The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.28.23

by January 29, 2023 0 comments

There is only one real happiness in life, and that is the happiness of creating.

Frederick Delius

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“That Smile Sharpened by Fire” ~ 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 transit told ‘tween hot and cold; we learned to lean on self unseen; we were creekside thinker, a mermaid drinker; we minds extolled through bearing rolls; we jumped for joy with a birthday boy; we sought word to say back to exorbitant payback; we charity placed in a rich man’s face. We write not to race but to life embrace. ~ MH Clay

Dear Sir: by Tony Gentry

Okay, I’ll go up in your
Master of the Universe

if you’ll come with me
on my Meals on Wheels

You want me to see
our little blue marble.
I just want to see your face.

January 28, 2023

editors note: A reasonable request, as far as I can see. – mh clay

The Vigorish by Paul Smith

We should have a better way of branding
all those things
we find significant and troubling
things that shout to be
ethnic cleansing
the emotional toll overwhelms us
why not think of these things in terms of
so they don’t look so bad, maybe just call them
maintenance or overhead or CAP X
since they are a portion of us
but not the whole

We don’t like reliving
forests scared stiff by lightning and power lines
tidal waves brutalizing our coasts
glaciers de-icing
flotsam from the Ganges the Yangtze the Irrawaddy
the Rio Grande
choking our seas into submission
why not simplify things and
call it the interest come due?

We have better things to do than choke
back tears at what we see
let us apply a mathematical model or
algorithm to what dismays us
since this fraction is so small
a pittance on that ticket to Ravinia
or Fenway Park or Cedar Fair or Orlando
a surtax at the toll booth the box office the gate
where we wait all breathless
for the show to start
all it is is us getting tithed
for our presence here
a service charge
call me lazy or distracted
but I’m getting tired of being reminded that
all these things will not just go away
these mass shootings the third-world skin auction
assault rifles with detachable box magazines
all of which
statistically speaking occupy
a razor-thin measure of our attention
isn’t there a word to lump them all into one
as stuff we have just learned to live with?
there must be

January 27, 2023

editors note: Oh, my word! – mh clay

Birthday (Le Quatorzième) by Aaron Glover

(with thanks to Sara Becker)

What a joy to be alive!
to feel I’ve cheated time
I’ve won, I’ve left my watch

elsewhere in a drawer, in a gilded dresser
the clipped arithmetic of my steps
gliding towards a jeweled western sky

I cannot beat the sun, the constant sun
instead, I join its distant cousins
to redraw the rules of battle

the ape must see more than pride
an emperor must have his clothes
a man must claim his god

I anoint myself with knowledge
take my calculated tumbles
my last grounding I name death

I shall die, one day, I shall die
I shall die & vanish
but ’til that day let me not forget

a god I am not but celestial I am
not a sun but the sun
I fix the stars to my measure

the golden center of all
astronomers name the day upon my waking
its close upon the resting of my lids

I have counted the revolutions carefully
I meet the planets with my joy
a grateful earth teems below

January 26, 2023

editors note: He “saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Then on his 15th day, he rested. – mh clay

boop by Brittany Ortega

Thank God for clever people, you know?
The mind like an ant hill,
the mind like a box knot,
the mind like a twisted tongue tucked
too far into

the panting mouth of an old


I picture these spaces at length when I read you
(and you, and you, and you, and you).

Some of you seem partial to pastoral landscapes.
See here. The gourd
balanced on her head
holds red wine and thumbs threaded through

Some think like sackcloth, which is to say thinly,
and then to say roughly, like fortified
pant racks.

And some, like you, have minds like ball bearings.
Its weight in my palm of newfound understanding.
Frictionless roll from one thought to another,
and when viewed more closely,
I see my own face.

You might now be wondering what the title’s about.
And if so, your mind looks like work in an hour.


If I poke at your chest to point out a stain,
it’s only to pretend I am striking a match
on my finger’s way up to your

January 25, 2023

editors note: Got a light? – mh clay

When I drink… by Ruth Z. Deming

When I drink freezing cold water
from the Britta in the fridge, I sit on the edge
of the Pennypack, trailing
my fingers in the water, clouds
swirling overhead as if coming
down to earth to greet their little
mermaid, fishtail iridescent
eyes green as the sea foam.

January 24, 2023

editors note: You can’t buy THAT in a bottle at your local bodega! – mh clay

The Unseen by Sandy Rochelle

I say to all who care that I am not alone.
It only appears so.
I carry the unseen.
It is the best of me.
Silent and faceless.
Always willing.
Voiceless and compelling.
Countering and confusing.
Never refusing to enter a new realm.
Changing existence and perception.
Creating a monk from a mourner.

January 23, 2023

editors note: I’ll bet you didn’t know, here’s a place that you can go. – mh clay

TRANSITION by John L. Stanizzi

summer arrived
like a summons
limping and winded
the same moment
I thought about
quitting all this

the concrete snow is black
charma guy down the street
is selling firewood –
handwritten sign nailed to a stick–
$5 a BUNDLE –
a few mediocre logs
more like driftwood than firewood

Bread and Milk Street –
reminder of what nourishment
sounds like

on a
road of icy gales
a thin skin of rime
on the windshield
wipers scraping
my heart trying to keep pace

next day I went
to drop a 5 on a bundle
but the snow
had buried the logs
the sign – everything

I drove home disheartened
convinced that sorrow
is made of ice

here is what time does

last night
summer showed up
on the deck
like a curse
and I complained –
too fuckin’ hot
sweat crawling up
the back of my neck
mosquitoes drifting around
my cigar smoke

I felt like a man
made of
a cave of absences

last winter
still gnawed
as if I were breathing
splintered wood
the trumpet vine
and the orioles
brawled their orange brawl

I wondered how
I had gotten here
without you
whom I never even knew
not for a moment

how had I arrived
with nothing but lies
and grass
and dandelions
trumpet vines
orioles on all the branches

it’s too hot to care

I wish I were colder

January 22, 2023

editors note: In the hot and cold of things, we’re either a sweater or wearing one. (We welcome John to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Pssst… rumor has it that we have us a new story, Dribble by Contributing Writer & Poet Susie Gharib.

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

We can only live where, and when, we are living. Everything else is, well, dead past.

Here’s a few whispers of this hearsay story:

“What Sneaks” by Tyler Malone

I paused to cast a subtle glance at my facade to check if something looked awry for the public eye. I quickly looked at my zip whose little ring sat snug beneath my belt, safeguarding the intimate part of my fabric. I searched for any prints that my doting dog might have left. The upper part of my cardigan was well buttoned, obstructing a full view of the cleavage of my bosom. I knew I was without a husband and a child, a threat to the custodians of the family hearth. The inquisitive eyes of the passers-by continued to devour my attire. What have I done this time in my censorious town that persecutes and passes its verdict before the defendant learns of the societal charges leveled against her? The contents of gossip, if I happened to be its pivot, never worried my mind, but I felt uncomfortable with notoriety especially that I kept to myself all the time and had never contributed to the backbiting on which their assemblies thrived. I continued to maintain my calm but could not control the flutter of my agitated heart, whose accelerated heartbeats had become a chart of the tempo of the malicious tongues that wagged day and night. For the first time in my life, I wished I had access to their petty lives to see what it was in my harmless existence that aggravated their minds…

Don’t wanna tattle but word is you can get the rest of Susie’s read right here!


If you’re lookin’ for a different perspective on an all too common sad happening, check out Exhibit A by Contributing Writer Edward N. McConnell.

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

We all have names but what we really chase is a title.

Here is the evidence:

“Spill It!” by Tyler Malone

I don’t look like a murderer, do I? According to the State, I am. The newspapers think so. Those empty-headed anchors on the local evening news agree. As for social media, I can’t even. I know the cards are stacked against me.

The killing happened last summer on the outdoor patio at the town’s favorite watering hole. I am not sure how this incident started but start it did…

Get the whole testimony right here!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of February (aka 02.01.23) as we continue doin’ the open mic voodoo that we do do at our OC home, BARBARA’S PAVILLION as well as from our Mad Zoom Room (broadcasted via FB Live)!

Starting at 7:30pm, join hosts Johnny O & MH Clay as we 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!


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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