The Best of Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum : 05.26.12

“A poem is a naked person...” Bob Dylan

untitled (above) by featured artist, Nicholas Walton-Healey.

Whatever filter decisions this Australian photographer is making, we're definitely diggin' it. Nicholas Walton-Healey's unique and blurry exposition of small town Ballarat not only caught our attention, but also left us astounded. In their peculiar view, you can make out images, but why would you want to? A road, when captured the way Walton-Healey's captures it, is much more than a road, and becomes every color, every line, blurred into a mass of what can only be described as beauty. And what was the goal behind it? Walton-Healey tells us it "sought to explore the way identity is formed and maintained in small rural communities". Can you dig that? If you can, check out a few of our favorites here. - mio


This last week in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum... we started "off" - off path beaten, off instructions parentally implanted; we ignored an adage to upset individuality, instead indulged an egg cream craving; we (should have, could have) squelched a squeeze of square into round; we considered a collection of sandals and seaside kisses; we lavished beauty with language, better now with words spoken, while beauty is before us, than later with words written, after beauty is gone; we bounced off beauty a another time, all about a girl; lastly, better borne upon bygone remembrance, we poked perfections past into peaceful present expectations. A beauty-full week! - mh

Backstroke into the blackness

One star, fifty bats and six gray-white swirls of cloud
against the coming black, fig darkness,
so ripe I want to peel it back and swallow,
skin and all.

Here, face to the sky, the singing dusk world
sapped of frog song, screaming geckos softly
muted with the pillowcase of pool water
close against my ears, I begin to forget—

Forget how you sound—even your
lilting accent from nowhere, everywhere,
the words you made up, even the slapping of
your long, flat feet against our tile floor;

Forget your face, the look of it, the feel
of the tight-bound curls both rough and
smooth to touch as I would run
my hands around its slim perimeter.

Would that with my consumption of this fig
night I could swallow the time between
us, devour the hours that have held us
suspended – so –
to blow back into our lives
the scope of a year in our youth,
when each week spread like spring
branches of some ancient oak.

Better than this: our aging deflates days so each
unfurls, halting
and closely held,
like some night-sprung flower—
so sweet it smells, so soon it dies.

If such are the days remaining,
I long only for you
to fly back with the bats and float
with me in this mute dusk,
breathe life into memories gone to dust.

And when the dark comes we will inhale it,
seeds and skin and fruit and
an ever-turning future.

- Catherine McQuade

(1 poem added 05.26.12)

editor's note: Yes, inhale the dark; swallow whole the sweet fruit of your experience. Make more, grow more. More! - mh


I think of you when
the moon howls
the sun rains
the lions do ballet
on marble floors,
I think of you when
the turquoise waves crash
the red curtains sway
the white kitten crosses
the street,
I think of you
on the train
in the kitchen
in the hands of another;
one two three
and still
it is
you taught me to love--
but like most things
it took me too long
to learn
and by that time
you were gone,
but you are here with me tonight:
in my smiling heart.

- Brenton Booth

(added 05.25.12)

editor's note: When hindsight's twenty-twenty and the abandoned should be crying, this poet's picked up plenty; turned his heart to smiling. Nice! - mh


She was so beautiful,
I don’t think that
I told her that

I was always worried
that she would think me
interested in her
for shallow
and not her
and such.

So, I held back
on telling her
how beautiful she was
as much
as I thought it,
and when I did,
it was always with the
that true beauty
comes from the inside
and that this is what
she possessed
in such a big way.

It was probably
the right approach.
But if I had it to do
if she were still
I would
into her eyes
every single morning,
and whisper
into her ear
that she was
the most beautiful
I have ever known.
And she was,
she truly

- Paul Sexton

(1 poem added 05.24.12)

editor's note: Yes, she was! - mh


At the risk of being misconstrued,
your shoulders fluffed themselves
like flamingo feathers darkling brine
below the ankle-deep Atlantic.

Like a puffer fish your shoulders
inflamed each organic fold of engorged lip over lip,
thunder clouds tattooing your coral neck.

Ah, that’s how I’ll always remember
our delicious kisses
that night you left a sandal,
or someone left a sandal,
(right one as I recall) on that seawall
barely two hundred moonlit yards
below the spidery legs
of the Lake Worth pier.

- Alan Britt

(1 poem added 05.23.12)

editor's note: Sandals on a seawall need not be notches on a gun; no trophies, just sweet reminiscences. - mh

Desire Isolates

Desire isolates: an extension cord
short of the outlet

hair, curls, cheekbones
she leans forward over an old desk

a cup of questions
in a coffee mug, in her hands

a white puffy ski jacket
a yawn filled with amalgamated longing

my imago mixed flummoxed,
unable to declare itself

meetings, skirmishes
little victories, scant defeats

skits, pratfalls
cues, preludes upon preludes

- James Esch

(added 05.22.12)

editor's note: Cramped chrysalization occurs when socket is mismatched to plug; scenarios unfold but denouement is dodged. - mh

Happy Hour

On the back of a cardboard
coaster in Pomona:

"Individuality exists as the error
of Enlightenment: we fight
to merge with every motion,
looking for like-minds,
in practice or purpose,
abnegating like angels:
grit in the lungs."

A set-back bar with ample parking
and ten-cent boneless chicken
wings, I order another egg cream,
weigh out externalities,
watch the cars of new friends arrive.

- Brendan McEntee

(added 05.21.12)

editor's note: A lot to consider on a cardboard coaster; along with some wings (hot), a Bloody Mary (double) and the Lord's Prayer (written) on a grain of rice. - mh

Off Book

Your and my Parents urged about the same
To shape us into well-bred, well-breeding Adults.

Don’t Smoke. Don’t Eat Junk. Don’t Abuse Drugs.
Don’t Be A Criminal. Don’t Murder Anyone. Don’t Hurt Others.
Don’t Quit On Life Before It Quits On you.

Our parents didn’t say stay off any treadmills,
Living each day like the next, etc.
Nary a warning about addiction to Routine, its disemboweled
Thoughts droning through an aftertaste of mornings, painfully rehearsed.
How many of us, headline-concussed, are slaves to what we have slated?
We sanctify the daily Agenda , tabular compass on the rough sea for many.
It clubs our fear of riotous uncertainty—embalms our comfort fetish.
And the unfettered Scheduler, how he pantomimes a whiskey-faded droid,
Unfeeling to the up-and-down, monsoon vicissitudes
Passing off as life’s waking carnival ride.
Try to look away from his gears, as he is programmed to obey a Timesheet.

Was I that robotic monster ripping off your lapis lazuli skin to
Expose the prelapsarian, evaporated years?

Mechanical reruns, I taste their indigestion,
How they diluted memories of yesterdays,
Metamorphosis of dates and years to detached, mothball numbers:
Decade sprint on a treadmill of the same day—
Ten years flushed out our heads.

Tenderly we save best when we shoot from the hip unscheduled
Impromptu tempers, moments beyond earshot of the day Planner.
Like the hushing flash of blushed life in a newborn’s smile,
The June sunset, when it detains you in its surreal Martian glow,
Vividly erect goose bumps you get when the nostalgic harmonica plays,
Or when you meet someone’s eyes
And momentarily Fall Outside of yourself, your coffee-ground pit.

Within those larva stories your monarch Anamnesis forms
To remind you, the burlesque migratory toad, you were Here.
You could surrender to the monotonous tick and talk
To stall a transgendered, foot-tapping Death behind the curtains,
A place to inhale no last spook in a forgetfully long tale.
Or You could Overlook that schedule more,
Chance sooner dying a barfly’s memento, a Storied Creature.

- Mike Shaw

(added 05.20.12)

editor's note: Off book, off road, off kilter; step aside the slotted path, drop the poke-eyed filter. Better to die a Storied Creature than automoton sans remark or feature! - mh


The whole Mad Swirl of everything to come keeps on keepin' on... now... now... NOW! Every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, every decade, every every EVERY there is! Wanna join in the poetic conversations going on in Mad Swirl's Poetry Forum? Then stop by whenever the mood strikes! We'll be here...

Naked, (figuratively speaking:)

Johnny O

MH Clay
Poetry Editor


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