The Best of Mad Swirl : 10.07.23

by October 8, 2023 0 comments

Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.

Frank Herbert

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Seeing Past Our Imperfections (Monochrome) ~ Andrea Damic

To see all Andrea’s whimsically dark works, 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 lit our keep to swallow sleep; we met the girl with a sticker world; we beat defeat by winter wheat; we selves estranged as mad deranged; we lost a toss as lover lost; we sad sank with a star manque; we skipped our sobriety, dead poets society. We make words, they make life and won’t die. ~ MH Clay

Haiku Obits by Tohm Bakelas


richard brautigan
and the forty-four magnum—
“messy, isn’t it?”


weldon kees at
the golden gate bridge—
“i may go to mexico. to stay.”


steve richmond, sober,
dying alone in hospice—
no more gagaku


joe bolton—becky’s bed
“i want you to see this…”
the last nostalgia


everette maddox— maple
leaf bar— I hope it’s not
over, and good-by

October 7, 2023

editors note: Poets gone but not forgotten. – mh clay

MUSSO & FRANK by Brian Wood

Fame the one drug you don’t recover from,
Since you seek no cure. In Hollywood once,
My wife and I had to change plans to see
Old friends; the sidewalks were jammed mile after
Sweaty mile of folks insane, for one glimpse
Of any star. (That night was a big night–
The world premiere of Too Many Sequels.)

And fame must shift something inside you, make
A thirst without quenching. On that same trip
We met a star manque, who took us for steaks
At a place right by Hollywood Boulevard.
This man had once been on par with Johnny,
Merv, and Groucho: one phone call always meant
The best table, no matter the hour.

Except now he was any tourist, from
Any town, and tonight’s table was right
By the can. He minded that, and the staff
Not caring, he minded more. To distract
Himself he gave us, unsought, reviews of
Current tv, music, cinema. It
All stank. Sic Transit Gloria Tonight Show.

Part of my wife feels a tender pity
For the famous, and the once famous, so
She arranged for some strangers to drop by
And be thunderstruck. ‘Are you X?!?!!! Could we
Get pictures??? How about an autograph?’
He obliged each one, carefully signing
His name to that night’s late dinner specials.

We had seen his fake smile all night; now we
Saw the real one. And the former knew not
The latter. He was a changed man now, as
If he wandered again in arcadia.
Say this for thirsts that cannot be quenched; when
There is rain in the desert, beauty blooms,
And if only briefly, then how brightly.

October 6, 2023

editors note: Not who you are but where you are seen makes great. – mh clay

Augur by Timothy Pilgrim

Her gaze searches crowd,
finds him, drops shy — town picnic,
pre-fireworks sky. He’s the lover now,
not me, I surmise, somehow endure
the technicolored night. She doesn’t see
me see hot memories rise
bring brightness to her eyes.
Love lasts seven years,
then expires, she said back then,
confession punctuated by fiery kiss.
I believed myself to have undone
any denouement, doused finale,
extinguished the inevitable end.
Only to augur it yet again.

October 5, 2023

editors note: Before you knew enough to know better. – mh clay

MADNESS IS EVERYWHERE by Bradford Middleton

Madness is everywhere in this town
And has come to take down this life, this
Never-ending series of
Being beaten down by those who love
To just show it off deluding themselves into
Convincing anyone they’re interesting
When we all know they most certainly
Are not. I see them everywhere in this
Lunatic asylum of a town and each time
It just makes me laugh; the woman
Who does her daily work-out, in leotard
& leggings, in the quiet room of the IT
Centre as I sit doing some of my own
Work, my own creeping madness as I
Send words into the literary establishment;
Or the campest karaoke king who struts
His thing from his job at the job centre &
Down on through the Saint James’s Street
Singing his heart out for everyone to
Hear and it’s never ever anything any good.

The truly mad ones, the ones that Kerouac
Dreamed of knowing, walk out of work and
Have shoes thrown at them by a homeless woman
Who they’re convinced is stalking them as she is
Forever turning up in all his old
Places where she’ll do nothing but scowl at him
Before he gets her thrown out. But eventually
The madness of the night, the madness of the
Street outside, will get to me and I’ll just be
Driven off home, back to my prison where I can
Let my guard drop if I want to as I continue on
This relentless pursuit of a total derangement,
Just like young dead Arthur had told, here lies
The path to infinite wisdom…

October 4, 2023

editors note: His town, my town, your town, too. We’re all mad here. – mh clay

John Deere purgatory by Preacher Allgood

you were always different
always looking for something
always running toward something you couldn’t define
and then you ran into the winter wheat harvest

three months and a thousand miles of sweat and grease
three states and a shimmering ocean of amber
a John Deere purgatory for misfits and mal-adaptive souls
an International Harvester bardo for run-aways and rejects
endless big talk about pussy and rodeo buckles
suffocating b.o. and pitiful bad jokes
never enough hot sauce for the shitty grub

eighteen-hour days under a heartless heathen sun
blown head gaskets and bent slats and bad bone weariness
blisters and muscle cramps and a constant itch from the chaff
and never enough time or quiet to collect your thoughts

but then by the time you hit the Nebraska state line
any thought you ever held has disappeared in the thick dust

October 3, 2023

editors note: Definitely not for the gluten intolerant. – mh clay

The little girl hidden inside of me decorates everything with stickers by Guest Poet Cortlyn Blankenbaker

She doesn’t save a single sheet
“These are all the things I love most”
She says.

Showing me her walls
She tells me the names of each one
In no particular order
“This is my home. And these are my friends”
She says.

“Aren’t you worried it’s too much”
I ask

She takes a glance at me
Hiding behind welling eyes
She says, her voice cracking

“Why would it be too much?”
“These are my friends”
“Do you think they think so too?”

October 2, 2023

editors note: Let your little girl be. She’s fine! – mh clay


By day, we’re mere dust
but, come darkness,
the past grows in us.

We relearn what we have done,
why we’re strangers in heaven
but our names are known in hell.

In light, we pause.
At night, we arise,
become our life stories.

We are not avengers.
Nor are we a warning.

We float across the room.
We stretch our bodies
and our mouths open wide.

Our words are nothing more
than what you can’t help thinking.

October 1, 2023

editors note: Drown out that din; think a “la, la, la” to lull yourself to sleep. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you seek a peek into the future perhaps A Second Cerebral Cortex by Contributing Writer & Poet Jeff Grimshaw is the glimpse you need.

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

Attention, attention! We all need attention! Attention, please. Plz!

Here’s a sneak-peek to reveal what’s in store:

Beautiful Things Don’t Ask ~ Tyler Malone

It was a choice between a new bike and a second cerebral cortex. The first cerebral cortex was getting a tad fuzzy, she was definitely in need of an upgrade, but there was no denying that this was one sweet bike. Thirty-two gears! So, Lindsey took it for a spin. Felt like the chain was a little loose. As she coasted back into the bike shop, a cool breeze blew off the bay and dried out her cotton blouse. “So,” she said. “How do I take the new CC for a test drive?”

“Just slip it on,” said Ryan Bendix. It appeared to be a teal windbreaker with almost subliminal bright yellow trim. “And technically it’s not new, it’s ‘previously owned,’ as we like to say.” He winked at his bicycle tech, Omar, who smiled. Lindsey smiled too, and Ryan held the windbreaker open for her.

“Not crazy about this shade of blue,” said she.

“Teal,” said Ryan Bendix. She took one of the little paper cups of wine on the countertop while he adjusted the hem of the windbreaker. “What are your thoughts?”

“This would look good with big eighties hair,” she declared.

“Maybe,” said Ryan. A small cube of cheese found its way into his mouth, then a sip of wine with a somewhat ominous terroir. Hoboken? he mused. The sound of pocket zippers zipping and unzipping. Lindsey shifted her weight from one foot to the other.

“Another thought?” she said, “Perhaps a second cortex and a new bike? If you tighten that chain?”

“Tighten the chain,” murmured Ryan, who was reading Lindsey’s credit report on a screen designed to pass for a water bottle. He was uneasy about the amount of debt she carried but there was no denying she would look incredible with big hair. Three minutes later Omar was greasing the newly-installed, (slightly) shorter chain. Five minutes later, Ryan and Lindsey were having lunch at the Magic Mushroom…

Try on the whole tale right here!

••• Open Mic •••

If you joined Mad Swirl Open Mic this past 1st Wednesday of October (aka 10.04.23) at our OC home, Barbara’s Pavillion, then you know that once again whirl’d up the Swirl and got the Mad mic opened for all you Mad ones out there!

This month we premiered Rob Dyer’s Bloodstones. A handful of poets who knew & loved Rob read from this final collection of his work:

Johnny O
MH Clay
Carlos Salas
Opalina Salas
Desmene Statum
Paul Koniecki

After the feature set we opened up the mic to ALL the participators & appreciators who rode the Mad wave live at Barbara’s:

Johnny O
MH Clay

Musical Overture:
Swirve (Chris & Tamitha Curiel, Gerard Bendiks w/special guest Ed McMahon)

Open Mic:
Alan Gann
Opalina Salas
Dean Hutcheson
Rachel Johnson
Desmene Statum
Harry McNabb
Carlos Salas
Susan Duval
Paul Koniecki
My Sasser
Josh Weir

We know you have a few choices of what to do with your Wednesday night & you picked to hang out with lil ol’ us!

Stay tuned ’til next 1st Wednesday… ’til then, may the madness swirl your way!

Johnny O

P.S. In case you missed the LIVE feed, your eye can spy on the whole virtual Swirl’n scenes right here…

••• Mad Swirl Press •••

Bloodstones is a collection of Rob’s poems as they were presented over his ten years with us as a Contributing Poet and provided post-humously by “Novelist/Difficult Woman/Rob’s Almost Wife,” Amy Conner.

In memory of Rob Dyer, Bloodstones is available here, this collection is his legacy of sacred stories, told in whispers, revealed in roars. Read them all. He wrote them for you…


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…

Wakin’ up…

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

Leave a Reply