“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”
••• The Mad Gallery •••
untitled ~ Eric Suhem
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 felined neat an ice cream treat; we busted names in a hall of fame; we found how to cheer up once more in the stirrups; we tried to unwind with a littered mind; we kept kitchen clean with thoughts pristine; we gave ants no warning of our global swarming; we slammed the machine, intangerine. It’s how we think that spills the ink. ~ MH Clay
INTANGERINE. by James Rodehaver
I ate an intangerine,
as tangible phantoms dream
of how we used to reach out and touch before the big machine brought us all together so separately,
they tell me the world used to be more real but just as mean, I see what you meme.
Take a bite out of the war crimes glitzing up your screen,
spit out blood and naughty thoughts of bodies littering the streets in spring;
fascism bubbling up from underneath these peace-loving democracies,
hypocrisies abound when we compare reactions to the stream of seriously perseverant refugees escaping
war, delirious, from Ukraine vs a place like Syria, or mother Africa.
Stamina is what it takes to make these double standards but,
we’ve always been good at showing the world we are running towards the idea of progress,
like a backsliding treadmill in sexual congress with a sinking ship throwing off ballast at both wings and
calling it a two-party system that works,
we are just a bunch of circle jerks that stole the world, ruined it, and gave it back without the perks.
She had a name before we made her take the walk of shame and it wasn’t dirt; Earth was the first
plus-sized woman spilling over with the treasures of her self-worth. We wore her ass out, infected her, and
now for what it’s worth, she’s worse.
Oh, she’ll recover after the fever comes that boils the sickness away,
we are a plague with shoes that sings the terminator blues,
we delivered our own judgment day,
and now how we pray.
To God be the glory, to Earth be the Sun,
there will come a time when our time will come,
we can’t hide or run,
but we think it’s fun
to imagine our own exciting extinction.
But, and here’s a funny distinction,
we blow up just for getting fired,
liars done signed the pink slips,
our rivals all got rehired
after a Catholic-style master bait-and-switch.
We put our trash in the ocean,
we put our smoke in the sky,
we shit the bed and slept in it,
but want it changed before our children die,
but they will drown in our filth,
we’ll see our hell in their eyes,
and as the land cracks history open,
and volcanoes arise,
and tsunamis wipe out the irradiated cities as the emaciated sun says goodbye,
we’ll wish for a fucking hole in the ozone,
instead of violently ultraviolet skies,
we’ll reminisce about the polar icecaps,
and we’ll miss wildlife that once could run, swim, or fly,
and as for I?
I hope I pass away
long before the day
the music dies.
By the way,
I made my
irrational national American pi(e)
with these intangerines,
so you can throw that Apple out the window, there’s a computer worm bit clean
and as flags fly at coronaviral half mask,
I, at last, become intangible,
hard to find, like a good Lunchable.
This Dallasite’s disappearing into the broke – back – ground,
a fruit fly on the western wall,
I’m the Observer leaving a paper trail to be found,
the flaming cowboy watchman watching y’all,
(hell of a peepshow for a deep throat,
but this counts as my beat poem,)
so goodbye, all!
July 2, 2022
editors note: In death, we’ll hold that rictus, while Earth will still have citrus. – mh clay
Leave it to us by Joseph Farley
The world always walks
on a tightrope over fire.
The world always walks
through a field of mines.
The world always walks
with the devil at its shoulder.
The world always walked
blindfolded towards a cliff.
Ants do not know this.
They build their cities underground.
They work day and night
to feed their numbers,
and fight the small beasts
that threaten their survival.
Grass has no knowledge
of the end of time
being as close as a kiss
from the wind.
It grows in the sun
and sends roots
through the soil.
So much that lives goes on
without anxiety or calculation
of the risks.
Yet hominids in cloth coverings
worry over this,
knowing they are the source
of much of the trouble
plaguing the home
of the big and the small.
July 1, 2022
editors note: If the other things were aware of how we are walking the world, they might choose to stop our global swarming. – mh clay
The Enemy of My Enemy Is Probably Also My Enemy, Just Without a Goatee. by CL Bledsoe
For example, no man can wear beige
and remember the taste of the sun. Look,
Jim, just because you went to private
school doesn’t excuse you from a responsibility
to understand physics. It doesn’t matter how
good you look in lacrosse shorts when they
come to reclaim the fields. Sweat soured
on skin like a father’s gaze. A bell that never
stops ringing. I want to laugh like we used
to, talking shit about the pines. Maybe
you’re right, Jim. Maybe there’s nothing
but quiet cars. The flimsy logic of regret.
There’s a certain way of forgetting
that happens every night when you try
to catalogue what remains. It has to do
with never going into the kitchen,
which is the best way of keeping
the floor clean.
June 30, 2022
editors note: No ingress makes no mess. – mh clay
Contemplation by Susie Gharib
As I was reading a witty treatise on artists and high critics
in which Oscar Wilde extolls contemplative existence
I looked at the protruding figures of The Last Supper opposite
my bed, upon which my eyes used to dwell every other minute
partaking of the bread and the wine within it.
There was a time when I awaited the sunset every early evening
and meditated over the celestial canvas,
the swallows darting across it
before the war shredded our lives
and clogged every stream of consciousness that rippled.
Our minds are now littered with worries
about the soaring costs of living,
the impossibility of being productive
without access to electricity,
the inability to travel with sanctions
that have estranged us from the human species.
June 29, 2022
editors note: Such estrangement! Strange to us, strangling these. Think on that. – mh clay
Ode to Gynecology by Phyllis Klein
There’s the office waiting room, mostly women,
some full-bellied, some dewy. There’s a sisterhood
of vaginas sitting there wishing for good checkups. And me,
my parts somewhat disheveled, drought-ridden, hoping
for redemption. There’s the break I took from Pap smears
and speculums, a vacation from feel-ups and downs. After all,
so many years have departed since I’ve bled or suffered with a uterus,
or had even a wisp of a dream to fertilize one of my eggs.
There’s the routine, frontal, rear, wait for the sting. There’s the doctor,
only a female will do! To peer into my worn out walls.
Maybe it’s a party up inside. Maybe it’s a sick day—no streamers
or soft guitar music, no gossip or showing off, just a laid-up womb.
Just a couple of retiring ovaries to greet her latexed fingers.
Everything’s so mixed up down there in the female bush, a crossing of organs,
outspouts and dumping zones, and she’ll enter carefully, unafraid,
a spelunker, explorer of the hidden.
Clothes off, wrapped in a paper gown, I wait for her soft knock.
I’m draped in fluorescence, rich with experience. I’ll ride her stirrups.
I’ll give her my fluids, let her clamp in a speculum.
I’ll watch a ceiling mobile splaying stars and planets into a neon sky.
June 28, 2022
editors note: So much more than a prostate poke, fellas. A little respect… – mh clay
Bronx Hall of Fame by Pete Mladinic
I was there, she took me there
and it was a long line of columns.
I recall liking it. I liked that it
was a long line of white columns
with busts of men on them, Ben
Franklin, or men like him, or
like Jefferson and Jackson on the
bills, the tens and twenties.
No women, they were all men
who looked like Bill Clinton
might have looked, had he lived
a hundred years ago. I liked
that it was on a hill, a hilltop,
that there were trees with green branches
around. There was no one thing.
I liked that it was different, a break
from the ordinary, and I wasn’t
thinking all these busts are of dead men.
It wasn’t at all like a funeral parlor,
not dim like that, not spacious
and dark like a theater, it was outside.
I must have looked in the eyes,
the dead eyes that couldn’t look back.
It wasn’t like a person giving me
a dirty look or a look of sympathy.
I was holding her hand. She brought me.
June 27, 2022
editors note: When looking into the eyes of the past, it helps to have a hand to hold. – mh clay
LITTLE PINK TONGUES by Ruth Z. Deming
Oh no! Not again. The brother and sister cats have moved once again.
Margaret, no, not Princess Margaret, who passed away, sad to say, of a stroke, after several daring marriages and leaving behind wealthy heirs,
but Our Margaret, still very much in the swing of things even after her very frightening move to a spanking clean housing development.
Susie Clemons is the name of the place where she now lives with her two beloved kitties.
On fair days, they peep outside the bedroom window.
What do they see?
This is a housing development. It is not a project. They spot grass as green as on a baseball field on television.
Their whiskers can almost pick up scents. Of what?
Of mice, silly!
Of garter snakes, with long sinuous bodies like dancing girls in Irma La Duce!
Is Shirley McClain still alive?
Not only is she alive, but she is telling people’s fortunes.
Our Margaret will have none of that.
Life happens once. And you better pay attention so you don’t miss anything.
A jingle is playing outside of Susie Clemons.
Kelsey and Nelson are familiar with it. They look at one another and rub noses.
The truck is white and soon many children line up behind it.
Great excitement fills the air.
When the door opens, steam rushes out.
A voice is heard saying, “May I have a Dixie Cup with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sprinkles, and rainbow sprinkles?”
Margaret puts one hand on Kelsey and one on Nelson.
So sorry, my darlings, but cats might die if we feed them this tripe.
Their sad cries and whimpers can be heard all over the brand-spanking-new apartment.
How will they get out?
Someone has come to fix the bathroom tiles.
In a single bound, the cats escape to where the ice cream truck still stands.
On the ground are ice cream flavors – Rocky Road with marshmallows, Butter Pecan – and leftover sprinkles.
They hardly know where to begin.
But begin they do. Their whiskers, bless the little fellers, are a lovely mess.
Their little pink tongues can barely keep up with their passions.
Bumble bees and honeybees are in the air. Nary a cloud floats in the sky.
Children’s playground equipment is ridden in a frenzy at this first day of Easter and of Passover, a Jewish holiday.
Sated. When Kelsey and Nelson are so full they feel as if they will burst like balloons, they scamper into their new dwelling.
Margaret must never know.
And she never will.
June 26, 2022
editors note: I won’t tell if you won’t. – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the weekend:
Family’s gotta be family to the new family, then the whole thing’s family and the whole thing’s a mess.
Here’s a shot or two of N.T.’s scene:
(photo “Roadside Picnic” by Tyler Malone)
It was a foggy Saturday morning in Middle Georgia and Ray Dan woke up mostly sober, which was a change. Through the window he saw the puddles the rain left in the front yard of his trailer, not that it bothered him. In fact, nothing much ever bothered Ray Dan. But he quickly became bored. He grabbed his cell and tapped Joe Willy’s name.
“Ray Dan, what’s up?”
“Well, I’m up bright and early this morning and I thought I’d give my favorite cousin a call. So what’s up, Cuz?”
“It’s 11 AM, not exactly early. And I’m your only cousin, Ray Dan.”
“I’m feeling pretty good, all things considered. I can bring lunch over.”
“This is a first.”
“I was out drinkin’ at Smokey’s last night…” Ray Dan paused.
“You’re always out drinking at Smokey’s. What about lunch?”
“Me and the boys went out and got a mess of squirrels and the Wifey can cook them up and we can have squirrel gravy over biscuits.”
“Wait, you went squirrel hunting, in the dark, after drinking?”
“But we didn’t get any. I don’t think we even saw any. But we did pretty good in the afternoon before we started serious drinkin’.”
“How many do you have?”
If that whet your reading appetite, then dig on into the rest of this tail… er, tale, right here!
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the weekday:
At our best we’ll always be at our worst.
Here’s a bit of this sign’o’times tale:
(photo “Finding Home” by Tyler Malone)
What is so special about grass? I ask myself. Is it their presence among our urban mess? Yet it no longer embalms a concept and many people do not believe in its aesthetic, medicinal, or magical essence in this age of malls and plastic magnificence. My dog eagerly rushes to any patch of vegetation on our concrete pavements. She lingers sniffing grass and tiny plants, reconnecting herself with ancestral instinct. I patiently tarry watching her nose exploring so many realms of scent, her body trembling as she satiates her quivering nostrils, a yearning beginning to ruffle my own exterior of contentment.
“How much for this?” a voice interrupts my nostalgic phase.
“For what?” I ask, quite startled at her question.
“The dog. Is it for sale?” she says with a smile that is more corrosive than her senselessness, a ring on her finger vaunting the bluest of gems.
“Would you sell the children you bring up?” I ask with a solemn face.
“Of course not,” she instantly replies, with disappointment on her lips.
“How much did you pay for it?” she resumes with renewed interest.
“Fifty thousand lira, but I purchased her to rid her of a cage and an ugly stick,” I state.
“I will double the sum,” she bargains.
“Not for millions would I part with an adopted friend,” I respond.
She darts a ferocious look in my direction, quickly assessing my social status from my clothes and the leash on which I tighten my grip.
“I would not pay a lira for it. I was joking,” she says, her face surcharged with ugliness…
If this has got you panting then you’re really gonna howl when you get the rest of this story right here!
••• Open Mic •••
Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of July (aka 07.06.22) 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, we will kick off these open mic’n Mad Swirl’n festivities with some musical grooves brought to you by Swirve followed by our usual unusual open mic!
Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call… Mad Swirl!
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…
Short Story Editor