There’s just something about Florida rivers. The lazy meandering of hidden currents, the tranquil relief the waters offer at the end of an extraordinarily hot day. The spirits of the rivers of Florida aren’t ordinarily… More
I remember waking in the stale air of a cave
A womb inside a desolate earth
But not my earth
This place was foreign and savage
Filled with hate and pain and vast seas of red blooded rage
There were molten moons rising all around, skeletal greys, pale greens and sickly ambers.
They rose over the horizon of this ethereal alien world to taunt my darkened senses.
I wasn’t relenting, and I refused to grow into those long grooves or veins that encapsulated the faces of Saturn’s lovers. Those straining epitaphs of exploding red suns beating as a broken heart deep down at the bottom of his bottomless ocean.
My skin rebelled against the atmosphere of this crater, crawling with nebulous tides of encroaching ice floes. Thirsty poisonous smog growing thicker with my breathing.
I was stranded. My limbs sank into a giving ghost land, striving to understand this meaningless motion.
Saturn floating under my belly, I tried to take my eyes from the burning red orbs calling forth great tidal waves of an unnameable ocean.
Monstrous moons warped time, warping size, warped a boundary that was totally contrived.
I gave in and observed the monstrous growth of the giant suns, the breathing pulse of their fires, the eternal explosion of life. Now death.
But Life again.
The waves of this changing tide burned red in reflections, calling me out to seek the blue.
The green, the Earth in between.
I gave in and
I made you.
[Featured image Pandora’s Cluster, courtesy of HubbleSite.org]
Where have the Wildings wandered to?
When the Earth is heated and moist, and dew clings to fresh green leaves, the Wilds beckon us home,
To wander without being lost in the wild wood and thickets, near the river bank, under a full moon at Ocean’s tides, upon the windy cliffs and hills drawing ever nearer up the Mountain.
We are not at home; Summer is here, and the weather is warm and sultry, demanding dancing and crafting and riding.
Earthly scents mingle together, sweet hyacinth and water lilies, boggy cypress and wet soil, filling the hot and humid air with the promise of light and love and life.
Midsummer is near and the Wildlings are not at home…
They wander, these wild ones, seeking the Enlightenment, Transcendence, the Spirit of plant and animal, and Ancestors’ ancient wisdom.
Trees and herbs rejoice at their coming and the Sky parts in promise, giving life and lust back to us mortals, and demanding the cycle be born anew.
I was inspired some time ago by all the recently published YA novels in the fantasy fiction genre. My last student that I worked with got me into the teen fantasy-romance, particularly following sagas of adapted folklore surrounding shifters, werewolves, and other lycanthropes. I normally wouldn’t have chosen to explore this genre at all, except I’ve been noticing the rise in its popularity among tweens, teens, and young adults. There’s not much in this world that could please me more than watching teen students willingly pick out fiction literature and actually enjoy it.
So with my newfound inspiration, I decided to explore the shifter/werewolf fantasy element, albeit with a twist. So without further adieu, here’s a recent flash piece I’ve been playing with, taking place in my beautiful Florida. This short definitely feels like the beginning of something bigger, so I’ll be brainstorming where to go with Mia’s story in the future.
In the meantime, enjoy, and be sure to click the links at the bottom of this post to explore the ever mystifying Florida panther, as well as the rich culture and history of the Seminole tribes of Florida.
This was her favorite part. If there was something in the world Mia Thompson could love more than David Bowie’s music, she had yet to find it. Cranking up the volume on Moonage Daydream Mia sped her Jeep onto SR 29 North, toward home. She had just finished a particularly straining shift at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge where she’d managed to land her part-time dream job, and she was anxious to get home. Mia had been floored when she was told she’d been granted her employment shortly after summer vacation had started. But today was a daunting day, and the thought of a warm shower and pajamas had its appeal.
Belting out the last of the lyrics, Mia began her routine of formulating her thesis of what would eventually become her entrance essay into the Biology department at the University of Miami. She hoped to present the research she’d been participating in at the Refuge: the growing pockets of small populations of endangered species native and unique to Florida. Using her data, she hoped to persuade a halt on agricultural and commercial development throughout the unprotected northern reaches of the Everglades she knew and loved so much. The land of her family. Her people, her mother would correct her.
Smiling to herself at the thought of her mother and what she’d surely be cooking up for dinner, Mia let herself relax and enjoy her familiar surroundings. State Road 29 was a country road and mostly straight traveling, leading south toward Ave Maria, Alligator Alley, and her lovely Refuge and the Fakahatchee Strand, with occasional bends along the way. Travel about an hour southwest, and she’d hit Naples and Marco Island. North brought her to LaBelle, and Miami was only a two hour drive southeast.
Soon the wetlands started giving way to drier land, offering up sand pines, saw palmettos, sawgrass, scrub oak and the occasional live oak draped in Spanish moss. The road started the last of its bends here, where the air was growing still and humid. Mia breathed it in; she loved this place. And she was going to save it.
Halfway through Changes, Mia turned her headlights on, cursing the longer than usual shift. Should’ve called in, she thought. She hated driving this last stretch of road into Immokalee in the dark. She sped up, shifting to fifth, hoping a little more speed would get her home sooner.
As she rounded another curve, she spotted a creamy blur dart across the road and into the brush, heading east. Into the gathering shadows. Slowing down enough to see the spot where the thing ran, Mia looked for a place to turn around. Using an old gravel trail as a drive, she reversed and headed back to where she remembered seeing what she could have sworn was a panther. She’d been waiting and watching these areas her whole life practically, and she wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip by. Especially since the elusive cats tended to stay within the bounds of the refuge. She had never heard of panther sightings this far north, but this area was virtually uninhabited by humans, so the possibility that it truly was a panther was quite high.
Pulling off to the shoulder, Mia parked the Jeep and cranked up the emergency brake. Flashlight and cell phone in hand, she headed toward the edge of the pine and oak and alligator grass. The flashlight’s beam only illuminated a small portion of what looked like a deer trail, though Mia wasn’t sure. She’d be late for dinner, but she very much wanted to see if she could spot the big cat. So she took a steadying breath and stepped onto the scrubby trail.
[Read about the Seminole Reservation in Immokalee,the history, and culture.]
Featured poems from my Instagram account. For more visual poetry, find me on Instagram.
The Enchanted Well is a flash piece which was inspired by the graphic featured below. I wrote the story based on the overall feeling of the picture: an enchanting and magical realm hidden beneath the village well. Since I began playing with this piece, I’ve tried revisiting the source where I got the original picture, and alas, could only find a Pinterest board which included it.
But upon typing enchanted well into the search bar, I found pictures of–quite literally–an enchanted well. Located in Chapada, Diamantina, Brazil, the Enchanted Grotto (or well, or pool), is a natural underground cave pool that offers a truly ethereal way to escape society. All links to photo sources are included at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!
The Enchanted Well
Nothing out of the ordinary ever happened in Windfall, but lately there was talk going around that strange beings had been spotted at the forest edge. They’d come at dusk, was what the townsfolk claimed. Appearing as the sun sank below the horizon, barely visible as hazy shapes among the trees.
There were more shapes materializing with the dusk shadows, more coming the last few days. At least, that’s what Tara had been told. She simply rolled her eyes at such nonsense. She didn’t think anything supernatural came out of the woods at dusk, but her neighbors believed in their superstitious notions like she believed in logic. And logic told her it was just the weather and change of season that brought their uneasiness and suspicion of everything around them.
So when Tara walked to the well in the center of the village on a wondrously sunlit Friday morning, she had no way of knowing that her life was about to change forever.
For the townsfolk also whispered about the well; whispers that deep down in the well, deep into the womb of the earth, lay a cavern. And that cavern, Tara would soon learn, held secrets to which humans have sought answers for thousands of years.
Nothing gave away the well’s secret, though, as Tara reached the bucket and began lowering it into the well’s shadowy depths. But then something happened. A faint glow, otherworldly and deep amber in color, began to coalesce toward the bottom of the well. As Tara lowered the bucket the light grew brighter, illuminating the contours of her youthful face, sending luminous amber light washing through her golden hair. It felt warm, warmer than the sunshine.
Mesmerized, Tara leaned over the edge of the well, trying to get a better look. She was tempted to reach out and grab the shining tendrils of light. Silly, she thought, I must be mad. She backed away from the edge, as she was frightened of the implications of falling into that unknown and pulsing light. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to abandon her view–or the bucket–altogether.
She peered over the side once again, but this time something in the light had changed. It had turned an unearthly and beguiling deep emerald, beckoning her to lean further down; so badly she wanted to see what was spinning in that refracted light.
And then she fell. Screams issued from her throat, high pitched and wretched, as she plunged into the whirling light. Tara’s screams were clipped short as her fall came to an abrupt end with a splash. She’d found the bottom.
She kicked to the surface of the subterranean pool, gasping for breath. She was surrounded in deep amber and shimmering emerald. Wide-eyed and speechless, Tara darted a glance left, right, up, taking in her surroundings.
As she tread water to stay afloat, panic seized in her chest: the townsfolk had been right. Something extraordinary had happened in Windfall. Was happening. And she was now right in the middle of it.