The Best of Mad Swirl : 05.07.22

by May 8, 2022 0 comments

“It is the glory and good of Art / That Art remains the one way possible / Of speaking truth, to mouths like mine at least.”

Robert Browning

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“No. 18” ~ Howie Good

To see all of Howie’s mad collages, 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 memory enhanced through flowers that danced; we dreamed as if higher than a Golden State buyer; we opened one eye for apple pie (no gloom from doom); we caught the glide of a bus ride; we slid from the slip of a scissor snip; we missed the measure of someone’s pleasure; we appled bliss from rock pool kiss. We write well to taste and tell. ~ MH Clay

Smell Apples by Polly Richardson (Munnelly)


Flooded with moments filling up as sea and rock pools kiss
Apple blossoms dazzle. Lone gnarly one hangs,
bad ass to core – our miracle
and hippy dippy cat.
Innocent eyes looking up between the ears. Hands holding sun.
Mother. I’ve birthed beyond myself
smell fruits before the buds. Decades rooted. Found their way from mind to page
immortally planted with

Muzzle’s smile beaming down oozing appley foam drenching clouding velvet lips with sunsets chomping more than just pulp and pips, low whinny’s hum. Hands sticky with joyous mess tongues tenderly devour. Hooves still with summer.


From behind settee bitten by grip of hide, no seek apple to mouth froze, spittle sickly sweet drips hot plops, not knowing beyond the count of five, the bite still waiting, heart pounds louder than drum, the only time eyes paused wide like fox the moment hound bays above shifting earth raining it on to snout beneath the chase aching scurry, back to wall darkness ensues. Stay low stay. His footsteps always echoed. I heard the future hooves gallop the hills. And sea. Sea’s lullaby.


Have you ever turned apples in hands, right before moments teeth pierce skin and juice explodes itself to lips longing to drink, see reflections of sun? Flooded with moments filling up as sea and rock pool kiss? Quarter breeze breaking pastry enveloping stewed brambly just enough to ooze itself dry crunching soft sour sugary sand echoing in molars, gulping in self, here, now?

May 7, 2022

editors note: Apple-ish erotica. Delicious! Oh, my! – mh clay

This poem is rated R by Ivan Jenson

I surely will find
the steamy answer
in a pharmacy paperback
or a life hack from one of
Oprah’s guru guests
and I am sure
somebody pickpocketed
my broken heart
and donated it to
the thrift shop
because I saw one
of my ripped regrets
in a customer’s cart
and I could be
somebody’s grandfather
while mine was a dapper
Costa Rican man
who spoke broken english
while I twist my mother tongue
give it an overbite
like a cubist dentist
and I don’t aspire to
be this century’s innovator
I just want to be
some special woman’s
to a vibrator

May 6, 2022

editors note: With a lifetime supply of batteries. – mh clay

Snippet by Timothy Pilgrim

I drop my sewing needle,
open screen, let in what’s left
of day. On a whim, use scissors,
cut me out of her photo album —

toss the ragged bits away.
Still un-cleansed, upset, I snip
a passing fly in half. One winged side
gyres down, a gossamer glide —

the other dives. I feel a modicum
of sheared delight, hope briefly
to discover if self-loathing contains
intricacies beyond mere suffering.

Maybe I’ll find within a single
trimmed snippet whether impulsive,
mesmeric frenzy has anything
to do with random vasectomies.

May 5, 2022

editors note: If THAT was random, it WAS “impulsive, mesmeric,” indeed. (Ouch!) – mh clay

Unpredicting by Dan Raphael

on my way from the suburbs
non-linearity waiting around the corner
organic teleportation, quantum cotanglement
like an electron spreading its wings
the sweet blossoms of passive neglect

how today the usual tastes off, the half & half curdles
days before the pull date, what’s on the label isn’t in the can,
a hundred dollar bill is waiting on the doorstep
an orange sky, a cloud with square corners

i dreamed of emollient beauty and woke
itching all over, i turned the page on the calendar
and it flipped itself back, i get to roll again
pass go and collect a large pizza
with gluten free crust and cauliflower cheese (sausage)

other days everything goes as planned
i must change clothes for no reason
find a window that will open, go outside
and check the house number
every car that drives by is white

i cast the shadow of a 20 foot sculpture
fifty or more crows gathered across the street
one walks my way
my arms are wings
i fall backwards from a high ledge
wondering what i’ll do, how far will i glide
how do i pay for lunch
will the bus doors be big enough

i get off just when things turn around
a sun emitting cloud, shit too valuable to flush
which weather con/com should i bet my savings on
for Christmas the earth will show us next spring’s fashion
so much wrapped in viral plastic
as we saunter into the past
knowing what probably won’t happen again

May 4, 2022

editors note: Spun up in this span when there ain’t no plan. – mh clay

How bad does it hurt? by Mike Zone

Blood horses
mechanical gods
lightning strikes born of liquid dawn
rebirth from the crescendo of the mordant cherry blossom opera
dancing in the rain
feel the heat
of apple pie pussy
after dusk romance
run to the sea
at the ground zero of Armageddon
death bomb implosion
open your eyes

May 3, 2022

editors note: If we keep ’em shut, no Armageddon? (But, no apple pie, either.) – mh clay

On a beach in California by Cynthia Clifford

Around me, sand is

I met a rich man who said to me,
he’d humbled the ocean, buying

still falling

shore, sea boats, houses,
conquering flags or

as if

piles of self-made
luck on the Golden State

as if independence

to own the beginning of blue,
he must’ve sold
all he was to attain

as if

the one who holds
the soul of a moon
with only a wave,

my American dream

sun’s closing act—this sea
fools me too, as if
I am the only one who knows her.

May 2, 2022

editors note: As if knowing was owning… – mh clay

All the flowers that I saw had once danced. by Rememberajc

If you could remember how I had told you that my father’s name danced, it danced to every whirlwind that blew it for what he never wished to become or prayed for. Each evening in the field where my father had once taken me to see the beauties within the flowers that he had planted before my birth. Each of these flowers never ceased to flap their beautiful leaves and their petals romped at seeing us; their owner and the Son visiting them in time and out of time. This was an orchard of beauty where dwells serenity and equanimity which had been planted away from the chaos of the world to return to it daily and to sit therein and reflect on what blessedness life on earth had been to him.

May 1, 2022

editors note: A garden greeting, a memorial dance in the wind. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

This weekend’s featured short, Never Trust A Drone by Hugh Cartwright, is sure to bring a few smiles… and maybe a shudder or two, too!

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

Fences were once peak technology. So, what new fences will make for the best neighbors?

Here’s a bit of Hugh’s fictional snapshot of a not-so-distant future:

(photo “Safety Measures” by Tyler Malone)


Without warning, the box explodes. Birds pour out, flood the room, then settle. I prod one; it whirs, re-settles. Not birds at all, but yellow, fist-sized drones.

Kathy dashes in. “What’s going on, grandpa?” Her eyes light up. “Hey, Dronedogs!” A latecomer rises from the box and lands on her head.


My ten-year-old granddaughter rolls her eyes. “Flying sheepdogs. Do you live under a rock?”

To her I am Methuselah.

“Are they for Fuggles and Dot?” she asks. The mists clear.

Responding to a call for Amazon reviewers, I flexed the truth: my urban back garden became a hobby farm. My two geriatric ewes were a flock. A review of flying sheepdogs is not going to be simple.

Sifting through the remnants of the box, I discover partly shredded instructions: CAUTION – DRONEDOGS imprint.

“What’s imprinting, Kathy?”

She sighs theatrically. “Whoever they see first becomes boss” she says, as if instructing a six-year-old. “The last Dronedog that appeared will follow my orders. The rest are yours.”

I try to piece together the instructions, but they are in Chinese.

“Let’s just give them a try” she suggests, so we move to the garden.

“Dronedogs,” I say carefully, “come here, please.”

“For heaven’s sake grandpa, they aren’t royalty. Just order them.”

The withering look hurts; I switch to prison officer mode. “Dronedogs. Get the damned sheep. Now.”

Perfect. They flood out, circle around to get their bearings, then head for the sheep. Within moments, Fuggles and Dot huddle beside us, bemused and nervous.

“How do they know what to do? Where’s their leader?”

“They chat” says Kathy, whose Dronedog is performing acrobatics over her head.

Dronedogs have chats? I don’t like the sound of this…

Hover right here to get the rest of this droning tale!


9 outta 10 Mad docs say you should check out Everywhere by Contributing Writer & Poet Ron Riekki!

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

We can know so much about what to do and what not to do, but choices, choices require actions. And actions are madness.

Swallow this pill to get your fill:

(photo “Today is Going to Suck” by Tyler Malone)

I clean psych wards. That’s my job. Once a week, I depill. For four separate wards in the county. I go from room to room and look for pills. They’re everywhere. The patients hide them in plants, behind the toilet, under the toilet cover, in gum stuck under the toilet rim, in every single crevice of their mattress. I’ve shaken a mattress and practically had a meth lab fall out. They put so many pills in their pillows that I started to wonder if that’s how pill-ow got the name. They put them in blanket linings, in pipes, in their desk, under their desk, in cutout pages of books, under the rec room TV, in a hole in the wall, and too many other places to name. The problem, my boss tells me, is that if one of the patients discovers this, they could collect them all and OD. You could stack up all the pills I’ve found and form them Jenga-style into the full-size shape of an actual person. The patients put these things in so many places that it’s a game, to see how inventive they can be.

The other problem is that these pills need to go into their mouths, their throats, their bodies. To help with their agitation and anxiety and indigestion and diarrhea and constipation and dizziness and headaches and loss of appetite and depression. Even though these same pills cause agitation and anxiety and indigestion and diarrhea and constipation and dizziness and headaches and loss of appetite and depression.

I’d rarely see the patients, because they had to clear everything out when I was there. When I was in their room, they were in the rec room. When I was in the rec room, they’re in their room. It’s all rooms for them. Only rooms. Rooms rooms rooms. Always. They never go outside.

I’d clean their rooms and then I’d get to go outside. I’d go insane if I had to stay indoors all the time.

I’d walk home and think how lucky I was.

Then it happened…

WHAT happened? Guess you’ll have to slide on over here & get the rest of your read on!

••• Open Mic •••

If you joined Mad Swirl Open Mic this past 1st Wednesday of May (aka 05.04.22) at our OC home, Barbara’s Pavillion, then you know that once again whirl’d up the Swirl and got the Mad mic opened for all you Mad ones out there!

Huge GRATS to our feature guest, Dallas Poet Laureate Joaquin Zihuatanejo, for joining in on our mic madness!

Here’s a shout out to all who graced our stage (both live & virtual) with your words, your songs, your divine madness…

Johnny O
MH Clay

Musical Overture:
Swirve (Chris & Tamitha Curiel, Gerard Bendiks) with special guest Joaquin Zihuatanejo

Round One:
* Mike Zone
Alan Gann
* Atenea Afrodita
James “Bear” Rodehaver
David Crandall
*Edward Wells
Lauren Coe
* Marianne Szlyk
* Anthony Ripp

Round Two:
Elliot Hill
Josh Weir
Suza Kanon
Dick Zinnendorf
Harry McNabb
Wood Don


HUGE grats to ALL the participators & appreciators who rode the Mad wave live at Barbara’s as well as our FB Live feed! We know you have a few choices of what to do with your Wednesday night & you picked to hang out with lil ol’ us!

’til next 1st Wednesday (aka 06.01.22)… may the (fourth) madness swirl your way!

Johnny O

P.S. In case you missed the LIVE feed, your eye can spy on the whole virtual Swirl’n scenes right here…

••• Mad Swirl Press •••

The Best of Mad Swirl : v2021 is available right HERE!

2021 has been yet another extraordinarily challenging year. Thru it all, Mad Swirl was there, every one of the 365 days of it. We didn’t miss a beat. Those beats are what you’ll get when you dig into 2021’s best of collection. Get your firsthand view of one helluva of a f*cking year.

The Best of Mad Swirl : v2021 is a 107-page anthology featuring 52 poets, 12 short fiction writers, and four artists hailing from 5 continents (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, & North America); 15 countries (Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, England, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Montenegro, Nigeria, Romania, Singapore, Syria, & USA [20 States]). We editors reviewed the entire year’s output to ensure this collection is truly “the best” of! The works represent diverse voices and vantages which speak to all aspects of this crazy swirl we call “life on earth.”

This anthology is a great introduction to the world of Mad Swirl!

If we’ve enticed you enough to wanna get you your very own copy of “The Best of Mad Swirl : v2021” then get yours right here!

P.S. Get the WHOLE “Best of Mad Swirl” anthology collection (2017-2021) here!


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

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