The Best of Mad Swirl : 05.28.22

by on May 29, 2022 :: 0 comments

“Nobody is ordinary if you know where to look.”

Maeve Binchy

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Mad Swirl is excited to welcome artist Eric Suhem to the Mad Gallery with trippy, patterned pieces that feel a little like candy for the eyeballs. His work is cohesive and yet each piece is so uniquely different and we just wish we could take a peek inside of Suhem’s brain so that we could figure out how the heck he comes up with it. We can’t do that, unfortunately, but we sure are glad he does come up with it, and we hope he doesn’t stop anytime soon. Suffice it to say, if you’re looking for a visual treat, we’ve got just the thing for you~ Madelyn Olson

To see all of Eric’s trippy illustrations, 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 clipped to see what used to be; we gave accolades to flags and parades; we went to the mat with a capricious cat; we cooked a lot while on the spot; we fashioned a scoop for picking up poop; we stuck in a stipple of shine and ripple; we butterfly beamed through tumbleweed dreams. Only Dr. Jung understands. ~ MH Clay

Butterfly Story by Victory

So, there was this butterfly
caught in a tree,
looking so sad.
He had that abandoned look in his eyes that I recognized,
so much like my own
on those days when I nearly overcome
my addiction to hope –

And then there were all the clowns
from all the circuses
in all the world
packing themselves into suitcases
and traveling coach on Flying Fuck Airlines
and checking into Motel 6’s under assumed names
because angry elephants
were looking for their asses –

And there was a woman
sitting at the bus stop
eating tacos filled with shredded dollar bills and cilantro.
Her hair was a complication of black flames,
wicked in the wind.
She did not smile, but told herself and everyone else,
“I am happy. I am.” –

There was an old man
with the posture of a question mark
and teeth like the tombstones in an abandoned cemetery.
He held a baby doll covered in voodoo symbols
and rocked it out beside a Honolulu 7-Eleven
singing to gods and devils and pedestrians
as they passed by –

And there is a dead baby rabbit
outside my window at work.
Or at least I THINK
it was a baby rabbit.
It’s become a scattering of tiny fur tumbleweeds
caught between blades of unnatural winter grass
kept green by corporate conspiracy lawn keepers –

And no matter how hard I try to avoid thinking about it,
there is a demon twitching in my pocket.
It’s moldy adhesive skin sticks
to the inner lining like an unwanted memory –

And grackles assemble
on every rooftop and power line,
ominous, contemplating a riot,
or a rock concert,
or a bloodless coup,
or a peaceful protest,
or a goddamn muthafuckin tupperware party –

And I see you there, reflecting,
considering the mystifying contents
of abandoned suitcases of insane asylum patients.
Harold’s suitcase contained nothing but brushes and spoons,
all of various sizes and shapes,
and the Bible in French.
Harold could not speak a word of French,
but scribbled hieroglyphics on pages and pages,
and circled passages of scripture –

And all the colors are fucking each other
in the sunlight,
right out in the open where everyone can see –

And that demon twitches in my pocket –

And the tumbleweeds are hopping –

And I see YOU
lit up like a neon cocktail sign,
twitching –

And my attorney has advised me
that I should jump in the hotel pool at 2am
with a dude who looks like a
young Filippino Hunter S. Thompson –

And you all look so pretty.
You all look so pretty.
It gives me hope…

I have wandered in circles –
I am lost and found –
found guilty –
found negligent –
found incompetent –
unfounded accusations, assumptions and worries –
I have wandered and wondered –

And it is still there –
that tree –
choking on a sad butterfly.

May 28, 2022

editors note: A poem with no concern for the butterfly effect. – mh clay

Graduation Day in a Mercury Mirror by Jeff Grimshaw

You’ve never been so lovely
You’ve never been so liquid
Like a sky made of metal
Like a sky full of ashes

You smell like thunder in the meadow
Where we buried your mother’s Atari
Games last summer! Where we buried
A jar full of pennies and marbles!

You shine like a stolen radio
In the broken window of a pawnshop
You ripple in the wind like your sister’s belt
Nailed it to a tree by the buckle

What a morning that was, this is!
I couldn’t, I can’t close my eyes, I feel
Like a potato clawing its way
Through the dirt to look at the sun

You’ve never been so lovely
You’ve never been so liquid
Like a sky made of metal
Like a sky full of ashes

May 27, 2022

editors note: That sight; a quick slipper, though indelible marker. – mh clay

When the cuckoo clocks out by Emalisa Rose

The moon’s gone round
the cuckoo’s clocked out.
I’ve circled six summers without you.

But it all drizzles down
with this half pint of Hennessy.

You taught me the semi-colon
how to make sauce from tomatoes
and how to write from the gut.

Your cologne lives its life out
in the notebook I buried your sonnets in.

What began as a poem, morphs into a recipe
for ways to forget you
and that shirt that you left on my nightstand
full of sweat, sex, and Marlboros,
was cut into rags –
for cleaning the poop up
when kitty kat misses the litter box.

May 26, 2022

editors note: A memento for misses. – mh clay

I put you on the spot. by Nadja Moore

I put you on the spot
one limelight pulling through
a set of new teeth
new eyes with new tongues
and “if only it were true!” she said
if only we were new
wrapped with ribbons
passed the point of breaking glass
made of rubber
and plastic private parts
“crack’em like shells,” she said
“we’ll find another spare pair somewhere,” he said
smiling, chicken coriander stuck
in his teeth, a brilliant light
calling on them from beneath.

May 25, 2022

editors note: And then there’s dessert… – mh clay


Cries in the night
Same words
Over and over
Different sounds
I try to soothe you with my voice
No success
You keep pleading
Over and over
This is what you wanted
Have you changed your mind?
Are bad memories haunting you?
Be patient sweet one
Now you can touch me
I was never far away
Your voice changes
All is now well
As if this never happened
Such is life
When your cat wants out of the room

May 24, 2022

editors note: It’s fruitless to free a fickle feline. – mh clay

Amphoteric Nature by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Before social media popularized the sexual array,
Water molecules could both give and take without
Bothering to worry over gender-specified quotas
For tab and slots.

Today, acid or base, dominant or passive, people
Tend to flob if not directed in building molecules.
They insist their roles get cookie-cuttered, that no
Uncertainties remain.

Yet not all desiderata can be specified. Sometimes,
We can’t imagine, from bez to toes, other means of
Existing. We’re told behaviors, looks, predilections
Must rubric us.

I’m a lass. I like lads. Still, that’s no reason for me
To forego education, opinion, presence, to disdain
The parts betwixt my thighs. No “nonconformity”
Legitimizes me or my culturally amphoteric nature.

Paparazzi don’t care about heterosexual love, won’t
Advance stories of able women who profess, publish
Books, elsewise make remarks that are bothersome,
Even “provocative.”

Everything’s flags and parades while many of us,
Long past #MeToo, suffer conventionality’s grip,
Keep being told that “nice girls” can’t have brains
Or courage to confront.

It’s doubtful, hence, that my great-grandchildren
Will celebrate individuals not otherwise painted
In prescribed rainbows (how will those youngins
Validate themselves?)

May 23, 2022

editors note: Distressed by differences, we’re all thirsty, right? – mh clay

AT THE BARBERSHOP by Robert Demaree

The bus station used to be there,
Where that bank is now,
At one end the barbershop
We went to, my dad and I,
In his last years,
On afternoons late with August regret,
Witch hazel, diesel fuel
Mingling in the foyer,
Our outings, our time together,
Brief respite for my mother.
He could still feign conversation then.
Mr. Melton nodded gently as he
Trimmed an apron of gray.
I heard talk that seemed to be of baseball,
Or a sudden expletive, not deleted,
In a voice that sounded angry but was not.
The bus station was torn down,
My father died,
Mr. Melton found another shop across town.
I still went to him some,
Even after his hands began to shake.

May 22, 2022

editors note: Sometimes we go now for then. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

This week’s featured story, You Had To Be There by Contributing Writer Thomas Elson, is brutally beatific and perfect for the Swirl.

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

Good G-d, where are you when I need you?

Here’s the scene of Thomas’ poetic prose piece to get your read started:

(photo “Dog Is Love” by Tyler Malone)

I will not judge.

Except for One

Who was not there.

Crammed into wagons. Doors closed. Left in darkness until arriving at this place—not unlike the other places except this one with unpainted wood instead of concrete. Rows of us stacked upon rows barricaded inside stockades with more rows cobbled onto more rows.

Outside and away from the bare wood and bare floors, our bare feet and barren lives tread through rubbish—vegetable, animal, mineral—human, non-human, inhuman.

Scattered corpses. Emaciated people. Rotting smells smoldered from uncovered pits and fetid bunkers. Electric fences surrounded barking dogs, loaded guns, and filth. We waited—herded, experimented upon, raped—startled by gunfire—frozen in place each time a body thuds like a garbage bag into an open trench…

This one ends on a higher note than it started on but I guess you have to be there to find out!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of June (aka 06.01.22) when we’ll once again be doin’ the open mic voodoo that we do do at our OC home, BARBARA’S PAVILLION and from our Mad Zoom Room (broadcasted via FB Live)!

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 Swirve (Chris & Tamitha Curiel, Gerard Bendiks) followed by our usual unusual 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!

••• 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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