The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.02.21

by January 3, 2021 0 comments

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J. R. R. Tolkien

••• The Mad Gallery •••

outgrownMadelyn Olson

With this one we end Madelyn’s feature run in our Mad Gallery. But don’t you fret or sweat it, we promise 2021 will showcase more beatific art! Stay tuned!

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 past week on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum we wished for a Year that’s New, wrote it may be better, too… we reveled in the setting light, took off into unknown flight; we faltered in our wandering, broken foot, broken wing; we, in a year devoid with loved ones missed, recalled dad’s snores and doggie’s bliss; we gave an invocation for a positive visitation; we worked up a good list for doing, a worthy show for constant viewing; we pulled to flee a repeat trap (with hopes we bridge the language gap); we sought to pick, with bold persistence, love from lust (and to know the difference). Doodley doo! Happy New Year to You! ~ MH Clay

JUST A FLIRTATION by John L. Yelavich

A relationship can spawn stinging frustration,
sometimes crazed, it can put you in a trance,
not knowing if it’s intimacy or just a flirtation.

When one squanders a passionate sensation,
does it pierce the veil of true romance?
A relationship can spawn stinging frustration.

Idyllic imagination is a sure source of inspiration,
but you can be distracted by a seductive glance,
not knowing if it’s intimacy or just a flirtation.

Wishful fantasies sometimes kindle a fixation,
horizons before us are an unlimited expanse,
a relationship can spawn stinging frustration.

Fevered emotions evoke feelings of elation;
as twilight unfolds you want one more dance,
not knowing if it’s intimacy or just a flirtation.

Affection and devotion have no limit, no expiration;
in love, you have to be willing to take a chance.
A relationship can spawn stinging frustration,
not knowing if it’s intimacy or just a flirtation.

January 2, 2021

editors note: Can you hold it if you try to mold it? (We welcome John L. to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

The End, the Beginning by Peggy Turnbull

On the cusp of a planetary turning, I seek
an oracle. Surely a bush will burn away
the mystery that covers the next year, carve
paths for me to follow. Far beyond, wavering
purple and yellow walls emit auroral noises.
Hissing. Cracking. Barely visible behind
a translucent veil of arctic air, I glimpse
the fluttering wings of a prehistoric bird, visitor
from a land of myth, an intelligence I meet
for the first time on this vulnerable morning.
It flashes and flares, a creature made of fire.
Preening. Stomping. The sky’s vocalizations
fly miles through the atmosphere into dreams,
into nightmares—the random, uncanny groans
of something beyond knowing, something ancient
that lives apart but among us, who cries a warning,
who pleads for existence. A message
not just for me, but for us all. What will we do?
Its language is not ours.

January 1, 2021

editors note: As we leave the dumpster fire that was 2020 behind, what manner of phoenix will rise from those ashes in the year ahead? We’re trying to find the words… – mh clay

The New Year’s Eve by Iulia Gherghei

A very thin demarcation
Between a past version of me
And a full jar of dreams and wishful thinking
Yeah, every year I write lists with what I am about to do or to become
And right in the crisp hours of the next year
I find myself in the same armchair where all the dreams gather into a blanket of inactivity
Why should I act upon my dreams
When they make such beautiful movies in my head
Who needs Netflix when you have your own imagination
Your pockets are empty but you eat tacos on Los Angeles’ beaches
Or, you are under the covers but you watch tennis at the Wimbledon Arena, front row

My New Year’s Eve is magic
I am to review all my unfulfilled dreams
Quite binge-worthy

December 31, 2020

editors note: Lives we binge according to the latest series, or the latest series based on the lives we binge. Sweet resolve! – mh clay

Twenty Twenty One by Mike Fiorito

2020 burned with flashing ambulances and police lights.

The system’s false cradle, kicked over and exposed
Showing its fleshy underbelly.
With death and suffering all around us, we cried.
We lost so many people.
But 2020 was only the wake-up call.
And yes, 2021 is around the bend. I can see it from here.
Let’s remember our vow: all people are created equal.
With our souls saved somewhat, perhaps we will not further poison the soil, too.
We can learn to care for the Earth, the sky, the trees, our animal brothers, and sisters.
Honoring all their equal status as non-persons.
Will we say we are ALL the Earth?
We are all ONE!
Our chance begins in 2021.
The choice is up to us.

December 30, 2020

editors note: Here’s our New Year’s invocation for some positive visitation. – mh clay

New Year’s Eve by Susie Gharib

I associate the eve with my father’s bustle
as he lent our kitchen an apocalyptic hue,
with an upheaval of shopping bags and a blowing trumpet
as he played on the last evening his favorite tunes
to the fragrance of fish bubbling in garlic and olive oil.

He always finished the banquet-eating two hours before
the chiming of the twelfth stroke
and snored despite the roaring firework
that illuminated darkness with festive rainbows,
dreaming of Brigitte Bardot.

I associate the eve with my dog’s satiety,
who kept a vigil by the table’s plenitude,
consuming large portions of mutton and bones,
overindulged by all,
in token of the auspicious year to come.

Now both are dead,
I spend the eve reminiscing over the void
of a year devoid of friends and joy.

December 29, 2020

editors note: Chased by a bad year into a new; qualifiers yet to come. – mh clay

On the eve of a new century by Janette Schafer

for Gail Langstroth

Snow falls thick enough to be heard—
an inept burglar. I fall asleep.

A moonbeam sounds like a forgotten tune.

I climb a frozen tree beneath the stars
near the house where my sister was born.

Beyond the bay window, stairs
where she fell, broke her foot.

A robin on the cobblestone walkway
tries to flap a broken wing.

The bird shrieks for help that will not come;
I know this because I once tried.

December 28, 2020

editors note: Given this passing year, let’s try, anyway. – mh clay

Elusion by Debarshi Mitra

At my window sill
is where the pigeons perch
at the onset of twilight.
Under their wings, at a distance,
I see the city and the hills beyond,
their edges marked by oblique sunlight.
For a brief while, they hold their breath
ready to launch themselves in thin air,
and perhaps time warps a little then
indenting the tangled contours of my memory.
I see them contemplating stillness
day after day, at this time,
catch them dreaming mid flight,
a corner of their eye
holding an unmapped sky.

December 27, 2020

editors note: To get away from what gets away, make a map, let map make you. (This poem comes from Debarshi’s collection, Osmosis. Read Mike Fiorito’s review of it in What’s New today.) – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Mad Swirl’s featured weekend Need-a-Read comes to us from Contributing Writer & Poet Bruce Mundhenke!

Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about our featured read:

“This is all we have: us. In the end, whatever and whenever that is, all we take is one thing: us. Bring the best thing to the stars.”

Here’s a sprinkle of Bruce’s infectious Stardust to get you goin:

(photo “The Vast Fall” by Tyler Malone)

The meteor shower was spectacular. It was also unexpected. All over the Earth, at least in most places, people were treated to a magnificent fireworks display. Many of these “falling stars” seemed to streak brightly across the heavens clear down to the Earth. For stargazers around the world, it was a show that lasted for several days. Scientists appeared on television news broadcasts to explain to the masses that this was a rare, unexpected event, but there was little need for concern, because the size of the meteors was quite small, most the size of dust particles. Only a small percentage ever reached the ground. They were baffled as to the origin of the shower and unable to give an explanation of it. Many people who belonged to various religious factions were saying it signaled the end of the world.

Within a week, there were scientists all over the world who had been able to find parts of these “shooting stars” intact. Many were reporting that they had found living bacteria that had survived their journey from space. They were also saying that many of these specimens were unknown to them. Some of the scientists began to experience breathing problems. Many were hospitalized and treated for pneumonia. They did not respond to antibiotic therapy and were dead within a matter of days.

Soon hospitals all over the planet were full. Makeshift tent clinics were set up. Laboratories were working frantically to create a drug that could stop the pandemic. Cities and towns everywhere were decimated very quickly. Many people were trying desperately to keep away from populated areas. However, most would find this difficult because almost no one was self sufficient in today’s world…

Get the rest of this too-close-to-home tale right here!

••• Another Mad Review •••

Osmosis by Debarshi Mitra
Hawakal Publishers (June 5, 2020)
Available at Amazon

Here’s Mike Fiorito’s opening words on into Debarshi’s poetry collection, Osmosis:

In the introduction of Debarshi Mitra’s poetry collection, Osmosis, the author tells us that this book represents his attempt to crystallize the “moment,” and that this impulse stems directly from his interest in Zen Buddhism and physics. Being interested in how science and spirituality connect and intersect, I wanted to read this collection…

And here is how Mike’s review ends:

…Perhaps more than most years previously, we need courage and vision to look forward to 2021. We need inspiration. If you want to be inspired, to lift your imagination, get a copy of Osmosis. The poems are short and delightful. They capture the fleeting moments in human life that swirl in the wind past our eyes.

Get ALL the in-between of Mike’s dissertations here then pick you up a copy of Debarshi’s book here!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of January (aka 01.06.21) when we’ll once again be doin’ the open mic voodoo that we do do virtually via Facebook LIVE!!

Starting at 7:30pm (CST), join hosts Johnny O & MH Clay, along with musical mad grooves from Swirve, as we kick off these yin’n & yang’n Mad Swirl’n festivities…

Come all ye yin & yang hangers
Ye yang & yin winners
Ye lookers for the new
Ye bookers of the blue skies beyond
the auld lang syne
Transformers and reformers and resolved heart warmers
We’re gonna shake the old and new together
To make a “now” like no other
At Mad Swirl’s New Year 2021
Open Mic

We promise, it will be like none to come, like none past
It’ll be our New Year “F@ck 2020!”
Open Mic Blast

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 this 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

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

Mike Fiorito
Associate Editor

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