The Best of Mad Swirl : 04.11.20

by on April 12, 2020 :: 0 comments

“It is people’s hearts that move the age.

Herbie Hancock

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Der Schwan! Der Schwan!Sharron Ott

Mad Swirl is thrilled to welcome Sharron Ott to the visual stage with her dark, moody mixed media collage series entitled ‘Saltimbanco.’ The work beautifully captures movement, motion, and with the feature of feathered wings in nearly every piece, a sort of airy lightness amidst the dark. The juxtaposition of whimsy against shadowy, saturated mystery strikes us a bit like a fairytale pre-Disney edit and the works manage to speak perfectly to the ‘acrobatic act of life’ Sharron had in mind when creating these beauties. We here at Mad Swirl have no doubt that you’ll too do some flips too! ~ Madelyn Olson

To see all of Sharron’s moody mixed-media collages, as well as our other featured artists (48 in all!), visit Mad Swirl’s Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we had some fun with the boney one; we relished a vision of steadfast precision; we pitched a polemic ‘gainst this random pandemic; we devised a cool ditty to sing for this city; we blinked at the gleam of a caravan dream; we sang to him above, to be lucky and beloved; we held on to let go to breathe in till breath goes. In with the good air, write out the bad… ~ MH Clay

Breathe deep… by Johnny Olson

Breathe deep…
Hold it –

You held
On long

To last.
Our final

Waits inside
Face masks.

Let go
Cling to


April 10, 2020

editors note: We know when’s the next one, but never the last. – mh clay


Midnight longing for God and Heaven
Horns of sweet jazz for Jesus
in the missionary night.

Converting bats like me to bliss,
bugs, to that kiss of divinity
…the lucky and beloved to a sigh
alike the sea

April 10, 2020

editors note: Sing contentment in every key. – mh clay

timbuktu by Mark Muro

this is the place of camels and canoes
where the seeds of be-bop
are traded for a missionary’s head
and strings of killer bees are smuggled like gems

here the sun’s bent breath
bruises the earth
and sears my lips
making a dark meal of milk-fed smiles

here a mummy bleeds dust
and mumbles something sulfuric
turning a flock of crow to smoke

here grass eats meat
and dogs become sand
chewing the last mouthful of hope
from a human ditch

here the rippling horizon muffles a boom
and a buzzard sharpens his beak on a bone

here a bush doctor
playing godfather to madness and mud
spits termites into a tourist trap
giving directions to comatose pilgrims
selling poison postcards
and genuine dung figurines

here tiny fish glitter on the wind
and credit cards are used
to scrape the hair off jackals

here the air fills with thorns
and a caravan of gnats head for the coast

here I am smoking a rope
packed up high on a camel’s hump
with coffee beans, cassettes and myrrh
and a guide book to malaria

and here the sky crumbles
jamming the projector
halfway up river
a white square of sail
hanging on the dark
slide of memory

April 9, 2020

editors note: Travelogue for us in stir. (This poem is part of a collaborative work between Mark Muro and Sal Cataldi of Spaghetti Eastern Music, as Vapor Vespers. The album is titled “One Act Sonix.” Here is a Youtube link to hear the song. Here is a Spotify link to buy the album.) – mh clay

This city by Kevin Christensen

This city.
This city, with its gorgeous dames,
And square-jawed men of the night.
Where we hug people
Because that’s what we do.
And then unknowingly
Cut them off in traffic.
This city.
Ever more neon
With each new erection.
Of a new tower.
That features
A meet & greet
Every Thursday night.
So you can figure out
Who to like and hate.
This city.
With the history it can’t shake
Where we punish those who wish to embrace it.
Everything’s fine
As long as it looks fine.
Pay no attention
To the man behind
The cardboard sign.
This city.
How do cars end up
Upside down
In the middle of the freeway?
We’re in a hurry
To get everywhere and nowhere.
Only to look at our phones when we arrive.
Sure, I’ll have a drink with you
Out on the restaurant patio.
We’ll kiss each other on the cheek
And say goodbye.
Until next time.
This city.
Where art hides out
So as not to be bastardized.
Where love hides out,
So as not to be exploited.
Where sincerity
And an awkward but honest
Lives under a bridge.
This city.
Is a city I love.
The unpredictable
Turn of events.
The pain.
The acts of kindness
And homicidal mania.
The music. The euphoric music.
The faces.
The cars.
The seductive skyline.
I could perish on any given day
In this city.
But I say,
‘Fuck you, city’.
I’m not leaving.
Try to make me.
I know you’re crazy, but I love you.
I will stay by your side
Because I’m flawed, too.
Who knows.
Maybe I’m worse than you are.
But you’re mine.
I’ve taken you as my concubine.
And there’s nothing you can do.
People flee from you
In sadness and despair.
But not me.
This city.
I like the way you
Try to play the upper hand.
But I have news for you, this city.
I know the score.
And you’re my bitch.
You don’t know me, this city.
But I know you.
I know you like
Very few others know you.
I look at your veins
Glowing in the night
White and red blood cells
Flowing in and out.
On that freeway,
Where egos clash.
I see your heart.
Buried deep.
Under concrete and steel.
You hate it, this city.
That I know how you feel.
You hate it, this city.
That I know what’s real.

April 8, 2020

editors note: Mine. Yours. Every? – mh clay

Dice by Ann B-D

God is playing dice with the Universe.
The Universe throws doubles.
God sighs.
Six million is a lot to lose.
Now it’s God’s turn to
hunker down and shoot.
Ha, says God. Pandemic!
Those dice are rigged, says the Universe.
Not so, says God.
It’s random.
I don’t believe it, says the Universe.
I know you, God.
You keep records.
You hold grudges.
And what about Einstein?
He had a theory about you.

God laughs.

April 7, 2020

editors note: Laugh it off and double-down. Seven come eleven… – mh clay

PRECISELY! by Saloni Kaul

Skirting the harsh enormity of the issue,
The hold dynamic of the binding vortex,
Wild violets and vast vermilions wander
Into the upheld rising day
Seeking the sun’s snap equilibrium.

Fluffy like scrambled eggs, sunbeams emerge
Exhorting promises of providence,
Oblivion repositories in store,
Threshold and pressure point of no return.
Extinction’s only for the enemy!

Rehearsals of all possible enactments,
Scenes of and from the piquantly glazed glass
Of fluid rigid mask-like memory,
Commence all vulnerability taut tense,
Utilising all kinds of stage props imaginable,
Slick entries and tactfully managed exits,
All that benignly ushered you straight in,
Well-timed like perfectly oared routine act.

So look inside and wade through the aeons
Of time in a glazed thread flash instant
And see and relish all that there looks golden,
All that cooks and simmers snugly inside.
The pressure of time’s lid is no longer on you.

The obsidian rock observation deck
Stands all oar-locked, stability intact.

April 6, 2020

editors note: Steady on deck and smile for the camera. – mh clay

Here Comes the Stiff by James Robert Rudolph

Old age trails you looking like
a Day of the Dead figure but without
the guitarras and bolo ties and high spirits so
maybe he’s just a workaday skeleton.
Always 10 paces back, all about the morbid,
a clacking gumshoe, the sun shining through his ribs
like a set of Venetian blinds.

He’s all ‘bony Tony’, isn’t he just a riot? you titter,
ducking into alleyways and hedges like Scooby Do
when you see him and he sees you see him but
make no mistake: he’s got a list and you’re on it and you know it.
He’s as pitiless as a bounty hunter.

Can’t ditch him, there’s no discouraging him,
and his timing is impeccable—someday soon
he’ll crook at you a spooky finger
all ashen and disarticulated so
get as bucky as you like but
those bones don’t lie.

April 5, 2020

editors note: We can always duck, but we can’t defer; he’ll swing when he swings. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Our midweek Need-a-Read came to us from Contributing Writer Susie Gharib.

Here’s what our Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about Bishopbriggs,” Susie’s twist of a love story:

“Young love = young madness. Always has, always will. Survive every time until you can call that living.”

(photo “Depths of the Shallow Side” by Tyler Malone)

Click here to get the gist of what Tyler’s talkin’ ’bout!


Our weekend’s Need-a-Read, How to Prepare to Watch The Lighthouse comes to us from Contributing Writer & Poet, Ron Riekki!

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

Some days we need true horror to find peace, poetry, and our place in life.

Ron’s swirlin’ stream of consciousness kicks off like this…

(photo “The Light of Tides” by Tyler Malone)

Don’t be alarmed if alarms alarm in your head. Remember, the lighthouse of your body is in your head. The island of your head. I have a head. It alarmed during the film. But this is because I am a horror fan and this was horror is horror and I got in an argument with a Poet Laureate from Minnesota who said that horror is disgusting and I said that life is disgusting and he said, no, it’s not, not at all, and I said, yes, it is, is, all…

If that tickled your need for more read, click here!

••• Mad Swirl Anthology  •••

>>> OFFICIAL LAUNCH 04.20.20! <<<

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 on 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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