The Best of Mad Swirl : 02.03.24

by February 4, 2024 0 comments

If you want to be found stand where the seeker seeks.

Sidney Lanier

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Pincinnati ~ 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 were one not done; we fancied fluidly, dancing druidly; we shared an aversion to failed conversion; we pushed too far with a calendar; we woke, dead not, from a murder plot; we took a walk through wandering talk; we saw the strife in a sheltered life. Unhoused, almost unhinged, still writing from the fringe. ~ MH Clay

5 Unhoused Haiku by J. D. Nelson

grandfather’s birthday . . .
he looks down on his grandson
sick in the shelter

I stayed inside of
the homeless shelter all day . . .
rain & rain & rain

titanium spork—
en route to the shelter for
eight PM curfew

Independence Day . . .
we’re kicked out of the shelter
while they spray for bugs

dead man on the ground
near 48th & Jackson . . .
how did I get here?

February 3, 2024

editors note: How does anyone get here? It could happen to… – mh clay

Lost by Joseph Farley

I am sorry if I lost you.
Conversations can meander
From one place to another.
Logic can seem too extreme
A way of thinking.

Sometimes you have to
Let the mind go,
Let all those words
Spill out in a flow,
Washing over the table
And everyone sitting there
Before draining onto the floor.

When I pause to come up for air,
Remind me what we were
talking about in the first place.
That might guide us both back
To safe and familiar territory
Where nods and grunts are sufficient
To get across every point
Socially acceptable to make.

February 2, 2024

editors note: Are we back to that? Nods and grunts and, “please pass the mastodon meatlets.” – mh clay

A Most Bizarre Nightmare by Guest Poet Wayne Russell

I had a nightmare last night,
Van Gogh was there, he was
arguing with his old friend
Paul Gauguin, yet again.

Van Gogh turned his blade to
his ear, but then saw me, a
slack jawed observer, fearful
unto the argument that was
unraveling before my eyes.

Before I could run, Gauguin
grabbed me, pinning my arms
behind my back, a sharp pain
on the right side of my
head ensuing.

I attempted to screech out
into the unfortunate night,
but Van Gogh stuck a rag
with chloroform to my face.

Last things I remember, were
muffled voices and footsteps
trailing off; then darkness.

I awoke to the sensation of
something wet on the right side
of my head, blood and some
stupid dog named Toto licking
me; Dorothy, from Kansas, was
there too, and screamed for help.

I was told later from my recovery
bed, that Gauguin had probably
returned to Paris, and was now on
the 10-most-wanted list.

The constable assured me that
Paul Gauguin would surely be
captured and stand trial, and that
he would spend many years painting
behind bars.

The constable went on to say-

But even if put on trial for your attempted
murder, Van Gogh would be considered
not mentally capable of standing; anyways
he was definitely in a mental hospital
in Arles doing a life sentence; painting
his masterpiece’s.

After what seemed like an eternity, I
finally awoke from this most bizarre
dream, to find that both my ears were
still intact, but the right one was
mysteriously bleeding at the lobe.

February 1, 2024

editors note: Oof! Let’s not dream about Hemingway or Brautigan. That could end with a bang. – mh clay

Runaway by Archie Abaire

Life sweeps me headlong down the road
called “Hurry Up” — to wherever it goes —
making me show how
many full plates I can juggle all at once over

the squares

on my






a place

to glue


of broken


onto a



into which

the next










Shall I dance to the cell phone song
that summons me yet again?
There’s a button labeled “OFF.”

January 31, 2024

editors note: If only we could “Hurry Up” and “OFF.” – mh clay

The Good Gardener, A Prose Poem by Chuck Taylor

Oh my God, the red light’s flashing on the belief panel. What’s going on? Ah, I see that a 21-year-old-woman from Abilene, Texas, has decided that God does not exist.
I am hurt. Few seem to know that the all-powerful divine one has feelings too. At 21, this lady’s no longer in her parent’s hands. I may not be able to sleep tonight. I better create a sleeping pill to knock me out so I get my eight hours.
I will give her till noon tomorrow to reconsider her position before I take action. She will need to accept my Glory and Beneficence. I, who can move stars and moons, not believed in? What will people think if I don’t punish her? My image will suffer.
Let’s see, if there’s no conversion by noon, I can have her crushed by a semi. A piano could fall on her as it’s being lowered from a second story window in downtown Abilene.
I need something where the blame won’t fall on me.
I can’t have churches emptying out. What will happen to church buildings and other infrastructure? Priests and preachers will lose jobs and starve. I must maintain the line. No belief in Me, no heaven for you. And she was such a sweet young lady. Her parents had her baptized and made sure she was in church every Sunday. She sang in the choir when she became a teenager.
It’s too bad, but I hold onto hope until tomorrow at noon.
Ah, but this is dangerous! I am a good gardener. I must nip the disease in its bud.

January 30, 2024

editors note: Tough love! Spare the sheers and you spoil the rose. – mh clay

Imagination by Sheighle Birdthistle

I follow the fairy down the garden path
Searching here and there for the pot of gold
Skipping joyfully my mind out of synch
With the drudgery of the everyday world
Holding hands with some ethereal substance
Gleefully singing the words of ancient druids
Oh the scent of nightstock and climbing roses
I greet more fairies and we dance in a circle
Tripping over our long gowns so we dropped them
And danced and sang sublimely in the moonlight
We seemed to be of one sex or none no one bothered
The cup of wine was passed and we covered our nakedness
As the moon grew faint and the pink peach of the sun
Touched our senses and we kissed goodbye till next time.

January 29, 2024

editors note: Imagine that! Really, imagine it. – mh clay

Fabulous by Guest Poet Holly Payne-Strange

I’m doing fabulously well.
Have you noticed?
As I stumble over roots,
Reaching out to English yew,
Supple leaves in grasping hands.

Yes, I’ve met deadends
And of course, I am not yet
At the center.


Mazes are not supposed to be rushed.
They are supposed to be enjoyed,
The mystery delighted in,
The failures embraced,
And all the secrets slowly, gently
Like teasing a lover
With too many poems.

So you see,
I am indeed doing exactly as I planned
Even as I get turned around once again,
Lost and confused in haphazard guessing.
Clearly I am no closer
To being ‘done.’

But I’m in no rush.
Why else would I have entered
In the

January 28, 2024

editors note: If not in it for love, we’re ‘done’ for. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

AI suggests you dig into this sign of our times tale, Emergence of the Cyber Kolossoi by Mitchell Pluto.

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

You don’t want to run and you can’t hide from the colossus in your pocket.

Here’s some writing on the interwebs wall:

Just Nuts & Bolts ~ Tyler Malone

This is a test. For the next three minutes, this station will conduct a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

This is only a test.

The cell phone virus contaminated and defeated the United States easily. There was no trace of any war crime. No one was held hostage. Most people felt significantly more important with a camera phone. There was no film to process. Everything became an object of recorded performance. Every one could now be on TV. The intangible bank of space had plenty of room for advertising reels. Among the highest views were mate poaching lures and real-time incidents with deceptive content.

Backstage, the formula was a simple triangle that contained a narcissistic influencer, a codependent group of brains and an image. It would be this exact shape that artificial intelligence would use to create a fantasy to hook every consumer on earth…

If you’re hooked (and AI knows you are), then get the rest of this read on right here.


If you’re looking for a blessing in disguise, Julia and the Archbishop by Contributing Writer Thomas Elson just might be your sign!

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

Blessed are the peacemakers, and bless those who just want a piece of the body to break. Or just hold to themselves.

Here’s a few verses to get you started:

This is my body… ~ Tyler Malone

The church was quite basic. A converted nineteenth century Women’s Christian Temperance Union meeting hall with simple icons, a recently-installed iconostasis, a fellowship area into which sixty or so souls gathered after Sunday services.

Julia may have been overlooked among the cluster of morning images–children squirming, men with freshly scrubbed red faces, women patting their hair, smoothing skirts, the movements of the parish priest whose assigned task on this day was to cater to the visiting archbishop.

As the archbishop walked through the open doors, a crescendo reverberated from the choir. He paused in the narthex, pulled at the stripes adorning the sleeves of his North Sea blue cassock, then strode into the sanctuary trailed by colorfully-attired priests, each carrying a small mound of white and gold vestments. In the narthex several adult acolytes were followed by a few women, their heads covered, carrying bouquets of red roses. Then, as chair of the parish council, I trailed behind them.

I had known the archbishop for a few years and witnessed his struggle to maintain humility amidst his privileged life unencumbered by the complexities of a family, albeit without its intimacies. The pull of his vow of chastity was evident as his eyes ascended the terraces from hemline to waistline to bustline to hairline with periodic pauses at the exposures. It was a constant struggle for him (for anyone!) to remain humble and chaste. It was his daily test…

Get the whole sermon 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!

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: 2017-2022…


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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