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Image by Nick Walker


the madrigal, volume iii

The Pepper and the Toad

by evan burkin

“Up to my ass”
said the pepper
“in alligators”
on an Orleans Eve

“Keep your ass up”
spoke the pale-lit toad
is a better spice”

They spoke between spoons of gumbo
straight-legged, shoulders bowed
their backs laced against the glades
of burlesque crawls

“It’s all a myth”
the pepper and the toad agreed.


For under the tobacco night
Mississippi Queen brewed
between the lanterns of jazz

And so the toad
drifted along the path of faerie flights

As a couple dashed hand in hand
for the julep bay

Lighting across the lily walk
until their blue lips

The pepper’s stem.

Evan Burkin is particularly fond of Russian authors: Dostoevsky, Sokolov, Shiskin, Nabokov, Akhmatova, among others. He works as a development writer at his alma mater, where he studied creative writing in California. His work has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Analogies & Allegories Literary Magazine, Feral, and Sur. 

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