The Best of Mad Swirl : 09.02.23

by on September 3, 2023 :: 0 comments

The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world.

Malcolm Gladwell

••• The Mad Gallery •••

“Taking (1)” ~ 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 braced to pace while stuck in the race; we berefted left to spite right; we sat way back from the howlin’ pack; we saw stars die through wolven eyes; we wrecked the wild like the devil’s child; we pulled the rug ‘neath the litterbug; we tightened our grip on white ownership. All these things we think we own yet naked exit all alone. Say what? ~ MH Clay

All My Dad Will Leave Behind Are Bullets by Tyler Malone

HOWDY, Y’ALL! welcome mat and
WE DON’T DIAL 9-1-1 tin six-shooter.

The world ends repeatedly by a Baptist
God bless you! shout no one wants to talk back—
a gunshot.

Full bloom loving bullets in organs hunting for a heart
as cold triggers pass down in a last name
belonging to the greenest side of the neighborhood fence.

Red letter gun powder fingers twist numberless knobs
to bring air-conditioned comfort from open windows.

99 degree days stay longer than love as 99 bullets dwindle
bored on the prowl for bodies, ring fingers on pistol grips.
Walnut butts wear steel only in hopes it’s seen as true love.

No wife kisses him in a king’s bed one deadbolt away from
wet Bandera de México boots out of rolled Chevy windows
parked as close to transplanted tree gray shade as noon allows.

Good work on the crape myrtles, amigos!
But we won’t be waiting for magnolias.

Don’t mumble language but my own. Remember
who you don’t live next door to. Hands off
the trees we don’t grow. Don’t dare
date our daughters.

Tacked on god-given rights aim to protect Jesus’s good grace but
offer no prayers children grow free an adult’s torture instruments.
Don’t speak. Don’t vote. Don’t shop. Don’t take root in our dirt.

Break your body to build heartland backyard Baptismal waters
through buried secret pets, dismal grave plot rose beds.
Screen doors lock out questions.

Whose earth is this earth? My Earth, my welcome mat,
the grown good side of Genesis before wilt burned rot
and foretold plagued white boy border wars across town.

There’s flowered forested Hell out there,
it’s not y‘all but you all who don’t know
how blessed I am Eden was planted for me
and grew for you to see.

September 2, 2023

editors note: Border policy propounded by a purist. – mh clay

An Earthly Climate by Guest Poet Dale Cottingham

Part was the glide, part the silly dustup
on the square, the stench that pervaded the pup.
Part the smoothness, part the cutting satire of late-night TV,
the overweight local police. If I came to see
that I lived in a dream, OK, and if I lived in real time
all the time, then OK too. For in this clime
the great parade flooded from lowlands up to the crest
and everyone thought their voice was grand, the loveliest.
Even homeless at intersections held signs
saying they’d work for food, giving salutations divine.
Brick walls in old downtowns or open-air parks
that we looked on, were used for art.
In short, citizens were told they were free,
and they took it to heart, believed it to be.
On cruise ships casinos never shut, as if there was always sun.
Parents dropping kids at daycare said, Be good, but have fun.
We got good at making it up as we went along,
everyone humming, singing a catchy song.
As I look from my porch at all the debris,
one thing came: why were we so blind, did not see?
One minute we were committed to make ourselves small,
and the next we were cowboys roaming the hall.

It happens like this: the pile of trash we leave
is a measure of us, of what we believe.
And as our emissions, as in countless sins, continue to mount,
the earth like a god will bring us to account.

September 1, 2023

editors note: When accounting comes, we may be too poor to pay. There ain’t no cooking these books. – mh clay

Hellstorm by Robert L. Martin

The heavy pounding, the brutal thrashing,
The wild strength from the bowels of the earth,
The blackened clouds that swirl and laugh,
The hell that dwells inside Mother Nature,
The restlessness that dwells inside her groin,
The rage that festers in her other self,
The secret devil that plans its escape,
The child that breaks away and romps about,
His acts of demolition that grind the shores,
His playing with the ships and tossing them about,
His laughing as they smash against the rocks,
As he gazes at the twisted steel in the air
And smiles through his satanic lips as
Pleasure settles in the spirit like
The aftermath of the orgies at Sodom,
The triumph of the hungry beast
Over the innocent children
That tasted the shame of love
Before the godliness of it;
All this that lives inside the
Bestial body of Mother Nature
As she plots her revenge upon the
Calm of the glassy waters.

Mother Nature,
You are lovely
As you are treacherous,
Kind as you are evil,
Holy as you are satanic,
But yet a segment of
The divine plan of life
With that secret child
You unleash into the wild.

August 31, 2023

editors note: And we think we can tame this wild? (Robert has a new collection out, Mother of Life. Congratulations, Robert! You can get your copy here.) – mh clay

INSOMNIA by Patty Dickson Pieczka

Sounds tug at me,
a worm’s soft tunneling, riffle
of an underground spring.

Leaves tell ghost stories,
clouds gently bruising
each other in the breeze.

Beyond this, in a place
with no wind, where every color
feels like silver, and sound

crawls through the thickest time,
the last words of a dying star

in this voice of dust and diamonds,
this creaky moan.
This language I don’t understand

becomes part of everything,
dead or living,
the ability to see

through the eyes
of every owl and wolf,
to enter a sleepless

camper’s mind or scatter
stories over the lake
like reflected stars.

August 30, 2023

editors note: Not a sheep to count anywhere. – mh clay

Coyotes by Guest Poet Jim Bates

His brother points arbitrarily
“The coyotes come down from the hills at night to hunt.”
“Cool! I’d love to see them.”
“If we’re lucky maybe we will.”
They are sitting on the back patio watching a fiery sunset
The wind a gale during the day has abated now to a thankful calm
The two brothers become quiet listening
Suddenly the silence is broken
An etherical call pierces through the night
It’s soon followed by a wild howling
The rising up of a primeval lament high into the sky
Spreading out across the land
Echoing among the dark shadows of a long-forgotten time
Off to the left is a motion
One two three dark shapes loping
Heading down the nearby dry wash
Stepping daintily among flood cast pebbles and rocks
They are a pack and they are hunting
One brother smiles to the other
They don’t have to speak
Instead they watch as the coyotes drift into the night
A blink of an eye and they are gone
Only furtive tracks of their nighttime passing remain
Ghostlike and serene
A fleeting vision of wild wonder.

August 29, 2023

editors note: Wiley consumers, driven by no ad campaign. – mh clay

Empty Seat (a state of mind) by David Ratcliffe

My resolve broke down on the road to recovery
overheated and defeated,
murmuring on the cusp of deliverance
just beyond reach of resolution.

To this point I’d passed hidden signs,
forks in the road,
easy street to the left
providence to the right
always choosing the former.

The easy trail to find some peace
a fairground ride, high above confusion
swirling in a forever spin
laughing at those below
who’d shake fists and spit bile.

Opposite, an empty seat
a swinging endorsement
of lonesome smugness
teasing death,
knuckles white on the bar.

Another fork, another choice
to the left a festival
to the right responsibility
so, I’d head to see an addict
a legend drowning in the fear of performance
while among a frenzied crowd
a brotherhood
a sisterhood,
a family;
I’d envied their anticipation
as I stood there alone
in a field of mud.

Wearily I turned left again
to the barroom hustle
in pursuit of belonging
confidence sought in vessels of deceit
juggling words
something of interest
beyond a cliche
though would lose my thread
in the bottom of a glass.

Finally, to avoid completing the circle
I turned to the right
a rutted road that shook me into multiple parts
and left me deshelled
wiping mist from my rear-view
looking clearly at the damage left behind
with no passengers
Just me and the open road.

August 28, 2023

editors note: It’s a rough road to recovery. Sometimes a left isn’t right. – mh clay

Back and Forth by Irena Pasvinter

Back and forth,
Back and forth,
Like a tiger in a cage
Or maybe a lion —
Unable to stop,
Circled by the gaping crowd.
Back and forth,
Drowning anguish
In monotony of the movement.

Back and forth,
Back and forth
I pace in a cage.
The elevator is rising.
At least I’m alone.
Back and forth,
Unable to stop,
Ignoring the voice of wisdom.
Back and forth,
Drowning anguish
In monotony of the movement.

So, you never pace
Back and forth?
Good for you,
You haven’t been
In your cage yet.
Back and forth,
Unable to stop —
Nothing like
Drowning anguish
In monotony of the movement.

August 27, 2023

editors note: When no progress, movement must do. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Dig into the truth of Fidelity by Contributing Writer & Poet Chuck Taylor.

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

Good work doesn’t always translate to a good life, but it can be a good mindset, and that’s something.

Here’s a few clues to get you on your way:

“Savior” by Tyler Malone

Everyone in his department knew John wouldn’t get tenure because he smoked pot in his office.

John knew that too.

John was tall and thin and sported a beard and long hair  too radical for a college in West Texas. He told me once about waking up in the middle of the night and smelling gas all over their upper valley house. He had to open doors and windows and turn fans on for the rest of the night.

His plan, before he got fired, was to enroll in medical school in Juarez across the Rio Grande. Every year they always took a few Anglos.

John also knew his wife was diddling around with another professor. “We all want to have affairs,’ he told me quietly, as we sipped a few brews at the Kern Place Tavern. He seemed calm about it. “But few have the courage to do it,” he added…

Get to the bottom of this tale right here!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of September (aka 09.06.23) as we do the open mic voodoo that we do do at our OC home, BARBARA’S PAVILLION!

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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