The Best of Mad Swirl : 03.14.20

by on March 15, 2020 :: 0 comments

(Mad Swirl isn’t going to draft up some vague message… like every other organization out there blah-blah-blah’n about how we are handling this pandemic. Stuff’s pretty f@cked-up! But y’all already know that. Days like these that we are livin’ in is when poetry, prose & art can be a much needed distraction! So we Mad ones promise to keep calm(ish) and (mad) Swirl on! Who’s with us?…)

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.

Ben Okri

••• The Mad Gallery •••

BabelAlan 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 painted a panorama of ancient temple drama; we slipped in the swirls of sneaky mad squirrels; we stirred up stuff to make nearly enough; we caught the confusion of lost dream illusion; we held off the void by stripping for Freud; we looked with dread on a hunter of heads; we wrote on our wall to give self a call. Hello? Anyone there? Please, pick up… ~ MH Clay

Naughty, Naughty by Ivan Jenson

We all draw dirty pictures
on the bathroom stalls
of our memory
and we exaggerate
the features
of those who insulted
or praised us
or perhaps raised
our vibrations
or threw us
under a bus
we live with distortion
mental gymnastics
and contortion
we are just too near-sighted
to deal with that which is far
from perfect
so we get drunk
and heed the
graffiti on the wall
and for a good time
we call

March 14, 2020

editors note: And then the number turns out to be disconnected… – mh clay

freaks be rare by Tanner

he liked the heads best
he liked the rest of them too
he liked all their parts
but the heads
they were the best
and he’d line them up on his bookcase
like pretty vases
pretty silent vases
and admire them
as they looked out of the shelves
admiring him back it seemed
all wide-eyed open-mouthed admiration
but soon they’d grey
soon they’d droop
the eyes running
the lips curling
and it was like they were sad
to be on his bookcase
like they were mad at him
he could hear them scolding him
out of sagging wet grey faces
ugly and loud
they didn’t admire him anymore
and then he’d have to go back out there
and get more heads
newer happier heads
pretty silent heads
that appreciated him.
he wasn’t a freak. freaks be rare.
he wasn’t rare. he was just him.
you know – like you be you?

March 13, 2020

editors note: Seeking individuals for home decoration. Heads up! – mh clay

the session began by Carl Kavadlo

i took off from work
one day
for a therapy session

the train took off late
from the station.

it was a winter’s day
and i took off my coat

and i took off
my hat and
i took off my gloves

in his office
and i took off my shoes
(as it was freudian therapy)

and lay on a couch
facing a gray wall

and a clear
window’s view of
apartment houses
in chelsea, new york

and i began
taking off
my mask.

March 12, 2020

editors note: A solitary striptease for Sigmund, only. – mh clay

A Dream, Lost by Puma Perl

In dreams, we’re lost
A parking lot, and we can’t find the car
A forest, trees turning to zombies
I look for you in a midtown office
with no address
Subway trains to nowhere
Streets without corners
In one dream you wear shorts
and your legs are fat
You’d never wear shorts
and your legs are long and thin
In another, you’re clad in a suit
and can’t tell the difference
between water and wine
I taste it so you will know
I’m not sure what’s more disturbing
The you in my dreams
or the reality of your sad eyes
in what, supposedly, is our life.

March 11, 2020

editors note: Distinguish the life (yours? mine?) from the dream, or other way around. – mh clay

The Gods of Piled Stones by Neile Graham

I am a coward now, afraid of bullets, of sirens,
of cameras. Of the moment of truth and then
nothing. When you crawl into the cairn

you carry your living marrow under its stones
into an other place, an other world. If stone
is death and wood is life, what then here

is bullet and bone? At winter’s solstice
the defeated sun angles to touch the wall,
anointing it with buttered light breaking

with new ferocity but now at summer’s solstice
there is only my own shadow inside the shadows,
a darkness cast by only me. Is it enough?

It is must be enough. It is never enough.
The silence here is full of no triggers, sets off
nothing but wonder and is crowded with souls

who were richly remembered but not now.
Now they are unknowable. You can wonder,
imagine, but only the stones know. Until you feel

that hand inside yours. The cool warm echo
of human touch. Illusion, that palm those fingers. Elision.
It is progress against the impossible. It is nearly enough.

March 10, 2020

editors note: The smoke, the mirrors, the things left out; all we have to make it enough. (We welcome Neile to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

sometimes by Brendan McBreen

teleport entire vending machines
into holes in willows
all the while
acting innocent
no one wants to confront them
who knows where
you’d end up

March 9, 2020

editors note: Beware that chatter and tail flicking; designed to lure us to interdimensional doom. – mh clay

Dazzled by Bhupender Bhardwaj

The blue printer of the sky drops
down the black tick marks of the birds.
Scanned by the sun’s laser beam
in stringent discipline,

the juxtaposed banana farms set
upon the fecund ground by prompt hands
that know the measure of toil
culminate in front of the scarecrow

whose domed skull is sculpted
by the sun’s concentration. Its eye sockets
glow like electric bulbs in the noon.
Goats goaded by thirst scamper away

from the fields to the metal-snouted
pump from whose vantage point
the three parallel mud-caked roads
that lead you into Ontimitta village can be observed.

Self-contained; it has a squat post office
on whose roofs the cranes stand in stolid thought
and a red-bricked school which learns its lessons
below the solid shade of the banyan trees

pregnant with the knowledge of sacrifice
swinging from whose bearded rope-like stems
you can leapfrog straight into the courtyard
of the Kodandarama temple

whose remarkable corbels crush ‘style’ into dust.
The verisimilitude of Vontudu and Mittudu stuns you
and the exclamations of the sacred colonnades
dazzle you with their terrific engravings.

March 8, 2020

editors note: A stolen vision of a temple, built by thieves. (Kodandarama Temple, dedicated to the god Rama, located in Vontimitta town, according to the local legend, was built by Vontudu and Mittudu, robbers-turned-devotees of Rama.) – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

IF your brainfeed is chock-filled with all kinds of CV19 news, THEN you REALLY Need-a-Read that will get your mind off of what’s floating around us!

Shimmering comes to us from Contributing Writer Edward Wells & here’s how Short Story Editor Tyler Malone summed it:

“How lucky we have words to partially explain the madness in our minds!”

Here’s a glimmer of “Shimmering” to get you quivering’ for more:

(photo “Death’s Ripples” by Tyler Malone)

When shimmering they came, he was hanging over the railing of his second-story balcony. He loved to stand on the balcony watching the sun’s comprehensible inertial descent behind the skyline of Agung Darussalam to the east and Masjid Agung Darussalam to the west. He would smoke his only clove cigarette of the day while he watched that happen. He bought Marlboros by the carton. He never considered smoking less than three of the processed American classics each day.

It was only because the penalties connected to drugs were far too great, that he’d quit smoking his single marijuana cigarette each day. And, so, he had substituted it with a clove one. It was one of the most disappointing substitutions he had ever known. He wondered, each time he went to the toko, why he maintained it. When he was alone here on the balcony with a sunset like this one, he never questioned the choice.

The smell was spiced. It hung when there was no breeze, which was seldom. But instead of the tarry-yellow and the musty linger of his Marlboros, these, even in a breeze, left his hand and the air around his head fresh in a seasoned way that approached cinnamon but was not quite any solitary, common spice.

It was between breezes, a thin, bluish haze just beginning to spread, that they came, shimmering…

Get the rest of this mind-bending tale right here!

••• Another Mad Review •••

Ryan Quinn Flanagan‘s Jumpers from the Belfry Tower by Mike Fiorito

Pski’s Porch Publishing (December 19, 2019)

Delighted to have just read Ryan Quinn Flanagan’s (RQF’s) Jumpers from the Belfry Tower. And having previously reviewed RQF’s Return to Vegas Poems for Mad Swirl, I feel like I’m becoming a scholar of RQF’s work. Watch out RQF, next I’m writing your biography!

RQF’s poems are always new. He doesn’t do the rinse and repeat thing. As I did for his last review, I again cracked open a beer and pulled out the bong to contemplate the writing in Jumpers from the Belfry Tower.

Often comic, RQF’s poems in this collection are a bit more skeptical of life, more distrusting of humanity. And really, who can blame RQF? Sometimes it feels like trust is just something we settle for.

The universe doesn’t seem to give a flying fuck about us, any of us. We try to manage the tightrope walk of existence; some do it better than others. Every now and then we fall into the abyss and lose ourselves, climbing back onto the tightrope for more disappointment. As we stand tippy-toe on the tightrope, breathing in the air from high atop the ground, it can offer us a view of the world we might have thought unimaginable.

Sometimes we fall and the tightrope can get wrapped around our necks, strangling us to death. It’s all about perspective and circumstance…

And timing…

Get the whole shebang of Mike’s review of RQF’s latest 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…


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Ty Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

Mike Fiorito
Associate Editor

P.S. Happy Birthday to the soul who inspired us all those years ago to start this collective creative outlet (& who’s line we lifted to name this platform)…

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”
~ Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969)

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