The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.20.24

by January 21, 2024 0 comments

All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.

Federico Fellini

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Record Archive ~ Doug Mac

To see all of Doug’s colorfully grotesque cartoony scenes, 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 buzzed academia with mosquito anemia; we turned out in style for a town’s quarter mile; we partied harassed with time on our ass; we passed no pleas for the hierarchy; we Bible talked like Egyptians walk; we love-lost grief over old belief (she’s a thief); we dreamed of youth, though old in tooth. If it’s written, we’re smitten. ~ MH Clay


From the light of the lantern
I paint with shadows

A young woman from Kunming
A model from Tokyo

Loose and not dense
I do not need the details

Their flickering strokes
Open out into worlds

Dreams from a wild youth
They pull at the heart

These roads never taken
Can lead an old fool astray

January 20, 2024

editors note: At this age, astray is OK. – mh clay

That Dark Haired Girl You Dated by Guest Poet Sam Snider

I see you now and my heart flutters.
Memories of your long, rich hair sticks to my memory as they used to cling to my hoodies.
My bible sits idle; thoughts of you cross the cover,
the words within demand a personable truth from me.

We believed.
I stumbled into the youth room and you said ‘Hello’ in a way that made my arms numb.
Afterwards, we hung out.
We made out; in depth.

We worshiped together.
You showed me other spirits;
I showed you I could only believe on the simplest of levels.
You showed me dogma;
I showed you a schwag roach.

Two decades later we emerged from similar paths;
finding lovers and partners in the comely corners that addicts inhabit.

Known, albeit hidden, pain stayed on top of us,
like a summer storm on the horizon.
We didn’t escape the storms we were born into.

The ones that engrained faith in us,
were conditional lovers.
Casting our most precious commodity,
as their own to gain.

Now we are made to sympathize and empathize,
but we barely understand.
Thanks a lot, faith.

January 19, 2024

editors note: That first love hurts the hardest; hoped for, not seen. – mh clay

Bible by Milenko Županović

the sign of the cross
on top of the pyramid,
the arrival of the new God,
in the desert of the spirit,
the sphinx of death in tears,
the prayers of the apostles
of the new age,
the Bible in the hands of the pharaoh.

January 18, 2024

editors note: Holy appropriation, Tut-man! – mh clay

Many Appropriate Ways by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Dear ones, who aren’t friends or family members, rarely
Become rubricked among those counted acerose or entirely
Useless since they can figure theories of meaning, of balance.

There exist appropriate conduits along which to organize, plus
Follow lines of investigation on functional relationships (while
Individuals realize resistance to discerning attendant summaries.)

Contrast these possibilities with extant, hierarchical chauvinism
In boardrooms, bedrooms, or unnecessarily rigorous assignments,
Too, with callous pronouncements on the rich & famous’ lifestyles.

Folks fail to treat the ethical dimension of communication as significant.
So, fantasies of dungeons, of courts accelerating global politics, develop
Nimshals as rusty truths maneuver misunderstood by restricted audiences.

Ponder the possibilities regularly inherent once reframing hurtful discourse.
Weigh eliminating verbalized sexual, maybe racial, harassment & the wilful
Absence of considerable substance whether congested streets or old Phumdis.

Though giving unsubstantiated claims, clouding consciousness, also proffering
Brief infatuations with rhetorical greenwashing, talk might ring metatheoretical.
Else, the “fact” vs. “value” distinction stays controversial, gets lost amid bribes.

January 17, 2024

editors note: Watchwords by which you can watch yours. (Congrats to KJ on the release of her new collection of paintings and poetry, Subrogation. You can pick up your copy here.) – mh clay

Tailgate by Nolcha Fox

The hours crowd, they tailgate,
they long to reach their journey’s end.
Perhaps they think of party time,
to share some beers beneath the stars.
Give me some room, don’t make me rush,
I’ll reach oblivion all by myself.

January 16, 2024

editors note: We’d all savor a slower amble to the end. – mh clay

Fabulous Princess Trucks by Guest Poet Tony Brewer

On dainty neon wheels they glide
tractionless on skinny tires across
the gravel lot beside the grain elevator
Fairy godmother-conjured carriages
miraculously dirt-free & rolling coal
that could smell like jasmine

but it’s just good ol’ clean coal
& the air is thick with diesel clatter
Each coiffed manly royal steps
from their spotless 4×4 conveyance
ruggedly tousled & ready
for a night of quarter-mile cruising

Their love of ritual pageantry
The showcase of their art
just past sundown
like first stars at twilight
Their engine bays still grimy
motors running rich to smoke
& grumble haughtily
in contrast to the outer sheen

Old lady smokers fresh
from the beauty parlor bouffants
wrapped like custom fender flares
who never figured out how
to leave this town or why
when they own the humble runway
Tuesday nights right here

January 15, 2024

editors note: The small town drag that isn’t. – mh clay

Mosquitoes by Tony Huang

In the seventh building, those mosquitoes persist,
Never skipping a sweltering summer’s day.
From morn to dawn, their presence we can’t resist,
Their dominion spreads in every nook and bay.

Robust and sturdy, these mosquitoes thrive,
Their shared trait, a testament to their might.
Indoors, like in a greenhouse, they’re more than alive,
Their bloodthirsty nature, an endless appetite.

Having witnessed academia’s grand facade,
They’ve acquired the intellect’s subtle flair.
No ordinary buzz, their silence a charade,
Even engorged, they stay quiet, free of care.

Scholars’ influence, perhaps, has had its way,
Turning each mosquito into a disguise-wearing ace.
Introverted and sly, they vanish without delay,
Feasting on blood, yet calmly within high walls they embrace.

January 14, 2024

editors note: Even these are what they eat. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

What’s that aroma? Oh, must be City Smell by Contributing Writer Mehreen Ahmed!

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

Nostalgia gets into your bones, but it seeps in through the eyes, ears, and nose first. Then you become what doesn’t exist anymore.

Here’s a few sniffs to get your olfactory senses goin’:

Memory Blackhole ~ Tyler Malone

Dimly lit under the streetlamps in an old alley at midnight, a nostalgia wells up. A perceptible city smell tickles the nostrils in humidity fueled singed heat. Yeah, the lamps bestow light on the strays lying down on empty alleys—clean, and silent as the rains wash away any debris otherwise invisible to the naked eye, slants through the midnight streetlamp—dark, heavy, blue. To an ever-wakening and heightened sensory perception, a city sleeps, unhinged like exposed skeletons…

Tickles both of your nostrils right here.


If you’re looking for an account about a story thenA Cellar Tale by Contributing Writer N.T. Franklin is the read you need!

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

Always work to do, but there are always stories to tell.

Once upon a time this story starts like this:

Working Progress ~ Tyler Malone

Bobby was a born storyteller and loved an audience. Always had. The family reunion dinner would be the perfect place to perform. He stood up after grace and clinked his spoon against his raised water glass. The group quieted in anticipation.

“Before we start, I have a story to tell…”

“Picture a woman, in her seventies… Alone in the house, late at night,” he said in his best Rod Sterling imitation. “And she hears a noise in the cellar…” Bobby let the dramatic pause linger.

“There it is again. The same noise from the cellar. Her adult son will be home in an hour. But no, she can’t wait. Again, the noise.”

The guests around the dinner table leaned forward.

“Armed only with a flashlight, she sneaks down the creaky steps.”

“Bobby! Stop it,” his mother pleads.

“No Mom, this story needs to be told.”…

Get the rest of the tell of this tale right here.

••• Mad Swirl Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of February (aka 02.07.24) when we’ll be doin’ the open mic voodoo that we do do at our OC home, BARBARA’S PAVILLION!

Join hosts Johnny O & MH Clay as we open the mad mic, starting with some musical grooves brought to you by Swirve (Chris & Tamitha Curiel, Gerard Bendiks).

This month we will be featuring local poet, singer, musician & performer Suza Kanon! After our feature set we will commence with our usual unusual open mic!

Come one.

Come all.

Come to participate…

(preRSVP 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 8pm)

Come to be a part of this collective creative love child we affectionately call… Mad Swirl!

••• Mad Swirl Press •••

Our first issue, a self-titled zine, was published in 1999. Thru the years we published six issues of our Mad Swirl zine. On this quarter century anniversary, we’ve digitized these back issues for your trip down memory lane. Check out these OG back issues: 1999-2008…

Starting in 2017 we got the print itch again and began publishing “The Best of Mad Swirl” anthologies, as well as a few other poetic gems for some mighty talented folks we know. If you haven’t snagged you a copy yet, here’s your one-stop-shop. Purchase one (or all) of these anthologies from Mad Swirl Press: 2018-2023…


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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