JACKFRUIT’S LITTLE COUSIN
weird fruit sells us at grocery store sale prices. winter outside. cold brings in unexpected want for sun brings in want for petalling bodies shooting straight from soil want for tangy for tropics. so, weird fruit. cornerstore marketplace vendor with big brown eyes & crimson cheeks flushed hot from the chilled snow says try says taste in winding words vectored with beauty absent from American dialect. she says pick it up please and taste it, just taste it, so with the fruit in our two mouths we chew and swallow another place teeming with ferns holding fan branches high above the palms the coconuts swaying swaying swaaayyyyying then clapping falling tumbling into our tender moist hands. we buy lots. we buy so much weird fruit from wondrous places we wonder if we truly belong here. so we leave the next day, one-way to madagascar where there are plenty of weird fruits fruiting weird seeds growing weird trees. we meet locals underneath a canopy of violet and near neon nile of chlorophyll countering crabbish crayon-brown bark. they wear the most gorgeous dresses of nothing, their skin glinting sunlight into our fresh baby eyes as they lead us through the jungles and translucent insects and endangered cryptids with locks of decagonal cranium sectors sectioned into rows like wheat or barley. the locals tells us they’re nonthreatening and lead our tender calloused fingers to the many tails of the creatures, lending us the softness of the languid feathers, thousands of them, hundreds of thousands stranding from the mewing presences, their heads topping the canopy. the locals tend to the parasites loathing in the cryptids’ skin. we move on. we move on. we move on for days and days and weeks until we are sure the locals have taken us off of madagascar to another place unmapped uncharted untouched. it is true. there are deserts with craigy bluffs, dunes sprinkled with camel spiders and quick lizards, jungle and more jungle, the outer layers of swampy wetlands teething marigold roots sunk into the algae seas. there are fountains of rushing stream water from chopping bricks of glass walls rising from the center of the dunes in thousand-foot exclamations. there are tribes that kiss us with green lips and embrace us with arms of maroon silk. garbed all in flash red robes the group, all of us, even the children, rise to the top of the tallest glass wall through a waterfall. the sun sinks as an orange half-circle resting on the sand. at the top of the glass wall is an edge six feet wide and miles and miles long with weeping willows lining the edges with grace and fluidity, the teary branches sinking to the glass with tiny fruits of baby blue that radiate a menthol coolness. the locals pick one for each of us. we eat them. we chew. swallow. we are swallowed.
DRAGONFRUIT’S LOVELY NIECE
the caves we splash into are all green with glowing radon bacteria that gasp with our presence, a sound that trembles the air wafting through the coliseum caverns. my goodness, they all say in one perfect candor, my goodness we have guests! they scramble to clean their gutters and sweep the rock floors but we tell them there is no need to go through such effort for only two hunters of weird fruit. the taste from the last weird fruit is still hanging on our tongues by a sweet string, something of mint of cherries of mango. the bacteria say my oh my, if you’re searching for weird fruit, we’ve got something for you for sure yes yes! they all stand on tiny legs and the green caves turn into dark caves as the creatures undulate like pacific heartbeat and lead us through tunnels and cracks to a lush garden with a pond of lilies and frogs hopping to and fro between them. the bacteria rush two frogs in midair and bring them to us, a mass shaped like two offering hands. the frogs sit still, chirping in their own tongue. weird fruit! the bacteria say. these are frogs, we tell them, confused. the bacteria giggle, bobbling the pond water. weird fruit! they say again, this time gently pressing the frogs into our lips. the taste…hearty apple mixed with a seedy lemon…a bubbling, a carbonation that fizzles upon our skin…we bite. bite. weird fruit. bite and the frog-fruit juices up red with black crunchy spots as seeds. juices up with the weird blood. dribbling down our chins. there is a horror in the spraying, dripping, gushing frog-fruit blood-juice that we have to laugh and laugh, laugh through the mastication, laugh through the pond, laugh into the pond, laugh below the pond, where there is total darkness, and the neon green radon bacteria wave goodbye with two hands making peace signs, giggling mischievously as we sink sank sunk.
KUMQUAT’S DELIGHTFUL STEP-SISTER
in the pristine blackness we roll quickly and quietly along a damp carpet, a declining hallway. we stay silent. we stay hidden, curled up into fetal defenses, warm embraces of the selves. we cease movement and open our eyes to a single six-foot rod of thin blue light three inches from us bursting from the dark. it is a wavering glitch. it is lovely. we touch it together, our hands brushing each other brushing a something so soft it could only have come from within someone somewhere. there is no pain or fear in the rod. there is no happiness or apathy in the rod, either. the rod merely is. here, with us. it pulses with each brush of finger and releases us into memories shared together thick and thin and in between the brushes of time. it inserts itself into us. there on the playground the blue rod watchfully catches me falling from snapping swing chains. it pushes you to move out of the abuse of your childhood home and takes you, 17, to a man, 25, who looks after you, who loves largely, unstoppable in his drive to protect. the rod teaches each of us latin. french. mandarin. my favorite is hindi. your favorite is japanese. the rod ignites before our eyes into flames that reach farther than space, up to barely visible stars. its fire swirls across the galaxy, collecting into two condensed cubes that then plummet back down and tenderly float onto our outstretched tongues. we fuse together, you and I, limb into unto limb into unto head into unto mouth with the sensation of love bee sting love bee sting and flavor of everything, flavor of creation as we become one flesh one body one and rise as one body still fusing through the darkness through the caves and shoot out as a flesh tree through the surface dunes, our hair growing as branches, our eyes gone but we can still look and see the locals standing below the glass waterfall and smiling, they’re weeping, joyous as we extend the length of the desert and jungle and swamp, lifting our branches and drooping them down as one willow one one. the locals pick something from a branch. it is pink with thin skin. they take bites. their eyes grow big. every one of them gifts us a kiss with the sweetest lips.
Alec Ivan Fugate is an award-winning writer lurking in the wetlands of northeastern Indiana. His work has been published in Confluence and Bending Genres. His debut novel is nearly ready to release into the moon by circus cannon.