The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.21.23

by on January 22, 2023 :: 1 comment

What is really beautiful must always be true.


••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Restless as Driftwood” ~ Bill Wolak

To see all of Bill’s wonderfully 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 made a mess to meet the press; we turned to turds from sewer words; we lugged our load over choking roads; we newly spliced with old advice; we broke full throttle our empty bottles; we heart lifted with bike gifted; we roadside begged for tickets pegged. This time, my number. ~ MH Clay

Still Here by Ken Edward Rutkowski

To the young man in the wheelchair a boy left on the side of the highway selling tickets something dropped off in the sun and left to fend for himself for someone else probably his family on the side of the road as it starts to rain everyone races by on their motorbikes without even noticing him maybe some except for one boy about the same age who stops his bike and runs back throws a poncho over this kid buys a ticket and continues on his way with his own business there are many kinds of kids younger than this boy doing the same thing selling tickets asking for money crouched on the side of busy intersections with their heads pulled down inside their laps pushed one hand out accepting alms the locals tell me to never give the kids money cuz if they don’t make enough or not as much as the day before they will get beaten or worse I don’t know people in desperate situations do desperate things even at the expense of other human beings living things and some go out of their way even when in their own predicament of thought and recovery and Life! may I be content with what I have! may I not always feel the need to satiate my good sense my big mouth my words falling off my tongue sometimes my misjudgments blessed and my eyes never healed so I may see it all and that I never forget there are those who could use a hand with alms a line we’re human beings for Christ’s sake and some of us are not at home but we’re still here.

January 21, 2023

editors note: One of these corners could be yours. – mh clay

Lift / Left by Mark Young

If there is not a point at
which the heart is lifted, at
least to which the eyes are
pointed. If there is not a
lift, a point, at which the
eyes are heartened. Then come
spiraling down the hillside
on a bicycle, come freewheeling
down, the bicycle lifted, the eyes,
the heart, a point at which
the hillside opens, beats, the lifted
eyes, the pedals left, the hillside
lifted, the heart is left alone.

January 20, 2023

editors note: Brief flight, arrested by hillside. – mh clay

Want to Go Back by John Duarte

Already too late
been a ghost
for awhile
won’t matter
what needs to be
haunts me
the bottles all of them
are empty
a few drinks
in memory
here twisted inside
already too late
i lost all reason

January 19, 2023

editors note: Can’t refill a broken bottle. – mh clay


Best keep your mouth shut, boy.

There were flowers that smelled like
sweaty horses reaching their heads over
the corral fence next to the bicycle trail,
thick tongues licking lips looking for
fistfuls of long grasses, sugar cubes,
apples from the open hands of passersby
who think they are being kind.

Even if you can’t tell the truth, don’t lie.

A mosquito, drunk on the blood of an
old man who hasn’t yet finished drinking,
weaves through fetid air looking for further
opportunities to feed, for still water to lay
eggs, her short life easily fulfilled with
fresh blood, propagation, and flight,
while dodging the angry slap of fate.

Silence can be the kindest thing to say.

January 18, 2023

editors note: It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool… – mh clay

emphysema highways by Jason Baldinger

she’s not an impressive nag
magenta or metallic red
worn down by gasconade dust

even with the suspension shot
and no central air
to best this indian summer

she’s been topped
and pumped
and can shimmy her way
one hundred and eighty miles
across emphysema highways

she runs on memories
of joyboy jack oakie
california to sedalia
wheezing hard in the home stretch
downtown is a hawk’s feather away

one secret knock unlocks
blood orange refreshment
but this speakeasy is jealous
of her out there in warehouse dusk
go on babe, don’t be shy
when you piss next to her
you’ll see how she shines

January 17, 2023

editors note: It’s not the mileage, it’s the memories. – mh clay

Love’s metrics by Mike Zone

Back when I used to date there was this joke…
every dinner
every night out
every workplace discussion
date, dating, dated
I tend to date women 6-10 years older, as they’re usually out of the baby making stage and used to disappointment.
But really
I just didn’t know
any better
along with trauma-bonding nuns
preaching stagnant death-cult morality
from the sewer they crawled out from
how sewer-holed mouths
would one day be laid bare
before the end

January 16, 2023

editors note: Punchline pursuit of another night alone. – mh clay

“watching Meet the Press” by Dan Spencer

watching Meet the Press
like I learned to do from my parents
drinking Sunday coffee listening
to bureaucratic buffoonery, professional pundits
insouciant propagandists who sing
a song of politics, money, deaths, and digestion.

watching Meet the Press
the hydra waits on a Florida golf course
civilized people never know how to counter
dictators… see them squeeze into a façade
smear the blood of slave-master granddads
over squinting eyes with the left hand
of right-winged eugenicists
see red blooded americans debate with hearts
of burning crosses

watching Meet the Press
my left eye involuntarily twitches
feeling for a while like I should do something
feeling as if my desire to change the empirical world
could end in anything
but two new serpent heads
with different names

January 15, 2023

editors note: We buy that snake oil, never thinking about how it only comes from snakes. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you need a story about making up stories then check out Story Lines by longtime Contributing Writer Carl Kavadlo!

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

Here’s where we are: where we damn well say we are. Nowhere else, no matter what anyone says.

Here’s some set-up to get you sucked into this telling’o’tales tale:

“Waiting in Motion” by Tyler Malone

Mick went out that evening. There was the Purity Restaurant over on 7th Street and 7th Avenue. Mick was a little down on his luck, figured 7, 11…dice, numbers like that.

The Purity used to be owned by a couple of Greeks and is now owned by a couple of Italians. It also relocated from Union and 7th recently in 2005 to 7th and 7th, changed the marquee from the color green to the color purple. The new sign is smaller than the older one.

As Mick walked in, he noticed a pretty brunette woman, early 30s, winking at him. The room was small. He could see her from the entrance at the back table on the left by the large plate glass window on the 7th Street side.

The luck was running for Mick. He walked over to Ramona, slid out a chair, sat down, smiled, and faced her…

Get the rest of the whole “Story Lines” story right here!


If a need for a read has crept its way in, check out the creepy tale by Phyllis Souza, Graves Ville!

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

In life, in death, we crawl.

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

“Watching Over, Craving” by Tyler Malone

It was no small scene when they woke. The dead lay in pine boxes. Decomposing bodies leaked through holes at the bottom of their coffins—maggots had tunneled through contaminated soil and suckled on the evil roots of trees.

Worms transformed into snakes. The snakes slithered back into the boxes. They ate at the foul-smelling flesh. Brains left behind bled into roots, circulated, and howled in the branches—their secrets blew in the wind…

If that got your brain buzzin’ then worm your way over to to get the rest of this creepy read on!


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…


Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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