Like A High Badger
By Billy Coté

When I was in the far hills I came across a badger.
We ran for hours.
That badger became my wife.

She moved to the city to be with me.
I loved her more than you know.
I would have liked for you to meet her,
but she was high on drugs.
You see,
badgers don't take well to city life.
They tend to stay high as shit. Who knew?

My firm has a branch in Badger, New Jersey.
We thought this would help,
but were mis-lead by the name.
There are no badgers.
What's worse, you have to drive everywhere.
Badgers can't fuckin' drive—not when they're high as shit.

What she needed was a place to run, to be among other badgers,
do badger shit.
Our marriage was a nightmare.
We were in a tight spot.

Then I started in on the pills.
I lost my fucking job.

Now I’ve got no stamina.
Each day passes.
Pleasant. Bland. The thrill is gone.

I am slack.
I don't fucking talk to anyone.
I’m trapped in this house on drugs,
when I should be out running wild in the city;
leaning in,
claws out,
like a badger.

My wife started killing dogs and cats in the neighborhood.
There was blood on the porch.
And fur.
They put her down.
What could I do?

Jesus. I sit and fucking think about my wife...
I see her tearing through fields,
ripping rodents apart with her teeth,
biting the shit out of deer.
I choose to remember her this way,
not as a high badger.

What were we thinking?
I ponder this and I want to rip my own head off.

I would, but I'm high as shit.

- - -
A short story of mine will be published this summer by a journal called Literary Juice. Beyond that I have been a working artist for many years. In the late 90’s and early 00’s I was principal songwriter and guitarist for a band called Madder Rose. We recorded four albums for Atlantic Records (three of which were good.)


By Karishma Shetty

Mouth to mouth
I breathe out
And fog up the reflection.
Soundless droplets of mist
Cling to mercurial glass
And sit there, holding on
To words that haven’t
Been conceived yet.

There’s a twinge
In the pit of my stomach
A seed of life
That has promised to sprout.
My innards have coiled down
With a patchwork of bulky nerves
Thatched together to create
That perfect nest.
As I collapse into the sink
And vomit yellow bile words
But no one hears a thing.

I walk into the closet
And lift up my tee shirt.
Cupping both palms
Around my navel
I look through
That kaleidoscope of life
Where the umbilical
Connects to the netherworld
As I resign to sleep.

- - -


Midnight Tea
By S.R. Buckley

Thirteen to twelve. The roar of the kettle, slow-growing, a gradual roiling, filled the kitchen and faded to boiling. Lights on, setting out the windows as black squares. Whole world outside in dark blues, purples, browns. Ghost of a moon. Pleasant night. Stars obscured in the dulled electric glare.

Check: time getting on. Afraid almost to touch the dampened windows. Leave everything as is. TV off; laptop off, put away. Any difference? Who knew. And there, yes, kettle boiled, forgot to scald the pot first but still hot from the last. Heaped spoon of leaves plus change. Perfect.

Friends out—how would it affect them? Shouldn’t he be out? Who knew. Have to cut it short at the wrong time, after pubs but before clubs. Former only just chucking out now. Would be chaos out there. Decline of moral fabric. Hell in a handcart. That sort of thing.

Tea better. Nine to twelve. Tea good in four; he’d time it to perfection. Who knew when the next one would be. Like those huts on the a-road: last hot drink before the motorway. Last burgers. Now there was an idea: would the takeaways be staying open? Donner meat would stay hot for a good while; he was willing to take his chances. Perhaps.

Five to twelve and measure of milk in the bottom of the cup. Perfect amount. Sip a little to get it at just the right level. Bad etiquette to add milk first? Who cared. Milk faded to brown. Perfect.

At three to twelve he sat down, sipping a searing taste of the tea, and let his eyes zigzag unseeing across last Sunday’s paper. Soft yellow light; fridge was humming in the kitchen. Ever so slight rush as the wind took the trees outside.

There was a tiny dim flash, off white, and a few moments past midnight a slow, deep thunder, rolling and stretching, quieter with each echo, drowned by the squawk of a boy racer’s car. The sounds broke, faltered, disappeared.

Bigger gulp of the tea. Throat halted, then yielded. Slight twitch in the eyelid. When was Mick getting back to him about the trip to Sheffield? Never mind.

Another tiny dim flash, off white. Even smaller, now. Like a storm moving away. Long pause, then another roll of slow, deep thunder. This one deeper, more profound. Tiny rattle in one of the windows. Nothing like the thunderstorms you got in May or June, sometimes, or at the end of one of the dog days. But there: a minute tremor, perhaps. The lights flickered off and the fridge cut out in the kitchen; the orange glare fell from the sky and stars began to reveal themselves, with blinking wing-beacons arcing lazily between. What a lovely sky. Tea was perfect, still hot; maybe another left in the pot. Would the mobile networks still be up? Who knew.

- - -
S.R. Buckley is a student from England and writes extensively in his spare time, whether long quixotic science fiction novels or shorter stories and sketches. He has previously been published in the Cadaverine Magazine.


Define: Vespertine
By Andrew J. Stone

1. Of, pertaining to, or occurring in the evening.

2. Opening or expanding in the evening.

3. Or remember that time we danced in darkness? Your lips were painted red and your eyes buttoned black. In between shadows you whispered something into my ear. Your golden breath lingered inside my drum. And do you remember the murder of crows, fleeing from their tree?

- - -
Andrew J. Stone is a pseudonym for life. Andrew J. Stone is a pseudonym for death. He hates the sun, sleeps under its shine. Previous publications include: Phantom Kangaroo, Full of Crow, Danse Macabre, Crack the Spine, Yes Poetry, The Toucan Mag, Magic Cat Press, The Rusty Nail, Negative Suck, Thousand Shades of Gray, Four & Twenty, With Painted Words, Short, Fast, & Deadly, and many more. He recently finished an ekphrastic chap of poetry and is seeking publication. He dwells where the graveyard is always full at: http://andrewjstone.blogspot.com/

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