The Best of Mad Swirl : 03.25.23

by on March 26, 2023 :: 0 comments

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.

Joseph Campbell

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Currents (1)” ~ Thomas Riesner

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 river ran a weathered man; we listened along to an inked birdsong; we studied signs of pick-up lines; we sadly saw a scene of faces stuck to screens; we tripped on lips; we Bess-ly bumbled and humbly fumbled; we cut through the core of one man’s war. We say what we saw, what filled our writers’ hearts with awe. ~ MH Clay

My War Was in the War by Pete Mladinic

My war was in the mess hall where I learned Martin Luther King Jr
was struck down by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee.
My war was in a bunker lined with sandbags at Bridge Cargo,
at night outside the bunker looking down the long Shell Road.
My war was in shadows of barracks watching a sailor, Jack Lockhart

who had on one forearm a colorful parrot and on the other a geisha
in a long dress. Her eyes peeked over a fan, as Lockhart boxed
sailor after sailor. None beat him in our camp near the China Sea.
I stood watch at Bridge Ramp as forklifts drove in and out of LSTs
anchored dockside. My war was at Twenty Dui Tan, a house

in the suburbs of Danang, a Naval Intelligence Office. Outside
one night I saw a Vietnamese man who’d been on a motorbike
lying in the street, injured critically by a grenade. My war was bad
things happening around me. Sheldon, a guard at Museum Pier,
crouched under a stone bench, his hands at his helmet to drown

out mortar thuds, or try to, when the jeep patrol found him there.
My war was 101 Doc Lap, an employment place with an iron gate.
People in ragged attire and conical hats struggled against
the force of water, hoses turned on to keep these people from
passing through that gate. My war was a tower looking over a rice

paddy where, the night of Tet, many had died. Looking over
That paddy before and after that firefight. My war was the letters
SP in white on a dark blue helmet, and the black stock of an M-16.
My war was the war of many others, Vietnamese, American,
Korean, who were not in the jungle but in the city of Danang

and on its outskirts. The sun rose and set over Marble Mountain
and the China Sea. My war was Vietnam, my war was a few
get rich and many die. It was a Black GI carried in a straitjacket
from a boat at a ferry launch. My war was what I had a hand in,
sometimes called a conflict, my war in war. My war was all wars.

March 25, 2023

editors note: One (every) soldier’s season in hell. – mh clay

Bess by Paul Hostovsky

She was wearing a white button-down shirt
with snap buttons, waiting for me
to unsnap them. But I was shy and she was
in the driver’s seat. So she started unsnapping them
herself. She was 18 and had her own car already,
an old-fashioned Volvo named Bess. She had named it Bess
because Bess was an old-fashioned name. I was barely 16
and didn’t have my permit yet, but I had permission
as far as the snaps. We were parked in Bess with the lights off
idling in a green place somewhere in the twilight
of my childhood. Its real name was the Volvo Amazon,
derived from the female warriors of Greek mythology. But I don’t think
I knew that yet. And I don’t think I knew
she wasn’t wearing a bra. She’d already unsnapped
2 buttons, to show me how it was done and to show me
the little hollow between her breasts called cleavage,
an old-fashioned word that somehow also applied
to my busty grandmother living in Florida. I gingerly
unsnapped the third button. Someone inhaled audibly. Maybe me.
It felt like unwrapping a present that I’d only seen advertised
in magazines. Suddenly she unsnapped all of the buttons,
impatiently ripping the wrapping paper right off.
“Thank you,” I whispered gratefully, then just sat there
staring stupidly. Bess made a ticking sound
that filled the silence. It could have been
the spark plugs–you’re supposed to replace them
every 100,000 miles or so. Or it could have been
the oil was low, or the valves were maladjusted,
or the drive pulleys were worn out. What did I know about
what was going on inside of Bess, in that moment,
16 years old, stupidly staring, something like time, ticking.

March 24, 2023

editors note: A beautiful bumble, a humble fumble. – mh clay

Caffeine by Dhee Sankar

How many kisses do your lips contain?
My touch will never so much as touch your face,
So when my nights need questions to stay awake
This is the question my nights can’t restrain.

How are your kisses shared between your men,
Who gets how many, and which one lasts how long.
To think your lips have fate, it’s written somewhere
How much passion they store, for whom, for when.

To think your body, unknown to your brain,
Is an appendage to lips that look for lips,
Lips that look for bodies that belong to them,
To kiss and close and open and kiss again.

Their soft pinkness heavy with fate’s hot strain,
They part like lovers every time you speak.
They wear their moisture like a shirt against the cold,
They wear your lipstick like a coat against the rain.

March 23, 2023

editors note: Something’s amiss when kissing this. – mh clay

Reflections in the Food Court by David Dumouriez

Enough remain who’ll lucidly recall
a time before the time I witness now
when members of their species sat
and spoke, and listened, and engaged.
As I navigate the floor, unmazing
left and right, my sole intent’s
to reach those grooved metallic stairs
that loop and loop until they don’t.
A passage you’d complete ten thousand
times, at least, in different permutations.
But still you see. See first. Grin perhaps,
then maybe count. They’re sat. You’re up.
You see the scene they don’t. Tables
sometimes full, sometimes threes or pairs,
all holding versions of a basic type.
Together, but alone. Addressing,
sliding, pressing, peering or enlarging,
in desperate need to validate themselves.
Survivors of the days of empty hands
will tell us that they had no cause for that.

March 22, 2023

editors note: Too short for a eulogy, too long for an epitaph. (We welcome David to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Zoo by Anthony Ward

Slender is the sight
as the ani-males
prowl and scowl
with the sounder of boars
brooding bevvied vixens
skulking to get the grist
Of larking exaltation
mixing drinks in a cocktail of osculation
re-cooperating in the curio-city
where stags roam about the beautiful landscape
in the hormonal carnal circus
where the naked streets
wear many guises

Taxi cabs flurry
like mustard past cafeterias
with striking neons
that blaze amidst haze
of amazing dystopia
in utopia
of magnification
the entomology
the etymology
of communication

March 21, 2023

editors note: A narrow view of the daily slew; bug buggered, too. – mh clay

INK OF A BIRDSONG by Sanket Mhatre

Listen –
To the sound of blood when leaves are still
To the tomb of a thousand sighs and a million lasting screams
To the warm noises of the city implanted in your cortex

Separate –
The strands of chaos from your DNA
The debris of impossibility under your eyelids

Pluck –
the fear that sits on the underside of your heart

under the sewage of decibels
beyond the dermis of uncertainty
etched deep in your corpuscles
pulsating at the core of your atom
Is a story, song-faced
A trembling prayer of the first tadpole
that echoes through the Milky Way
written long before the papyrus was discovered
in the ink of a bird song

March 20, 2023

editors note: The fiction we find in a feather. – mh clay

Carrowbeg In Winter by Karen Lawler

The river moves with steady hum
Turf, dry and sweet, imbues the air
We sit among leafless trees
shrouded in white fairy lights
Daisy chains of tiny beams
A blur of faces pass in waves
with gifts for loved ones who
do not hear ‘Love’ enough

Lennon sings about
the end of war
as crowds shy from
a weathered man,
Fear and sympathy
beneath their masks

Footsteps tap in cadence
while crossing ancient stone
coaxing every drop
The river, never rushed,
finds its own rhythm

March 19, 2023

editors note: Riverside merriment, masked and guarded. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you’re lookin’ to be a passenger on a trip down memory lane, Years and Yearbooks by Contributing Writer Thomas Elson is your first-class ticket.

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

True love can be here, but there are moments in the past where it’s a burning sun that always blinds us.

Here’s a snapshot of this nostalgic tale:

“Youth” by Tyler Malone

They took no classes together, and after that first year, never attended the same school, but somewhere, inside the scattered years of their lives, there were yearbooks.

He drives slowly, much slower than he used to, even more slowly today, through the empty school parking lot for the first time in fifty-eight years. Windows not yet boarded. Walls not yet graffitied.

His cane balances an unsteady walk as he inches toward his youth. His raised left hand shields his eyes from the sun’s reflection, then steadies him against the window as he searches for two adjoining lockers—where she had slammed her locker door and when it hit the side of his head, he looked at her for the first time…

Get the rest of this recollection right here!


Mask up, social distance & check out our latest featured read, Stand Here by Robert Walicki!

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

“New ways of passing just to have the same end to a story that so many share. But we all have the same end of our story if it’s told long enough.”

Here’s a tease of this viral tale:

“Bring ’em” by Tyler Malone

It was one of those days when I forgot everything and had to leave the store because I forgot a mask. So there I was, sitting in my car, rain pelting my windshield as I poked holes in a bandanna with a pen cap to thread bakery string through them to make a half ass mask.

I was only going to be in there for a few minutes.

The mother’s day card section looked like it was driven over with a bulldozer, with only a few pathetic sons and daughters picking through the crash site for passable cards.

I didn’t even think about grabbing toilet paper. A place like this, you’d be lucky to find a dented can of SpaghettiOs or a bag of hot dog buns that looked like they were used for a stress ball.

I was in a bad mood, but so was everyone else. I could tell by all of the sagging masks below people’s noses and everyone rushing around, because they just wanted to get the hell out of there…

If you feel the read contagion spreading, get the whole case 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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