The Best of Mad Swirl : 04.20.24

by on April 21, 2024 :: 0 comments

True art lies in a reality that is felt.

Odilon Redon

••• The Mad Gallery •••

the dance of regret ~ Edward Michael Supranowicz

We’re excited to welcome back returning featured artist Edward Supranowicz with more of his colorful kaleidoscope dreams. We mean it: one look at these pieces is like stepping straight into that little tin kaleidoscope you had as a kid, only better, somehow… and you’re full of even more wonder…and you’re also on acid, maybe? We just know you’ll be having the trip of your life – we sure do every time we look at em! ~ Madelyn Olson

To see all of Edward’s colorfully kaleidoscopic dream scenes, 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 bother burgeoned by a plastic surgeon; we let trauma matter in our cocktail chatter; we locked out to wangle a new-fangled tangle; we wrested no wrath for an invalid’s path; we memoried till sung off key; we hailed back to the race track; we chambered choices for conscious voices. Who instills the life in ink? What ink inspires ideas we think? ~ MH Clay

Against the Second by Rita Moe

—after Michael Kleber-Diggs

And why should gun violence be a
Big deal to me? Well,
Could be my dad’s un-regulated,
Deeply misguided attempt to make a statement. He was anti-Militia,
Even served as a Conscientious Objector in WWII, that fact being
Forgotten the night he found it necessary
Gamesmanship to
Hold a fired pistol in his hand while he lay on the
Infirm floor insulting the security /
Joinery / now / disjointed / fragile / fabric of
Kinship. He shot a book, not himself. There was not a
Loss of life that night, nor a divorce later, so we got away scot-free.
My only other brush with guns was out-of-State—
Neighbors who moved to Colorado. The
Older boy, Terry, shot his father. It was a hunting accident, so you’re right,
Public safety wasn’t really the issue. As a matter of
Quantity, most gun deaths are the
Result of suicide, but it turns out the people
Suddenly lost to self-harm in my life turned to
Tailpipes or a knife. So you might ask why I keep
Unfurling these thin ribbons of proposed constraints and
Visions of gunlessness — one small human with no clear right to bear
Witness against the wanton proliferation of Arms
X-ing out lives, limbs, livelihoods, tearing apart families & communities. Shall
Your revisionist interpretation of 27 words mean we can not
Zero in on sanity, i.e., no weapons of war in civilian hands? It’s my right to be
A voice of conscience. May that right not be infringed.

April 20, 2024

editors note: Those on the right would call this left, but it’s a right, just the same. Right? (We welcome Rita to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of her madness on her new page – check it out.) – mh clay

that ben hur life by Jason Baldinger

the interstate chariot race
an empty competition
but there is no salvation in beating a gps
no horseshit just roadkill
if you’re lucky you may find
white jesus waving an american flag
calling racers to pit
o that ben hur life

me, I prefer green corn
acres eye high deep in july
red winged blackbirds
watch over two lanes
watch waves across the sea

12:15, I didn’t follow orange detours
I made my own inventory
of one stop sign towns
odell, linden, romney

god bless america amplifies
across crawfordsville haze

o kate smith
let’s get earnest
across those fruited plains
until gray asphalt gives out
in an ocean white with foam

I have hours to go
to drift under the current
of a future harvest
there’s a thunderstorm
in my pocket for safe keeping
maybe I’ll dust it off come
the next state line

April 19, 2024

editors note: This race has no finish line, just an endless array of exits along the way. – mh clay

Ms. Kay by Gayle Bell

The soul is nothing more than love, limitless, endless…
Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses

Hope can surprise you, It can survive the odds against it…

She is a coloring Aztec and Afro
That always has a pixie smile
Some inner joke perhaps about
Those who have the most
Who foolishly think they have better
Who will inherit the earth
I offer her cho chos but she never accepts
Even when I beg
She has a teacher’s enunciation
Street residents call her Grandma Kay
Church outreach workers tell me
she’s been out here a long time
I slipped a bogo hamburger in her bag
She hugged me wished me blessings
She favors my mamma
Transitioned this 8 years
One day before Mother’s Day
I look at the sky that looks like
A song sung off key

April 18, 2024

editors note: And sometimes, a sweet melody filters through. – mh clay

Always Carol by Guest Poet Jeff Bender

Under the weight of her tangled gray hair
Always Carol walks alone bent and spent,
lugging a concrete bag with discounted fruit
and a few necessaries chained to her shoes.
She shuffles along like Always Carol always does,
towards home where tall weeds and memories sit gathering dust in volumes
until 2:15 when the omni-bus screams down JFK BLVD
exhausting fumes that fill her debility coat
and backfire into her loaf of white bread

Grocery store, then back
Side walking back home,
watching crack after crack pass beneath her
a slow demarcation called Invalid’s Path
for those who are not valid anymore.
That is the scope of her day.

She sits waiting with her warm bottled water
for the November metro and rides the angled avenue with Lee Harvey
to watch a free vintage movie at the recently reopened Book Depository
Always Carol sits waiting at 12:30, looking for her bus, killing time,
waiting and waiting,
and becomes the solitary assassin of age

In the middle of the theatre where Always Carol always sits
she is invisible.
Yet, the MGM lion spots her and stares her down
roaring first one way and then the next
Always Carol watches that proud, tired beast yawn one more time,
then drop off the screen to fall asleep next to her,
dreaming of donated popcorn.

The movie is coming to a theatre near you:
America, We Love You So Much
subtitled Land of the Free and Home of the Grave,
a film where an issue of Kleenex Monthly and white peonies are delivered
every National Disability Independence Day
by motorcade
in stacked cartons stamped only “THE LONELY”

Afterwards, the credits will drop her off like dead weight
on a grassy knoll
where she cannot die any faster
But Always Carol with the bent and buckled neck
prefers a good mystery that twists and turns,
near her half green house
with half a street number
and a life just shy of
History and Elm

April 17, 2024

editors note: Every neighborhood needs a Carol – Always. – mh clay


It has been some time since a woman,
Naked beneath the thin blanket she
Was wrapped in, appeared at my apartment
Door. Back then, I suspected
She had been locked out and wanted
To use my phone – but I was
Hoping there would be a more
Entangling mission within her.
Now that it has happened again
I am thinking a man cannot be
This lucky twice in his life,
And my phone all the coming week
In ringing will do so as if the woman
Were thinking better of her visit,
And might want a chance to offer more.

I still have the locksmith’s number.

April 16, 2024

editors note: Maybe, if picked; if not, (lock)picking. – mh clay

On our first date, she talks about her trauma by Ron Riekki

and she says, “You’re not saying anything”
and I tell her I’ve said a hundred things,
maybe a thousand words
since we sat down here
in this bar where everything is blood-red pitch-black

and we’re stuffed into chairs for kindergarteners
and she says, “Tell me something interesting”
and I think of all of the facts stuffed in my skull,
how much I hate the fucking ads online and
offline and supermarket apples can be up to

a year old and how you can’t hum if you hold
your nose and how the coworkers when I worked
in China all told me the moon landing was fake and
there’s an ant species that’s only found in Manhattan,
but here comes her trauma again, like leaves, and my V.A.

PTSD counselor told me not to share what happened
with anyone except therapists, because the world
doesn’t want to hear about certain traumas and this
poem would never get accepted if I told you what
happened, so instead all I will give you is fake

chandeliers and overpriced drinks with fruit carved
into umbrellas and this woman who has eyes the color
of ants I stepped on one time, a pile of them, in Arizona,
where they climbed up my leg and stung me with
the intent that they were going to do it for a million years.

April 15, 2024

editors note: Nothing stings worse than indifference. – mh clay

the plastic surgeon my old man roomed with by Jerome Berglund

He comes prancing down with his shirt off again as he is wont to on specific occasions and I groan and tell him my sister is not visiting this evening and he mulls this over, without a word sheepishly goes upstairs and puts his shirt back on this has gone on for some time by now.

and on the boob tube
my birthday
is drawn,
find I am drafted
into the men’s auxiliary

April 14, 2024

editors note: On the one hand, you can change the channel; but on the other… – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

Forecast says you need to read Atmospheric Disturbance by g emil reutter!

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

Right where you are, something is coming. You know, but it doesn’t know you’re there. That’s the relationship between us and our world, and the world as always and will always win. A true always-winning underdog.

Here’s a peek at the radar:

Rolls, Rolls, & Rolls ~ Tyler Malone

In my mother tongue, zou (走) literally means walk, while shen (神) means spirit or deity. Together, zoushen is a set phrase The Camellia Japonica full bloom red back lit by the rising sun, a painting without paint yet by an unknown artist. The blooms arrived late March this year, three months later than last. The squirrels haven’t feasted on them yet for they didn’t notice their arrival. It will only be a matter of time. All in nature is beautiful and all is consumed by nature. Daffodils, hyacinth, tulips dot the garden where sprouts of Black-Eyed Susans, coneheads, day lilies poke through the ground. Iris blades cut the air as foxglove, aster, phlox, and butterfly weed clump in bed. Just in front of the garden, she walks the sidewalk; dances around grove joints; tip toes around cracks; hops over the curb onto the street. Begins her dance again over cracks in the asphalt. As she makes her way across the street she passes him–he who speaks to himself with massive gestures of hands and arms, nodding head, lips flapping, and no one is near him. He stops and watches the woman oddly dance on the sidewalk, shakes his head, and walks. A once beautiful sycamore stands with no foliage, no seeds dangling from limbs. Just a standing skeleton left behind by lantern flies who have moved on to another place for destruction. Just under rattling suckers and branches is a home covered in ivy, even the windows are not visible. Wooden entrance door is peeling and the cement steps are crumbling. Last year’s brown grasses a foot high break apart in wind, thistle colors the yard…

Catch the whole wave right here!


Contributing Writer & Poet KJ Hannah Greenberg provides a small snapshot of what war looks like for the innocent souls stuck in the middle.

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

What do we do with war? We survive, everyone, holding one another and ourselves higher than smoke (if you like this story, KJ’s short fiction is now collected in An Orbit of Chairs, available now).

Here’s a bit of her story, The Flour Maestro to get you started:

Age of Wreckage ~ Tyler Malone

Heloise poured the chickpea flour into a bowl. She added baking powder to the legumes that she had pulverized in her coffee grinder. She hoped that chickpea pancakes would be tasty. Meanwhile, every time that a fighter jet boomed overhead, she’d stop measuring. She paused for air raid sirens, too.

Normalcy was becoming as scarce as fresh meat or fresh lettuce. The war had interrupted the supply chain and both farmers and grocers were short-handed as foreign workers had returned to their homelands and as junior employees were serving in battle.

Because Heloise had fortified her cupboard, she was able to distract herself. For as long as her provisions lasted, she meant to create scones, danishes, and more to brighten the days of her neighbors and their children.

The wee ones were shaken by the months of unpredictable events, especially by the kidnappings and deaths, as well as were missing their fathers, i.e., men who came home unannounced every few weeks. What’s more, those tykes, like the adults in their lives, were troubled by the food shortage.

With each passing week, Heloise became more passionate about her vocation. Indulgences elevated lives…

Read it ALL right here!

••• Open Mic •••

Join Mad Swirl this 1st Wednesday of May (aka 05.01.24) when we’ll be doin’ the open mic voodoo that we do do at our OC home, BARBARA’S PAVILLION!

Hosts Johnny O & MH Clay will 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 loco legend, Josh Weir!

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 Podcast •••

In this quarter’s episode of “Inside the Eye” Chief Editor Johnny O & Poetry Editor MH Clay chat with fellow Mad Staffers Short Story Editor Tyler Malone & Visual Editor Madelyn Olson and get 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 on Spotify!


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…

Feelin’ It…

Johnny O
Chief Editor

MH Clay
Poetry Editor

Tyler Malone
Short Story Editor

Madelyn Olson
Visual Editor

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