The Best of Mad Swirl : 01.27.24

by January 28, 2024 0 comments

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ said Alice. ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the cat. ‘We’re all mad here.’

Lewis Carroll

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Creepshow ~ 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 would not lose with a boost from booze; we told on to hold on; we proposed to fuel the random duel; we slick stickered a bone licker; we stung belief in mirrored teeth; we spoke absurdly, dirt dug wordly; we simpered, smitten by live poems written. A clever turn of phrase is all it takes to grab our gaze. ~ MH Clay

The Ten Greatest Love Poems Ever Written by Ron Riekki

sit in front of me. They don’t look nervous.
They look a bit exhausted. It’s been centuries
for some of them where they’ve been
one of The Ten Greatest Love Poems
Ever Written, so they’re a bit bored with it
at this point. One poem looks at me, though,
with an expression like, What am I doing here?
I want to hug that poem, try to say some words
of encouragement, how, in fact, it just might be
The Greatest of The Ten Greatest Love Poems
Ever Written. But I worry about that word Great.
It reminds me of political jingoism. It reminds me
of grate. And even the word Poem is weird too.
It comes from the Greek for fiction. It’d be funny
if the word fiction comes from the Greek for poem.
I’m Greek. I’m weird. I look at the poems and

they’re all English. The Ten Greatest Love Poems
Ever Written all live not too far from London.
I don’t believe it. I’m wondering if the critic
who made the list is from London. I call up
the critic for The Ten Greatest Love Poems
Ever Written and he says, “Hello?” with a tone
of accusation. I say, “Hi, my name’s Ron.”
And the critic for The Ten Greatest Love Poems
Ever Written says, “I don’t like that name.
I think we should switch that name. How about
Drayton?” I try to explain that my name’s not
Drayton and the critic for The Ten Greatest Love
Poems Ever Written tells me I should also say
“Hi” with much more enthusiasm. He tells me
to start again from the beginning. I say that,
no, “I’m just trying to find out if you’re from

London.” And the critic tells me that is an
atrocious sentence, an awful sentence, that
the English language wasn’t discovered in order
to be brutalized, that it wasn’t unearthed from
the catacombs just so that people like me could
bury it. And I interrupt and say that I think
the critic might give a more accurate list of
The Ten Greatest Hate Poems Ever Written
and I hang up. The Ten Greatest Love Poems
Ever Written, of course, heard all of this, so
“How Do I Love Thee,” by Elizabeth Barrett
Browning comes up to me and puts her arms
around me and starts crying. I ask her where
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is and the poem
tells me, “Why, she’s dead. She died in 1806
of what they think might’ve been hypokalemic

periodic paralysis.” That’s awful, I say. “Well,
it’s going to happen to you too, one day, maybe
not that, but something else. It’s inevitable.”
And that’s when “Love’s Philosophy,” by
Percy Bysshe Shelley said, “Come now, we
are not The Ten Greatest Death Poems Ever
Written, let’s not be so morbid.” And Elizabeth
Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee,”
said, “What kind of a name is Bysshe? It sounds
like the sound a tire makes when it’s punctured.”
That’s when “Annabel Lee,” by Edgar Allan Poe
came over, a bit tipsy, and I said, “Poe? I didn’t
know you were here. I love Poe.” “Annabel
Lee” blushed. I could hear the sea the closer
they came—her, and the sea, and, yes, Poe, too,
emerging from the fog, and I hugged him, long.

January 27, 2024

editors note: Proof that lists are totally subjective constructs and poems have a lot more to say if we listen. – mh clay

What it means to pronounce words in a foreign language by Guest Poet Brinda Vinodh

The way my tongue dances to the sound and song of a language
I am not familiar with is not as soft and smooth as chewing a smashed potato

isn’t as natural as a bird flying in the sky, flapping wings, adapting to the wind.

The tongue has been trained artfully to a certain kind of music

takes time to absorb the nuances and elegance of another.

Imagine it like a seed germinating and growing into a plant in a different soil

you will understand what I mean.

It is as simple as that.

January 26, 2024

editors note: Tongue-tied in Tagalog or slurring in Slovak; different soil, indeed. – mh clay

can you believe by Guest Poet Scott L. Ferry

a wasp stings my foot while i run?

the sky doesn’t forgive the screams

i know i know the holy wings say

not to run from the sky—

that the stings are fluorescent

and pure in the october air

but the unforgiving eyes!

the doppelganger teeth!

January 25, 2024

editors note: We need an epi-pen for such angst. – mh clay

Rat Mummy by Christina Chin & Guest Poet Marjorie Pezzoli

(photo by Marjorie Pezzoli)

a green anole
licks the endoskeleton
—eye socket
time mummified
forever still

January 24, 2024

editors note: We all want that look of eternal polish in the (world without) end. (This marks the 3rd poem accepted by Christina Chin. Now she is our newest Contributing Poet. You can see more of her collaborative madness on her poetry page) – mh clay

For an Equal Plights Amendment by Guest Poet Frank De Canio

Should someone bank his civil liberties on chess
champs, or Olympic figure skaters who’ve won gold?
What klutz would needle an adept embroideress
for sewing fabric into dresses though she’s old?
A country that prohibits dueling as a path
to pride and honor on a level playing field
condemns good citizens to wallow in their wrath,
until compelled to ignominiously yield
to anybody with more formidable arms.
What matter if the latter wouldn’t pick a fight
with someone with physiques that may set off alarms
in them to act more acquiescently, despite
the tacit taint upon their masculinity?
They’ll get their honor back with men of lesser means.
Nor will their bluster seem like asininity
to toads who suck up those who act like vulturines
at the expense of robust middling workmen bound by law,
until the latter show they’re quicker on the draw.

January 23, 2024

editors note: Seems like the best approach, until beaten by a cretin. – mh clay

Hold On To Life by Ken Edward Rutkowski

Hold on little baby hold on for life held up by the mom on the back of the bike looking around at the ever-changing world seasonal evolution(s) profound in the child’s eye one she said hold on as long as you can and soon this kid’s driving the bike now free on his own with his phone strapped to the side of his helmet one day you’ll have to push your bike along when it fails you indefinitely and someone might help you for a bit of change in return then they have a baby of their own even if they don’t you learn how to ride before you walk through observation and fear reservations about the dangers of life and other people we have words to express such longings pictures photographs installing furniture inside the houses of our minds so far true but resigned to people other people who do the same thing as us so we can fuss and run for office inside the wheel of anticipated dreams articulated no more imprinted on the story of our lives little baby child hold on to your mom your dad your sense of Youth foretold in your future behold the idealized dreams of your parents what they want for you as you grow up maybe helping other Souls when in times of trouble and resistance when their bikes break down I’ve seen children wandering on the side of the road selling things for money a commodifiable youth vexed inside their role drifting towards some future reliant on the past a residual parody of life speaking in tongues in scriptures written down formulations of human existence family life taking care of each other forever until never ever comes only ideas and attitude you must trust in exchange for formality discs thrown at arm’s length hoping for the mark of the Beast a number a relief God is nothing but your head revolving around in circles dead as it all is living changing with no end in sight your tongue suspends belief we’ll tell you a lot of things but it is left up to you to decide how formal you will be in the delivery of this world this time you have one more chance so wave goodbye.

January 22, 2024

editors note: Just like riding a bike. Hold on! – mh clay

FADE by Guest Poet Angela di Gualco

When the alcohol is firing
my synapses and sugar
is coursing through my veins,
I feel like I can do anything.
I can be whoever I want.
The world is full of possibilities.
Shining like the brightest star.
Then it fades. Like everything.

And I’m just me.
With my irritable bowel.
Discriminating stomach.
Scattered thoughts.
Lines etched down sun-kissed cheeks.
Standing on the sidelines,
watching people sail away
on my ship of dreams.

January 21, 2024

editors note: Me is me, shined or faded, seeing all from center. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you need a different story about inflation then Jye Pumped by Contributing Writer & Poet KJ Hannah Greenberg just might be the number you need!

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

Most times, all we can do is what we need to do to survive. And that’s enough.

Here’s a bit to get you pedaling:

The Next Best Turn of Events ~ Tyler Malone

Jye pumped. His breath came out in loud bouts as he pushed the lever up and down. He had never seen a rear wheel tire flatter than his. Sighing, he weighed how the incident had happened, that is, how the unseen nail had punctured his wheel in a flash. He wished such events would stop happening to him.

It was enough that his rock candy business had stopped sizzling. Presently, sugary powders and all manner of artificial chocolates flagged the attention of the seniors to whom he had been peddling his goods.

The man failed to understand that shift…

Shift on over right here to get the rest of this sweet story.


If a read was what you’ve been conjuring up, then our featured read, A Dream Move by Laura Daniels is exactly what you need!

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

Dreams don’t die, but there are new days that pile up on the old. That’s a type of death.

Here’s a few winks:

Working Progress ~ Tyler Malone

The last thing I remember as my eight-year-old head hit the pillow was that we had to move. The landlord sold the building and the new owner wanted our apartment.

I opened my eyes to a bright morning. How could this be? The sun usually waited until late afternoon to shine in my bedroom. Puzzled, I peeked out the window. I don’t know how it happened, but our house was now situated at the edge of Twinny Joe’s football field-sized lawn. I spotted the familiar broken-down shed and bike with its wire basket leaning against it.

I saw Twinny Joe hugging my mother. They were talking too quietly for me to make out what they were saying, but I could tell by the look on Ma’s face that something was up…

Slide on over right here to get the rest of this dreamy read!

••• 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!

P.S. To ALL of Mad Swirl Open Mic-ers: It has been a Mad minute since we added to this Flickr page. However, you can get lost in the 4,700 photos we house here from our open mics from 2010 thru 2020!

Enjoy the trip down mad-mory lane!

••• Mad Swirl Press •••

Starting in 2017 we 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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