The God of Beer

by Tom Badyna


After the thing, she was with sixty men in the next 18 months, or does that
seem like a lot. what if she didn’t count the one weekend she had three,
three doctoral candidates in archeology, one friday and saturday,
technically all on saturday, twenty-two hours, because that sunday she went
to a patio bar in the harbor and all three were sitting at a table having
beer, two stella artois and a dos equix, and she went up to the table and
said so you’re all friends, it seemed so cosmic to her, to sexually wreck
three guys from three bars in twenty-two hours and have them turn out to be
friends and archeologists, and none there among the four knew what the
others knew or didn’t. she didn’t sit or stay for more than one gin and
tonic at the bar. so not counting the cosmic she went bonobo with 57 in 543
days, one every ten days because rarely did she get it on with a man more
than once. Of the fifty-seven — not counting that saturday in june, long
summer white night — there were six she screwed twice, two she did three
times, and one she did six times nonconsecutively a sweet guy the least
filthy less and less so each time on both counts a sad triumph for her. he
was happier. that’s seventy-two bangs in 543 days and nights. married
twenty-five year olds do it that much or more, depending on the survey,
magazine or friends. she said that sucking 57 dick over 18 months was more
personal than before the thing. with brad, dave and slim, it was relatively
impersonal, close your eyes and think of england, if england was sex. slim
was high school and had a short curved dick that was all so much work to
keep hard it was more like an affliction than part of him, and dave named
his dick daniel boone, and then there was brad, and sex was brad, brad was
dick, cock, turn a switch, boing, there it was, six point two inches clean,
kind of lovely and odorless, bicep hard, a disney penis, brad was the human
she got biological with and had to think she had brad’s penis is her mouth
or vagina or ass because it was more like just penis. it was impersonal,
floaty, and whether or not the orgasm and sensations and technique were
good or bad, it was pilates yoga with a dick, a lexus stationwagon stick,
his sperm had a new car smell, it was christmas presents from a
billionaire, it never hurt, it was better after the thing, balling 57 was,
climbing mount porkie-a-lay-la, going for perv and bodily hurt hunger, the
emotions were richer and more complex and larger, encompassing more than
sex, they were sharing a lost world, a loss of the world, a loss of
meaning, refugees after the apocalypse with a future of radiation poisoning
and ugly death like leprosy, it was often grandly tragic, so it was
restraint, chastity to limit it to fiftyseven in 543 days. the thing was
not a terrible event or piece of knowledge like her father had molested her
or her sister. or her lifelong best best friend had moved away, or sartre,
or brad had cheated on her, or she looked on his computer and found a
google history filled with uglies when she had been pure porn with him,
once lubed a fireplace poker and worked it up his ass. it was at breakfast
in june, june again, long summer white nights, the thing. he was at the
table in the half an octagon of baywindows breakfast nook of the kitchen in
brad’s house, and she was cooking breakfast while he read the paper. she
was at the stove in apron tied tight to loose t shirt and plaid boxer
shorts too big, and he looked at her and said I love you, I love you
barelegged and barefoot, you’re so sexy standing there with smooth brown
legs I’m lucky, and she said, there’s no such thing as love. she just said
it and it pleased her to say it. though she didn’t smile, she didn’t know
if she believed it or if it had been on her mind, and brad laughed, we’re
just chemical reactions. my chemicals love your chemicals he said, and she
said, no, not that, and then nothing more and it was silent for a while and
he said what’s wrong, is something wrong, and she said, is something
fucking wrong. what the fuck are we doing, we have jobs and come home and
cook and visit fiends and go to movies and out to dinner and talk about
movies and find new music and think tomorrow we’re going to read books so
we’ll talk smart about what we already know and we might get married and
have kids, we might do this forever, and what the fuck we doing, and brad
said, let’s hie to the beach, let’s pack a chilled cooler with chardonnay
and cheese and fruit and go to the beach sun and water and how that you
said makes you feel alive and connected to body and life the cold salt
water, and she said she liked the idea of wine, but the rest he can pack up
himself and stick it, and she was pleased, though her expression was not,
not to look at her, or out her eyes, these were not good emotions though
they felt pleasing, tingling, like possibilities, a dare, an unknown, and
brad said i’m going to paint the garage, and she said good for you, do you
want help, and he smiled, yeah, and she said, hire somebody then, and that
felt good too, though painting the garage sounded like an okay thing to do,
it sounded tragic, that a twenty-four year old woman would paint the garage
on a sunday, get a dab on her freckles and have a cialis moment with brad,
because you never know when the moment is right, brad’s testicles were a
cialis factory he took for calm for granted, twentyfour years old and her
life was like a cialis commercial with handsome brad who loved her like a
perfect actor, and brad went out and began scraping the garage and she
started in on the dishes but stopped and put on a halter top and was
depressed in the mirror that it didn’t show enough, that it was finally
conservative, as were her shorts, she had nothing to dress like she felt,
not how she wanted to, she did the best she could, she went and drove and
stopped at a patio bar and sat at a table and drank and at four o’clock
brad found her and tried to be lovey dovey and understanding, help me, he
said, what’s wrong, and she said you’ve ruined my life, and he said there
was nothing else, he had tried it and no matter what you did you ended up
with a woman and a home and a job and that’s what it was, and she said who
are you, six years and i don’t know who you are, i know less who you are
everyday, and he said why are you doing this, and she said she didn’t know,
and he said what is it, and she said she it was like a day where the sun
just didn’t set ever and you didn’t know why and though it was the same sun
shining the same on the same scene everything was different, and he smiled
and said he understood, for now, and she said is that a threat, and he said
no, and she called him a pussy, you fucking mealy drone clone pussy wishy
washy good little nazi american style pussy weeny wimp sap, do fucking
something, and he said this is all there is, what do you want, africa’s
been explored sorry i’m not good at math so wallstreet’s out, and even they
learm that at the end this what there is, going to a movie with your
squeeze and walking broad street with globe streetlights lit in the long
white dusk and having drinks and feeling swoozy and swell that you’re with
you, that’s fucking sexy and all there is, and she said you said swoozy,
you fucking said swoozy, i’m getting fucked by a mannequin that says
swoozy, good fucking grief, and he said, okay, we’re making a scene, are
you coming home with me, and that was the thing, she knew she had to go
home with brad or to brad’s house and sleep it off and go to work and call
him with a list for the grocery, if she let this go, which if she didn’t
she had nothing, she wasn’t going to explore africa, and neither were the
assholes she had been drinking with, he was looking, bill, at her and brad,
there were no poets or anyone with anything going on, but bill for a few
minutes talking to her thought he might, he might explore something, and
she had said don’t you know there’s nothing, and he, bill, had looked hurt
and mad a bit instead of leering. brad said, let’s go, and she said are you
going to get mad, and he didn’t like at all how she said that and said i
don’t know what’s got into you but come home when you’re ready.



Tom Badyna is from Toledo, Ohio; worked variety of jobs — roustabout, roughneck, coal miner, cook, tombstone engraver, so on — in a dozen states before settling on being a stonemason and bricklayer twenty years now; currently lives on Long Island NY and has lately taken up writing; published number of stories in Underground Voices and The Republic of Letters.

Photo by Beryl Gorbman


Guaymas Turtle Hunters and Learning to Sing in the Key of Green

 by Carole A Borges

Guaymas Turtle Hunters


All night forced to listen

to the dry gasp and wheeze of the dying turtles.


In the back of the dusty red pick-up truck,

a writhing pyramid of floundering flippers,

dry throats and gaping beaks.


It was all they had to protest with—

those almost human-sounding sighs.


I wanted to rush out, beat my fists against

the men’s chests, beg them to turn

the turtles upright, send them back to the sea.


But, I didn’t.


(Can’t you see

how useless it would be?)


Nothing in this world is more terrifying,

than a gang of men with a job to do



Learning to Sing in the Key of Green


Blessed be the teachers who

did not teach, but stand still as stones,

resonating with the fine sound of I am,


and my books with their green

jungles of words, fierce tiger-lilies,

ferocious mushrooms, lightening struck trees,


and the Mayan flute player who danced naked with me

through so many towns, a crown of grape leaves

dangling in his hair, his amazing skin

that changed color according to my feelings.


But most of all bless this longing

that forced me to bloom. Hyacinth bulb

brought out from a dark cabinet in December.


The flower still secret. Perfume held inside green.

The only promise in my life I’ve ever believed in.




Carole Ann Borges, author of Disciplining the Devil’s County, published by Alice James Books, was raised aboard a schooner on the Mississippi River in the 1950’s. She learned the art of storytelling from the fishermen and river folk she met along the way and also from the river itself. Carole has traveled all over Mexico by thumb, bus, and train. Her favorite spot though was Playa del Carmen where she lived in a small fisherman’s hut right on the beach. Her poems have appeared in a number of literary journals including Poetry, Kalliope, Bardsong, and Soundings East. She has also published a variety of non-fiction essays, newspaper and magazine articles. Currently, she is a staff writer for The Enlightener, a small weekly newspaper in Knoxville, TN. Her memoir Dreamseeker’s Daughter should be out next year.

Photo by Beryl Gorbman



Water, Work, and Women

by Kevin Tosca


Los refrescos? I asked, pointing at the soda machine and wanting to know if I had the right words. I wanted to learn Spanish.

Sí, he said. Te gusta?

No, I said, no me gusta. I hadn’t had a soda in five years. That didn’t mean I didn’t like them, but what it did mean I knew I didn’t have the words for.

Yo también, he said. No soda, no alcohol, no smoke.

No cervezas? I said with an incredulous and jocular something I never trusted when I heard it in my voice. No vino?

No, he said proudly, tres años.

Three years, I said, surprised, and I was. Excess, rather than abstinence, is what is usually found in a kitchen.

No nada, he added, sola agua.

Sola agua? I said, shaking my head, but shaking it a little too much.

The information was interesting, though, and so was the conversation, our longest bilingual one in two years, me and this short, older, brickhouse of a Peruvian man who had bussed hundreds, if not thousands, of my tables.

Agua, he repeated, and trabajo, and—he paused, outlined a woman’s curves with his hands—señoritas.

He smiled a sly, eminently masculine smile.

I was thirty then, and he could have been my father’s age, or older, it was hard to tell, but I knew he worked two jobs, something ridiculous like seventy hours a week, and that he had a wife and kids in Peru he planned to rejoin someday, and that he had at least one girlfriend here, in Wisconsin.

I laughed, but my laugh wasn’t the merriment kind. It was conversational oil, the false lubrication male relationships demanded. I didn’t like this oil, but I thought two foreigners needed even more of it.

He continued to smile and I had no clue what he was thinking. Was he thinking anything?

He slapped me on my back and returned to the dining room to finish his work and his day. I poured myself a cup of water, and thought about his philosophy.

Eventually, I pushed open the swinging doors that led to the dining room. There was a counter there, above where the employees kept their jackets. I leaned against it and took my server’s book out of my apron, its pages where I jotted down the notes for the Spanish words I learned or wanted to learn.

‘Wise’, I wrote. Then ‘adulterer’, then ‘chauvinist’, then ‘wage slave’ and ‘immigrant opportunist’. I wasn’t angry, not at all. As far as philosophies go, I liked his—I had encountered worse—I simply wasn’t going to let it, and that smile of his, go unchallenged. I knew mine could look just as smug.

At home, I found the translations, or the proximate translations. ‘Wise’ is easy. ‘Immigrant opportunist’ is not so easy.

I wrote them down in my book, but as I did so I realized the absurdity of what I was doing. I knew I’d never say those words to him, never confront or challenge him.

The truth was I felt sorry for him, for him and all the other South Americans and Mexicans in the kitchen. That, and that I probably had no idea what I was talking about, anyway. ‘Opportunist’? Maybe, but most likely not. I would never have the balls, or the interest, to find out, to befriend this man, to get rid of my pity and tell him that his philosophy was flawed, that it reeked of masculine and ignorant bullshit.

I tore up the pages with my notes on them, leaving me with a blank page I’d soon scribble some stranger’s order on. I tore up the other pages in my apartment, full of the words I had been collecting and studying, and threw the pieces in the trash. I was about to throw the dictionary away, too, but I stopped and set it on one of my bookshelves instead, which amounted to the same thing.

What I had left was the white page and all of its possibility, which was large, but my doubts were larger. We needed a new language. But where, when, and if.

I shut the book and went to the counter to pour myself a glass of wine, a Malbec from Mario’s part of the world. Then I sat down, put my feet up, and stared at a Renoir I had on my wall, two rosy-cheeked girls, children, in a field, lit by what even a depressed atheist could have been persuaded to call a divine and optimistic light.




Kevin Tosca’s stories have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Thrice Fiction, Fleeting, Umbrella Factory, Underground Voices, Prick of the Spindle and elsewhere. He lives in France. Read more at


Photo by Beryl Gorbman