The Best of Mad Swirl : 06.20.20

by on June 21, 2020 :: 0 comments

“I will preach with my brush.”

Henry Ossawa Tanner

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Anxious Mind”Sufia Khatoon

Mad Swirl is proud to welcome our newest featured visual artist, Sufia Khatoon, all the way from Kolkata, India, with work that transcends physical location with the universal emotion it emits. Sufia’s works are inspired from anxiety, loneliness, sadness and stress that every human being has had their fair share of. In that way, her work contains a message that all of us can understand – a chaotic and yet calm, flowing display of feeling and truth. All of her work features figures that seem to be in the throes of such feeling with eyes closed or otherwise somber expressions painted on their faces. In the beautiful way that art manages to say so much in saying so little, Khatoon’s art really captured our attention and forced us to ponder for a moment about the beautiful yet complicated nature of being alive. ~ Madelyn Olson

See all of Sufia’s ponderous paintings, as well as our other former featured artists (50 in total) at Mad Swirl’s Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we engaged in talk of writer’s block; we heard with no words; we took care not to swear; we spoke a lot to connect the dots; we stopped to bark at a doggish market; we angsted alone over ‘owning’ and ‘own;’ we made drunken inventions of gripped hand’s intentions. Up, in, or off, we need one now and then. ~ MH Clay

THE HAND by John Grey

I’m hunkered in a kitchen chair,
head half to the table,
bottle of cheap booze,
my only companion,
when a hand grabs mine.

Just a hand.
Nothing else,
No arm. No body.
But with a grip like a wrestler.

I’m thinking,
maybe it’s my conscience
taking a different tack
from all that fruitless
whispering in my ear.

And it wants me
to stop with the drinking
that’s rotting my gut,
water-boarding my brain cells.

But then it could be the appendage
of someone I’ve wronged,
the surviving grasp of revenge
while the rest of him
went to the grave.

Or maybe it’s my own hand,
my vision so blurry,
it’s hard to make out
where I end
and the rest of the world begins.

Then the hand grabs the bottle,
pours some more of that hooch
down my throat.

Conscience, avenger,
or the clasp of my undying thirst –
I know which one
I’m stumping for.

June 20, 2020

editors note: Seeking a hand up, or hands off! – mh clay

‘Own’ the conundrum by Sufia Khatoon

‘Own’ is aimed to keep things in control and ‘owning’ is
the ebbing and crashing waves by the lighthouse in my chest.
Let it come and see my naked body
walking around in this room without a sky
releasing what I believe is the pulse of exhaled sighs
leaving wanting outside this space.

I find it baffled by my choice of understanding ‘the self’ –
some days it understands the continuum of growing organs of loneliness, other days it asks me to follow the clock of conditioning built inside my mind and
submerge wholly in mechanical design of things.
It doesn’t have a name to attach itself to a feeling –
I can call it whatever I desire and comfort my raving mind.

The meditating pigeon in the rain is
the monk who has found it all
accepted the disapproving paths and made peace with it.
Who owns the road to realizing the islands of broken watches?
Everyone sets and reaches some place;
my body is stuck in the stillness of passing through the conundrums.

June 19, 2020

editors note: In the place between choices, owning or owned. – mh clay

Rover by Christopher Calle

The market is a wire-haired dog
A wild and untamed beast
Refined with time
The lovable lug
But also a bitch
What does Rover do all day?
excitedly ate
The contributions on her plate
And searched for more
She wandered around some
Walked the same path until it was bare
Barked at the neighbors to remind them she was there
Evidence says Rover is the capricious sort
Snuggling up close when you’re winding down
And shitting on your porch tomorrow
I wonder what I would think of her if we had never met
She’s the best breed
When her owner’s pronouncements define her
And in the cold air of night
When quiet rests its hand on the shoulder of the seeker
I realize she’s just an animal
We all are

June 18, 2020

editors note: Sniff the air. Bark or bite. Not bull or bear, but a bitch, all right. – mh clay

Mother Tongue by Paras Abassi

You know how your mother tongue separates you?
In answering your phone, sitting between your friends
when your brother asks when to pick you up;
in the surprising tone of your colleague who tells you how
your accent is different from those whose language you call your own.

I carry my language in surprise of people’s faces and sometimes in my own,
when I recognize a native smile,
a nod, a curse word intended as a joke
and in the folds of long-forgotten songs.

Yesterday my friends and I sang Sindhi festive songs at a superstore in low voices
while we were in the spice section and giggled
at why these songs never made sense and yet we knew them all.

Sometimes languages aren’t meant to voice opinions,
they’re intended to connect dots,
of people, maps, rivers;
draw lines of love between strangers.

I carry my mother tongue both as a burden and as a privilege,
of knowing all those sounds and words that emanate feelings and emotions
that are not known in other languages.
And yet,
sometimes words are never enough,
it’s the association of language that suffices.

June 17, 2020

editors note: Use your language lines to connect. Yes! – mh clay

Boisterous Blathering by Michael Estabrook

I am swearing at the TV not in anger just me and the little woman in the room in the entire house (Coronavirus Pandemic has us sheltering-in-place only, coming out to grab some food every week or two).

I swear at the TV a lot at the moronic commercials and the even more moronic “News” people, can’t help myself it’s kind of a hobby lets me burn off an anti-societal aggression lurking in my bones. (I am a child of the 60s after all).

But like I said I’m not really angry just spouting and most of the time it’s funny:
“Another blurb about this virus during every fucking commercial feels like we are being beat about the head and neck with a 2 x 4”
“Holy shit even the traffic lady is telling us to wash our hands”

Been swearing at the TV for years decades even meaning no harm just a bit of boisterous blathering and it’s just the two of us like I said nobody else around a couple swear words here and there I forget the context but no harm done (I thought).

But just now she says (glancing at me across the room from the corner of her eyes) “Watch your mouth!” Seriously? What am I nine! And now I am angry, but not swearing.

June 16, 2020

editors note: When you can’t social distance, mind your social mores. – mh clay


This is the love among the dead
…these are those high operatic notes
…that gorge of meat and wine and bread
…that private castle leaking hope, despair,
the two the same in desperate sighs

encased in predatory motes
to keep away the warlike herds
of Mongols milking mares and goats
with lost dreams much like lullabies
composed by angels

….without words…

June 15, 2020

editors note: And, yet, we must sing them… – mh clay

Desk Time by Carl Kavadlo

i used to try
to kill time
trying to write—
bending the
back and forth— hoping
to straighten
them out—
but they
would not bend,
i was meaningfully
doing something—
in hot pursuit
of a writing goal—

it eased the
guilt of
meaningless time—
but i wasn’t
really past that—

still it kept me
in the game
blindly slugging
it out with the words—
later i learned
to get out of their way
they seemed to have
an urgency of their own—

they think quite well
as long as i’m there
i didn’t need
to be such a
bully but i did
have to show up

they liked me
giving them space
like most living things.

June 14, 2020

editors note: Yes! You gotta show up, then get out of the way. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

I Need-a-Read!

Mad Swirl:
We got just what you need!

How do I get it?

Check out “Live Chat with Gremlin” by Contributing Writer & Poet KJ Hannah Greenberg.

Where do I find that fine read at?

At this link! Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about it: Phone calls are prayers… But to what god do we talk?

Thanks! Gonna check it out right now!

Anything else I can help you with today?

Nope! Thanks!

Always welcome! Y’all come back now, y’hear?!

(photo “Calling All Demons” by Tyler Malone)

••• Mad Swirl Anthology  •••

Get you your very own copy of “The Best of Mad Swirl : v2019” right HERE!

Mad Swirl’s 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.”

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

If we’ve enticed you enough to wanna get you your very own copy of “The Best of Mad Swirl : v2019” then get yours 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

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