The Best of Mad Swirl : 04.06.24

by on April 6, 2024 :: 0 comments

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.

William Wordsworth

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Celestial Tours ~ Howie Good

It should probably go without saying by now that Howie Good is something of a collage wizard – the way he pieces old school images into whimsical tales unlike any other. Howie mixes the classic with a modern wit, creating surreal compositions that tell stories seemingly old and new all at once. We reckon you’d regret NOT stepping into Good’s Swirl world, where time seems to bend and twist in a brilliant cacophony, inviting you to lose yourself in the delightful dance of imagination. Get an eye-full right here! ~ Madelyn Olson

To see all of Howie’s whimsically surreal compositions, as well as our other resident artists (50+ 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 crossed out fears through burning tears; we starred the sky with heart and cry; we window peaked to pigeon speak; we were stunned to hold, so easy and old; we held once again through nuclear end; we picked up a pen to write about friends; we saw oil on the take of art for art’s sake. We delight in digression with every expression; we start with art. ~ MH Clay

The Disneyland Of Les Beaux Arts by Brian Wood

In these vast galleries you can see just
About anything: Claudel Reimagined;
William Blake, A Visionary; Portraits
Of The Poor in Portugal; A New Look
At Danish Art; The Meaning Of Meaning;
And The Location Of The Washrooms. That’s
Where most people are huddled, right by
The gift shop, staring at their phones.

At that gift shop you can buy the memoir
Of the sod who paid for all this. His book
Is called Beauty Rose: Why I Am Better
Than You. Our guide –in hushed tones— assures us
This great man loved art more than he loved cash.
(Which is unlikely, given the gauche crap
He bought at steep discounts. Most of this stuff
Is one notch above Dogs Playing Poker. )

So why am I here, why is this place full?
I like free tours and spectacular views;
Up on the roof you can see all of Los
Angeles, almost as far south as Playa
Del Rey. Art used to be for the very
Few, but the largesse of this one oil thief
Means all of us, even hoi polloi like
Me, can look at what this great tightwad wrought.

As for these huge musees des beaux arts, bought
By raptors, who is he that condemneth?
It is only folks with money who fuss
Over the meaning of meaning. Fewer
Still care: there are thousands here today,
But most of them on phones, scrolling, agog.
No one looks at De Voleren Zoon since
They’re too busy scanning the QR code.

A few more years of the cell phone, and these
Galleries will be a relic. The last
Patrons will be kids stuck on a school tour,
Pretending to listen while a guide who
Pretends to give a —- fills them in on
That joy in heaven, when a prodigal
Son came home. By Van Rijn, the sign will say,
And no one will wonder what it once meant.

April 6, 2024

editors note: Turn your phones off at the door. There is no art if we don’t look. – mh clay

3 Friends by Christopher Barnes


Ouija penmanship        Tread onto                     Waiting taxi.
Stutters. Tealights        Fish entrails.                  Keys missing.
Jiggle.                                  Quayside hubbub.


Wiggly fang.                    Nowhere period.          Dislocated wig.
Chomp into                     Cold-shoulder               Squall twiddles
Liquorice.                         To horned Ear.


Itchy-leg sack                 Axe quarters                    Raw hernia.
Race. Decrepit               Logs. Brume                    Draggling braces.
Pea green                         Thickens.

April 5, 2024

editors note: Describe, and ye shall be so described… – mh clay

True Romance by Mike Zone

(for Eden)

Somewhere out there
is a house in Nebraska
where we can take shelter
from a series of nuclear seasons
where we can hold one another
until we die
so we can live



April 4, 2024

editors note: Where love has a long half-life. – mh clay

your kisses by Sam Silva

holding you stuns me
in the dizzying late night
till we both doze off

Come morning we are happy and easy
in our old age… sitting with coffee on the sofa

April 3, 2024

editors note: May old be so easy… – mh clay

speak by Patrick Sweeney

the high-rise window washer speaks a little pigeon

April 2, 2024

editors note: Communication is key. – mh clay

Infinity by Milenko Županović

The heart of an angel
in stone of church
on the seashore
the cry of God
in the infinity
of the universe.

April 1, 2024

editors note: Where we hear is a holy place. – mh clay

They Hung Me on a Dying Tree by Stephen Jarrell Williams

They hung me on a dying tree
and watched me struggle
to maintain a rebellious frown

in a blue night
finally choking
as my neck turned purple

until unmoving
not breathing
they left me

but somehow a spark
from a lone streak
of lightning

struck me
and the dying tree

cutting the rope
and healing the throats
of the tree and me

leaves slowly moved
as if raising their heads
and giving thanks

I fell to the ground
touching my neck
still in a state of unbelief

and the world began again
the tree’s tears
refreshing us

somehow reliving
everything in a different light
complete understanding

the villains soon crying
inside themselves
faraway in a breeze of forgiveness
some eventually accepting

unable to explain
the change of heart
with tears that burn an opening


power of the God of trees and men

March 31, 2024

editors note: A resurrection; enough to make the villains cry and the faithful fly free. This day and every. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Wanna go for a read ride? Then buckle up & hold on because Amber & Stefan Circle the Block Three Times by Contributing Writer & Poet Jeff Grimshaw is a wild one!

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

Here’s home, the life you know! But is it? Is it anything recognizable? It’s your life, you tell me.

Here’s how this mind-bending trek starts:

Road Ride ~ Tyler Malone

Stefan put the Malibu in gear and pulled away from the curb. He said: “Amber, I’m uncomfortable with the falsetto. I mean, a little is okay, but not for a whole verse. Maybe just the first two bars. I want you to think hard about this.”

She pretended to think hard about it and Stefan made a right turn. Two kids shoved a refrigerator out of a kitchen window four stories up. They hadn’t unplugged it so it tore the outlet from the wall as it dropped. It hit the sidewalk beside the spot where the Malibu had been parked a few seconds before. The door cracked off and two unopened cans of beer and a half a rotisserie chicken popped into the air. One beer can hit the curb and ruptured. “We’re in for it now,” giggled one of the kids, looking at the hole in the wall where the outlet used to be. The other kid was watching the beer can scud across the street, propelled by the beer shooting from its jagged fissure. It was the funniest thing he had ever seen or else the most beautiful, he couldn’t decide.

“Do you have the boombox?” said Stefan. “I thought you brought it,” said Amber. “Left it on the chair by the TV I bet,” he said, and made two more quick right turns. Noisy brakes. Time for new brake pads.

“Is that a refrigerator?” he said.

“Did it fall out of the sky?” said Amber. Stefan put the car into park a foot and a half from the curb and they crept up on the refrigerator, as if it were a sleeping crocodile they didn’t want to awaken.

“Are we in a Warner Brothers cartoon?” he said, searching the sky…

Keep this trip going right here!


If you’re hankering for a tasty read, The Trouble with Okra by Barry Green just might be the feeding you’re needing!

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

Eat your vegetables because you need to grow big and strong to battle all that life gives you. Traffic, day-to-day ethical restrictions, and the cooking of others.

Here’s a few bites to tempt your tummy:

Bread: Broken ~ Tyler Malone

Troy was raised by a mother who grew the family’s summer vegetables in a large garden behind their house a couple of miles below New Iberia, Louisiana. Dinners consisted of fresh fish or roasted chicken, fresh greens and, at least twice per week, okra that was roasted or cooked on the grill. He loved his mother, and he loved her okra. After finishing college, he moved north to accept a job and found that he missed her cooking.

He met Ginny at a work conference and found that they lived just 15 miles apart. It took only three dates for them to admit to each other that they were in love. Their marriage was a small affair, held in a pretty little white church with a few friends and close family attending. They honeymooned for two weeks in South America, taking a small cottage in a small town of friendly natives who shared meals with them and laughed as they tried to converse in broken English and Spanish. It was a happy beginning to a life together.

After returning home and to work, they would meet at restaurants or pick up prepared foods at the local grocery so that they could eat supper together. Sharing meals as a family was important to both of them. Several weeks after they returned from their honeymoon, on a Saturday night, Ginny decided to surprise Troy with a special meal, of the kind she had grown up with in western Mississippi, in a small town outside of Jackson…

Get the whole meal right here!

••• Mad Swirl Open Mic •••

This past 1st Wednesday of April (aka 04.03.24) Mad Swirl Open Mic whirl’d up the Swirl at our OC home, Barbara’s Pavillion, getting the Mad mic opened for ALL you Mad ones out there!

This month we featured the dynamic duo Opalina & Carlos Salas & their funky-tronic band Your Loving Son!

Grats 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:
Desmene Statum
Harry McNabb
Roderick Richardson
Laura Traynor
Brian Duran-Fuentes
David Crandall
Tony Robinson
Kevin O’Neill
C-Mack Seven
Beauty Thibodeau
Bobby Hood
Suza Kanon
Liz Ringo
Zoe Dune
Dick Zinnendorf

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

Stay tuned ’til next 1st Wednesday (aka 05.01.24) when we will be featuring Josh Weir… ’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…

Feature Set:

Open Mic:

••• Mad Swirl Podcast •••

Check out Mad Swirl’s inaugural podcast, “Inside the Eye!” Join hosts Johnny O (Founder, Chief Editor, Creative Director) and MH Clay (Poetry Editor, right hand Mad man) as they whirl up some podcasting swirling madness!

Give us a listen on Patreon OR give a listen on Spotify!

In this quarter’s episode of “Inside the Eye” Johnny & MH chatted with fellow Mad Staffers Short Story Editor Tyler Malone & Visual Editor Madelyn Olson and got their highlights from some of our fine contributors in the 1st quarter of 2024. We also chatted a bit about our 1st Wednesday open mics & the launch of our Best of Mad Swirl : v2023 anthology. Lastly, we sat down with one of the maddest souls we know, Poet, Writer, Musician, Performer & Cap’n Hootenanny himself, Chris Zimmerly & we had us quite the chat, we did!

Ready? On our mark… get set… GO!

••• Mad Swirl Merch •••

If you have asked yourself, “Self, what does Mad Swirl do with the proceeds from their book & merch sales?” we have just the answers to your query…

The Mad Staffers periodically gets together to discuss projects we want to do to extend the Mad radius of the Swirl. We feel its current pulling & compelling us to do more. But it takes resources, like dough, to do so.

Here are just a few of the projects we will be accomplishing in 2024:

  • Publish more books: Our online presence is wide, deep and dynamic. This year we will be publishing more books from our Contributing Poets & Writers.
  • Updates to We want to make our site even more interactive & easier for all Swirlers to navigate the poetry, short stories, art & events that color our Swirl world.
  • Launch our Podcast: Mad Swirl is producing a quarterly podcast, “Inside the Eye!” where we will be interviewing one of our a Contributing Mad ones. We will also chat with our editors & get their highlights from the quarter & chat a bit about our 1st Wednesday open mics & the launching of upcoming print projects.

Now that you know what we do with all our proceeds, wanna help us out?

To date, Mad Swirl has funded our projects from our book & merch sales, as well as out of our own pockets. To accomplish the projects listed above, we need help from other Mad lovers of all things Swirly.

One way to help the Mad causes is to buy one (or MORE!) of our Mad Swirl Press books.

Another way is to get you some Mad Merch.

Now go get you some books & merch, knowing you’re helping the Mad Swirl cause!


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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