The Best of Mad Swirl : 07.15.23

by on July 16, 2023 :: 0 comments

I try for a poetic language that says, This is who we are, where we have been, where we are. This is where we must go. And this is what we must do.

Mari Evans

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“human quake” ~ Edward Michael Supranowicz

To see all of Edward’s colorfully 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 recalled how it feels to be getting your wheels; we saw what be cat-astrophe; we caught a breath of dogs and death; we had to fight in a quite tame night; we went from reek to voice of creek; we cast a shadow far made by a million stars; we got some game on what’s in a name. Call us what you will… Really, call us. ~ MH Clay

An Official History of My Name by Phyllis Klein

– after “Wunderlich” by Mark Wunderlich

It comes from the Greek, for greenery.
Phyllis, ideal pastoral maiden
who dies of a broken heart, or suicide,
depending on the version of the story.
Gets turned into a tree. A Waterhouse painting,
in which she rises out of her almond trunk,
bare chested, fragile, with Demophon,
that lousy lover, looking up guiltily.
Unrequited love.
Bad endings, guilt.
Menopausal insomnia.
My name has been planted
on the North Pole, sung to sweethearts
with guitar accompaniment, flown in a banner
behind a small airplane.
Jewish mothers hovering.
Father like a Fang.
In the annals of my identity
it’s analogous to caregiver,
tenacious healer,
determination with a bruxism problem.
Also attachment problems.
Sex just off a hiking trail.
Fear of quintessential varieties:
shut-downs, thermostats, ceilings,
terror of rent past due lugged around in a sack
labeled worry. Husks where youth once was.
My name, also known as Phillida or Phylicia
and Phyllisity, a special poetry name
a teenage prodigy in a wheelchair gifted
me on his way to somewhere
else. Only Perie calls me by this name
which means it’s a secret.
Phyllis, popular from 1916 to 1958
when it nosedived into virtual obscurity,
now an old-lady’s name.
And what does it mean that the two most famous
Phyllis’ are Diller and Schlafly?
Impossible to feel good about that.
Also, impossible to spell the plural.
Sometimes I say it out loud to myself.
My version is dressed up, jeweled, closets
hunched around crowded fabrics, felted
pouches of gold and silver landslides.
Paper-thin hair that lost its curl. Shopping
trips to bargain basements, sagging racks of lace
shirts, endearing dresses size extra small.
It wears fake tattoos, hidden, to ward off
further skin cancers. Yearning, as in
I want an electric car. As in, I want to
be called Kwame, or Crystal,
Louisa or Jacqueline or Destiny Birdsong.
As in, I want hair like Marie’s.
It’s the reach for something better, the climb
hand over hand, as if on a ladder of myself,
footsteps, footprints everywhere.

July 15, 2023

editors note: “What’s in a name?” you ask? (We welcome Phyllis to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.)- mh clay

A MILLION STARS by Roger G. Singer

he was born to
turn the other way

cloudy eyes
stormy hair
half smile
angels have
outlawed him

his shrine
is the ghosts
yet to be

he follows
stone walls
and great trees
stepping into
the shadows
where he
appears thin

July 14, 2023

editors note: Whose haunts are we. – mh clay

the bag lady of boone by Jason Baldinger

black snake around her wrist
copperhead around her cane
she can appear anywhere
curiosity and superstition call her

she weaves tales of main street
ancient days framed in black and white
trysts with grandfather mountain flash
in the lightning of her eyes
she’s dreamed ursa
relegated her to the sky
stars are atoms escaped from bone

she feeds on energy
the consciousness of evening
takes all as she passes
leaves a stolen sweet white trillium
the smell of green apples
to waft in the air
then only the voice of creek remains

July 13, 2023

editors note: Give way, lest you be taken, too. – mh clay


I sling down a large double
And spark my goodness to life
And the tingle is sublime
The tingle tangle
Spingle spangle of my mind
Under the influence of
This powerful medication
As it intoxicates me to the point
Of distraction.

My eyes drift to my window
Peering out into the incoming
Darkness of night as my radio
Whines on with football talk
As my mind switches off
Maybe ready for some 50
Year old police drama TV greats
Which I’ve watched these last
Couple of nights.

I sit and swoon over the LA
Women of ’67 as Friday works
His way through the hippies
And the drunks and the mobsters
As I wonder how quick he would
Have got me. I’m glad I never
Lived in his drama TV time as
The sentences handed down
Always leave me appalled as
Some poor sucker gets ten years
For holding a quite tame night.

July 12, 2023

editors note: Tune in to your own live TV time – spingle spangle. – mh clay

As long as you’re living, you’re dying by Guest Poet Gale Acuff

says my Sunday School teacher, until you’re gone
for good and then she smiled, I’m not afraid
of dying but of that smile I sort of
am, like death itself’s alive but then like
she says everybody’s dying and that’s
life maybe you could say and I’ll say one
thing for her, she makes me think–when I try
to explain her attitude to my mutt
because I can’t really talk to my folks,
they think I’m highly imaginative
anyway, he lowers his head and grins
that grin and then tries to lick my face, which
means that he likes me and of course so does
death and damned if I’m not afraid of dogs.

July 11, 2023

editors note: And death will be the last dog we have. – mh clay

Cat by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

What do you want to do tonight?
he asked.

Go out
and fuck people up!
I answered.

You sound like my cat!
he said.

I am your cat!
I said.

July 10, 2023

editors note: Catastrophe from a catty remark. – mh clay

Wheeling by Guest Poet Soumik Kumar De

Finally, the sales agent
In sky blue shirt
Handed over to me the key
After I signed the cheque
And completed the full payment
They took a group photo
With our new member
My son was holding the giant key
My wife smiling as usual
And the priest broke the coconut
On the floor and sprinkled the holy water
Over the shining crimson body

I pushed the
Ignition key and turned it right side
My son clapped in joy
As he felt the machine in motion
And we took the highway
The closed windows
Barred the outside air
I looked at my son
Once more
His eyes were glowing
Just as my eyes had glowed
The day when I sat astride
On the back carrier
Of my father’s bicycle
On the day
He bought it second hand.

July 9, 2023

editors note: Our legacy; different wheels, same pride of ownership. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you’re cruising for a moving read, Road Kill by Frank Modica is sure to be your machine.

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

Hunger — the reminder of life near death, and that something always hungers for us, too.

Here’s a bit of the route to get you on your way:

“Life on the Road of Life” by Tyler Malone

I didn’t know much about the history of Holland, Michigan, when I made my first solo road trip to The Tulip City to visit Mike, my little brother. A yearly festival draws busloads of mostly senior citizens to the picturesque downtown and surrounding area, but I wasn’t making the trip to see the flowers or buy wooden shoes.

Mike and I had been close friends when we lived in Chicago, but we drifted apart after our family moved to the suburbs. In high school, he started hanging out with a rougher crowd, drinking, and getting in fights. He got suspended several times, something our father, an assistant principal in an inner-city school, could not tolerate.

I felt guilty about the break from my brother but didn’t make any effort to repair the breach for several years. When he called one fall weekend after I graduated from college and invited me to meet his new fiancé, I was surprised, but relieved that he’d made the first step.

Mike gave me general directions on how to drive there but I didn’t write them down. The route sounded easy to follow. I packed enough clothes and toiletries for a long weekend. Leaving my central Illinois home late in the afternoon, I drove down long stretches of Indiana and Michigan interstates. Taco Bell filled my stomach but not my soul. Road kill littered the sides of the rumble strips. Deer, possums, raccoons — those odors burned my nose for miles. My burrito wasn’t sitting well on my stomach…

Fill up on the rest “Road Kill” right here!


If you want something to do here, What Not To Do Here by Uzomah Ugwu just might be that something!

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

Sometimes we’re lucky enough to get what we want with no expectations, truths, or lingering smiles.

Here’s some of what not to do:

“Something Sweet” by Tyler Malone

The basement was soaked in the humidity of the summer night’s heat. At first, there was a gathering of young twenty-somethings there, carrying on like they were doing something. When all they were doing was what they had room to do which was standing next to the keg. The steps down to the basement sunk, so as she stepped down, she actually went lower than what she thought of herself. Her friends came with her, but soon she would find someone different, someone, new. A someone who would redefine what it meant to be a friend. He watched her; she did not notice how he had heard her every step into the basement. As she sat near the keg, one by one no one noticed as they got more beer. She understood this was normal; even though she traveled a hundred miles away everything was the same.

He came over and over and over again like her mind had played it before like an old movie in the VCR waiting to be played.

“Can I sit down?”

He did not wait for an answer; he positioned himself beside her and asked for nothing but to be with her.

“My name is Scott.”

Scott looked at her waiting for a response as she went into her shell, not knowing if this was real. A good-looking guy wanted to sit with her and be with her with all these other girls, including the ones she came with that always got the attention.

“You have a name, right?”

“Aury. My name is Aury.”

Aury gets settled into his eyes; they say things that would never be spoken to anyone…

Get the rest of what not to do… 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…

Doin’ what we do…

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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