Image by Radek Homola


the madrigal, volume iii

Tucumcari Satori

by leah mueller

Toad hopped away
from the gas campfire,
made its way in my direction.

A purposeful beast,

Toad had watched the flames
from a safe distance, and

determined it was free from threat.

It paused for a moment
like a stray cat and
allowed me to stroke its back.

Toad was in no hurry to leave.
I worried it might be stunned
by a second story balcony drop

from the nearby Roadrunner Motel.

The owners pumped
60s commercials nonstop

through vintage radio speakers

and monitored their ice dispenser

for scofflaws. Toad
was zen. Toad had been
around the parking lot before.

It took off, finally,
hopping through the uneven gravel

towards the office,
in full view of predators.

Amphibian on a mission.
There could be moisture
behind the washing machine,
or some discarded vegetable matter.

You take what you can find

in the desert, especially

if you’re born without

spikes and claws. Toad
hops. That is its only defense.

Meanwhile, I can barely climb

the wrought iron staircase
to my hundred-dollar mattress.

Once there, it will take hours

for me to get comfortable.

I imagine Toad’s sleep

will be deeper than mine.

Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona.  Her most recent books, "Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices" (Czykmate Press), "Death and Heartbreak" (Weasel Press), and "Cocktails at Denny's" (Alien Buddha) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears in Rattle, Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and elsewhere. Visit her website at