fruit red and bruise black
By J.A. Tyler, Jun 26, 2008

A boy. A dip of water. Pooling in tread marks. Still. A boy. Drinking water. Sipping through his teeth to filter the mud. The oil. The bits of skin.

Lips hang from his face like ripe disease. Hanging loose grapes. Bulbed and bright. Yesterday he picked at them. Today they are worse. Today they crack with white. Today they sweat pus.

The water is armed. It has allies. The water swims flame-retardant. Oil slick. Rainbowed in layers. Brown and black. The water has mobilized. It has strategies and is on the move. It bombs his face.

He drinks it all. He sucks the muddied bottom. He finds a shell casing in its end. And he drinks the mud and water from it. Strains it. Drains it. The metal tastes. The rim cuts his tongue. Sharp and critical. The pus will move now. More territory to be conquered.

Tomorrow he’ll be a head full of pus. Tomorrow his sinuses will be botched. His eyes will tear with poison when he cries for things. His pores will exhaust gasses. He will freckle with landmines. Tomorrow is always like that now and for him.

But today he bakes in the sun. Hard on concrete dirt. Sun ripening his lip. Bleeding it fruit red. Bruise black. Sobbing brown. Today he listens to a silence that is abnormal. Today he misses the sound of treads oiling water. He misses the fear of his life keeping him going.

J.A. Tyler has recent work in Elimae, Lamination Colony, Night Train, Underground Voices, & Word Riot. His debut novella is forthcoming from Ghost Road Press in 2009 and his prose poetry chapbook is available now from Trainwreck Press. He is also founding editor of the literary review Mud Luscious and a recent addition to the online editorial team at Pindeldyboz. Visit him at his website.