“Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.“
••• The Mad Gallery •••
Beyond Delirium ~ Bill Wolak
To see all of Bill’s twisted 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 drew social rage from our modern age; we bladed our way to covet and stay; we gaps exempted with wordrobe emptied; we greases our hands (and face) in writing’s demands (and grace); we were juvenile sinners, inept wannabe winners; we lost the toss o’er who’s the boss; we grieved unsung with our temporal tongue. Yet, we do and we will till we grow still. ~ MH Clay
HOW’S THAT WORKING OUT 4 U? by Joey Da’rrell Cloudy
While Morpheus Greek steps
out of the dream within
speaking a muted language
through closed captions on the flat screen tv
over the stilled raving of steel drums.
There is no dream,
only a digitized illusion.
a conjured spirit of electrons and closed casket circuitry
arrives to answer pixelated prayers
that somehow exist in more dimensions than you
my moebius love. I puff on
the blunt as I listen. Seeking only the sacred
council of my own idiocy. Having no compass
here only a broken LED clock
strobing crimson 12:00 pm as it bleeds out
a phosphorescent hemophiliac in the darkest hours.
Hard time taught me its most brutal of lessons
under the rough tutelage of many strikes
Of its blackened hands. trust only the math
and follow only the evidence. Its tattooed face ignores
your animal instincts to incinerate every precinct.
Reject always the useless love of a mad
sow. No matter how pretty the lipstick
I am a true child of Zion
I bathe in the magnificent
heat of the sun spitting eternal fire on my face.
I do not possess a vocabulary sufficient to the task.
Nothing more than trite alliterations of exalted ecstasy of the living.
The ghost dances with dead tongues
an ancient pain sadistically deflowers phantom existences
I bore witness to each exquisite agony every breath
flees my ragged mouth barefoot leaving in its wake
a trail of bloody footprints missing a single little toe
The crimson trail a drunkards pirouettes Fibonacci sequence,
Out of the golden meaning of life.
I empty my bowels of all wisdom
I wipe my ass with your vintage prom dress
once worn to the Hierophants wedding.
and soon I will be dead as the winters light. It’s already May
We are watching old black and white movies again
I embrace the vacuous amnesia of amber-colored alerts.
Invincible ego of anonymity relinquishes its grasp
on torn memories of us. The most precious
years squandered gaslighted in an emotional TimeSink
warped to the self-slashing core.
The existential angel of suburban angst
raw doggerel self-loathing caricature assassin
a barren grifter not even a contender
just another bum-rushed lamentation
the most basic X X chromosome. Cliché
thy name is throated seed swallow
incestuous cesspool of putrid orifices burnt offerings
the eternal reek of fetal alcohol syndrome
And irradiated clay pots of mama-san’s forgotten kimchi.
I lie and tell myself I’m better off
than the laughing GOAT
At least I still have my name.
I wonder after the Sheriff
leaves with my signature on
another stack of “me
too” lies. no one will remember
the flavor of the toxic Kool-Aid self-served by the righteous
who martyred themselves in Jonestown.
Lost in Chronos annals. another cult of the demented
Carving ecstatic agonies into thick pale thighs.
You sit in your car alone in the parking lot sobbing
rejected by your lover’s school-aged child
thank you for the pi times the radius of the hypocrisy
Squares served up like the best revenge “so delicious so cold”
Relax you are no pedophile you have a predator-proof vagina.
This time I win by losing again. My name follows
me like a hungry stray dog into a tone-deaf oblivion
and soon enough no one will ever read
my feeble attempts to sing a poem iridescent resuscitated
in all of its halleluiah-less glories.
perhaps the first vestal verses
to baptize my temporal tied tongue in a half-life.
At midnight I wonder if she still
has that gargantuan V
for victim tattooed on her forehead And…
How’s that working out for you?
July 23, 2022
editors note: Buckle up! Ride this out from first vestal verse to last. – mh clay
BOSSY by Vern Fein
At every turn,
my mind will confront
my negative emotions—
fear, anxiety, jealousy—
who are like a bossy Aunt
who moved in
after she blew her life
and had to live with me,
nowhere else to go.
It won’t do any good
for my mind to stand firm
with crossed arms
and a withering glare,
and say things like:
“Get it together,
Use your head,
Wait to see what happens,
or try to reason
because she will
weep and scream
the worst could happen.
“Your dog might tear her leg again.”
“It most likely is cancer.”
“Your company could move overseas.”
“Probably your wife cheated.”
No matter how much your mind
tells her to pipe down,
she never will.
That bossy Aunt digs in, persists,
bound and determined
to make my life
as bad as it can be.
July 22, 2022
editors note: Don’t let her in. Pull the shades, change the locks. – mh clay
New occasions for sin by Mike Zone
Here’s a story
about the nature of evil
and the absolute goodness of god
we used to hang out downtown
hit the hobby shop for comics
get grape soda and beef jerky from the party store
we were in eighth grade
listening to Nirvana
casting comic book movies
becoming comic strip gods
we didn’t have time nor the mental aptitude yet to contemplate Thomas Aquinas’ natural theology
god is everywhere
the grass, the trees, the concrete, big bang cosmic ray afterbirth and your shameful ejaculate
SIN- an action, an intent, a thought, without god
a burgundy rode up on us
we all would shamelessly lust over
in our rooms
in the one-hundred comforts of solitude
they pretended to fight over us
asking what school we went to
if we wanted to party
did we have any beer?
laughing all the way
knowing we were too young
and embarrassed for it
we skirted their questions
gave fake names
made fun of each other
tried talking shit back
pulled down his pants
whipped himself out
“Let’s play dick-out!”
a couple of them screamed in horror
the rest laughed
they sped off
we never saw them again
nor did we hang out with Justin again
after he put his dick through a bagel
we made our laws without god
but god was always there
apparently, not Justin
July 21, 2022
editors note: Just cuz you showed yours didn’t mean god would show his. – mh clay
when the gunslingers sling grease by Preacher Allgood
Bukowski’s poems came at him like gunslingers
but my poems drag in like broke-ass farmers
they’re cranky from fifteen-hour days in the field
they’re sweaty, smelly, grimy, and rude
the tall one waves a bill for combine parts in my face
“write me so it looks like I don’t owe this”
I don’t know how to write his debts away
the short one snarls from my Laz-Y-Boy
“write me but leave out my thing with Tammy”
“no need for the wife to read about her”
his wife’s the only thing about him I could write
the fat one with the walrus moustache growls
“write me a new John Deere and a feed truck”
I’ll be lucky to write the grain smut out of his wheat crop
and the only woman among them
a redhead with serious business in her eyes
sits at my laptop and writes herself
I give her a thumbs up when she finishes
she douses me with lithium from her grease gun
safe to say that the poetry gods aren’t smiling on you
when the gunslingers sling grease in your face
July 20, 2022
editors note: A good lube ain’t a bad thing! – mh clay
Wordfitters by Stephen Kingsnorth
The problem with this merry month
is wordsmiths let loose fantasies,
that we think real as reel can be,
the sound required, licence allows,
a statement of the obvious.
I know the term must earn its keep,
speak for itself with clarity,
bridge, liminal from here to there,
the list, inadequate, revealed,
shortfall of airy diction book.
Not frittered spam or flittered sprite,
not fitted wordrobe, bedroom plan,
or filler, putty, caulk to scan,
but more than that, the sound as lifts;
that foot required when metre’s short
like muesli when the muse falls flat,
wordfitters in their rightful place.
Keep writing on, but mind the gap,
though right, life unpredictable;
for some, short circuitry at work,
while others may judge brainwaves slack –
but, poets, it’s your voice to birth,
and mined, rite words, to fit that space,
cut diamond facets, flash of sun.
July 19, 2022
editors note: It’s craft or crap; builder and built-for both decide. – mh clay
DOWSING by Stefanie Bennett
One blade of grass will weather
Trawl a spider’s thread
Through the chimera wound
As D-day approaches.
Listen. Do you hear the crib
In the holster
Of the wind?
One blade of grass; flexible
Covets the key
The discus thrower.
Not of this era,
July 18, 2022
editors note: And we say, “You don’t have the sense of a blade of grass!” for a reason. – mh clay
Over Both Shoulders by Scott Thomas Outlar
Everyone seems to think
everyone else is a sociopath
just an error
in the narcissistic algorithms
of social media
in the modern age
July 17, 2022
editors note: Facebook is MY friend (not yours)! – mh clay
••• Short Stories •••
If you’re lookin’ for a read to be a breeze beneath your wings, “The Grandmother’s Secret“ by Sunil Sharma is sure to get you soaring!
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the weekend:
Flying is better than always falling, falling, falling down below. See yourself above it all, then you’re there.
Here’s a few whispers to get you goin’:
“Change in the House” by Tyler Malone
My grandma had a strange secret.
She could turn into a butterfly.
I never knew it—till the age eight. The discovery left me thrilled. My little thin granny, a secret butterfly! That moment is still vivid. It was a warm night.
Hot wind blew across the small town buried in the desert that hissed. The lights were out everywhere. The strong wind rattled the tiles of the far-off cottages where railway employees lived with their families, near the gleaming tracks.
We were lying on the roof of the two-storied stone house. A huge moon had come out early, the sky was awash in milky colour. The big eared and tall rabbit stood on its legs, its ears raised, peeping down, looking directly at me from that high- perched moon floating like a white ball in the vast solitude of the heavens. In the distance, a lonely lamp burnt in a shrine on top of a dark barren hill. The wind suddenly shrieked.
“Wind is angry,” pronounced grandma.
“Why?” I got frightened. I always do—getting scared easily.
“Hissing wind is no good. It means somebody somewhere will die.”
As if on cue, a dog wailed terrifyingly, followed by wailing others.
I shrank inside.
“I want to go and meet my Momma.”
“Sorry. You cannot go.”
“She is ill. In the hospital. Will return in a week or so,” said granny in a gravelly voice.
I grew silent. Tears poured down like big raindrops falling on the lotus petals. My body shook. Grandma ran her steely claws in my tousled hair. I cried silently, frail body shaking. Desperately wanting to flee the set up. My mamma came floating in the white clouds, arms outstretched pale face smiling. The harsh desert wind blew into my tear-stained eyes.
“I know, child, what you thinking.”
I looked at the granny, bewildered.
“You want to fly away?”
I was shaken.
How does granny know?
“Quite often, I feel the same way… to fly away… to a distant place….”
I wiped the eyes.
“And I often fly away.”
My jaw dropped. “Grandma can fly?”
She said, “Yes. When I want to fly, I turn myself into a butterfly.”
Find out “what” grannie is talkin’ ’bout over here!
If you’re all aflutter with a need for a read, “Attacus Atlas“ by Kathy Whipple is sure to get you soaring!
Here’s what Short Story Editor Tyler Malone has to say about this pick’o the weekday:
It’s easy to hope that you can heal in the same place where hope ended. But sometimes, you need to go. And go far. Far enough to come back to yourself.
Here’s a bit of Kathy’s lepidopteraous tale:
“From Above, A New Below” by Tyler Malone
Attacus atlas. Southeast Asia. Attacus moths are frequently misidentified as birds owing to their large wingspan of up to twelve inches. However, sightings of the moth are uncommon.
Celeste inched closer, determined. A moth of seemingly impossible proportions flitted among the trees in the tropical forest of the Malay Archipelago. She had been tracking the Attacus for several hours. The already dim forest darkened as the sun lowered. She wiped her face with her forearm. It left an ecru smear of sweat and dirt on her sleeve. She took one step closer. Her foot snapped a branch. The giant moth lifted into the air and fluttered deep within the trees.
“Dammit!” She slumped to the ground, clutching her cramping stomach. No lepidopterologist wants to lose the moth so necessary to her research, Celeste least of all. But neither could she bear to sleep another night on the wet ground under the forest canopy. Brushing away tears, she conceded defeat and struggled back to camp, arriving long after dark.
Her fellow researchers engaged in raucous laughter around a coconut-husk fire. Night creatures howled as shadows danced through the palms. Exhausted and discouraged, Celeste slipped into her tent.
“Knock, knock,” a husky voice called. “Just how do you knock on a ladies tent?” Trevor chuckled.
“Come on in,” said Celeste.
Trevor had acted the least perturbed by her last-minute inclusion in the expedition of four men.
“Any luck today?”
“A good sighting, but I couldn’t get anywhere near. Skittish. Or perhaps it was toying with me.”
“Butch obtained his specimens. Lars as well. Maybe they can help you.”
“Not at all! Can you imagine the ribbing? Everyone already thinks I’m too delicate for Borneo.”
“No one thinks that, Celeste. But we’re all concerned. You’ve been through so much.”
“I’m fine,” she said, with finality.
Trevor nodded and backed out of the tent. A lantern cast warm, amber light into the space he left. Celeste placed her hand on her stomach, over the pain, still healing.
“Wait, Trevor,” she called out.
He stuck his head back into the tent.
“I’m sorry. You’ve been nothing but kind.”
“We’re all here for you,” he said.
“I know. Thank you.”…
Flap those wings on over here to get the rest of this read!
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…
Seekin’ & Findin’,
Short Story Editor