The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.06.24

by January 7, 2024 0 comments

Nothing happens unless first we dream.

Carl Sandburg

Sometimes it feels like a dream. At other times it feels like it was just last year… or even 10 years ago… but in reality it has been 25 years since Cheyenne Gallion, Lisa Carmen & I were sitting around in a cozy living room on a cold January eve in east Dallas, feelin’ all kinds of madness swirlin’ around us, when the dream to start a zine sneaked its way into the conversation. The dream back in 1999 was to showcase the mad ones who colored our swirlin’ local circles. The dream now in 2024 is to… yep, showcase the mad ones who color not only our local but also the whole swirlin’ world. The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Personally, the experiences and growth as an artist, poet, writer, and editor since this creative outlet was born have been invaluable. I am proud beyond words to have been a part of the whole mad swirl thru all these evolving years.

Huge THANKS to all who have contributed their creative wares to us thru these past 25 years. Without all of our contributing artists, poets, writers & performers, we’d be nothing but a blank page & an empty stage.

Even huger THANKS to the editorial staff who has joined us since 1999… MH Clay (Poetry Ed), Tyler Malone (Short Story Ed) & Madelyn Olson (Visual Ed). Without their guidance & fine eye for the divine creative madness, the bar never would have been raised to the level it is today.

Now, who’s with us for the next 25?!

Mad Love,
Johnny O (Chief Ed)

P.S. On this quarter century anniversary, we’ve digitized these back issues for your trip down memory lane: 1999-2008

••• The Mad Gallery •••

RES-IPSA-LOQUITUR ~ Colleen Boueil

To see all of Colleen’s photography, as well as our other resident artists (60 and counting!) take a virtual stroll thru Mad Swirl’s Mad Gallery!

••• The Poetry Forum •••

This last week on Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum… we actions rated, contemplated; we made sure their notions, while fresh out of potion; we learned the trick of guilt-free sick; we rued our affliction of smart phone addiction; we chilled in the glow of hot summer snow. We weathered together our words and whatever. ~ MH Clay

BELIEF by Ken Poyner

The weatherman tells us snow
Is coming, but none of us believe him.
It is July. We have come into this bar
To outrun the heat, cool down
With a cold beer. Thunderstorms,
Perhaps. A clatter of unexpected hail.
A flurry of rain hitting so hard
The ground will not take it in:
It collects and rushes for the drains.
An hour later, the crowd is pretty much
The same. The local weather is back
On the television above the bar, given by
The same weatherman. The bar door opens.
Buck naked and beginning to drip,
In walks the snow. On the screen
The weatherman tips forward and smiles.
“See,” is all he says.

January 6, 2024

editors note: Six months from now, we’ll be ready to believe this. (We welcome Ken to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

Tapped by Anthony Ward

I’ve witnessed reality become science fiction,
The mobile phone become an addiction,
People altogether dependant on it
Unable to get up,
Or fall asleep,
Feeling they can’t function without it,
Using it as a pick me up,
To get their fix,
Stressed out on the tube,
Their arms flexed towards their faces,
Retinas embossed with images
Ingrained in their subconscious,
Perplexed like living lampposts,
Half human hiding away into hoods
Anxious about their battery dying,
Not knowing how they’ll get to where they’re going,
Or get back
Afraid they might lose it
Their fingers tapping frantically,
Feeling dischargement,
Longing to be plugged in
Children cut from the cords of their mother-
Bored out of their minds at the bold reality
Of what the world was like before
I tapped this out on my phone.

January 5, 2024

editors note: Trying to tap in before we’re tapped out. – mhclay

Sick Day by Lisa Moak

Sneezing, wheezing,
give me a day
and I’ll recover.

Turn off the news
pull the covers overhead,
for 24 hours,
can the world stop for me?

Exhausted from negativity,
I can’t take any more,
I feel a cold coming on,
can I have a day?

But the world never stops,
not for illness,
not for joy,
not for death.

Seconds tick on,
minutes go by
it’s easy to
be left behind.

But, just today
give me tea
and soup,
feed me slowly.

Let my strength
come back
before you open
the windows

and let the world back in.

January 4, 2024

editors note: It’s now the season when we all need a day like this. – mh clay

Embracing the Moment by Ivan Jenson

You drag your worn-out
self across the dust past
the unfinished journals
and unread books
towards a crack of light
leading to the room where
everyone is drinking and dancing
without an inkling or a notion
that you are fresh out of your
secret magical potion
the one that has kept you
tricking everyone into
believing your type of hype
and now as you return
to the party in full swing
it is clear you are tired
of going on pretending
that this isn’t the beginning
of the ending
and then someone
gives you a heartfelt hug
and an ice cold beer
and you feel grateful
to have arrived at
a time called now
and a place called here

January 3, 2024

editors note: Though here is there and now is then, hype is omnipresent. – mh clay

Time by Patrick Sweeney

time enough to contemplate the greatest possible misfortunes

January 2, 2024

editors note: Use it forward or back; a whole new year awaits. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

We hate to bug you today but Your Source of Protein? by Contributing Writer & Poet Randall Rogers just “mite” be a read you need!

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

Life is a banquet, but most poor suckers are starving to death!

Here’s a tease to get you buzzin’:

Devour a Dump ~ Tyler Malone

The man came in almost unnoticed. He was dressed as the other waiters so I didn’t notice him. Yet in no time he was hovering over my plate. “Gnats, sir,” he whispered in my ear. Before I could stop him, he proceeded to seed my red snapper Vera Cruz with more than a light dusting of the little buggers.

Black dot-like flying creatures. The waiter, for that is what he wished me to believe he was, opened a tallish cylinder. He proceeded to pour from the cylinder forty to fifty of the flying, hopping winged black devils all over my beautiful red snapper. Yes, that’s Snapper Vera Cruz, the Mexican fish culinary creation featuring green olives, peppers, tomato, and onion, in a spicy sauce. And now the tiny black devils were invading my food.

They landed on the fish. Hopped and flew among the olives. Were drowned in the tomato sauce and oil. One lusty young gnat, perched on a particularly luscious and jutting green jalapeño slice, licked his chops. Dang it, that gnat was laughing at me! I’d had enough…

Get the whole bug infested meal right here.


If you’re craving a story then Night Nibblers by Contributing Writer & Poet Lisa Moak is sure to whet your appetite!

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

What’s more real and what eats at you more than a guilty conscience? Nothing except our imagination. But sometimes that’s not even real.

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

Quick Bite ~ Tyler Malone

My mind, unlike my body, remains intact. I remember exactly how this all started, after a night of gaming. Mortal Kombat to be exact. It sounds cliché but Ma lives in the house overhead and lets me stay in the basement. Temporarily. The girlfriend kicked me out and I had no place to go and no money since I lost my job. Walmart—fired me a few months ago. The one by the new shopping center in town. Fired for being lazy. The girlfriend had a list of reasons for kicking me out. Lazy was not one of them. Ma said I could stay until I get back on my feet, but now I don’t have feet.

Ma made it clear that there were rules in her house when I showed up at her door. I’m sure she and Sally—the girlfriend, were scheming against me the whole time. Ma told me “You’re a grown-ass-34-year-old-man. For Pete’s sake, get a job!” Then she shuffled off to work the desk at Motel 6. The one off of I-9.

“And keep the basement clean! You remember what I told you about night nibblers!” she said…

Mama knows best! Find out exactly what she was jawing about right here.

••• Open Mic •••

If you joined Mad Swirl Open Mic this past 1st Wednesday of January (aka 01.03.24) at our OC home, Barbara’s Pavillion, to swirlabrate not only the ringing in of the new year (YES!) but also our 25th year of Mad Swirl’n (YES!) and witness whirl’n up the Swirl and getting the Mad mic opened for all you Mad ones out there!

Thanks 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)

Open Mic:
Opalina Salas
Josh Weir
David Crandall
Suza Kanon
Carlos Salas
Alan Gann
Desmene Statum
Harry Mcnabb

Joasquin Zihuatanejo
Gno Gno
Brian Duran-Fuentes
Ava Lane
C-Mack 7
Dick Zinnendorf

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 when we celebrate l♥ve with our feature Suza Kanon… ’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…


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…

Dreamin’ On & On & On &…

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

Leave a Reply