The Best of Mad Swirl : 08.01.20

by on August 2, 2020 :: 0 comments

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.”

Herman Melville

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“The Social Distancing of Desire”Bill Wolak

Mad Swirl is proud to welcome back Bill Wolak, one of the maddest of the mad, with a fresh new collection of collage work. This time around, he’s brought a bit of a new style… along with the one we knew him for and wow… we are not disappointed! I mean, how could anyone say no to trippy, surreal, nude portraits, not to mention his witty titles? Plus there’s just something to say for having a style that’s unlike any other and Wolak has truly mastered it. ~ Madelyn Olson

See all of Bill’s wild and hallucinated canvases, 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 Forumwe heard our muse beckon for 15 to 20 seconds; we locked in some pests, those home wrecking guests; we played greedy landlord games with a dwindling list of names; we versed in style to whirl a while; we considered how there’s no end to now; we mourned to see new tyranny; we stared into the face of the glowing trace. Our sparks flew. Our words, too; rubbed together to make flame, or poetry, by another name. ~ MH Clay

New twist on the end by Timothy Pilgrim

Captive to an explosion happening,
each spark hitching a fling into blackness,
the light beside dazzled shadows

with shine and glow. Fire that had burned
at the core, a genesis of sorts,
streaked behind into universal night.

It would eventually pockmark time.
One trace remained, a fuse of coiled rope,
still embered, writhing on the tile floor.

August 1, 2020

editors note: Keep your combustibles close, your extinguisher closer; or step back and let ‘er burn. – mh clay

The New Tyranny by Devorah Titunik

Feelings swirl around,
A tornado trying to form
Amid the turmoil of a world
Divided. Where we love to hate
So much more than we desire to understand.

Hopes and dreams crushed by muddy boots
Before they ever have a chance to bloom.

Can’t you see it? The light dying in their eyes.
Hope and possibility a distant memory for some,
Others never knew it and likely never will.

There is no longer room for nuance, color, or shades of gray.
It is all black and white. You must agree with everything
To belong and no independent thoughts allowed.
Any thoughts that don’t fully conform make you suspect in their eyes.

Can you feel it? The sheer brutality of groupthink, the death
Of civility and honest debate, the birth of a new tyranny.

Antagonism is our bread and water, hate our oxygen.
Even the smallest of troubles cannot be resolved in this environment.
How will we ever solve the big ones?

All I can feel today is pain. It’s everywhere, crushing my head and heart.
I feel their tears, hopelessness, and fears and am not strong enough to
Bear it anymore. I watch helplessly as people tear each other down.
It feels like fishhooks mangling my flesh. I want to grab my
Rusty sword and find a windmill to battle, but there are none
They have all become real dragons.

July 31, 2020

editors note: Peace be found in fireproofing for the soul. (We welcome Devorah to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Taking a positive viewpoint by Joseph Farley

At the end of this day
another begins.

The sun burning through your window
replaces the moon.

What is night with eyes closed?
Forget the darkness.

You are here and all is good.
The sky, the grass, the stones

exist for your viewing pleasure.
Ignore temptation

to listen to the devil
reminding this will all end,

and may have already,
since you’ve been trying so hard

not to notice.

July 30, 2020

editors note: Every day and in every way… – mh clay

awhirl awhile by Heller Levinson

glide in style apart about abort apparitions taut puff purfle baloon whiffle curl the lagoon choir aspire heat desire like coupling like curlicue like so lonely you could believe your eyes the concept was otherwise slide beside enterprise surprise the subject was peat studying agglutinate chimera forms in symbolic art

dog tail



July 29, 2020

editors note: Wow! Wait, what? Whew! – mh clay


The governance at Golden Pines
Intends to raze St. Joseph Hall
And so is not replacing
Those who move on
As circumstance conspires,
To Assisted Living,
(As if there were some other kind)
Or Health Care or Memory Care
Or other destinations.
One wonders, then,
What they must feel,
Those who remain,
Bringing their groceries in from the car,
One or two small bags,
To see only seven names left
On the directory
In the dimly lighted hall.

July 28, 2020

editors note: The race to be the last present resident takes a lot of time. – mh clay

Boxed In by Anthony Ward

The moment I step out of myself
I leave the door wide open
To allow others to walk in
And put themselves at ease

So that I no longer want to return
And remain outside
While they cause havoc
Discerning no respect nor regard for my personal space
Desecrating everything that once made me

Then I close the door on them
Locking them in
Unwilling to release them
Preferring to keep them restrained
Rather than let them out.

July 27, 2020

editors note: This is why it’s best to be good guest. – mh clay

Fruitflies Are Eternal, Poems Die Every Instant by Ethan Goffman

So many poets, so few readers.

Poems are born and die at an exponentially accelerating rate.

The lucky ones flock to their internet homes
where they’re downloaded by 3 people each,
glimpsed for 15 or 20 seconds,
flickering impulses of our collective conscious
lost to eternity.

Many are gorgeous
expressing the most profound impulses
of the human soul.

July 26, 2020

editors note: Let those pleasing profundities light the luck you lift in 15 to 20 seconds. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

This weekend’s featured Need-a-Read comes to us from Mad Trifectist (Contributing Poet/Writer/Artist) AND our very own Associate Editor, Mike Fiorito!

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this weekend pick-of-the-week:

“There will be an end to everything. And if something follows us, all that’ll end too. Knowing that is one thing. But maybe seeing it in real time, that’s a different kind of curse.”

Here’s a dreamy glimpse into Mike’s vision, Death Before Beauty

(photo “Funeral Foliage” by Tyler Malone)

“You dream of me less these days,” my father says.

Even in my dream, I feel guilty, like I did when he was alive. He would say, “You don’t call no more?” even when we’d talked earlier that week.

I try to hide my shame, but he can see through it. I am dreaming. My mind is wide open.

“I often think of you.”

“I know you do,” he says. His cobalt eyes look like miniature Earths. I can see blue oceans and white clouds shifting across the spheres. He is more like Neptune than the proud Neapolitan from Little Italy. And he doesn’t smoke anymore.

I look around at the world of this dream. It’s like we’re floating in space. Heavy dark smoke passes us by. It is freezing cold.

“We’re at the tilted edge of the solar system,” my father says, pointing to a small shadowy object. “That’s Pluto.”

Pluto hangs like a nebulous smudge in space. I remember that the Voyager mission just recently passed Pluto and is now sailing out into space beyond the solar system.

“But why are we meeting here?”

“I should be asking you that,” he says.

We’re asking each other questions out of courtesy. Reading each other’s minds would feel like our souls colliding…

Don’t wake up from this dreamy scene just yet! Just like dreams sometimes do, this one’s gotta twist you don’t wanna miss! Get the rest of your read on right here!


Our short story queue overfloweth (lucky US!) so Mad Swirl is back to the weekday Need-a-Read for a spell!

Our midweek featured tale, The Trickle-Down Effect comes to us from Contributing Writer, Tim Frank.

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this mid-week pick-of-the-week:

“What looks better on anyone than desperation? Desperation in different shades with brand names attached to them, of course!”

Here’s a few words to ease & tease your need-a-read tickle:

(photo “Stylin’ in Society” by Tyler Malone)

The cloud from Danielle’s vape enveloped the inside of her car like a Saharan sandstorm. Passers-by suspected her vehicle was in flames but instead of calling the emergency services they took a selfie, pinged it on WhatsApp, captioned it Car on fire lol and went on their way. Danielle applied another nicotine patch, sucked on her vape until she felt dizzy then shoveled some more gum into her mouth, chomping like a horse eating hay.

She was on sixty patches a day and when she plastered them across her cheeks American football fans regularly hustled down to the line of scrimmage.

She finally saw what she’d been waiting for: a woman with thinning hair, in a grubby shell suit and Reebok classics, carrying a see through bag with a black and white designer dress inside. She stepped out of a charity shop with a glint in her eye, lit a cigarette and puffed on it as if she was breathing her last breaths from a respirator.

Danielle gunned the engine of her hatchback and tailed the woman down a steep hill. But she got stuck in traffic and lost her target who weaved her way through the city streets on foot, heading towards the river. Danielle parked the car, gave up her search and took a seat in a coffee shop by the South Bank, trying to ignore hostile glares because she’d placed four nicotine patches on her forehead to soothe her frayed nerves.

After an hour of moping, her attention was drawn to a familiar sight. It was the black and white dress now being worn by the woman she was trailing. The woman’s hair was neatly tied in a bun, her mouth was smeared with thick red lipstick and she was still wearing her Reebok classics. Danielle followed her to a queue for the Royal Ballet performing in the nearby theatre. Before the woman could enter the building, Danielle jumped the line and grabbed hold of her sleeve spinning her around so they came face to face…

Get fitted with the whole tale right here!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl Open Mic THIS 1st Wednesday of the August (aka 08.05.20), 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 host Johnny O 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!


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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