“I am happy to have some friends here in the kitchen.”
••• The Mad Gallery •••
Woods Behind the House ~ Tony Gentry
To see all of Tony’s mad pics, 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 sang the blues over pairs of shoes; we made no gripes at ancient pipes; we hoed to rate as gardeners mate; we turned a page on naked rage; we gave no room to scrolling doom; we pushed the words to hear the birds; we tried twice to save the rice. Our recipe; slice words into a pot of pretend, simmer long. Serves all. ~ MH Clay
A Brush with Something Crazy by Jeff Grimshaw
A brush with something crazy
In the back of the barbershop
Some rice that did not cook up right
In the porcelain bowl
We could save the bowl by hanging
A galaxy gone wild (lots of impasto)
Just above it, or (my bad) is that
A frolicking salamander?
Nothing can save the rice
We should try again. Or should we.
Something has driven the parakeet insane
It might be the smell
Of the ancient comic book
Left in the table drawer, microscopic
Fragments of Steve Ditko &
Wood pulp engaging the olfactory
What parakeet could inhale such things
& remain sane? We are always one afternoon
At most from madness. You know
You should keep the lid on the boiling rice
And yet you have to check! Anyone can
Load up the brush with paint
& swirl it around, it does not make you
Van Gogh. It makes me nervous
Though. Brewing a new universe is easy,
Brewing decent coffee is not,
But you can do it if you take your time
& pay attention. The crazy parakeet
Couldn’t do it. Not in the back
Of the barbershop, anyway.
Just watch the traffic lights change, Polly,
& stop your swearing.
November 27, 2021
editors note: Can’t paint perfection with a broad brush? S#*t! – mh clay
Pulsion by Stephen Kingsnorth
Pulsion bears a driven force,
pro, like jet stream, prefix com,
impelling urge, expelling air,
that irresistance in the blood,
against the pulse, pump beaten heart,
repulsive to the grace of choice.
For that I hear a blackbird sing,
rings hardwood, hammer, pecker trunk,
see guppy flutter fantail bling,
arachnid fling, feast widow fate,
a baby wail for hunger, clings
to mother’s empty, swing drained paps.
November 26, 2021
editors note: Pushed into all we are; pro, com, or ex. Keep pushin’! – mh clay
doom and disorientation by Frank Sloan
on a dismal day like this
I could be doom-scrolling
I sit at my kitchen table
wait for my grilled cheese
to get done and I get lost
in disoriented e. e. cummings lines
a billion brains may coax undeath
November 25, 2021
editors note: I’ll take cummings over the catastrophe carousel any day. – mh clay
Seppuku by Sanjeev Sethi
The freebooter in you unleashes
as you skew the conversation
with the miasma of multi-layered
There is no barter on bruises.
Even snaps on the social media
channels don’t pay back for the
Rage disrobes itself on the mirror
of my makeup van. I seek another
script from the director of the film.
He cancels my contract.
November 24, 2021
editors note: Sometimes, if stuck, one best not stay. – mh clay
Sowing by Timothy Pilgrim
Upon my arrival, I share with phlox,
verbena, firebrush, rose,
where I’m from, how I garden,
the plants I’ve grown. To be embraced
in her yard, I must set broccoli,
peppers, beets, even chard, at ease.
He, before me, disliked flowers,
ate meat, not veggies, hated
to sow, water, weed. Lantana
remember this betrayal, so do
radishes, anemone, beans.
I slip among them, bend, listen,
whisper low to each. The cosmos
bow acceptingly in wind. Kudzu,
suspicious, stays out of reach.
November 23, 2021
editors note: A gardener’s guide to getting along with her. – mh clay
My Plumbing by J. K. Durick
Standing there today, as always watching
I got to thinking about all the other plumbers
Who passed through here. Installing this
Unclogging that, here a leak, there a leak
Plunging, snaking – whole generations of
Them traipsing through the house, fixing
Plumbing, a little bit of everything. I have
Watched new toilets go in, sinks, pipes on
Their way in, on the way out, bathroom,
Kitchen, laundry room and more, sump
Pump and drains. It’s like the memories
Start piling on when today’s guy goes on
To ask about the set tub with its three
Different pipes – three generations of them
Now the fourth, standing right there, wrench
In hand, asking questions I never could answer.
I learned early that if I paused long enough
They came up with an answer and continued
On with me still looking on. Maybe I should call
It the house’s circulatory system leading fluid
Through these traps and elbows, or the digestive
System, filling, emptying. It’s here, was here before
Me, has followed me through the years, and will
Probably be here when I’m gone, so I’m standing
There watching plumbers plumb the depths of what
Can go wrong with the things we own.
November 22, 2021
editors note: A (wrenching) metaphorical fun-fest. How’s your plumbing? – mh clay
Twenty Two Pairs by Paul Smith
Twenty two pairs of shoes on the wall
twenty two pairs of shoes
I called Betty at AMVETS
twenty one pairs of shoes on the wall
Twenty one pairs of shoes on the wall
twenty one pairs of shoes
Vito said try Sister Margaret
at Mary Seat of Wisdom
She’s really nice
especially if she doesn’t have to come and get them
twenty pairs of your shoes on the wall
Twenty pairs of your shoes on the wall
LifeStrides and Clarkes and Nine Wests
I made a call to Vincent de Paul
nineteen pairs of your shoes on the wall
Nineteen pairs of your shoes in the closet
on the shelf
on the wall
they all fill me with grief
they leave two by two
I bid them adieux
the Archdiocese just took one more pair
eighteen pairs of shoes on your wall
You’re not coming back
to put on these shoes
I never knew you had
I was afraid to look in there
your closet, your shelf, the wall
you might get sore
you’d think I was snooping
and say ‘what for’?
you were gone in a blink
letting go of your shoes
will take longer, I think
eighteen pairs of shoes on our wall
November 21, 2021
editors note: Disseminating the deceased’s detritus, the time it takes to grapple with grief. – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the weekend:
“Where we go, humanity is always there because we are. And where we are, all of humanity waits.”
Here’s a taste to get you goin’:
(photo “Beware, We’re Home” by Tyler Malone)
I searched for something the least voguish. The location was an embassy though the occasion was only a job interview. London was in verdure with its tree-fringed roads. Sunrays multiplied in my eyes that beamed with joy – my first job interview since I graduated only three months ago. The interviewees hardly noticed my entrance into a very spacious room, each absorbed in one’s gigantic thoughts. Only a woman in her forties approached me and started explaining how important the teaching position was for her, being a breadwinner with three children. She made me feel guilty before I obtained the job.
I arrived in Tunis very late at night. A family whom I met at the airport had chaperoned me all the way. They must have felt it their duty to guard the virtue of a twenty-eight-year-old, travelling on her own. They kindly drove me out of the capital to a little town on their way further down and I was effusive in expressing my gratitude and parted with them after securing a very humble hotel room. I was anxious to see what the morning would bring, my first day in a much-thought-of appointment.
I had assumed the setting would be a modern type of town but there were too many cafeterias where only men sat and so much dust and dirt. I took the bus to the university and found that I had no choice in what subjects I was to teach. The place was so primitive and I gathered that a lot of UN Aid was involved because the area was afflicted with diseases of all kinds. Always quick in assessing my whereabouts, I never delayed a decision that pressed heavy on my mind. However, it took a fly’s bite to fill my sail with flight. Its choice of my eyelid made me overreact. I quickly padded the afflicted spot with a piece of cotton dampened with alcohol, which made it triple its size. I had to close the right eye most of the time and use the left one in securing the next flight home…
Pick up where you left off right here!
Mad Swirl’s featured midweek read, “In the Wilderness“ by Marie Higgins will take you for a walk on the wild side.
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the weekday:
“If you don’t catalog life, how will anyone know you lived? Anyone, anyone?!”
Here’s a nudge to get you steppin’:
(photo “Aiming to Shoot for the Shot” by Tyler Malone)
I am the loudest animal on the planet, and the funniest looking, Annelise thought, as she trudged through the snow wearing footgear resembling tennis rackets. Over a long white puffy coat, she carried an ugly black- camera necklace.
“How do I look, Mom?” she said out loud, looking to the sky. You look noisy, she heard in response, but she knew it was only in her own head, because her mother died a year ago, while Annalise was pregnant. “I wish you were here, Mom, to answer my questions.”
As Annalise talked, squirrels hurried into trees pushing out the birds perched there.
The only animals I am seeing are running from me. I must be scaring the delights out of them, or is it scaring the daylight out of them? Her secondary thoughts seemed to stack up on the first ones these days, she was just that tired.
Just focus on the here and now, she thought. Where should I go?
Looking up ahead, she spied her favorite pine grove, the one that wasn’t quite in the park, but better. She’d been there many times before, often with her mother.
The sprawling pines belonged to a church. Luckily, the modestly steepled building had been cemented in the least remarkable spot, far from this quiet sanctuary. She wanted to make it to the bench there and sit still long enough for the creatures to lose sight of her. The last time she was there, a season ago, someone had taped a note to the concrete seat with duct tape.
The note said this: Lost white AirPods in this vicinity. Call this number if found…
Get the rest of this wild read right here!
••• Open Mic •••
Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of December (aka 12.01.21) when we’ll once again be doin’ the open mic voodoo that we do do at our OC home, BARBARA’S PAVILLION! (and celebrating 17 year of open mic madness!)
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 ol s’cool Swirve followed by our open mic.
Come to participate.
Come to appreciate.
Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call…
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’…
Short Story Editor