The Best of Mad Swirl : 10.02.21

by on October 3, 2021 :: 0 comments

“Draw your pleasure, paint your pleasure, and express your pleasure strongly.”

Pierre Bonnard

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Soul Burns (1) ~ Thomas Riesner

To see all of Thomas’ wicked squiggles & scribbles, as well as our other former featured artists (over 50 in total), take a virtual stroll thru Mad Swirl’s Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This past week on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we cowed for the sake of a mythic wake; we stood in the stead of the muted dead; we swallowed the swill of the perfect pill; we ticked down the tedium of a happy medium; we shattered the shards of coasts and cards; we recalled distress, the touch of breast; we scraped to splinter far right of center. Tight on target, groupings tight; we’re flustered over clusters. Let the words fall right! ~ MH Clay

The Strategic Air Command Museum by PW Covington

(The Center of America)

Little white boys and little white girls
From little white towns
Or mid-sized Midwest suburbs
With matching shirts
With matching haircuts
And with blue-green eyes
Shriek and scream their wonder and glee
At the Strategic Air Command museum
That stands in the center of America

Press here to bomb a random Asian nation
Press here to down a MiG
Press here to end all fear and hate forever
Press here to learn how the nuclear triad can prevent future school shootings
And the children of open carry
Smash those buttons with effervescent fury

Giggling in the penis garden outside
Unsheathed and painted grotesquely

Displayed as skyward caricatures of their creators
Seizing attention and affection from playful grade-schoolers
In matching shirts
And matching haircuts
And blue-green eyes
In the center of America

October 2, 2021

editors note: Here’s hoping the center is not the heart. – mh clay

Dislodged by Heather M. Browne

When I spit damnably into the wind
my words split, smack
and smear across my face.
If I could turn myself around
no longer facing
and somehow change
is there any release?
I am crinkled autumn leaves
caught along this fence.
Nothing but grass blades and prison bars.
We are meant to be free.
And I ache to be dislodged.
This hardened yellow plaque
disfiguring my smile,
Today I had a mammogram,
first time touched.
You were precise in monthly checks,
careful to explore diligently,
delightfully each inch.
Today, smashed, smoothed, and flattened out,
like old oak leaves pressed
or yesterday’s angry words lost.
The hospital room was sterile,
wiped and cold.
No wedding ring clicks on metal hold protection
from a fall.
I now support myself.
She tells me,
do not move, hold my breath,
and I am paused.
Saliva gradually pooling in my mouth.
I am so tired of all of this

October 1, 2021

editors note: A crushed leaf leaves a sad impression. Spit! – mh clay

Cigarettes and Gasoline by Christopher Calle

You gotta figure out a way to make it all work.
A symphony in two parts
The type of crescendo that leaves you wondering.
The type of connection that
Before the 30-minute happy hour couldn’t have been forecast at all.

Roll down the window.
A coastal breeze
Off the asphalt sea.
Dandelions crashing into the shore
Of 60 grit polishing wheels.
Open palm to the rush
And high five from god
To turn up radio math on the sundial
When I needed a push over the threshold to concentrate
In 4 week revolutions
Google says what the moon’s doing tonight.
And in colorful patches of day’s infinite possibility
We both see the backstop:
A wildcard.
Who at any moment
Could push all in.

September 30, 2021

editors note: Here it is! Call or fold. – mh clay


I am a medium, I speak with the dead,
But you, the skeptic, don’t believe.
That is why my web page is filled
With real testimony from r e a l
People who’ve been blessed by my sight.

Here is a note from the Gresbachs that I got
In April of this year–“Dear Trish, with love
And my thanks. I don’t know if you remember
Me, we went to your reading in March.
Somehow my shaking tears told you there was
Sorrow in my life. You asked if anyone
Close to me had passed. I kept sobbing.
You said ‘Father?’ and I shook, yes.

‘I see his spirit. He is here. He says he
Loves you and always will.’ My husband
Laughed, and said this was just secular
Church, but I could hear my father in her
Words. There was a spirit. I know because
Of the paperbacks you sold to me.
With love, the Gresbachs.”

If this woman believes, why don’t you?
What I do brings relief, comfort, and joy.
The dead do hear. They care. They want
Us to be happy. Our great suspicion–
That they are just rotting somewhere,
Unknowing, unfeeling– is foolish.
There is a spirit. Let me share one more.

“Dear Trish, it’s Valerie from Comox. I
Was at your reading in the spring. I
Sure wasn’t there by choice, my boss
Asked me to “volunteer” and I owe her
Too many favors to say no. So there I
Was, pouring coffee and collecting empty
Cups. I looked down and made no eye
Contact, especially not with you.

But I guess you were looking, and may
Have seen my Snoopy t-shirt, Littlest
Hobo belt buckle, and the loose dog
Hairs on my jacket, and sensed I was
A dog person. You said my dog died
A month ago and I was very unhappy.

I dropped everything, all the coffee cups,
Full and empty, and shook. I couldn’t
Sit or stand or be in one place.
My boss thought I was having a stroke,
But you said “It’s grief, and deep, and won’t
Go away anytime soon. The death of our pets
Cuts harder somehow.”

I bought one of your books, The Life Beyond,
And you write, quote, nothing that lives
Ever really dies, unquote. Until I met you, I
Would never have believed that. Thank
You again.”

I hear a voice; I hear a spirit; I bring water
To the desert, hope to the hopeless. I use
No force, no law requires you to be at my
Readings. The police do not care if you
Love me or hate me. The books out front
Are reasonably priced.

To those who love, I return your love
In full. To those who hate, remember
The choices. You can believe there
Is a spirit, and we live forever, and love
Is the light of the world, or you can believe

That this, this cesspool, is it. That some
Friday you die in a ward everyone avoids,
And some bored intern ticks a chart, and another
Intern takes you downstairs to a room
Full of people who have stopped breathing,
Stopped thinking, stopped seeing.

That someday all the pictures will end.

September 29, 2021

editors note: Between eternal bliss and the abrupt nothing rests a happy medium. – mh clay

Nirvana in a Pill by Ethan Goffman

The little man with the sweetness of Nirvana written in the creases on his face had given me the pill I’d long prayed for. It was the pill with the answer to life, happiness, why we are here, why there is evil, whether there is an afterlife, how to cure the common cold, and the meaning of it all. I swallowed it down with a shot of whisky, as he had instructed, and began the 24-hour wait for it to take effect.

That night, a resonant voiceover interrupted my dreams to warn of unintended side effects. “Caution—this pill may cause blurred vision, dizziness, tortured breathing, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, diarrhea, constipation, hallucinations, palpitations, sheer frustration, indignation, anger all around the nation, strange visions, delusions of grandeur, feelings of utter despair and insignificance, nightmares, daymares, I-just-don’t-caremares, myopia, dystopia, give-up-hopia, and the common cold. If you experience any or all of these, do not call your doctor—it is too late!”

As I awoke, the strange little man’s face appeared floating in the air like a balloon. “Perhaps I should have explained that the 24-hour period for this pill to take effect is a metaphor,” he said. “The actual waiting period is an entire lifetime, from dawn to dusk of the body and soul.”

September 28, 2021

editors note: Our daily dose can be a bitter pill. – mh clay

A Living by Richard LeDue

The noise in the hallway
while you’re trying to sleep
because you have work in the morning
will die. Crows cawing
over string falling from your pants
as you start your car will
die. Your alarm clock
set for 6 AM will die.
Even those tiny bugs
(you seem to only notice
on weekends)
that love spilled honey
Your voice already dead,
as you recall those summer nights
when hair over shoulders looked best,
the shape of another
impossible to miss,
even in the dark,
and moaning made the most sense
as you felt alive just long enough
to say nothing.

September 27, 2021

editors note: Inaudible implications alive from the dead. (We welcome Richard to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

A FUNERAL IN TEXAS by Tony Robinson

That morning he lay at the bottom of the stairs
Twisted, broken, and released
Discovered by his wife at the end of the service

That week they came to the house
Eating fried chicken, beans, and bacon
Green Jello salad, tuna rice and Velveeta
Remembering the good things about his life

At the viewing the funeral director
Apologized beforehand
And shuffled off to arrange the flower arrangements

On the way to the cemetery
They drove through a long, flat swamp
Passing the hearse as
A grandson flew over in a plane
Late, but still there in the Spirit

The cemetery was peaceful
The Balm of Cavalry
And wheeling the casket over
The spongy ground
Someone wondered if the casket was long enough
For so tall a man
So devout a Christian man
A man of the Church his whole life
Loved by his family
A great example to us all
A man who beat his wife
And knocked her teeth out
A man who whipped
His daughter with a belt
A man who was a lawyer
And stole money from his clients
A man who prayed unceasingly
And was saved by Grace

The preacher,
A short, portly fellow with grey hair
And size 7 loafers
Said he did not have to guess
Did not have to wave a magic wand
Did not have to click his heels

That he knew
That we knew
That this man was in Heaven
And that he had entered into the
Joy of his Lord

September 26, 2021

editors note: So, what do you know? – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you wanna sneak-peek of a sneak-peek, People Watching by Ashley Lindsay will surely pique the voyeur is you.

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

“Publicly, love recklessly.”

Here’s a tease of the scene to get you goin’:

(photo “One Chair, Too Many Bodies” by Tyler Malone)

People watching. I do it all the time, as it is a great way for me to escape the madness of the city without actually going anywhere. Most of the time the people I see or the stories I watch unfold would leave my memory within a few weeks. Hardly ever did these stories leave a lasting mark on my head or heart. If I was truly to be honest, there had only been one occasion that left me with a mark.

It was a brisk morning in a small cafe just down the road from my house, when I had spotted him. He was fidgeting around and fussing with his keys and phone. He looked as if he might be on the verge of an anxiety attack. This had piqued my curiosity as most people are slow-moving in the morning. Slow moving people don’t usually lead to interesting stories. He kept looking around as if he was searching for someone when he suddenly stilled…

Wanna/Gotta find out the rest of this story, don’cha? Well sneak on over here & get you a peek!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of October (aka 10.06.21) when we’ll once again be doin’ the open mic voodoo that we do do at our OC home, BARBARA’S PAVILLION!

Starting at 7:30pm, hosts Johnny O & MH Clay will kick off these open mic’n Mad Swirl’n festivities with some musical grooves brought to you by (old school) Swirve followed by our open mic.

Come one.

Come all.

Come to participate.

(RSVP at our Facebook event page or send a message to

Come to appreciate.

(join us LIVE at Barbara’s Pavillion- located at 323 Centre St, Dallas -OR tune in to our Facebook LIVE feed starting at 7:30pm)

Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call…

(Mad Swirl!)

••• Another Mad Review •••

Diacritics of Desire by Nikita Parik

Hawakal Publishers (April, 2019)
Available at Amazon

The foreword of Nikita Parik’s collection, Diacritics of Desire, states, “The proliferation of young and talented Indian poets writing in English in recent times is truly remarkable. It is as if the sluice gates have been raised and the literary landscape is awash with youthful poetry that proves beyond doubt that the English language in India is not just the language of communication and business, but that it can be the preferred language for creative composition, in almost any literary genre.”
Parik’s poems are sometimes pensive, sometimes playful. But there’s always motion in her words. There’s always exploration and discovery. Get a copy of Diacritics of Desire and go sit in a café (wear a mask please). The poems are short – you can read them again and again and find new meaning each time. But it is not the length of the poem that matters. It’s the depth and scope. Wherever you are, Diacritics of Desire will deliver you someplace else.



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 bein’…


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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