The Best of Mad Swirl : 04.13.24

by on April 14, 2024 :: 0 comments

In the central place of every heart, there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, you are young.

Samuel Ullman

••• The Mad Gallery •••

Theater of Dreams ~ Howie Good

To see all of Howie’s mad collage wizardry, 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 dulled the shine of life on line; we couldn’t look away to see the dark of day; we walked rover while hung over; we grew in the glow of the flow and the flow; we wondered away on a Thursday; we spun in the spin of now and then; we blew some breath on an honest death. Even our lies are true. ~ MH Clay

Godsland by Tyler Malone

for little brother

Spent shotgun shells under a telecom tower of vultures.
Little brother climbs to see homegrown nowhere next door
as blood collects itself for another next life in an open cage.
Vultures vomit reminders of one last life—

a dream of death I had.

Beginning of imagination comes as grace in all colors
on asphalt black accounting for dead leaves from blue sky.
Prettier birds die to describe clouds as kin of crows
come home to watch over holy highway dead.

We brothers don’t know doves except for the season when they die.
Wings smuggle in dreams after we stack fence rocks
to keep out what crawls in the country.
Latch screen doors when night eyes reflect moonlight.

God blinks out sawdust on the breeze as the sky of others hits ours.
Birds get inside to waste lives in crooked frames of family photos
after eating shopping center cigarettes, shitting on Corvettes, EVs,
and children alike, all’re under an ax’s shadow.

Grackles argue with pecans but blow in looking for housing.
Hummingbird bones hit window units and die outside.
We just coast channels so there’s never a moment
not on laugh tracks concerned with honest living.

As if we ever talk about dishonest death,
love between brothers looks to the same direction.
Chevron neon pricing dinosaurs hold congregation
on one side of conflict while birds escape the skies to stuff

feathers into flat pillows. Carrier pigeons share our address.
We have the best trash. And they know everything is permitted.
Dogs play poker in paint as nature moves into a forever home,
off-white bird shit on walls with family eyes scratched through

like stab-signed divorce papers under baby photos.
Alarm clock wires are silent as worms in walls,
not even the house is wired with good veins.
The bones are us, broken from moving in.

Close your eyes and you won’t see parents change faces
when lying that you’re no burden. No bother at all!
Just enlist in wars in cities away from vulture towers
and all the deer buck horns grown from wall studs.

Only between brothers are conversations with birds
worth having when quiet lingers on gold heatwaves
as the past is a buzzard blowing the future a kiss
in shadows but choosing which shapes to shade.

A death pact has flown down as bones pile up.
Little brother’s bedroom sees caregiving
feathers rising/falling with his young breathing
in the first dream of death in our family aviary.

Nothing exotic, just what we’ve seen fly with our eyes.
Red cardinals, finch, airborne wild bores hit by headlights—
all’ve lived to die across the sky.
That can be your family as a dream song starts with one dove

dead to air as a hunter’s pellets anchor its light body.
12-guage shotshell nestles in the neck, but it’s inside
carrying a heavy message for little brother: here is my only body.
Elsewhere is only a flight, but it could take your wings.

So here are mine: my last song.

Sparrow shadows, cowbird shit, song thrush blackbirds,
all’s got god in on dreams past communication towers
where wind swallows each name as one before vultures
dig into soft eyes, ribs, loved hearts, all life’s leftovers.

Treasuring vomit: dead death is delicious
the longer it rests. Each bird covering little brother
doesn’t carry enough meat on bones to consider a half a meal.
But the birdcage is beautiful because we’re all here, a reunion.

Ravens and meadowlark, not a single swan,
full of air, war-screaming words of war.
No call to arms in a coat of feathers. Even teeth sleep
through a visit from vultures to tell this is the worst of times—

a dream of death I had

And what is skin when we’re all one,
and soon, all bones will all shine
when our roof collapses and hungry birds
take in pieces those who never wished for flight.

April 13, 2024

editors note: Proof of life, this life; it’s for the birds. – mh clay

by a parabola by Guest Poet Debasis Mukhopadhyay

by a field
by a Gogh’s spoiled canvas
by a hospital window pane

warms you
a bouquet
yellow and yellow

slices of your breast
chain of lymph nodes swaying in
the hollow of your ribs
a placid sea gathers
red sand of your feet
the last glint of
cobalt out of your head

sense of disembodiment
overdue as dementia


today to breathe out again
the first cries of
your children
after their birth

to walk back to
remember & remake
the backstory of
the day your husband shook free

and to
tilt his death’s head again

to find the state of grace
a spoiled ochre

nearing you
loss paddling across the tides of
your blood

you know
what in a
spilling in through the curve
worst than
a riddle

remembering then
in order to deserve now

April 12, 2024

editors note: If we struggle to remember in our now, our then will be lost, too. – mh clay

Jeudi by Christopher Calle

Recalling adventure past the warm waters
Forrest says the sky’s lapis lazuli
And it was the first time
Discovered somewhere around the globe
In a place of fighting
Over drugs
Or religion
Or wonderful blue stones
Porches are supposed to be Haint blue I learn
Because maybe the mosquitoes think it’s the sky and get confused
But it’s associated with plantations, too
So that’s out there now
I wonder what other planked surfaces give cold statements about their colorists
One car after another pushes the air from its hurried track
Bouncing along to their vapid destinations
Petrarch in Vaucluse
At the wellspring
Writing more and more
Dilution is the solution to pollution
Of the negative cash flowing hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer
After the oracle tripled down in oil
It helps when you accept life’s hard
It helps to see black and white

April 11, 2024

editors note: What’s clear to you on this day? – mh clay

Hinge by Tess Hunt

We are the same
like a river and rain

and we flow
and we flow
and we flow.

I’ve swum in you before, you see,
so many lives ago.

You’ve swum in me, too.
We’re at best nothing new.

But this time was different.

This time something grew.

April 10, 2024

editors note: So, keep your channels open and your hinges well oiled. – mh clay

rick the pilot walks his dog by John Grochalski

red-faced and haggard
from whatever he poured into himself last night

rick the pilot walks his dog
in a coat and hat

running into rick is weird

we drank at the same bar for years
until the health department closed it down

and now
we avoid eye contact
when we see each other
like this in the morning

rick turns his back on me
and i slide right to avoid his dog’s shit

two hungover schmucks
reduced to drinking at home alone

eating up the hours and days
that we’ve been given

dependent upon nothing
but our health

and how the weather holds out.

April 9, 2024

editors note: Sometimes it’s hard to meet another and see yourself. – mh clay

Eclipse of Sun by Harley White

Eclipse of Sun is quite a sight
since for a while day looks like night
when moon moves ‘twixt the Earth and Sun
and over light the dark has won
or seemingly in visioned sleight.

That syzygy alignment might
in past have given grievous fright.
Yet now we know ere has begun
eclipse of Sun.

These days this marvel can ignite
excitement of supernal height
with mise en scènes our senses stun
in pageants not to be outdone,
while world continues on despite
eclipse of Sun.

April 8, 2024

editors note: Fear not! If you’re in its path, it isn’t wrath. – mh clay

Viral World by Lisa Moak

Smiling pictures
of happy homes
and lovely destinations
— my viral world

friends and followers
live magical lives
sun filled days
and evenings of love

my life looks shabby
in comparison
with these people
I hardly know

I create my viral world
only capturing images
of what I want to see
if not reality

sunsets, food,
my smiling family
behind every perfect portrait
lays a painful mess

does food taste the same
without posting photos?
are vacations as fun
without seeing the journey?

do likes
add true friends
or comments
add meaning?

or maybe

if a tree falls
in the forest
but isn’t recorded
did it really fall?

April 7, 2024

editors note: We take our validations virtually. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you’re seeking a remedying read, Zoushen by Changming Yuan just might be a cure.

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

Gotta answer the call of the ancient past (you never know if there’s money in it today.)

Here’s a bit to help catch the spirit:

Home Effects ~ Tyler Malone

In my mother tongue, zou (走) literally means walk, while shen (神) means spirit or deity. Together, zoushen is a set phrase commonly used to describe the psychological state of being absent-minded, but during my recent China trip, I learned from my 83-year-old mother that it is also jargon referring to the shamanistic art of evoking a spirit.

When I was younger, I never gave a fig for anything sounding religious. In other words, all shamanistic practice was ridiculous to me, if not really religious. Naturally, I turned a deaf ear to my mother’s story about how she’s mysteriously revived before she learned to walk on her own. Indeed, fully occupied as I was with my own daily life, why should I have bothered about her infanthood? Few adults would care much about their mothers’ earliest life experiences.

However, as I became increasingly more interested in health cultivation and life extension as a new retiree, I often wondered why my mother seemed to be getting younger physically as well as psychologically. I knew she had suffered a great deal from poverty, diseases, and all kinds of hardships as an adopted child. Before retirement, she had been working so diligently as a petty government official that she was constantly hospitalized for health reasons. But how come her physical condition kept improving in recent years? I did buy her various supplements on a regular basis, but I believed they had more psychological functionalities than any verifiable effects…

Get the rest of this shamanic-inspired read right here!


If you looking for a sole-full read, Diamond Shoes by Cheryl Snell just might fit.

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

Finding out what is when life offers experience too late is on you, and we all know that.

Here’s a few steps to get you walkin’:

Wears 4 Sale ~ Tyler Malone

Whose diamond shoes are too tight today? he asks, giving the newspaper a hard flick. Reading the agony column aloud is a custom in their household, one way to compare the problems of other peoples to theirs. It usually makes them both feel better. He reads about a woman, having cut off sex with her husband, is now embarrassed that he sleeps in a tent in the backyard. He begins suggesting solutions until his wife interjects, Must have been written by a troll. His eyes widen with surprise, and then squint with suspicion…

Read ALL about it right here!

••• 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!

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!

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

••• 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.

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, 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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