The Best of Mad Swirl : 06.27.20

by on June 28, 2020 :: 0 comments

“Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.”

Lucille Clifton

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Impatient”Sufia Khatoon

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 exposed a doomer, malignant tumor; we drew secret disclosure from outdoor exposure; we scratched light from sky bright; we vented the spleen of a bad bar scene; we took deep breaths to beat down death; we found no reason to rue the naming of one number two; we entered into self-reflection, vineyard wine drunk introspection. We brought our insides out from taking our outsides in. ~ MH Clay

Lockdown… by Sheighle Birdthistle

This was even better,
a full stop privacy.

It was there. There,
in the middle of the vineyard

stark in the midday sun.
Like a hangman’s dream

it loomed into her consciousness
taking over her compliant existence.

Her adult life was a quest laid out
by a higher order, or so it seemed.

Lack of control over so many circumstances
and nothing to help.

Her well of ideas floundered every time.
That was one of her problems

lack of freedom to think and find a way
to explain one’s particular existence.

And a way to accept and choose one’s part,
a player in the amazing dramas of life.

Thoughts like these flitted through
her consciousness, escaped and returned.

Who does not search for explanations
the existentialist question about life

and reality of existence, one’s particular life
and the why and wherefore of everything?

Hers was a mind that hungered for answers.
She thought that everyone else had the answers.

She sat under the tree, shaded
by its dark gaunt branches…

she sought trees with this kind
of architectural growth…

a Beckett tree, she privately mused.

Slowly, she drank from the bottle
Clutched tightly, in her tired hand.

June 27, 2020

editors note: Making progress during YOUR lockdown? Clutch that bottle and drink… – mh clay

Old School by Alex Salinas

Old School #2 we called him
6 feet, salt n’ pepper mini fro, knife-long yellow fingernails
Thick vein straight down his toothpick bicep
6 teeth he had, maybe 8
Swear to God wettest jumper I’ve seen
Ugly like Magic Johnson’s
“Practice!” he used to shout
One night in between games, I asked him,
“How old are you?”
He relaced his black-and-red Jordan Ones
Then he answered, “Sheeeit”
One time he blew past me, so I fouled him hard
Bumped him midair
He spun then landed softly, somehow, on his ass
“My bad,” I told him, feeling awful
“Sheeeit,” he said, fist-bumping me, flashing lonely island teeth
“That was a three-muthafucking-sixty!”
This was the Summer of the Call Center
Cancer patients raging through headsets
Late fees, interest rates, screw your evil company policy
Yessir, yes ma’am, I’m happy to cancel your account, right on it
Late after work, my friend and I would drive to Gold’s Gym
Old School #2 & crew already hooping
I remember thinking, I’m 20 years old
How much longer’s this shit gonna last?
One night in between games, I asked him,
“Why they call you Old School #2?”
Then, “Where’s #1 at?”
He brushed the bottoms of his Jordans
Scratched his fro and said, “Used to be two of us but
The other guy’s dead, so it’s only me now.
Crazy muthafucking world!”
I scanned the court
Half the young dudes from the Big Red warehouse, H-E-B plant
Paychecks dumped on skull tattoos, praying hands
Right then I knew, with relief (remorse)—
I wouldn’t be next in line.

June 26, 2020

editors note: OK, a a little longer, so long as we stand down the line. “Sheeeit!” – mh clay

Beat It Kid by Ian Mullins

Beat The Reaper – Laurie Styvers (As heard on YouTube)

A seventies sun
cast a softer light
though a glass of
warm lemonade
than the tough taskmaster
the eighties re-modeled
and re-made.

She looks through
a haze of summer dust
to a soundtrack
of acoustic voices
ringing wood and warm
steel strings,
strong and gentle voices
cross-legged in tall grass

as the young sun bore down
and all the world was well

while the sun lay overhead
roasting marbles in our pockets
and we did not know,
bless the mercy of being young,
that summer breath
is quickly breathed

June 25, 2020

editors note: We would have breathed deeper, had we known, right? – mh clay

Slick as the Street by S. A. Gerber

Drunk in the corner
and raining outside.
Someone reading
Sartre in French.
She came in,
slick as the street,
drank to herself,
but took it all in.
A short hunched-
back sells tablets
for a buck each,
and the chef is
fucking the waitress
while her child
screams for milk.
Some guy on a make-
shift stage is talking
about shooting-up
some nymph, then
licking her from toes
to brow as she
foams in a stupor.
He is a prophet
in his own mind.
The cast of some
bad ‘acid’ film.
In black and white,
with all its noise,
grain and other flaws.
The ‘slick’ one offers
the screaming kid milk,
as he claws her breasts.
A crack of thunder
from outside, and
it’s all gone…
just like that.
My head hangs limp.
Can’t begin to explain.

June 24, 2020

editors note: Quarant-erium tremens. Oh my! – mh clay

If the Sky Were a Poem by Marianne Szlyk

A poem is not a mirror but a sky – Thade Correia, “Manifestos: Aphorisms on Poetry”

The closed system of Tuesday resists all

your efforts. Look for something, anything,
images, words, irregular pulse, rhyme.

White space cloaks notebook pages. A gel pen
leaves only scratches. Weak, pale light seeps in

from somewhere, probably the east, source of
yellow, source of wisdom, source of dawn. Clouds

turn gauzy, turn gray. You remember your
own family’s four directions: the cross

at meals and Mass. While you do other things,
the sky splits, like a seam of cotton pants.

You can’t see blue, but you do see light, bright
enough for sunglasses. Clouds imitate

yesterday’s sky.

June 23, 2020

editors note: Sky as you will, keep your shades handy. – mh clay


here he lies and is lying
the eyes can not trust the ears
the message can not be received
unless he talks to himself

out loud

too many turns now he’s lost
he can not pay what he does not owe
the middle comes to an end
and here there is a secret

you don’t know

out in the woods the trees are singing
in the wind down from the ice
around the lake the blue is shifting
one more take and then

go home

June 22, 2020

editors note: Hmmm… Can’t quite place it, but sounds like someone we know… Oh, I guess not. The one I’m thinking of never knows when to go home. – mh clay

Resurgence of the Tumor by Heath Brougher

The tumor was lessened,
held somewhat at bay
for a period of eight years,
but now the loud echoes
of a familiar fatalism
are running rampant as ever
throughout the corridors
of the White House
just like the bile
that runs through the veins
of the dictator
who violently calls for
attacks against peaceful protesters.

That old tumor has begun a full-fledged resurgence
as deceit falls like Fascist hail upon the sometimes-murdered masses.

June 21, 2020

editors note: Cut out that thing! – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

This week’s featured Need-a-Read comes to us from Mad trifectist (Contributing Writer, Poet & Artisté!) AND Short Story Editor Tyler Malone!

Here’s how Associate Editor Mike Fiorito sums it up:

Sometimes we need to burn to embers before our light can shine again.

Here’s a few sips of Tyler’s Trash Vampires to quench your reading thirst:

(photo “Shades of Shitfaced” by Tyler Malone)

Midday bartending is witnessing drinkers begin, then see them end before your night even starts. Ending shift drinks are something to hold to, same as a nurse in aged green scrubs holds to her deep yellow beer. She daydreams, day drinks, and has for two hours. She’s looked towards me but far into her own past. Or into what happens next.

“Mind if I grab this seat?” I ask, taking out my phone, feeling cash lumps in my pocket, hoping to discover a night’s reasons to lose generous gifts.

“I’m sure I made your shift awkward. I can’t hide my damn eyes.”

Taking my first free sip, I ask what they’d been focused on.

“Nothing here.” She looks into her fifth beer and asks, “What are you drinking?”

“I poured all your beers so I thought I’d have one as well.”

Glass to lips, lips to God, her entire beer disappears in a gulp. “Come to my place.” With that, all the plains of my phone can’t offer any horizon as mysterious as this. “It’s only two miles away.”

“Are you going to make it?”

My throat’s patient but I feel her urgency. I retroactively race her chug as she traces shapes onto the bar with her empty glass. “Follow and find out.”…

Wanna chug the rest of Tyler’s intoxicating read? Then listen to the lady & “Follow and find out” right here!

••• Open Mic  •••

Join Mad Swirl Open Mic THIS 1st Wednesday of the July (aka 07.01.20), as we once again whirl up the Swirl VIRTUALLY, opening the mic for all you Mad ones out there! With technology & social media on our side, we got no choice but to maximize it!

Starting at 7:30pm (CST), join hosts Johnny O & MH Clay, along with Chris Curiel’s jazzed-up Swirve as we get this madness Swirlin’ via Facebook LIVE!

Come one.

Come all.

Come to participate. (get a spot on our list at our Facebook event page OR send us a note at

Come to appreciate. (tune in to our Facebook LIVE feed starting at 7:30pm (cst))

Come to be a part of our collective creative love-child we affectionately call Mad Swirl!

••• 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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