The Best of Mad Swirl : 04.04.20

by on April 5, 2020 :: 0 comments

“All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.

Maya Angelou

••• The Mad Gallery •••

PlamásAlan Murphy

With this one, we close out Alan’s feature set in our Mad Gallery. But don’t fret, stay tuned for our next featured artist coming your way next week!

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 wished our whys on ribboned skies; we thinly concurred at the smell of burnt fur; we picked our path from raps on glass; we squeezed sweet rest from songbird’s chest; we found an impersonator in our denominator; we wound a world in what makes super; we escaped free and far from a poorly picked bar. In these pursuits, it’s our ink sets us free. ~ MH Clay

On the occasion of getting lost in New Mexico by Janette Schafer

Before that day, I was sure everything would work out.
We shout-sang “Radar Love” in my 1980 Bonneville.
The motorcycles in the parking lot were in retrospect, a warning.
We’ll tell you girls how to find the highway again
but first, you girls give my friend and me a kiss.

We didn’t see before we were the only girls there.
We didn’t yet know that adventures take bad turns.
With a fistful of hair, he mashes his lips with mine.
I gag on his beer-soaked tongue.
That’s a good start, but you’ll have to go lower than that.

We act like we’re down for a party, buy the next round,
and the round after that, and the round after that.
Forty minutes and seven molestations later—
we lie, say we have pot in the car, say we want to get it,
let’s get lit so the real fun can begin.

He says, sure baby, get the weed. You little bitches
know how to have a good time. We walk out calmly,
laughing. We walk so slow. We walk so slow.
They watch at the door. We walk so slow.
When we finally run, I hear myself scream.

April 4, 2020

editors note: Shudder to think what coulda, instead of, thank god, what did. (We welcome Janette to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

A Nation’s Super Hero by Gene Barry

For Jack Beattie

Sing to us Jack from your sanctum of love
and handcuff us to your gift of positiveness.
Keep pushing your dreams without borders
and wake up this world to your awesomeness.

Your fearlessness stands in a smiling queue,
bedecked with lessons for a waiting world of
smiling happy children and anxious parents
who swim in your temple of confidence.

Infuse your practice to make perfect into every
little boy and girl, fill their minds with absolute
expectations and heart-warming delights that
will in time deliver every wish and dream.

Broadcast that smile of uninterrupted happiness
and fill this nation with beliefs and commitments.
Drive home what all of us fully deserve because
heroes come and go, but Super Heroes last forever.

April 3, 2020

editors note: Benevolence, a super power scarcely found these days. Where are you, Jack? – mh clay

Kakistrocracy by Sanjeev Sethi

A trillion or more herberts
from the heartland
need to be harnessed.
Can any religious structure
actualize them?
The commentariat leads
the way by simulcasting:
politicos across the scale
illude these folks
to the yield of ruptures.
The horsewhip of hate
has the sharpest wallop.
One requires no dopester.
There is no champion in the chase.

April 2, 2020

editors note: It seems that what’s common in our denominator has dipped too low. – mh clay

Regardless of Consequence by Chris Zimmerly

The old poet’s writing hand lay
Curled like dead songbird feet
On the August sidewalk
The boy pushes on the songbird’s chest
One last song snippet
Then quiet bagpipe
The tune forgotten, the blue period of late
Went blackout, new moon allegedly so low
A torn-up paper drawing of a cake
I’ll have a slice she said
Pursuing happiness as fast as we can
Each step approaching death
Pursuing happiness as fast as we can
One breath, one heartbeat from rising angel
Pursuing happiness as fast as we can
Tend your fire! You are the signal now
Pursuing happiness as fast as we can
One breath away, one heartbeat away
Another leaf in the street
A phone call unanswered
Oh, you are such an Angel
Here is your participation trophy

April 1, 2020

editors note: Cookies and kool-aid in the clubhouse, after. – mh clay

The Bird Looks into the House of Cats by Marianne Szlyk

One beady eye sees all. Tabby
is dozing on a pile of clothes:
a winter hat, socks, spring sweaters.
In sleep, her cheek nuzzles a book
of a poet’s letters from Brazil.
It’s almost fall. The bright edges
of locust leaves, roots in thin
soil, yellow. Summer’s clouds clear
out, leaving skies free for birds.

The calico guards the kitchen.
Perching on the back of a chair
that, never used for guests,
is just for cats and coats,
she glares at all that cross her path.

The bird now raps on the glass,
his beak a cat’s paw, a fist.
He cocks his sleek head and pretends
that he is ready to fly through
the house of cats. The tabby snores.
The calico will never move.

The bird flies off. He seeks
a seed, a crumb, a drop
of water, open windows where
humans and cats are not.

March 31, 2020

editors note: An open-space opportunist, unable to arouse interest. Away! – mh clay

On the Wing by Dan Raphael

I only eat bird meat, bird eggs
not letting the wind control my appetite
for several years i migrated
my clothes never big enough to smuggle much

As few want to eat the fine-, fragile- boned fish
trying to breed a featherless chicken
sauce is the reward for eating wings
as ladles of gravy help the gobbler go down

Feeling rich when we have the whole thing
like roasted pigs, anything on a skewer over open flame
the smell of burnt fur the opposite of hunger

Muscle for muscle, bones for bones, feathers
to fly in our minds or just rise an inch or two
internal teleportation, swimming in stillness—
not to bathe but to float, just a few ways
to relieve gravity, to pretend it’s escapable

If the world was flat how many would jump off the edge
invent ways to release into space, like an astronaut
who’d cured the addictions to oxygen and pressure
or mountaineers who summit, strip, and glide to the nearest cloud

As the air thins, so should we;
as the air thickens, will our lungs adapt,
will 98.6 become a debunked religion
our relationships with clothes will be revised, revealed
more than comfort or protection, less than skin but more than muscle

Everything i wear has flecks of me on it, i’m more defined
by what i drink than what i don’t eat, walking like whoever’s
around me, flying when no one sees

March 30, 2020

editors note: A case where we eat what we are. – mh clay

Angel Flight by Heather M. Browne

Flying halfway to Heaven,
ribboning together earth and sky,
layers of here and there crumble,
landing upon the tongue.

There is wonder in double-decker,
the frosting pressed between sight and sound,
scattering like daydreams caught,
for a moment in your eye or
popping through a cloud.

Magic is interwoven
and jet streams interlace like lifelines
or lifetimes carried somewhere far.
Halos reflect the light.

And wishes always come
with wind.

March 29, 2020

editors note: Better than cotton candy! Something to linger, long after sugar’s sweetness fades. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

They say a picture can say 1,000 words. In the case of Mad Swirl‘s midweek Need-a-Read, this picture says 892!

This close-to-home tale, How Close Can Your Shadow Be to Mine? comes from our very own Short Story Editor Tyler Malone.

Here’s what Chief Editor Johnny Olson has to say about it:

At the end of the day, all we have is the hope that, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Yeah…

Here’s 250 words from Tyler’s tale to get you goin’:

(photo by Tyler Malone)

Alcohol will still be everywhere but soon no one can buy any from bars. “You can go home whenever you want, just lock up by 9,” is the last thing my boss says before disappearing out the door. “And wash your hands. We’re filthy.” He wouldn’t be here for the end of an era’s closing time. Our old vices don’t need air, they need people. Soon people will need new vices because the old ones require too much community.

Every shift I cozy up to any drinking stranger for a chance at a backyard overgrown with weeds. It’s nightly absurd, like my wish for more exes to think about and be grateful to be away from, as 8 men in their mid-50s nearly break the door to rush the bar following the street sign showcasing Colorado’s best pickle shots.

These moments, I imagine I’m rain waiting in clouds. Bartenders never fear noise or take it for granted, we’re amidst the storm. No one expects peace.

Exaggerated, already buzzed, they find momentary balance in life’s unstable cycle. Only half of the couples speak:

“We’re each buying a round?”

“One quick round.”

“One round for each of us from each of us.”

“Same as it’s always been.”

“Until the end of the world,” I say as the silent group gets ready to take final cell phone photos in bad bar light as the day dies outside. Eight times over, through neon accents and a near moonlit city, green alcohol fills each glass…

Although not WHO or CDC approved, get the whole scoop on “How Close Can Your Shadow Be to Mine?” right here!


Give yourself a break from the usual newsfeed & escape into Mad Swirl’s weekend Need-a-Read!

Standing Here comes to us from longtime Contributing Writer & Poet, J H Martin.

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about it:

Life’s a job. Somehow, in some ways, we pretend we run the whole damn show. But we know at our shoulders, we feel the thumb of something–someone–above.

Here’s a few lines to help you flee from the feed:

(photo “Drying, Not Dried Out” by Tyler Malone)

Jack didn’t know why, but over the last year he’d been thinking about that day a lot.

It wasn’t a day that had been out of the ordinary. And it wasn’t a day that he could recall that he’d really thought about for more than thirty years. But there it was anyway. Just as it had been for the last eleven months or so. Constantly nagging away at him, until Jack found that he was almost incapable of concentrating on anything else.

It was a Wednesday – he remembered that clearly – and it was around 11 AM. They were sitting behind a car park wall, smoking a joint, not far from the local factory. As that’s what they usually did, rather than actually going to school, there was nothing remarkable about that. It was the proposal that Bee had put to Jack that had taken him by surprise.

Looking into Bee’s intense brown eyes, he knew she wasn’t joking. Still, Jack went on and asked her anyway, just to make completely sure that he hadn’t somehow got his wires crossed, and that Bee really did mean what she had just said to him.

“Are you being serious?” Jack asked her, passing the half-smoked joint to Bee.

“Yes, of course,” she nodded, keeping her eyes fixed on his, “I mean, seriously Jack, come on, what the hell is there to keep us here?”

It was a good point and one that Jack took on board, nodding slowly as he did. After all, he had often said the same thing to Bee, during the year they’d been together. And if Jack needed any reminding of how right they were about that fact, then he only needed to take a look across the car park at the workers in their dark blue overalls, as they made their way either in or out of the only factory in that small and rural town…

Make a break for it & get the rest of your read on!

••• Open Mic •••

If you tuned in to Mad Swirl Open Mic this past 1st Blursday (aka 04.01.20), you witnessed a Mad Swirl first! We’ve hosted in all kinds of places in our 16+ years but never before in the electronic ethers!

We beamed our cyber line-up straight out into the wide world of webs & straight to your screens. HUGE grats to these Mad ones who made our virginal virtual a success:

Chris Curiel : trumpet
Tamitha Curiel : vocals)

Johnny O
MH Clay
Tyler Malone
Opalina Salas
Carlos Salas
Lillie Davidson
Brett “BA” Ardoin
Vic Victory
Chloe Curiel
Martin Hache
Chris Zimmerly

Thanks to ALL the appreciators who rode the Mad wave from our FB Live feeds! We know you had a choice of what to do with your Blursday (Tiger King!) & you picked to virtually hang out with us! Now more than ever, we need community, we need outlets, we need to create, we shall persist!

Be safe & ’til next 1st Wednesday… may the madness swirl your way!

Johnny O

P.S. In case you missed the LIVE feedS, your eye can spy on these virtual Swirl’n scenes right here…

Round One:

Round Two:

••• Mad Swirl Anthology  •••


Our 108-page anthology features 52 poets, 12 short fiction writers, and four artists whose works were presented on throughout 2019. We editors reviewed the entire year’s output to ensure this collection is truly “the best of Mad Swirl.” The works represent diverse voices and vantages which speak to all aspects of this crazy swirl we call “life on earth.”

And just in case you’re not quite sure what and/or who Mad Swirl is…

“Mad Swirl is an arts and literature creative outlet. It is a platform, a showcase, and a stage for artistic expression in this mad, mad world of ours; a diverse collection of as many poets, artists, and writers we can gather from around the world; from Nepal to Ireland, from England to China, from California to New York City and all the places in between. Our Poetry Forum features works from over 150 contributing poets, our short story library has over 170 writers and our Mad Gallery has over 45 resident artists.”

This anthology is a great introduction to the world of Mad Swirl!

Huge grats & shout-outs to our 2019 featured Contributors (in alphabetical order):

Featured Poets:

Ahmad Al-khatat
Joe Balaz
Hem Raj Bastola
Ann B-D
Gayle Bell
Bhupender Bhardwaj
Alexandria Biamonte
Christopher Calle
Mick Corrigan
Swagi Desai
Joseph Farley
Mike Fiorito
Brian Fugett
Iulia Ghergei
Brittany Griffiths
Kenneth P. Gurney
Kristina Krumova
Kimberly Madura
Tyler Malone
Devika Mathur
Maeve McKenna
Bradford Middleton
Steven Minchin
Lisa Moak
Ian Mullins
J.D. Nelson
Madelyn Olson
Johnny Olson
Charlotte Ozment
Durga Prasad Panda
Nikita Parik
Rob Plath
Dan Raphael
Brian Rihlman
Randall Rogers
Walter Ruhlmann
Sanjeev Sethi
Roger G. Singer
Paul Smith
Paul Tristram
Agnes Vojta
Trier Ward
Scott Waters
Julene Tripp Weaver
Harley White
Bill Wolak
Brian Wood
Chris Zimmerly
Mike Zone
Milenko Županović

Featured Writers:

Michael Brownstein
Salvatore Difalco
Tony Gentry
Susie Gharib
Stew Jorgenson
Tyler Malone
Jim Meirose
Vivek Nath Mishra
Bruce Mudhenke
Hunter Reardon
Dan Rodriguez
Chris Wilkensen

Featured Artists:

Alan Gann
Chuck Hatton
Mario Loprete
Sharon O’Callaghan Shero

If we’ve enticed you enough to wanna get you your very own copy of “The Best of Mad Swirl : v2019” then stay tuned to all of our Mad channels for the news to break for our book launch! (tentatively scheduled for 04.20.20)


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

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