of propaganda-led confusion:
denial, diversion, destruction.
This is painful shortened breath
of death’s shiny new decade,
innocence piling on top of
vanity’s bonfire like birthday candles,
and there’s no escaping
mad heat surrounding:
increasing with age.
Make a wish quickly,
one to blow it all away.
Enrage. Repeat. Engage.
March 17, 2020
editors note: Eyes closed to blow. – mh clay
Hope Springs Eternal by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Don’t take it easy.
You don’t have to be happy.
Rage if you must and
be mournful for what is lost.
Tomorrow is a
new day and there is time to
make things easier.
We are human with many
moods. Pace but don’t tear
up the places you live. Vent
but don’t carry out
acts of violence. I sound
like a contrary
sort, giving advice, when I
should be taking it
easy. I’m still not happy.
It is just going
to take a little bit of
time. Keep fighting. Hope
springs eternal, I heard said.
March 16, 2020
editors note: Straight advice to alleviate your angst. – mh clay
beautiful slashes by Rob Plath
an old writer
drunk on whiskey
at the bar
told me once
when i was young
if you don’t write
you’ll never be
a great writer
& if you write
you might be
a great writer
& his words
a utility knife
across my brain
& i braille scars
from that old
on those days
when i hit a wall
& then i pull out
the rickety chair
from the old desk
& jab the keys
hard lines forming
thick & raised
enough to trace
in the dark
March 15, 2020
editors note: Raised welts to wend a sightless way. – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
We bet you Need-a-Read that is NOT related to the recent happenings rockin’ our world. If you’re feeling low, this distraction might be much needed indeed.
This week’s featured, “Riding High In L.A.“ comes to us from Diana Rosen!
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick of the week:
“We’re not born with wings but that never stopped us from building upwards and pretending we’ll never fall back down.”
Here’s a few lines to distract you from all the other viral virus posts:
(photo “Shadows of What’s Above” by Tyler Malone)
Penelope loves being a tourist in her own town. Today, she is touring the OUE, the tallest building in DTLA (Downtown LA.) Its height exceeds any other building between Chicago and Singapore at 73 stories. Roundish and all glass to give people on each level the illusion there is openness around them, the building lulls them into forgetting there never is nor will be any breeze of fresh air pouring in.
Penelope walks into the elevator car, a Milky Way of white lights between bands of mirrors which distorts her body into ribbons. Penelope presses the button for the restaurant and is suddenly pushed backward against the sparkling elevator walls like a magnet against a refrigerator door. She is propelled into the heavens. The distortion of light and mirror and the speed zoom her back in time to that horrible carnival ride when she was ten-years-old which slammed her against the circular red steel frame and spun her around with such centrifugal force her heart pushed outward against the skin of her chest.
At this very moment, she is hurling, yes, she is hurling in this silvery capsule to another planet never to see Mother Earth again. She can not breathe. Is this what a heart attack feels like? Is this an out-of-body experience? The twinkle lights make depressions in her back and her cheeks are wet with tears. The ride is endless, the speed incomprehensible. Penelope makes fervent pleas with the Omnipotent One to make this faux space shuttle stop. What if she’s never missed? What if she never does all the things she meant to do or visit all the places on her bucket list? Is this IT?…
IS this IT? Guess you’ll never know if you don’t roll on over to Mad Swirl’s 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