“Whether it’s a poem I’m working on or a picture I’ve snapped, it all has to do with the curiosity I feel without thinking about it.”
••• The Mad Gallery •••
Ven Aquí VI ~ J. Gregory Cisneros
To see all J. Gregory’s darkly intense yet weirdly whimsical canvases, as well as our other resident artists (50 and counting!) take a virtual stroll thru Mad Swirl’s Mad Gallery!
••• The Poetry Forum •••
This past week on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we lightened eyes with thanking skies; we pearled to bliss a moonlit kiss; we, when asked for right, went left for spite; we made a morass of what we must pass; we blessed what’s got from the cell phone lot; we paid for what we read in letters from the dead; we swam up to sidle next to a seven year idol. From gods to godless, we’re never wordless. ~ MH Clay
Vung Tau by Ken Edward Rutkowski
Christ rises above me arms outstretched almost as if he is flying fast into his birth sure of nothing other than the horizon that rises below him he has not moved for almost seven years seven years I’ve seen him weathered by the sun and strong winds and rain pray for rain to wash him off to bring him change when I’m not looking maybe after seven years he turns his head and watches me swim all the way down to Pineapple Beach over the rocks around the fancy hotels inside the inlets and peninsulas in fingers that stretch out from shore watches me swim around the bend facing now West when I look around on my back he’s changed into the man that once stood over the cliff are you surprised that he never lets you catch him that you never will because here he really never did exist he’s an idea set in stone to watch over a world some have created in his alter image willfully undeniably maybe defiantly is something else that may be tattered by wind by the sun by memory nevertheless when I see him while floating on my back like a turtle like a dead fish within the analysis of place rather still in replication in his arms unfolded wide I do the same as when I was a boy my mother watching me from shore assured I would not leave but afraid I would swim too far out of her reach never to come back into the same world again.
March 19, 2022
editors note: Self as savior to stay afloat. – mh clay
The Postage on Life After Death by Richard LeDue
Reading a dead man’s letters
doesn’t tell you how to live forever,
but proves someone cared
enough to keep them for publication,
and that he had some friends
who are or will be licked
in an envelope by death,
while the cost of stamps rises,
causing complaints from those
with nothing to send,
as they allow paperless words
to fill empty air,
leaving behind no evidence
they ever were.
March 18, 2022
editors note: It’s postage paid or the dead letter pile, no matter what the letter says. – mh clay
AT THE CELL PHONE LOT by Robert Demaree
Because we have not done this before,
Are 81 years old,
Because it conforms to the way we do
We arrive at the cell phone lot
An hour before her flight,
Our friend’s daughter, only child,
Coming to take her father,
Back to the Midwest,
To her family, his family,
His daughter, her wife,
Only child of only child,
Trombonist in the marching band.
The week before we had mourned
A passing; poems were read,
Family photos on the mantle.
We watch planes land.
Cars come and go
In the cell phone lot,
The insolent competence
Of people who do this all the time,
And we eat our Subway sandwich
As in the days of
Our grandchildren’s concerts—
Handel’s Largo from Xerxes
Scored for high school band.
The phone rings,
Her plane is on the ground.
You see the best of families.
March 17, 2022
editors note: Bringing their best to the worst. – mh clay
JEFFERSON HEALTH by Ruth Z. Deming
This is a mammoth hospital round these parts.
For days I receive their emails. “We have
processed your test results. Open patient portal.”
I can open a jar of peanut butter but patient portal?
Passwords are not my thang. I may end up dead.
Remember that my boyfriend gets the purple pitcher
shaped like an eggplant. I shall miss you, darling,
for want of a password.
March 16, 2022
editors note: Peanut butter, we can pass. Even we will pass. But, please, not another word. – mh clay
face as red as the elusive carpet by Tanner
she comes over:
cheese? she asks.
second aisle, I point to my right.
OK, she says,
I WAS ONLY ASKING!
March 15, 2022
editors note: When what’s asked goes left, but isn’t right. – mh clay
Like A Kiss Drawn to Pearls by Bill Wolak
Unless you’re naked
as the last sigh of ashes,
light never returns
to where the mirror
through your eyes
like a kiss
drawn to pearls
in the ripped silk
March 14, 2022
editors note: So, let’s get naked! – mh clay
Gray Skies with Gratitude by Isaiah Vianese
Summer gave way to fall. Leaves changed, and the rules did too.
I said, “No matter what, I can’t wait to see you.”
How do we measure the love in our lives? For example,
what is the exact heft of my husband saying I deserve to be happy?
How does it balance with my beautiful friend, who said,
“You are very important to me,” then pulled our bodies closer,
my ear warm against his shoulder, while the East River washed away
the week’s pain? What scale could bear it?
How do we weigh each moment? How do we carry our love,
sometimes heavy, sometimes like air?
Yesterday, I cried by the water for a few good reasons and a few not.
Today, I floated—all the love buoyant and raising me into the sky.
Everything seemed small from up there—even my worries.
We could carry it all together, I thought.
I wish I understood the mathematics of tenderness.
I do know autumn came, the rules transformed—maybe only for now.
I said, “You matter to me,” and the gray clouds
were lined with gratitude. Every damn one of them.
March 13, 2022
editors note: If not silver, thanks for gray. – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the weekend:
A snake farm starts with one.
Here’s a bit of Jim’s ophidiophobia tale to get your shivers goin’:
(photo “What Waits?” by Tyler Malone)
We’d been dating for about a month when Lorrie got a bull snake as a pet and brought it over to my apartment. “Here,” she said, pushing the writhing reptile toward me. “Her name is Julie. Want to hold her?”
No. Not on your life.
But I liked Lorrie a lot and wanted to make a good impression, so I attempted to work up some enthusiasm. “Sure!”
Bad idea. Julie was heavy and cold and thick and she curled around my arm, stuck out her tongue and maybe some more stuff I’ll never know because I fainted.
I came to on the floor with a warm blanket tucked around me and a soft pillow placed under my head. And a note that read, Sorry it didn’t work out. I liked you. But I like Julie, too. Lorrie and Julie were both gone.
I stood on shaky legs and called Lorrie right away. “Please come back. You can even bring Julie.”…
Slide right over here to get the rest of this reptilian read on!
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the weekday:
Just go in for a checkup, they’ll do you right, so don’t worry. Get a few cuts to heal.
Here’s a bit of her heady tale to wrap your brain-unit around:
(photo “Heaven’s Waiting Room” by Tyler Malone)
The man behind the counter looked me over as I staggered into the shop.
“Full up?” he asked.
I nodded stiffly. I was afraid to move too fast.
The man, George, lifted one hand. “It’s all right,” he said. “I’m glad you’ve come in. But why did you wait till now?”
“I—there was just so much to deal with.” I could barely move my mouth. “And then it all began piling up, one thing and then another. It’s completely stuffed.”
“Stop talking,” said George…
Where’s your head at? Oh, probably thinking about getting the rest of this read on right here, huh?
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Short Story Editor