“Every day I discover even more beautiful things. It is intoxicating me, and I want to paint it all – my head is bursting”
••• The Mad Gallery •••
mood swings – Madelyn Olson
Mad Swirl is proud to once again feature the colorfully disturbing and beautiful works of Madelyn Olson. If the name is familiar maybe it’s because you’ve seen Madelyn’s name from her visual editorial comments right here in this very land of the Mad Gallery. Others might know her as the prolific artist who is dazzling the world with her canvases & books. As for me, I know her as my daughter, my friend, my inspiration. Once again, please indulge me while I brag on my kiddo because that’s what papa’s like me do!
This time around we find a new cast of Madelyn’s diverse characters but her signature style is very apparent: swimming glimmering eyes, twisting limbs disjointed and amputated, carrying messages beneath the surface that cannot be denied. Madelyn’s portraits unapologetically express the rawness of a reality that’s on a twisted parallel of our own. What some of these quixotic subjects have to say may not be what you want to hear but you just cannot help yourself from opening your eyes ears.
But don’t take my biased word about Madelyn’s works. After all, I’m her papa and we’ve been known to brag on our kiddos. Go have a peek for yourself and tell me I’m not spot-on with my review of Madelyn Olson’s latest canvases. Go on now, I dare ya… ~ Johnny O
To see more of Maddi’s mad new cast of diverse characters & canvases, as well as our other former featured artists (51 in total) at Mad Swirl’s Mad Gallery!
••• The Poetry Forum •••
This last week in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we remembered a father with ashes on water; we made love work with a kiss and a smirk; we recalled the loop of a friend on the stoop; we got the feel of a lockdown meal; we broke fast the same as a person of fame; we kept a stoned eye on street, not sky; we considered the ramifications of on-going investigations. Evidence examined, we spin our tales; true or not, who can tell? ~ MH Clay
This Investigation by J.K. Durick
Let’s investigate this thoroughly, we can call in witnesses,
those few who were there, who saw what they saw, who
knew/know what was going on and waited till now to talk
about the things they saw, and then let’s call on experts to
walk us through the process, things they know and things
they can help us speculate about. It’s that time, a time of
reckoning, time to take stock, look for evidence, assemble
the data and anecdotal evidence, review the side issues, take
this bit and that, piece things together, the things that have
surfaced, become obvious in recent days. Let’s call together
the relevant committees and councils, call together forums
and neighborhood groupings, a special interest group, or two.
Let’s find answers, let’s find the questions we need to ask
them, to ask ourselves. Let’s consider the future, our children,
grandchildren, this strange bubble we live in, this cornfield
we’re walking through, this jigsaw puzzle we are putting
together, and calling home. Let’s cross this river, this inter-
section, this border now and ask why this keeps happening
and then start investigating this whole thing once more.
November 14, 2020
editors note: Then we’ll know what we know until we don’t. – mh clay
i believed there wasn’t a sky by Tom Pescatore
the median stretched out like
the neck of an abandoned guitar
playing the endless discordant
song of broad street
sinking into the concrete shelf
we stood as ever older versions
of ourselves tuned through the
drug-like orange haze of street-light-
peering into our transparent lungs
the orange line shook underworld
thoughts loose sending them like
balloons through our feet
inhaling we grasped at the strings
but they were of too many to follow
too many to see
it was the last time looking up into
the blackness of the orb-like night
i believed there wasn’t a sky
November 13, 2020
editors note: Grab on to that string lest you bounce off the not sky. – mh clay
FRANK SERPICO AT THE DINER by Sarah Ito
It is 7 a.m. in Hudson, New York.
The tin can diner is shrugging off dawn’s shroud
Of relentless fog that plows down from the Catskills
Daily, like the sleepy commuters seeking
Coffee to go for the long haul
South down the Taconic into the canyons of Manhattan,
Where the green of Columbia County turns to a cold angry grey.
The blinking red and yellow neon “Open” sign
Struggles to cut through the haze in a valiant attempt
To welcome traveler and local alike.
Ten-year-old pickup trucks redolent of manure park at sharp angles
Next to this year’s Escalades bearing tags that suggest leased vehicles.
I seat myself at a table and wait for the “Want coffee, Honey?” waitress
With the Ethel Merman voice
And the blood orange lipstick.
I glance over at the counter and he is there, as he usually is,
In the early morning hours.
Buffalo plaid shirt
Throwaway work boots with clumps of mud and hay protruding from
Underneath the soles, where his feet
Barely scrape the footrest.
A frail, elderly man with unwashed grey hair sipping chamomile tea
Solo, at the counter;
I wonder if he sees himself as a hero,
Or as an old man, alone.
He senses the pierce of my stare, and he turns around, nods.
I raise up my coffee cup in a toast of sorts, and we both resume our solitary meal.
I wonder, for a moment, what it must be like to be him,
And then I realize,
I already know.
November 12, 2020
editors note: Celebrity in solitude. – mh clay
Eating With Father’s Friends During Lockdown. by Shitta Faruq Adémólá
The table looks nice… a milligram of mounds sits on it.
It is a ball… Silence is a golden fortune we worship. Only
spittles birthed from delicacies dare break it… Like a thief with abs.
Winds tussle… My father’s friend is bitter of caves… He says
it exposes the fall of needles… He says the nipple of a strumpet
is worshipped… He says it is fire… Another clears his mouth
with the back of his hand… Belches… Drinks from the goblet
keeping the undiluted wines… Clears the disturbances in his throat
Voice guttural… He says he knows the story of the snail hidden
in the murkiness of the shell… How his mother sauntered many times
for his eyes… Belches again… Picks a call from a Muslim friend
I hear him say… Tomorrow, we are doing today… Damn lockdown!
Damn the pit they dug for us to feast bloods… To feast the flesh of our thumb
Another talks… Eyes red… The food i am tasting is here, but God.
I am eating… One ear opening itself to the uproar… I tear the
flesh of the chicken with relish… The wine, cold.
Another stands… When next I reincarnate, this country will hate me
I see him walk out…
November 11, 2020
editors note: At this table, keep your distance and your left hand to yourself. – mh clay
I can’t make this akron by Jason Baldinger
(for victor clevenger)
victor, I know you’re out there
watching my apartment sink
like the titanic, I know
it’s not that dramatic
it’s really not even as cool
as getting hit by a streetcar in akron
but you were there, no civilization
in your pocket, watching a dragon
and an octopus and the titanic
I’m sorry I can’t make this akron
but in the warmth of the summer
in a time before ice water and unraveling
you watched my apartment sink
as fatalist lovers fucked against
children’s home walls
they left condoms in the street
a telegram to pittsburgh
that brief time when we forgot the h
my neighbor remembers
you asleep on the stoop years after
cigarettes and lighter next to you
not noticing the sun
inching through gingko leaves
if she hadn’t walked up when she did
maybe that sun would gift you
your own iceberg
your own streetcar
I came starboard hours later
john brown in bathrobe
tossed the deadbolt
you were awake and salty
mumbling about slaughterhouses again
November 10, 2020
editors note: The best house guests stay outside the house. – mh clay
When I Return From A Good Fortnight Of A-Drinking & A-Whoring … In The Self-Absorbed Cocoon Of My Recovery I Oftentimes Forget The Sad Plight Of The Common, Little Man by Paul Tristram
My, my, my, I almost made the delicious
Sunflower Sky explode, lushly,
whilst romantically reminiscing
about our ‘Lover’s Tryst’
in that bit of woodland waste ground
out the back of the Abortion Clinic,
back in good ol’ 1969
… yeah, I know neither one of us
was actually born yet, but in cosmic terms,
it was but an excitable, Energy Preface,
to our coming meeting and courtship
this side of the Eternal Spiritual River.
I like how our ‘Chain-Links’
work only by way of ‘Mutual Will’ alone,
how our Thoughts leG-Up each other
over Mental Walls and Barriers
… and how BOTH our Lips
taste exactly like apple-and-plum-pie
the very moment we smirk whilst kissing.
November 9, 2020
editors note: Destiny or dumb luck; love is best when smirking a kiss. – mh clay
For My Father by Devorah Titunik
It wasn’t a long walk from the car to
The spot we’d chosen, by the river
But as it was to be our last together,
It was the longest of my life.
Lifting the box, I followed my sisters.
We didn’t speak, each was lost in
Her own thoughts and memories.
The box felt like a baby in my arms
As if I were carrying my own child.
So much I longed to say to you,
Forever now left unsaid.
Your ashes caught the morning light
As we scattered them over the river,
Sparkling as they descended, barely
Disturbing the mist that hung on its surface.
With surprising speed, we were done.
All I had left of you was the fine dust
That clung to my fingers.
I held them against my frozen cheeks.
So many feelings. Love, hurt, admiration, anger,
Running down my face, through my fingers, mingling
With your dust, seeping into my pores.
The whole focus of my life had been
A fruitless attempt at gaining your approval.
What do you do when life loses its focus?
I was a woman of straw, I realize now,
Searching for what was already mine.
Spending years up and down the yellow brick road
Searching for you.
I found you when I looked into a mirror
And finally saw myself.
November 9, 2020
editors note: So much more is passed along than blood. – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
This weekend’s featured read comes to us from Contributing Writer, Austin Brookner!
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say our weekend featured read:
“The game of life is just this: it’s no game. Both winners and losers crawl towards the cold ground, but both have stories of a few victories along the way.”
Here’s a bit of “I Heart Newark” to get ya dribblin’:
(photo “Best Shot” by Tyler Malone)
People from Newark have a beautiful quality of saying exactly what’s on their mind.
From the ages of eleven to thirteen, I played on an AAU basketball team from there－The Newark Rams. A basketball director from a summer clinic in South Orange, New Jersey must have had a wicked sense of humor when she told my mother that my older brother and I oughtta try out for the team. We drove all the way down South Orange Boulevard and into the heart of the hood－St. Rocco’s Church.
At St. Rocco’s Church, there were no out-of-bounds. The ball went beyond the lines and three kids would dive into the chairs and knock ‘em over to retrieve it…
This read game ain’t over, by a long, half-court shot! Get the rest of your read on right here!
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about our midweek featured read:
“Shed skin to show what’s under everyone what you’re really made of.”
Here’s a tease of Edward’s regaling reptilian tale:
(photo “Watch Out It Could Be a Snake” by Tyler Malone)
The old snake made its way around SouthGress. People saw it in several spots on occasion. But among its favorite of spots was the carousel. It would wind around the circle of the carousel’s low metal gate several times and then settle into a sleep as the dawn broke.
On the days when the snake curled around the carousel, only the most adventurous children would ride. Angkang, the carousel operator would turn on the lights and music from the booth, a small box outside of the snake’s circle. The children who dared would crawl over the three or so coils of the snake’s body. Some tried to be gentle, others treated the snake as they might an inanimate pile. It slept through even the days of heavy, treading traffic. It seldom blocked important roads in the town. Despite this consensus that the snake was an innocuous reality of life in SouthGress, on the days when the snake’s mouth came to rest just by the entrance of the carousel’s gate, no children were seen riding the carousel.
As the sunlight retreated at jagged points between buildings and trees, the snake’s retinas opened. It lay for moments, darker than usual, not moving. Angkang had closed the carousel hours ago, and no one remained in the park. The snake slowly flicked its tongue. It tasted the rain that was coming. It looked left then right with its dulled, blue eyes. And finally focused its attention on the itch at the tip of its nose. It was a dot, a simple single dot. But the snake knew it would grow. It was a cycle as certain as the seasons, though it seemed to the snake that the intervals had stretched with time. It was life, and the snake pressed its nose into the grass and rubbed…
Ssshed this teasssse and ssslither on over to Mad Ssswirl’s dot com to get the rest of this read on!
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…
Short Story Editor