Do the Breadfruit Mash, Baby by Walter Bjorkman
I had a breadfruit tree in my backyard in Miami. Well, in my new neighbor’s yard, but much of it hung over the fence. Used to be my yard, not really, just an empty lot with the fruit trees on it, owned by the guy who sold me my house, gave me free reign of this fruitfulfeifdom, just for caring for it. Then the Trinidadian new neighbors, then the fence, the orange and grapefruit trees bulldozed. The mango and avocado trees hung over that fence too, providing plenty for all, but were not yet in season. The breadfruit tree was new, transplanted in a condition that bore some small fruit, not ready for harvest, what good is it. And that damn fence that now divided me from my past bounty. I seethed inside, as only the Key Lime tree on my side of the fence was bearing now, so I would pour a coupla Cuba Libres and we would sip them alone in our lounge chairs, staring at the new neighbor’s yard and our old trees, muttering to ourselves.
Then they invited us over for a night of masi, the fermented mash beverage from the breadfruit, from their yard back in Trinidad. All was forgiven, the memories of the past becoming a vision of the future and future friends.
Walter Bjorkman is a writer of sorts, meaning there is no sort he will not write about. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but always had a taste for the wilderness, be it city, forest, beaches or desert. He is published in various editions of Poets and Artists (O&S), metazen, Blue Print Review and OCHO.
* * *
Stations of the Cross by Maggie Sokolik
She had seen those nutjobs who carried Jesus-sized crosses around the Old City, walking the stations of the cross in their self-serving piety. They were worse than the Haredim, the hard core Jews with their goofy hats and bald wives. Each hat told where its wearer was from, although she didn’t know which hat went with which place. She imagined the big fur ones were from Poland, or some other frigid clime.
There it was–a cross, leaning in the corner against the ancient wall. She had often wondered how heavy they were. She picked it up and felt its weight–lighter than she imagined. A stone in the wall of the Via Dolorosa showed the symbol VII. She had no idea what the seventh station was–an Arab shopkeeper across the narrow cobblestone walkway said, “Jesus fall the second time.” He didn’t look up from his newspaper.
“What?” she asked. His coffee smelled like cardamom.
“Jesus fall the second time. You want a map? Ten shekels.”
“No thanks,” she said. “Can I just look at one?”
He shook his head.
“Do you know where the eighth station is?”
“Around the corner. By the souk. Jesus meet the daughters of Jerusalem.”
She picked up the cross, put it on her back, and walked towards the scent of cinnamon and cloves.
Maggie Sokolik teaches writing at UC Berkeley. She is the author of several textbooks, and lots of stories in her head. She is originally from Olympia, Washington but now lives in the Bay Area.
* * *
A story they might tell by Bernard Heise
To save our small South Pacific island from the rising tides of global warming, our ancestors turned to Google and the sacred breadfruit tree. From Google they got the names – thousands upon thousands – which they compiled in lists. From the tree, they plucked the breadfruit, which they shaped as human heads, inlaid with pretty stones and shells, drawing upon each a corporate logo or a flag, and inscribing a name: a captain of industry, finance or government. Streaked with war paint and chanting loudly, they split the fruit open with their clubs, boiled it in water, and then picked the meat clean with their forks. And in time zones far, far away, the bankers, executives, and demagogues suddenly began to disappear, vanishing from beneath their silken sheets, evaporating in the business class compartments of jet liners, the back seats of chauffeur-driven limousines, and behind the protective cordons of security teams. There was much weeping from laser-corrected eyes and gnashing of orthodontured teeth. And as if our ancestors had jammed the trunk of a coconut tree between the spokes of a giant bicycle wheel, the industrial gyroscope came to an abrupt halt, flinging millions upon millions of bodies into the oceans and into space. Years later, we still marvel at the sparkling night sky, following with our eyes the moving points of light as the debris of capitalism reenters the atmosphere and burns. We tell stories, like this one, drink kava, and eat well, for the breadfruit tree is bountiful.
Bernard Heise lives on a sailboat in the South Pacific. He monitors the sun as it rises and sets; he keeps a watchful eye on the tides. And when the spirit moves him, he animates the mummified corpse of 15th-century Anglo-Saxon bishop and mounts the pulpit at the Church of Rebar Jesus (http://churchoftherebarjesus.blogspot.com).
* * *
My Girlfriend’s Birthday by Matthew Hamilton
I bought my girlfriend a basket of breadfruit for her 21st birthday.
“What’s all this jackfruit doing on the table?” she asked. “And why are there candles stuck in them?”
“Breadfruit,” I said, smiling.
“Whatever. What’s it doing here?”
“I bought it,” I said. “You eat it.”
“Obviously,” she said. “What for?”
“You’re kidding,” she said, smiling uncertainly. “You want me to look deeper, move the fruit around. Is that it?”
“No,” I said. “Why would I want you to do that?”
“I don’t know,” she said, but I could tell she wanted to say something more.
“So why don’t you bake it and let’s see if what they say about it is true.”
“You want me to bake something for you on my birthday,” she said. “Are you retarded?”
“Just try it.”
She rolled her eyes. “What will happen if it’s baked?”
“It’s supposed to look like bread,” I said. “Hence the name.”
I tried to give her a kiss, but she gently pushed me away.
“Blow out the candles,” I said, “and let’s slice one open.”
“Okay, fine,” she said. She was irritated; that made the surprise worth it.
When she pulled out the little black box, she looked up at me. Her eyes were watering.
We were married a week later.
Come on, did you really think I’d buy breadfruit for my girlfriend for her birthday?
Matthew A. Hamilton is a US Peace Corps Volunteer serving in the Philippines. He has work in Metazen, Crows Nest Magazine, Long Story Short, and others. He has forthcoming working in Black Lantern Publishing and The Battered Suitcase. After service, Matthew will pursue an MFA in Creative Writing at Fairfield University.
* * *
Details by Damian Pullen
I’m waiting, again. He arrives finally, breathless. “Sorry, babe, but it was so cool, that guy was out there, standing in this fucking… temple to materialism, in his robes, rapping about consciousness…with these shopping zombies everywhere… outta sight!”
He slams The Bhagavad Gita on the table and ploughs into his cold burger, slurps Coke, says: “I’m gonna join. It’s so full-on. 4am chants, tilling the fields, eating vegetarian…”
“So… is American week over? We haven’t watched Fight Club yet…” I’m still wearing my homemade “Don’t Forget To Kill Philip” t-shirt, from zombie week.
“Yeah, man, this is more… real! These guys live what they believe – unlike all these fucking…. Christians!” The kids at the next table stare. He burps. They giggle.
He slips his hand down my pants, squeezes my bum – my ass, I mean. Or is it fanny? That’s the problem. I get hung up on details. He’s always on to the next thing – like thinking about sex while still eating. Once he went down on me under a restaurant table.
Still, ever-hopeful, I say: “You know they’re into chastity, right?”
“So, let’s go do it, before I take my vows!” He’s gone. I clear the table.
I find him at The Paradise Market. “What the fuck are these?” He strokes one, sniffs it. I mention Bligh, the Bounty, and slaves who didn’t like them after all. He interrupts: “We gotta try one!” I wait outside the travel-agent holding breadfruit and Bhagavad Gita, while he gets brochures on Tahiti.
Damian Pullen was born on May 16th 1968 but many more important things happened on this day in history. For example, the Campbells Soup company introduced SpaghettiOs (1965), Tony Kakko, Finnish singer, was born (1975), and “Bodacious” the bull died (2000). Bodacious was a legendary bull. Only six men ever completed their professional rodeo rides on this 1800 lbs. of raging Charbray bull. Bodacious was the only bull so feared he was retired to protect the lives of bull riders everywhere.
* * *
The Treasures of ‘Ulu by doug bond
She has promised you medicine, her best silk, and the treasures of
breadfruit, the one she calls ‘Ulu. All types of tricks and sorceries.
It is close, just the other side of your skinny island. Tonight go to
the pool house, you will find her there.
Stare well into your reflection, the small portal window. Light the
rope end, pull shirt loose, cross arms, listen. You have followed her
instructions and picked the ripest globe from the tree, the one she
said with white sap on the skin. The long pole and hook has lifted it
free. Hold the curved blade sharp on your hands. Strike at the bone.
Light cracks the pool house, and you find her there wrapped in an
aquamarine tapestry, her bare legs folded under float lines, waiting
with handfuls of small cut jewels and feathered red scarves. The cone
lights ghosting a blue and green fog split the far wall with candle
The wind tricks the lock shut. The hourglass is turned. Your feet
touch together and you hold them.
Bells on the fishing boats flail in the harbor, and the causeway beams
white from the signal light tower. Feel the distance and opening of
its arc to the sea, beyond the outer bar, where unseen ships slip
further into black.
Doug Bond has endured life in Manhattan and along the Western fault lines, most recently in San Francisco in loving, creative partnership with his wife, daughter, Ben (a Lab), and assorted other hungry creatures. Doug has been in the habit recently of sharing a variety of Amuzementz including his own writing at http://dougbond.posterous.com/ and also at Fictionaut.
* * *
Knowing by Ajay Nair
‘You are a little porcupine, aren’t you? All sensitive and bunched up and thorns shooting out your body.’ She said this in a gay, sing-song voice, her head bobbing up and down. She was a big woman, a massive, misshapen tree of a woman, wrapped in a rain-coat the size of a tent. She wore a cap on her head, its beak peeking out, drops of rain slipping of its edge like so many pieces of transparent candy.
Stroman, eleven, looked up at her as she pushed against him on the bus-stop. She had a fat face full of curves and if this were a movie, she’d be a cinch for the kind neighbor.
‘So what kind of girls do you like, kid?’ she asked again, her voice swaying dangerously in the breeze that was lifting up from the just-rained-on ground. She could squish his head between her thumb and her forefinger if she wanted to, Stroman thought.
‘Or is it boys you like?’ Her voice came out low and even, no cadence any more, no music. It was the smooth, hard bark of a tree. The curves on her face had straightened out and her eyes were squinting down at him, tiny stones of accusation. Stroman felt a prickly heat spread inside him in spite of the rain.
Ajay Nair lives and works in Mumbai. He is an entrepreneur at a live music events firm, having been a private equity investor, an investment banker and a business consultant in the past. He believes that Tendulkar is god, which regrettably is a notion his wife Anita disagrees with. More of his writing is up at If I sang out of tune and at Fictionaut.
* * *
Fruit of the Gods by Catherine Russell
“Oh alright,” he said, grabbing the fruit from her and pulling out his pocket knife. He used it to peel the bulbous green skin away from the milky center.
“You haven’t had this before, right?” she asked, staring at the cream colored pulp.
“I just always though it sounded gross,” Josh said. “There’s all sorts of stories about it tied in with Hawaiians and the mutiny on the Bounty and even some weird god’s head.”
“No, literally the head of a god. Like we’re eating his brains or something.”
Kaylee wrinkled her nose. “Gross.”
“Plus, it just doesn’t look good.”
“Yeah,” she said, “but sometimes looks are deceiving.”
He bit into the fruit.
“So…what’s it taste like?” she asked.
“Braaaaaaaiiiiinnnnnns,” he said, tackling her. They both fell, laughing.
“Remind me not to let you watch any more zombie movies,” she said, grabbing the fruit and taking a bite. She turned to Josh. “That’s not what brains taste like anyway.”
“Really?” he said. “And how would you know?”
“Experience,” she said, grabbing his hair and biting into his skull. She sat munching, red speckling her chin. “Oh, don’t look so surprised,” she told the corpse. “I already told you – looks can be deceiving.”
Catherine Russell is currently trying to publish her first novel. She writes short fiction, poetry, and learns more about the craft every day.
* * *
Homage by Elizabeth Irvine
Kele! Hey! You there! What are you doing hacking into my breadfruit tree with that enormous knife? That tree has nourished the family of Roberto for generations, unsullied by vandals and vagrants alike. What remorseless rogue rends the bark of an unassuming and helpless tree? What crenulated bundle of rumpus dares to trespass and strike without provocation? Young sir, you are tastelessly overdressed for a morning of lawless machete wielding! What deranged dilettante wears an evening gown and Jimmy Choos to caulk a canoe? I warn you, Sir, your dangerous penchant for iridescent accessories and waspish waistline will not disguise that five o’clock shadow in the crystalline light of day! You are nothing but a swarthy, bewhiskered, lumber jacking Paris Hilton sans chihuahua. Is that a BOX of wine? Sir, you go too far! Slashing at my family’s very sustenance with your sword, your crimes against fashion (although I do rather like that scarf failing to obscure your adams apple… Hermes?) and now this… this BOX of warm, half swilled Zinfandel at your humongous stilettoed heel? You are a desperate degenerate and I curse you! A pox upon your sparkly, push up, Dita Von Teese Wonder Bra! What? For me? Really? It is Hermes, isn’t it? Why yes, it does highlight the yellow feral glint in my eyes quite nicely, doesn’t it? Kimi is it? Lovely name. Charmed to make your acquaintance, I am Roberto the fruit bat.
Elizabeth Irvine is a professional horse trainer and smart ass and an amateur author. She is currently living in self imposed exile in Pendleton, Oregon.
* * *
Breadfruit by Peter Larsen
Never eaten, touched, smelt or even seen a Breadfruit
or maybe I’ve seen them many times at the fruiters
but how would I know? I climbed into the huge green brain
of a Totara that stood on the mown, roundabout island
where I grew up, which has nothing to do with Breadfruit.
Living there I heard our dish-scrubber was made from the tangled,
dry husk core of a Breadfruit.
Our new Taiwanese (were they Taiwanese?) neighbor’s daughter
played the violin under the willow
and they bought their son a dog named Lion. Strangest thing
to see them on an autumn morning, as a family,
picking up dead leaves and putting them in a cardboard box
with an unfathomable solemnity. I don’t know
what they did with the dog, but one day
their son was howling and Lion was gone.
The girl came up to me asked
“Why are all the trees dying”, which I did not comprehend
till she pointed to the falling leaves. I suppose they
came from a tropical, urban place and knew nothing
of the reality of Autumn? I explained autumn best I could.
She was bewildered then they all came over
with foods we’d never tasted. When we began washing
the dishes the neighbourly wife looked on in mock horror,
ran home and gifted us her scrubber. It cut through
all the crap and didn’t scratch the Teflon. I think she said
it was made from Breadfruit.
Peter Larsen is a poet living in Whangarei, New Zealand.
* * *
Breadfruit by R.G. MacLeod
There it was again.
Well, actually, it was another one, one of about a dozen or so. This big green bumpy lumpy thing, a breadfruit.
Someone had just tossed it in the pit with the pig. I say pit, but it was just a big pile of rocks. Very hot rocks. These people had never heard of hickory, applewood, or pecan but that didn’t stop them from thinking they knew something about barbecue. Back home barbecue is what gets you elected. The dogcatcher couldn’t get elected without putting on a barbecue. These people had never heard of a dogcatcher.
Fortunately, they had heard of God. Not so many years ago, it might have been me on those hot rocks.
Breadfruit grows in Indonesia, Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, all over the South Pacific. It was taken everywhere humans settled, often in outrigger canoes fashioned from the trunks of the trees that bore the fruit.
I didn’t come here in a canoe. I plummeted from the sky, riding down on a pillar of smoke and flame until I un-jammed my canopy and hit the silk seconds before my P-38 slammed into the reef.
As I watch steam and smoke curl from between banana leaves, I see a submarine surface beyond the reef. It’s American, come to take me back to Guadalcanal. The warriors paddle me out to meet the sub as I wonder about the meal I missed. I eat on the submarine. Never has Spam tasted so bad.
R. G. Macleod lives and writes in Florida.
* * *
Blind Date by Martin Brick
Art museum. Traditional Garden of Eden. Adam. Eve. Strategic leaves.
“I read an article about how it couldn’t have been an apple. The author suggested it most likely was a fig, geography-wise.”
“For real or just arguing horticulture for curiosity’s sake?”
“Don’t remember. But it makes you wonder, why apple?”
“Apple in Latin is “malus” which is also Latin for evil.”
“Like malevolent.” SAT practice!
“Red works well for the art. Complimentary to all that green.” Then, “What would you use?”
“Not an apple. They ripen in the fall. Ever been apple picking?” Didn’t wait for her answer. Probably should have. “A brisk day, right? That doesn’t mesh with walking around naked.” Best word to use? Nude? Unclothed? “I don’t mean to cliché the Bible, with nudity, temptation, paradise…, but we have a default for tropical lushness. So I’d go with something vaguely exotic. Mango?”
She doesn’t comment or even show judgment.
“I like breadfruit.”
“Breadfruit?,” with implied “what the fuck is a…”
“Polynesian. Rather pale with a rough surface. But that’s not important. I like it for the metaphor. In the Bible salvation comes through the Bread of life, right? So if the fall begins with bread, then bread has a chance to redeem itself. There’s more consistency, more wholeness. By extension, humans are more responsible for their salvation, less a gift from God.”
Thoughtful theory. He’s thinking, this date is not ending in my bed, is it? She thinks, Exactly, but do you know why not?
Martin Brick is an Assistant Professor of English at Ohio Dominican University. His publications include The Cortland Review, Vestal Review, Sou’Wester, Pindeldyboz, and other places. He is a past Pushcart nominee and a former editor of Wisconsin Review.
* * *
Breadfruit, by Elizabeth J. Colen
You choose any moment rather than this one. Listen to the cat hemmed in by dogs who won’t do anything. “They tease,” you say and still stare out at the sound. It’s a few blocks over and still you stare. “You know that painting?” you say. “What one?” “Cezanne’s Paysage.” I have no idea what you’re saying and so shrug like I don’t care you’ve made another reference I can’t latch to. “I want trees,” you say. But we both know how we go to fresh air like fish, gasping. And the time we tried to make love in the back of the truck, which had filled partly with dropped plums, overripe and messy. Juice stained our skin and our clothes. We looked butchered. And then there were the ants. “You don’t want that,” I say. And you say, “sure I do,” which is also what you said about living together and look how that’s gone. “I think she got away,” you say, face to pane, but then the mewling starts up again.
* * *
Ever Have Breadfruit? by Susan Tepper
Ever have breadfruit? says your sister.
Like banana bread? you say.
Think outside the box, says your sister.
Aggressive, you say.
Well I’m trying, says your sister.
It’s all those guys, you say.
A regular war zone, says your sister.
Weapons and tanks? you say.
More like mean, says your sister.
Why do some men turn mean?
That one’s easy, says your sister.
They know they won’t be getting laid?
I’ve known a bunch like that.
Whole platoons, you say.
Peel a banana, says your sister.
For breadfruit? you say.
* * *
Your Love Is Breadfruit, Falling from the Sky by Christian Bell
He never mentioned his song “Breadfruit” fell from the sky, landed in his hand. The song climbed the charts: most downloaded, most played, most everything. People everywhere humming the lyrics, your love is breadfruit, falling from the sky, slicing me open, heart primed to fly. He never revealed one day he awoke to pouring rain, thought he heard someone strumming his guitar. He walked to his living room, walls of windows, the world outside wet green grass. Inside him, a feeling. Go outside, walk, over the hill, to open field. His first experience with such a feeling.
He moved through scrambled eggs and crisp smoky bacon. Next to him an open sketchpad for lyrics. Steady rain became sun and breeze. The feeling still there. He said, what now, echoing in the room. The feeling pushed him. So he went outside, across wet grass, water and pine scented breeze. Over the hill, into open field. He stopped, looked skyward, extended an open hand. How dumb, he thought, then suddenly, a falling object. A green sphere, surface like sandpaper, landed gently in his hand. Breadfruit—somehow, he knew, without ever seeing one before. He stood there, gazing first at the breadfruit then to the sky, fear moving to wonderment. He spoke: breadfruit, falling from the sky.
That happened six months before. Since then no more feelings. Some mornings, though, he awoke to phantom guitar strumming. Some mornings, he looked to the sky, thought, I’m wide open, I’m ready to catch what’s next.
* * *
Rough Cut by John Chapin
Cut jakfruit sits on the tin table. The flesh is pale yellow and rubbery, cadaver labia. He shakes his head, wrinkles his nose.
She chooses a breadfruit instead. “Del,” she says, slicing off the stem with her crude knife: rusted with splintering, village-made almondwood handle, sever a man’s neck in two strokes.
“Deeelll,” he repeats, savoring the new word.
“Del, hari,” she nods, okay.
It’s nothing like bread. It is the color and feel of skin: khaki, firm, a man’s neck behind the ear. He bites and imagines, numbed by want.
In the States, the kitchen was his domain; here, women cook and he flounders. Last week, he beseeched her to teach him to make curry and pol sambol. She was bemused but resistant. This week she caved. She is dark brown, old, wrinkled, less than a third his weight. He watches her carefully in his sarong and Polo shirt.
She sits on the cement floor, legs extended, knife held between her feet as she shreds kopakola leaves against the knife-tip. Americans bring knife to leaf. Not she.
A durian fruit reeks from next to the washbasin, powerful funk of gangrene and crotchrot. The village storekeeper across the road whiffs it as he sits on a bag of onions, tapping his bare toes in the dust. He strokes himself in his ratty sarong, thin cotton between calloused hands and dark penis, sniffs his fingers absent-mindedly. His iron machete rests next to piled coconuts, blade oiled.
John Chapin teaches writing and runs the writing center at the University of Baltimore. He is co-editor of 52|250, but he knows who wears the virtual pants around here.
* * *
A Knobby Thing by Michelle Elvy
She reclines in her window seat, sees the starboard prop whirring superfast, looking slo-mo. She closes her eyes and drifts back to yesterday, the last day of everything, 80-hour work-weeks, devoted dull boyfriend, pet cat (a gift) whom she secretly hates. She brings her thumb to teeth, gnaws where there’s nothing left to gnaw, sorrowful nails bitten down to nothing. She feels ugly but ready for anything.
The wheels touch down and she gathers her things, spits cuticle out the side of her mouth, thp. She steps out into air so hot she’s sure she’ll never be able to breathe here. Then she inhales deeply and instead of feeling oxygen hitting lungs, she tastes it — floral and citrus, sweaty and sweet. The first breath is as miraculous and jarring as the one she took some thirty-three years back. She almost cries out, too: the punch of this new world hits her hard.
She wanders along Main Street, spots the trademarked arches garish and gold against this landscape, jutting up amongst dusty buildings and peeling paint — an echo of her old world. She longs for its familiar cool, then spies a small market across the street. Locals laugh, handle fruits she’s never seen or heard of. She goes to the first long table, eyeballs a knobby thing, large and green, asks a dark woman with droppy breasts and happy eyes, “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” The woman answers, “Breadfruit, love.” She picks it up, smiles, thinks she’ll give it a try.
Michelle Elvy lives and writes on a 43′ sailboat and is presently located in Whangarei, New Zealand. She is co-editor of 52|250, and she has published work at Metazen. When not flashing here, she’s writing at Glow Worm, listening at VOICES, or sailing on Momo.
* * *The Editors of 52|250 wish to thank the contributors this week and also Jeremy Kargon for his art submission. Jeremy is an architect in Baltimore, Maryland, where he is Assistant Professor at Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning. Jeremy shares this about his art submission: “Cooper Union Collage illustrates a short store-front segment along the Bowery in New York City, at the new student center building by the architect Thom Mayne. Several shots have been stitched together, but the effect is congruent with how one experiences walking along the building’s base.”