The Best of Mad Swirl : 07.06.24

by July 7, 2024 0 comments

The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world.

Marc Chagall

••• The Mad Gallery •••


Mad Swirl is thrilled to introduce a new artist to our Mad Gallery: Jeff “Rip” Bender. Rip’s collage drawings evoke the essence of a wildly imaginative (and a little bit deranged) school art project (in the literal best way possible) — suffice it to say, we’re already huge fans. Bender’s work manages to blend both primitive and sophisticated elements, creating compositions that are both dark and whimsical, seemingly random and yet so perfectly and precisely crafted. Rip’s canvases have all the qualities that you’d expect would turn our heads & we know they’ll turn your head too! ~ Madelyn Olson

To see all of Rip’s whimsically primitive yet sophistically dark works, 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 were in the know on come and go; we gave grief sighs from locked blue eyes; we made Cornwall a point of recall; we paid to subscribe to sleep ‘neath a hive; we couldn’t hide from the other side; we found a dastard, a hungry bastard; we spit back at the beckoning black. Our ink is strewn with stars. ~ MH Clay

Drool by Timothy Pilgrim

Won’t be long now — the beckon
of black. Me, prey, dusk
on the prowl. Late sun gutted,
bleeding out. Like a candle —
flame flatlined, flicker snuffed.
The wax whacked, dripped,
pooled. Wick remains turned
to ash. Rubbed out,
gone cool. Even my spit
accepts droop, hangs back,
content to be drool.

July 6, 2024

editors note: A case where it’s better to swallow than spit. – mh clay

Cures for extinction by Mike Zone

The stones of Jerusalem are crying
Too many bloody feet
Streak across our beach
Saltwater tears
Fertile our misery
Body parts give way
Beachfront condos
Gasland sensations
Fuel the world
Feed the rich
Gaza gala

July 5, 2024

editors note: Fat cats – ravaged mice. – mh clay

The Other Side by Stephen Jarrell Williams

The ripple of the sea
rolling in
tickling our bare feet
sitting us up
giving us a deep thrill of laughter

you spring into a dance
naked and wet
sun wrapping warmth
around both of us

“I’ll never forget
this day!”
you say over and over
heat of our bodies
fanning the cool ocean waters

other side of the world cold
bitter and bitten with war
dying in the loss of love
continuous spanking
furies of sin

those that still take breaths
slumping lower and lower
grasping a remembrance
of yesteryears

dry tears like little puffs of air
crawling across splintered floors
tucking up against walls vibrating
incoming strikes
endless hate

planet earth
puncturing itself
continuance of good and evil

wave after wave

July 4, 2024

editors note: On this day, Americans revel in waves of emancipation. Also on this day, others run from waves of subjugation. Both at the same time. – mh clay

On the Beach by Guest Poet Holly Day

It was too windy to put my tent up, but there was a big wooden box
serving as a base for a nearby picnic table
with a door at one end and plenty of space inside, so I pushed my sleeping bag
into the opening and crawled in after it. It was like sleeping in a coffin
I suppose, but the wind came in through the slats and I could hear the waves
crashing along the shore just a few feet from my head,
and if I poked my head out of the end of the box, I could see the arc of the Milky Way
the repetitive flash of the lighthouse out on the bay, more stars than I could ever hope to count

and I thought

I’ll bet there’s some fancy spa out there
that charges good money to set you up in a pine box just like this one
where you can close your eyes and hear nothing but the sea and the birds
where the wireless is so spotty you can’t even pick up a signal on the car’s GPS system
can’t make any phone calls or check your email.

And sure enough, on the flight home, I found an article in the inflight magazine
about a spa in Spain where they shut you up in an elaborately carved pine box
and put a bee hive on top of you so you can lie there, in the dark
listening to the buzzing of hundreds of bees all around you, it’s supposed to be very relaxing
I assume it’s very expensive.
I’ll take my box by the ocean any day, surrounded by the rustling of crabs in the dry brush grass
the cackle of an early-rising seagull as it discovers the bag of chips
I thought I’d locked safely in the car
the neigh of horses in the paddock over the ridge.

July 3, 2024

editors note: Beach or buzz, whatever fits your budget. – mh clay

Point Reyes by Pete Mladinic

I could pull the trigger, drop the lever,
take the leap, execute the act,
buy the ticket for the ride
that would take me to Cornwall,
where I could stand high up
and look down at the thrashing

of foam and spray over rocks,
as I stood at Point Reyes in sun
and wind. I have the means,
but my small voice in my head
says wait. You’ll be in better shape
physically, emotionally, financially

to buy that ticket tomorrow.
It seems just yesterday I bought
tickets that led me to Point Reyes.
In Cornwall I could look far down
at the mystery of that thrashing sea
there before Lear was born

in Shakespeare’s mind, and will be
long after we are gone.
I could look and marvel, as I marveled
with Kirsten whose X-rays told
her doctor who told her her time
to be is not long. I don’t recall

our shadows that day we climbed
rickety stairs to stand out where wind
was as strong as the sea was angry
and eternal. In Cornwall
I could get on a tour bus and sit
with a pint at a table but not with Kirsten.

July 2, 2024

editors note: Place without person, not worth purchase. (Congrats to Pete on the release of his new collection, The Homesick Mortician. You can get your copy here.) – mh clay

Dreams by Polly Richardson (Munnelly)

Your eyes, eyes locked deep, bluest of blues
Brighter than I could ever dream
caught mine, here now, this living
perhaps I’m moth
mesmerised in that mundane moment
of rat race robotic-ness, I colour it
as rainbows fall, unsheep-like as I watch
them above on hills that look down and beckon me
between beeps and do you haves
your eyes, eyes locked deep and world’s rotations
slowed like feathers gentle fall on wind’s sigh
your face morphed in, paused this side
of your veil, that muslin cloth so strong
it keeps you firmly there,
yet your face on his,
the briefest of blinks
seemed like a whole life passed. I held you
between apples and batteries
and have a nice day, my eyes
your blue and I hear
to whom do you do
that look,
this for.
somethings never change
even in death
I can you hear you roll your eyes
And I laugh,
to live bro,
write my dreams
swim naked in moon light.

July 1, 2024

editors note: A moth in mourning, sweet recall, hole in heart. (Hear Polly read this poem on our podcast, “Inside the Eye!”) – mh clay

I’ve lived long enough by David P. Kozinski

that the guitar pickers of my youth rest
one by one on stools at B.L. Otto’s Bar of Oblivion
where there’s always a band auditioning
above the chatter and glass break.

Usually they sit facing the mirror,
watching the barkeep’s towel swish around
but if the band ratchets it up a notch
some of them might swivel
and note the drummer who sounds like two
or the singer, dark hair and eye shadow,
her voice a rust belt river in full moan.

I have friends who’ve outlived children
and some whose grown up kids
don’t return calls or e-mail or text messages;
who won’t acknowledge a birthday card
or congratulations on your new baby.

Maybe when they pass on to the next stop
they’ll shake some of those string stroking hands,
say which songs were favorites,
and before they ask for autographs,
Otto will remind them
everyone’s here to have a good time.

Someday those kids might cross through
the batwing doors, too, mosey
down past mirrored walls and gleaming bottles
stacked ceiling high,
maybe even offer to buy Dad a drink.

June 30, 2024

editors note: A drink is plenty welcome, just a “How’s things?” is welcome more. – mh clay

••• Short Stories •••

If you’re thirsting for a read, Mojave by Contributing Writer Peter F. Crowley just might quench your thirst!

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

Sometimes, it feels like you can’t get a handle on anything. Sometimes, though, you have everything in your hands. What do you do with it all?

Here’s a few dusty words to get you on your way:

A Gift from Above ~ Tyler Malone

The blonde cacti are mountain lions chasing California dead. The long desert highway of Arizona has crows and vultures flying low at the roadsides searching for carrion. Place names have the words of death in them like Dead River, Dead Rodent, Dead Porch, Dead Horse. The grass is sharp and sun-scorched. This is the place where outlaws took their last breaths before getting shot to death and pioneer families got lost, starved to death in the desert and were left for scavengers…

Get the whole barren scene right here!

••• Podcast •••

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

Check out Mad Swirl’s second installment of “Inside the Eye!” Join hosts Johnny O (Founder, Chief Editor, Creative Director) and MH Clay (Poetry Editor, right hand Mad man) as they once again swirl up some podcasting madness!

In this quarter’s episode of “Inside the Eye”…

We once again got the Editor’s Roundtable together with our Mad Staffers, Chief Editor Johnny Olson, Poetry Editor MH Clay, Short Story Editor Tyler Malone & Visual Editor Madelyn Olson and got their highlights from some of our fine contributors in the Q2 of 2024.

We chatted a bit about our recent past & upcoming 1st Wednesday open mics.

We discussed the upcoming website redesign & the launch of our 2024/25 fundraiser.

Lastly, we interviewed the talented & delightful Irish Poet Polly Richardson & we had us quite the chat, we did!

••• Open Mic •••

This past 1st Wednesday of July (aka 07.03.24) Mad Swirl Open Mic whirl’d up the Swirl at our OC home, Barbara’s Pavillion (for 3 years now!), getting the Mad mic opened for ALL you Mad ones out there!

This month we featured OG Dallas Slam Poets, Joaquin Zihuatanejo & GNO!

Grats to ALL the participators & appreciators who rode the Mad wave live at Barbara’s:

Johnny O
Desmene Statum

Musical Overture:
Swirve (Chris & Tamitha Curiel, Gerard Bendiks)

Open Mic:
Roderick Richardson
Sarah Simmons
Gregory Cisneros
Opalina Salas
Alan Gann
Valerie Parsley Crowe
Brian Duran-Fuentes
Harry McNabb
Mz. Jolie
Jean Gallante
A. Psymmetry
Anita Sanchez
Lyric Jane
Lyrik Hunter

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 08.07.24) when we will be featuring Poet Roderick Richardson.

Johnny O

P.S. Here is the full line-up of remaining features for 2024:

August: Roderick Richardson
September: Desmene Statum
October: PW Covington
November: Mad Swirl Open Mic 20th Anniversary
December: Holiday Special

Huge THANKS to our past 2024 features:

January: Inciting the rise of YES & the fall of NO
February: Suza Kanon
March: The Best ofMad Swirl 2023 Anthology Launch
April: Opalina & Carlos Salas / Your Loving Son
May: Josh Weir
June: B Randall

••• Fundraiser •••

To ALL Mad Swirlers:

We rarely ask for help but when we do, it’s for a most excellent cause!

Mad Swirl has a few projects in the works (website redesign, printing poetry/prose collections, etc.) but to accomplish these we are asking for your help.

If you can spare a dollar (or few), every cent donated will go towards growing our creative outlet… and you can say you helped!

Swirlingly Yours,
The Mad Staffers


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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