Throwback Thursday – 16 Days Until Halloween

When I was a teenager, my family lived in a farmhouse built before the Civil War.  Rooms had been added on as the family grew and the kitchen was moved inside.  It was a large and simple – the opposite of an antebellum manse – with a few oddly offset rooms.    It was a perfect house to host Halloween sleepovers.

The evenings started with a formal dinner downstairs.  Then the girls and I headed upstairs, where my parents had helped me dye the bedding gray and make cardboard tombstones to put at the head of each of their mattresses.  We watched horror movies on VHS tapes and scared each other.  Sometimes there were other things hidden around upstairs to startle if they left the room.

1984 Halloween 1These photos are from 1984, when the theme was “eyeballs.”  My parents bought balls of all different sizes and we painted them for weeks.  Cecilia, a papier mache corpse from the year before, came back as a witch for this party.  She had started as “Cecil the Severed Leg,” but it just wasn’t enough.

The house is gone now.  It burned down several years after my family moved away.  It’s too bad to think I can’t go back to visit it.  There were people that swore there were “haints” in that house, but they differed on whether they felt benevolent ghosts or darker entities.

Halloween In Florida – 29 Days Until Halloween

I saw a surf shop mannequin in a wet suit and witch hat this weekend.  Someone had drawn eyes on paper and taped them in place.  They weren’t particularly witchy eyes, but they transformed her blank visage to a face.  She was a winsome, sporty witch.

It was a short-sleeved, short-legged wetsuit.  Because it’s still bathing suit weather here.  That’s Halloween time in Florida.

I’m a native Floridian, and I’ve missed the heavy, humid summers when I’ve lived other places.  I get antsy this time of year, though.  Sometime in October, we’ll get nights in the 60’s F, and then nights in the 50’s F.  The air will start to dry out, and the sky will become blue again.

My backyard jungle is growing so fast that vines are crawling across the yard and porch.  It feels like you can see them grow as you watch them.  Then, it feels like they may wrap around your ankles if you stop watching them.

IMG_9515We’ll be hanging Halloween decorations from green-leafed trees.  If you go into the woods, though, you’ll see the subtle signs of fall.  The red and yellow leaves look especially bright against the black forest floor.

Captain G – A Love Poem For May 20

by Victoria Nations

Rough seas at bedtime, the faithful crew
of stuffies rush around, pulling ropes and sails.
My glass scans the horizon,
but riding the surf is too thrilling to
turn into that calm port ahead.

A huge island rises above the waves, and we cry:
It’s a gum ball! I love gum balls!
And we break into laughter, rolling around the poop deck,
jumping over the sides,
swimming out of the sheets and falling onto the floor.

Courage and Turt preside over our splashing, while
Iggy and Spike make rude noises, which break us up even more.
Count Sockula flies around and Tex stampedes;
we run around the deck with them, and Honey tries to hush us.
Minitee and Orcky are dolphining around, and suddenly
The Annoying Thing goes off, chattering at the top of his lungs,
and we are all lost, gasping for air in the sea of bedclothes.

Mom clomps upstairs, and there is a chorus of shushing.
Everyone wiggles to snuggle down and look asleep.
(Several are holding their breath, submerged under blankets)
After a kiss and a drink, Mom tells us to go to sleep.
And we smother ourselves, nodding that we will, watching
the door close. It is bedtime.

Until Minitee breaches big, his tummy breaking above the waves of pillows,
a great round gum ball bobbing there.
And we are drowning in giggles until we can’t breathe.

* This poem was published in Chronicle 2014 Prize-Winning Poems, a publication of Seminole State College


by Victoria Nations

I saw the sun sink into the ocean
and the water steamed up where it touched,
and though the ocean was large,
the sun was so much bigger.

I watched the sea boil away as
the sun kept sinking down,
and finally it sat balanced on the ocean floor.
A sheath of glass spread around it
until the sand gave way, brittle glass
breaking as the ocean fell,
sinking into the Earth, making
a smooth glassy tube
lit from within

My heart broke to see the sea creatures
boiled until there was nothing left,
the drifts of shells charred by the heat and
clacking together as they popped like corn
and shattered.

There was nothing in the darkness that fell
traveling down from the sky with the sun,
slamming into the bottom of the ocean.
The sand cooled and crackled in the dark.
I could sense the ocean canyons spread out before me,
But all I could see were stars overhead,
so many falling that everyone’s wishes
would come true before they hit us.

Friday Writing – Where Would You Sleep?

Where would you sleep?

The museum has a vaulted ceiling and columns reaching so high they look hazy from the bottom floor.  Everything seems to be made of stone, despite accents of polished wood and glass.  Arched windows are stacked in rows along the uppermost walls.  Their lines are delicate, but you know they would be massive if you ventured upstairs and stood next to them.

It’s night, and you are alone here again.

There’s a moon tonight, and white light falls in arched patches all around you.  Your footsteps echo through the atrium, the sound bouncing back and forth, so you think you hear others in nearby rooms, walking just as slowly.  If they are there, they are keeping to themselves, and you choose to do the same.

You could climb up in the dioramas, squat like the prehistoric people and pull a cat skin over yourself to see how it feels.

You could pull the velvet rope aside and lean close to see the brush strokes on the pottery.  There are walls of hanging tapestries and you could run your hands over their uneven fibers.

You could touch the Tyranosaurus rex skull and imagine its teeth punching into flesh.  It’s skeleton stretches above you, a tempting scaffold, but you know its bird bones are too precarious to climb.

There is room to run, to roller skate if you wanted, but you walk slowly despite that. Your pace is blissful.  Unhurried. Your neck aches from bending back to look at the great balcony of the galleries above.

In the morning, you stay.  Your exploration of the sacred place has barely begun. There are huge concave light fixtures, and each morning you crawl into them to sleep, a hazy silhouette against the glass, like some large bug with too few legs.

Ghost Stories Lurking in Doorways

Sometimes stories lurk behind things.

I went to a festival the other night, and we cut through a side street of old storefronts with dusty windows.  There was raw red brick and arched doorways with iron gates.  There were lights from the parade just a block over, but the side street was almost too dark to photograph.

The street was inviting, stopping me on my way to run my hands over the walls and peer into doorways.  There was a sense that crossing those thresholds would take mLeesburg door 4e to another time, to when the town was young.  But even if the windows were clean then and the thresholds swept, I don’t think the street was ever pristine.  That side street has stories of what happens just off Main Street.  If I stood in a doorway and looked out, it could show it to me.  Maybe that’s why the gate was there, keeping wayward visitors out.

A photograph from that night shows eyes shining from the doorway.  Or perhaps they are reflections.  That must be it.