by Victoria Nations

There are ghosts in the groves picking
oranges that fall through the net sacks and
bounce onto the ground.
The oranges are too bright to be
anything but real. They look alive.

The ghosts flit about, preoccupied by the work.
They don’t notice the oranges
laying about, rotten on the ground,
now lost to the living
who could taste them.

The ghosts in the groves let vines crawl up
and wrap around tree branches,
and cover the leaves.
The orange trees struggle for light, but
The ghosts
never cut them down even though
the trees are strangled.


It’s past due when the orange groves should have been picked here in Florida.  The abandoned groves drop their heavy fruit.  Or maybe the ghosts don’t notice their sacks won’t hold them anymore.

The abandoned groves are haunting and full of memories.  You can read “There Are Ghosts in the Groves (I)” here.

Check out #SpookyAllYear for links to creepy stories and blog posts.  And click on the graphic for spooky goodness by The Midnight Society.


The Little Man – 6 Days Until Halloween

The Little Man
by Victoria Nations

There’s a little man
crouching by the fence past the stop sign.
He’s bald and wearing a shapeless coat,
and he reminds me of Uncle Fester,
but he’s grinning a little too wide.
His teeth are very long.
And he looks much too menacing to be an Addams.

He’s shaking the split rail fence.
Maybe he’s trying to pry one of the boards off,
though it would be easy enough to crawl over
or even through the fence.
But perhaps he’s just doing it to get my attention.
He’s catching my eye, and he’s grinning wider now.
And he’s pulling the fence with greater force.


He pauses for a moment and looks to see if I’m reacting.
I’m trying to hold my face still.
I’m trying to look as if I’m not watching him.
And I’m wishing that I could drive past him faster.
He’s obviously tracking me. He knows what I’m doing.
His head swivels around, and his smile is wider.
I can see the gums above his teeth.

I lose him in my blind spot as I pass closest to him.
When I look in the rearview mirror,
he’s not at the fence anymore.
The board is still in place.
I can’t see him anymore,
and it’s worse than watching him follow me.
I wonder how fast he can move, or jump.

I think about him clinging to the roof,
his face raised to the wind.
It’s causing his lips to pull back from those long teeth.
I think about him waiting there.
He’s waiting for me to get farther down the road.
I hear his grip shift on the roof, before trying to pry it off.


Horse – A Poem Poised To Run

by Victoria Nations

Smooth planes of muscle and bone
grown over with layers of
detritus, lichen and grime
in the corners
until they touch one another
crusting the surface
which lies
smooth planes of muscle and bone
and skin
shiny with sweat
wetting the living things who
and cover the
smooth planes of muscle and bone
rolling beneath
hard but for
a rolling eye
wild in its socket
tangled in the
detritus, lichen and grime
smothering the
smooth planes of muscle and bone

My Hunger Will Consume All That Is Here And Will Free You – A Poem of Celebration

My Hunger Will Consume All That Is Here And Will Free You
by Victoria Nations

I will climb and tear
and rip it all apart with my teeth,
until the way is cleared before me.
I will lay waste to the kingdom I’ve invaded.
I will eat until I am gorged,
until I am satisfied.
The fabric that binds this world will hang in tatters.
And the sun will reach the ground once more
after I have passed through.

air potato vineAir potato (Dioscorea bulbifera L.) is an invasive vine that was introduced to Florida from Asia over 100 years ago.  It can grow to 20 meters or more, climbing over and smothering native plants.  After years of research, a leaf feeding beetle, Lilioceris cheni, was recently introduced into Florida from China for biological control of air potato.  This is the second year we’ve had this feisty red beetle in our yard and their ability to destroy the leaves and vines of air potato is truly impressive.  Way to go, little guys!

For more information, check out the UF/IFAS Extension fact sheet.

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

I Do Not Know What To Do With My Grief – A Poem From Last Year

Last year, my parents, my brother, and my old cat passed away over a four month period, and grief seeped into my life deeper than I ever expected.  Today is a year since my mom passed away, and when I was very young, she bound a paper booklet of my poems for Christmas.  My writing from last year is more raw and unpolished that I usually post, but it feels right to share it today.  And I hope if you are grieving, it will help ease your sense of loss or isolation.

by Victoria Nations

This stray keeps hanging around, uninvited.
I’ve tried for weeks to ignore it.
Lumpy thing, dropped on my doorstep.
I’ve tried pushing it off the stoop, and it won’t budge.
It just lays there.
Ignoring it makes it whine, keening until I’m forced to acknowledge it.
Then it just rolls over, boneless, daring me to move it.
If I could get my arms around it, I’d heave it up and toss it over the side.

The longer it lays there, the more it spreads.
Slumping over when I try to scoop it up,
prop it up into some sort of shape.
When I push harder, it just oozes between my fingers.
It’s so stubborn.
I don’t know what to do with the damned thing,
this misshapen waif with sad eyes and thick body,
melting like a tar baby, and just as tricky.

Every morning and night, I have to face this thing.
It wants into the house. It wants to ride in the car.
I’m ready to throw up my hands at the sticky mess.
It wants to spill all over everything.
And I’m tired of trying to make it do something.
Do anything,
Or just leave.

Orphan eyes stare from its drooped head,
and track me when it’s rolled over to face the sky.
Its gaze smolders. And I keeping thinking
when I try to lift it, it will be too hot to touch.
My skin will burn with
painful welts that everyone can see.
And I won’t have to explain anymore
why my eyes tear up when I come close to it.
When I think about it.

But the wretch is lukewarm at best, just a bland pudding
that’s impossible to mold and repugnant to touch.
I can barely stand it, but perhaps letting it spread is best.
It can seep into the ground,
or harden so I can pry it up,
chip it off in crumbled bits.
Working it just glues my fingers together,
clumps clinging to my hands,
weighing down my arms so it’s a struggle to lift them.
And the poor thing is still as deformed and ugly as when I started.

I want to gather it up in my arms and form it
until it creates a great sculpture.
I want to fire it hot until it has a glassy sheen,
and glaze it with color. Though I’d be just as happy
if it cracks and breaks in the heat
so I can sweep it up and throw it out.
So I can brush my hands off, free of this mess.