The Best of Mad Swirl : 08.12.23

by August 13, 2023 0 comments

It is with words as with sunbeams – the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn

Robert Southey

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Other Planet” ~ Thomas Riesner

To see all 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 checked the scene with Charlie Sheen; we got a mouthful of fun in the hot, southern sun; we found sad bliss in a lover missed; we tried to stay with what got away; we loosed the keep of dragon sleep; we fired a hell to story tell; we questions sung like flies on dung. And we’ll do it again, by gum! ~ MH Clay

Fly by Guest Poet Jada Yee

Whenever we ask why
filthy raisins pronounce their outcry,
miming musicality with a lungful of wings
competitive drone, murmuring haze

the twitchy heads, the rubbing feet
coffee corn clamor in our chewing jaws,
stammered by a sea salt crunch
gritty flakes of dried deli ham

they deflect us with peripheral sight
evasion from the swatter
the cause for social disaster…

but look how our focus is shaken
by one or more of these black beads
how our sense of urgency is heightened
by their amplified presence
while discerning how to kill it,
we lose our current fears
if only for a short time,
we learn to let go.

When thoughts begin to thicken
flies simply arrive on time.

August 12, 2023

editors note: A roundabout request for good repellent, or a case for not leaving the garbage out too long? – mh clay

The Goddess of Sabotage by Neile Graham

It wasn’t real but it was true. The story I told.
Sea wind making the trees bow down, but not
to me. Between two cedars I make a door.
Open it. Walk through. It’s how I leave, exit

by exit by inciting an alternate ending.
Breaking away. What never happened
always happens. The world and its cruelties.
Out in the forest a spark in the big wide world,

in the small bones of my house. My roof
against the rain. Wall by wall against
the wild sea wind and the myth I create of it.
Falling down under the weight of the moss.

It’s how I create myself how rot by rot
by rote by paying the price which should
have been enough. Whatever I build falling
down. Erasing myself into legend, into a story

I never lived but live again. Dried bits of grain
chaff by chaff and I chafe at it. It was supposed
to be quick and easy. Myths have always been
the best part, pebbles I toss into the ocean, throw

by throw in the throes of passion, or something
like. Don’t mind me, I was only saying my life, word
by word, tale by tale with talons. Hoarding stones.
Counting stories courting the trees, fir by fir by fire.

August 11, 2023

editors note: A steadfast stand to make a story stick. – mh clay

Hometown Anthem by Christopher Calle

melting dragon
on his gray mat
under the crying sun
gravity leaves the universe once more
wailing despair for the angel to fulfill God’s promise
any sign
on their glowing screens
we yearn for them
to return from the fields of rectangle grasses
filleted angle curbs
round out the king’s tongue
without hostility
but for the contemptible dragon
mamushi and hornets
black, silver and copper
next come wolves
howling at the golden moon
and the panther goes down
through the hole in geography
to the house of the dragon
sailboat in styx
into the rotating magnet
into the fabric of time
another dusty patch
another sleeping dragon
another lamb
another hopeful laugh
under the crying son
a lantern lights the path
calling them home for dinner
gravity comes in waves

August 10, 2023

editors note: We would wave back, attempt to resist the pull. – mh clay

part of the human condition by J.J. Campbell

the ones that got away
stay with you the longest

the ones that left scars
are close to the heart
but not for the reason
you think

the ones that love you

unless that love is so
damn strong that the
bond can never be

they are tossed aside
like old magazines

part of the human
condition is learning
we are disposable

trash polluting the earth

an endless cycle that all
of us know how to fix

yet we just don’t have
it in us

August 9, 2023

editors note: Maybe we keep cycling so we can find it and fix it. – mh clay

Gone by Guest Poet Lynda Baker

In the moments
midway between
waking and sleeping
consciousness arousing
my still tranquil mind
You are with me.

Dancing together
holding each other
safe behind my tightly
veiled eyelids

But all too soon
the fragile threads
weaving my dreams
flicker and begin to fade

I fight to keep you,
for a minute
one second longer
before I awake
and morning tells me
that you’re still gone…

August 8, 2023

editors note: A bitter bliss. – mh clay

The South Always Rises by Ian Mullins

Cassandra Wilson/Belly Of The Sun

firing brimstone,
subtle as dozing thunder
drifting down the delta,
lightning lighting up
veins in the sky
and blues in her eyes,

the hot pulse of the south
sliding through the songs
like a knife through skin,
a hot poker through butter

hot as a tamale steaming
in the sun
waiting for her to spit it out
and have done with the south,
enough of the blues;

until next time
they come calling; and she’ll smile
and let ‘em in

August 7, 2023

editors note: Can’t say no when a Southern yes comes knocking. – mh clay



Spoken word

The Nuyorican Cafe


The 1990’s


Like Maggie Estep
And Patricia Smith
Jello Biafra & Henry Rollins

All present
All writing

And spreading
The word

Against a system
Against Republicans
And Presidents

Who tried to
Take our rights
And wage wars


Spoken word

The Nuyorican Cafe


The 1990s


Even Charlie Sheen
Was a poet back then

And if you write
If you are brave enough
To speak your mind?

Then you could
Be one too

Just like
Charlie Sheen

August 6, 2023

editors note: Winning! – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you’re dying for a read, dig into Preservation by Michael Kozart!

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

Gotta get busy because life is already busy and making certain you’re dead.

Here’s how this story passes:

“Words of Death” by Tyler Malone

On the whiteboard, using an erasable Sharpie, Lewis replaces the Science of Embalming with The Business of Mortuary Practice. He calls for a ten-minute break before the next lesson, his feet swollen in tight shoes. Students glide out of the hall and Lewis sits by a table beaming his laser pointer on the ceiling: it has failed on several occasions. He must replace the batteries. Always pays to be prepared. He unwraps a cellophaned cake donut and dusts lecture notes with powdered sugar. A woman with the scent of patchouli creeps forward.

“Shawana,” she introduces herself.

Lewis wipes his mouth with a monogramed hanky. “How can I be of service?”

Her hair is frizzy. She wears a purple corduroy jumper with matching knee socks. “According to Vanity Fair, Americans favor woodland burial in record numbers. Will you be covering that technique?”

With a stricken look, Lewis explains the limits of time. “Towards the end, I offer a twenty-minute module on creative internment.” He gulps water from a plastic bottle. “You may have heard about the decedent riding his Harley in a glass crypt, in Ohio.”

“Let’s talk after class.”

She sounds like the one teaching, he thinks, but he agrees. He has no plans, and it’s invigorating to speak with someone interested in the art of perpetuity, as he calls it…

Find out how this one finally exits right here!


If you’re lookin’ to punch out of the grind for a quick spell, Retirement Ceremony by Niles Reddick is sure to be a perfect break from the ol 9 to 5.

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

Get out! Get out of anything while you still can.

Here’s how this tale one checks out:

“Working hard? Working on it.” by Tyler Malone

We planned the retirement celebration for 10:30 in the morning before lunch on Thursday to have the largest number of employees. Too many took off on Thursday at lunch, if they had expendable leave, and didn’t return until Monday; had we selected another day and time, many would still grumble because that’s what they did. The grumblers had been the children who at six years of age in school whispered back and forth how stupid their teachers were, like their parents and their parents before them back through time. Their ancestors survived dinosaurs, floods, and famines, not because they were smarter, but because they’d been good at follow the leader…

Dig on into the rest of this office-cial tale 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…

Beam’n & Burn’n…

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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