The Best of Mad Swirl : 10.22.22

by on October 23, 2022 :: 0 comments

“The artist’s job is to be a witness to his time in history.

Robert Rauschenberg

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Gunfighter Nation” ~ Howie Good

To see all of Howie’s madly mystical 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 strove and strained for a drop of rain; we scratched the sores of stolen shores; we played a ploy for knowing joy; we arrested rage on a digital stage; we quelled consternation while in hibernation; we quoted in kind for the left behind; we liked what we heard in the sound of words. Without ‘em we’ve nothing to say. ~ MH Clay

blue by Brittany Ortega

I like it when people say ‘blue’.

And not preceded or followed
by anything
Just the word
by itself
offered in


The soft skull of blue’s b
warms itself

like a baby set inside a basket

like a basket too near to the sea

the gentle
ness of which
sets blue


I don’t know
how it is
I get



October 22, 2022

editors note: Distracted by what falls out of the blue. – mh clay

Holy Holy Holy by John Duarte

Agony hidden
beneath the beauty
any other notions
absolute in its
an invisible quote
“ “
to believe
that urgency you
feel in the room
in the air you’ll
i’ll pause to listen
to your voice
one last time
preserved in the
left behind

October 21, 2022

editors note: Magic when heard, but not seen. – mh clay

UP! the vortex by Preacher Allgood

the winter storm slammed into town
like a rage-alcoholic stepfather
meteorologists called him a polar vortex.
his drinking buddies
frostbite and hypothermia
trailed in his wake and called him boss

they pelted the windows with sleet
they iced the roads and froze the pipes
they howled and blustered
until the poor feared for their lives
and the powerful fled to Cancun

I hid in my room under the blankets
like I did when I was a kid and my step-drunk
rampaged through the house unchecked

to ease my angst and pass the time
I streamed the film UP!
a raunchy 1976 Russ Meyer farce
it features a masochistic Hitler look alike
murdered by a piranha in his bathtub
and a screwball plot that nobody understands
Russ thoughtfully provides
a nude former Miss Universe
as Greek Chorus to fill in the gaps

when the credits rolled, I moved on to

I streamed Meyers’ entire
underrated body of work
while I waited
for that arctic storm-of-a-bitch
and his cronies
to pile into somebody’s Cadillac
and bluster back to the north
to their favorite strip joint called Ice Angels.

October 20, 2022

editors note: Recommended viewing for when a polar bear rages by. – mh clay

Histrionics (Why I Hate Selfies Pt. 2) by C E Hoffman

Suicidal cheerleaders
walk their daddies home from jail
shoot rabbits
but don’t boil them.

All the world’s a stage
but most scroll in the audience
and only the scariest smiles

Emotion is the soundtrack
to existence.
Take care you’ll still look
when the music stops.

October 19, 2022

editors note: Terrorized by Tik Tok? Turn away. (This poem comes from C E Hoffman’s recently released collection, GHOSTS, TROLLS, AND OTHER THINGS ON THE INTERNET, from Bottlecap Press. You can get your copy here.) – mh clay

Start Knowing Joy by Robert Ronnow

Start now knowing joy,
that’s an order,
overcome a deepening solitude.

Like a bee at a bugle
or me at the deli
on Third Avenue.

I said to Joe when do you think this weather will break?
He jokes, April.
That’s no joke. Weak creatures die and the strong barely survive.

Half a year goes by
another cancer checkup.
Cheer up. Any weather’s

better than no weather at all
and there’s always governance
even when there is no government.

My candidate drops out
after Iowa. Why do I always lose
at politics and poker?

Peace at last!
No lawnmowers, no leafblowers.
Big comfy couch.

Meditate on this: Do what has to be done.
Find your lover gazing at the moon
and take your garbage to the dump.

Your website evaporates
and your possessions are thrown in the dumpster
except your trumpet which finds its way to a future trumpeter.

October 18, 2022

editors note: Joy in providing another man’s treasure. – mh clay

STOLEN SHORELINES by Dr. Jaya Anitha Abraham

The azure waters
Lured me to the shores
The vivacious waves
Washed me to lands unknown
And the men on the shore,
Filled my plate every evening.

Like a magician playing
With the pigeons hidden
Under his elbows,
The rolling seas cooing
hand me the corals and atolls
Shells and dreams of mermaids too.

What do i gift to you, in return
Oh, folks on the shore?
I snatched your fishing nets,
I stole your golden shores
I erase the sand on my heels
On the wall of boulders

The blue walls of your tiny houses
Crumble, and i crowd you
In dark rooms, of no relief.
I huddle you away
From the waves and my heart.
In your sleep, your heart sings
The songs of the seas.

The fury of the storms and
the saint on the shore lament,
“You are the man who gives stones,
to your children
when they ask for a loaf”
Nature still laughs the last laugh,
For sure, it is as hard as the shore-lashing waves.

October 17, 2022

editors note: They take your all and call it a favor. The curse of colonialism. – mh clay

Drought by Lisa Moak

No drop of moisture,
not even a tear,
only the dry underbelly
of grief left from
witnessing a beloved,
ravaged with age,
fade and pass,
and feeling nothing
but wonderment and relief.

Desolate and worn
is the heart broken,
no hope of storm clouds
to wash the wound
or wet the earth
in hopes of flooding
the dusty dunes,
which roll like dry waves
against the scorched horizon.

These are the endless
days of drought.
The lump in the throat,
a whimper in the dark,
ominous clouds but no rain,
as dry as the desert
or as brittle as the petal
fallen from the bloom
on a forgotten grave.

October 16, 2022

editors note: Wishing need of umbrellas for all. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you’re looking for a read to brighten your day, perhaps Dark” by Contributing Writer Kleio B will surprisingly do just that.

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

The dark is here always. But wait… wait it out. Light is on its way.

Here’s a few rays to get you on your way:

“First Light’s First Darkness” by Tyler Malone

The alarms went off. People woke up to realize it was still night. Some went off to sleep again without a thought. The early birds work up, then thought it was a night nocturnal that woke them up. They went off to sleep again.

Some tossed and turned, waiting for a morning that never came. People missed work, shops remained closed. The scientists were wonderstruck. Then the news started flashing.

People tired of their good night’s sleep turned on their TV. Some surfed the internet; others ventured on social media. And the world read and heard the declaration that the governments around the world shook while they declared:


Wait, what? Shed some light on this “Dark” story right here!


“Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling…”

Now that you got that tune stuck in your head, check out Bagpipe” by Kathy Whipple!

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

We do what we do, and we hope we do it for love, and that we’re good enough for it to be shared in the name of love.

Here’s a few lines to fill your pipe bag with air:

“Peaceful, Rest, Above All the Rest” by Tyler Malone

My husband, Bryan, plays the bagpipes.

In the house.

On the weekends.

It’s all my fault. When I gave him the pipes and arranged a teacher, I hadn’t thought things through. “I’d sure like to learn to play the bagpipes,” he said. And I’d misjudged my future obligation to the instrument. I thought purchasing the pipes and finding the teacher was my contribution. I never considered I’d have to listen to the howl of the pipes, a beginning player’s shrieks and squeals.

Bagpipes are an ancient instrument made from a goat or sheep bladder. Imagine playing an instrument that previously held animal urine. The pipes are designed to be loud and are not equipped with a volume control mechanism. “Baarrroooom,” the drones kick in, wailing like a chorus of sick hyenas. The walls rattle. Our teenagers slam their bedroom doors and the dog whimpers as it burrows itself under the bed…

Get the whole bag right here!

“…it’s you, it’s you must go and I must bide….”

••• Mad Reviews •••

Another Mad Review: “Knives on a Table” by Pete Mladinic

Here is a bit of Mad Swirl Poetry Editor MH Clay’s dissertation on Pete’s collection:

Here is a collection, recently released by one of our Contributing Poets, “Knives on a Table” by Pete Mladinic. Pete has been a Contributing Poet since November of 2020. Poems from this collection that were previously posted on Mad Swirl are “Among Women Only” (Feb 15, 2021) & “Wishbone” (Nov 20, 2020). We highly recommend this collection!

It’s noire. He gives you stories and confessions in black and white, you spark images with color in your own mind. It’s a portrait gallery, a nickelodeon; stories about people, a moving picture peep show, exposing the raw nerves of lives.


There’s a magic feeling this reviewer has been trying to describe that comes from reading great poetry. It evades academic debate. It’s a deep, visceral reaction that is felt in the gut, that cries out “I get it! That speaks to me!” So many of the poems in this collection will create that response. Three to give specific mention are “Damp Wallet,” “Slow Summer Night,” and “What Is Lost Is Not Lost.” You read them; see if your internal chords aren’t strummed…

Skip on over here to read the full review & to get a link to “Knives on the Table”


The whole Mad Swirl of everything to come keeps on keepin’ on… NOW! Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, every EVERY there is! Wanna join in the mad conversations going on in our Mad Swirl’s World? Then come by whenever the mood strikes! We’ll be here…

Swirlin’-up History,

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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