The Best of Mad Swirl : 02.18.23

by February 19, 2023 0 comments

Anything looked at closely becomes wonderful.

A. R. Ammons

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Troubled (1)” ~ Thomas Riesner

Mad Swirl is excited to welcome back one of our favorite artists, Thomas Riesner, who has brought more of his gorgeous nightmare fuel to the Mad Gallery this month. What i love the most about Riesners work is that while each piece feels similar, they are all so wholly unique and each character he depicts feels real, with raw & unfiltered emotion and eyes looking right into our souls. They must have a story to tell us, right? Only if we’re listening… ~ Madelyn Olson

To see all of Thomas’ wicked squiggles, 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 hid in the hum of a fascist sum-mer; we hovered with lovers to clamor for glamour; we resourcefully rang with our powerful thang; we drew the funk from a genius drunk; we put short term life above canine love; we lost the toss for value loss; we pondered why from square to sky. It’s upward, homeward, downward spiral to arrest and pull out right. ~ MH Clay

LESSONS by Vyarka Kozareva

You’ll never find in the ponderous books
The rules how to live like a waif paper boat
On the tarmac surface without rain,
How to start a journey
After a thousand breathings
With an impudent chlorine after-scent
From the humble square
To the sky
Eloquently cerulean
For the olivewood to arch and the cherubim to flit,
How to free gratitude
For the impossible chance
To step a bare foot into cloudy seas
That keep mute fish inside their maws.
It’s a blessing to attain
The scales on your eyelids equal
And the circuits of your blood concentric.

February 18, 2023

editors note: Life lessons for more or less living. – mh clay

valueless by Jack Henry

the younger guys
call me grandpa
in the gay chats
even when i pretend
to be younger,
but i always
pretend to be younger,
to be relevant,
even though
i’ve never been relevant.


once i hit 50 i lost
my value
as a member of
a core audience.

sometimes i forget
i’ve never been
core audience
even in days of
relative youth
and relevancy.

February 17, 2023

editors note: That place where not even your two cents are valued; hurts to the core. (We welcome Jack to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Too Old for a Dog by David Icenogle

They tried to talk him into a home
or a dog.
He was 12 presidents old and has renewed his license 14 times.
He’s just trying to make it to another renewal.
He says the only thing in his life
that has never changed is the DMV.
His wife’s license has now expired
but she does not need renewal.
That’s what has brought on the awkward talks and sliding
of brochures and pamphlets across the table
as if it was an offer. Or a negotiation.
His children are retired and stuck looking back,
his grandchildren are stuck looking forward to retirement,
his great-grandchildren are stuck looking for nothing,
and he is stuck looking at the end.
His only health problems are time and being widowed.
Everyone doubts he’ll make it to great-great
but some men are too stubborn to die
and teenagers make mistakes.
As far as death and retirement communities were concerned
he was past the bargaining stage
and had the finances for acceptance.
He wasn’t going to a home because he still had one
and he was always taught to finish his supper.
His Will would be active before his will would be broken.
So then it would be get a dog, a rescue
from the silence.
He had and loved dogs all his life.
Because he loved them he wouldn’t get one.
Because the dog would outlive him
and what would the dog do

February 16, 2023

editors note: And then, choices narrow with time. – mh clay

Him by Joseph Farley

There were those who said
he was some kind of genius,
but most saw him
as a drunk,

on the sidewalk,
pants wet
from his own

The very smell of him
would make heads turn,
generally away,

and yet there were those
who found the sight
and odor

They became
unsought acolytes,
keeping their devotions

lest average mortals,
or the master,
see them

when bloodshot eyes
wherever they might be,

in this city
of concrete
and mysteries.

February 15, 2023

editors note: There’s a mystery to every miscreant. – mh clay

My Astonishingly Powerful Item! by Ethan Goffman

I possess magic! I have purchased an astoundingly powerful item that whisks me where I want to go in the blink of an eye! When I’m riding in my astoundingly powerful item, I feel strong, huge, cool, and smart! I am superman! Nobody better get in my way!

Oops, I killed a child. I didn’t think my astoundingly powerful item could do that.

February 14, 2023

editors note: But we want one, just the same. – mh clay

Oh the drama! by Ivan Jenson

Everything about them
was Elizabethan
until they dropped
all pretense
and became just
like Liz
Taylor boozing with
Richard Burton
in a petty spat
over a bottle of Bourbon
yet they made bitterness
glamorous and verbal sparring
amorous like something to
aspire to at a cocktail party
competition to see
who loves the fiercest
and will take home
the first prize
of seeing the bloodshot
fire of love
in the other’s eyes

February 13, 2023

editors note: Gotta have goals. – mh clay

Waiting for Mussolini to Show by James Robert Rudolph

Summer rides us hard, this fretful season of
damp hands wrung sore, as we sit in the garden gazebo,
its bridal white blackened by horse flies like cancer spots on an x-ray.
In the vacuum-packed air of late August
you’d swear you can hear the muffled screams
of dirty blond leaves as they fall from the dying elm.

The leg sawings of night crickets
play the nerves like a stuck techno pop loop then
it’s the flash of heat lightning
in an eastern opaline sky.

You’ve been expected, you in your blousy pantaloons.

February 12, 2023

editors note: Something to look forward to as we shiver in our winter. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you’re stoked get your reading fire started this weekend, then First Lesson in Fire Eating by Contributing Writer & Poet Jeff Grimshaw will get you warmed up!

Here’s what Chief Editor Johnny O has to say about this pick’o the weekend:

It’s better to be churned out than burned out…

Here’s a few licks of the flame to get you on your way:

“A Tiny Fire” by Tyler Malone

Camp Ahltaha was on Fairview Lake, in what William Carlos Williams referred to as “The ribbed north-end of Jersey.” I was the ‘pioneering’
merit badge instructor there during my 16th summer, teaching Boy Scouts useful knots. We also tied sticks together (“lashing”) to build ‘structures,’ which fell apart immediately.

We shared the lake with Camp Nobebosco, where “Friday the 13th” was filmed a few years later. The shitty little town you see at the beginning of the movie was the same shitty little town I would hike to, three miles, on my day off. The diner had western sandwiches.

One morning in early August I arrived in town for my sandwich and there was a carnival in the fairgrounds. Everybody was hung-over. They were hanging up canvas signs for the various ‘acts.’ The tattooed man was woozy, so I hopped on the crate he’d been using for a stepladder and slipped a grommet over the hook. I whacked a few nails and used my stellar knot-tying skills on various dangling ropes and by and by the carny boss gave me five dollars, which the inflation calculator tells me is equivalent to $30 today. He said while he couldn’t offer me a JOB-job, there were usually things to be done if I needed 5 bucks.

I always went to the carnival on my day off after that. But the carnival life wasn’t as glamorous as I’d imagined. I repaired tent flaps with duct tape, and washed dishes, and that was pretty much it. I felt my talents were being wasted. I had no idea what my talents were, but I was sure I had some.

I saw my chance when I heard the fire eater was leaving. (Fire eaters typically have a very short performing season. They need to take time off periodically to regrow their livers).

“I believe,” I told the carny boss, interrupting his lunch, “that you could be looking at your new fire eater”…

If that lit a fire under ya then get the rest of this flaming read right here!


Check out our latest short story, Scourge of Suspicion by Christopher Antony!

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

“They f@ck you up, your mum and dad./ They may not mean to, but they do.”

Christopher’s familial tale starts off like this:

“Same Spot, Different Beds” by Tyler Malone

The New Delhi based son, while chatting over the phone with his cousin in Ernakulam, Kerala, South India, got wind of some serious problems brewing between his parents leading a retired life. He was embarrassed to probe for details though an uneasiness hurriedly ran in his veins. He got so worried that, putting aside his family and work commitments, not to talk of financial constraints, he took the first available flight to Cochin.

His parents were pleasantly surprised to see him arrive. Everything seemed to be normal to the son. After food, they sat around for a chat. After chatting for a long time, gradually the matter for the rift between the parents started emerging. There was a serious trust deficit. Both of them were going on and on, interrupting each other, blaming each other, going at each other, raising their voices, more so the father. It was a struggle for the son to silence the parents and urged that they retire for the day…

Get the rest of this bent family tree read right here!


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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