Revival

“Revival” was written after my grandmother told me about going to a snake-handling church when she was younger. This was probably in the 1930s, and the church was in the Appalachian mountains. She wanted me to write her life story, but I don’t think she gets what that entails. Still, I should have done it, and should still try to do it. I loved to listen to her talk to me about her life and the hardships she had endured, and I always wished I had recorded it but I never did. She’s very old now and I know she doesn’t have much time. When she goes it will tear me apart. My mother has been dead for a very long time, and my father is probably dead (and good riddance). Anyway, this poem was published in a magazine called “Penumbra” and collected in my chapbook “Psychoentropy”. I hope you enjoy it.

Revival

They share the taste of strychnine,

liquid faith like crystal purity,

bottled in a mason jar

scented with the ghost

of last year’s peaches.

 

Dusty boots thump,

and patterned skirts swirl,

keeping time with the choir

of shivering tambourines,

as they cry with broken voices

of the rapturous divine.

 

The Reverend handles serpents,

armed with shining words of God,

and preaches fervent sermons

with the cadence of

the hissing snakes,

sliding coils through grasping fingers

scarred with memory of sin.

 

He sways,

moves with strange conviction,

and teaches salvation

to the undulating devout,

singing in blind ecstasy

in obsolete tongues.

 

They dance,

caught in serpentine embrace,

anointed by the Spirit

with sacred revelations,

as the congregation burns,

wrapped in spiraling religion.

 

~Julie Shiel

Fireflies and Twilight

I’m feeling quite melancholy tonight. I try not to think about these things but sometimes I get overwhelmed. I mean other than my normal depression. Sometimes I just get filled with such sadness that it takes my breath away. I keep hoping to see lightning bugs, or fireflies, depending on your part of the county. I haven’t seen them in years. I remember chasing them when I was little, and it’s something every child should be able to do. I remember being maybe five, and having a firefly in a jar. I smeared the phosphorescence on my fingers so that I would glow too. I showed my mother and she told me that I shouldn’t do that. I asked why, and she explained that it hurt the insect. Of course I cried, but I never did it again. I don’t think I even caught them any more after that because I felt so bad and was afraid of hurting another one. Five year old me wanted to glow like the fireflies and I never thought about the insects being harmed.

Earlier tonight I thought I saw a light flashing on the edge of my garden, but no. It was just someone’s house light flickering through. Everyone knows that bees are in serious trouble, or they should. It’s still not being taken seriously enough here in the US, but people are at least aware of it. This year there are hardly any. People are aware of the plight of the bees because we rely on them to eat. What people may not know is that fireflies are in trouble as well. There’s no big money being made from fireflies, and we don’t rely on them to eat so they are relegated to backpage news. However, while bees help us to sustain our bodies, fireflies do the same for our souls. Seeing the flash of fireflies in the night with the sound of frogs and insects singing is a peaceful experience. It’s quiet, but beautiful and it will move you if you have a heart.

There is something about twilight that has always sang to me. The fireflies are part of it, but it’s more than that. It’s a period of “in between”, a time of no time at all really. It’s not day and it’s not night. It is the transition, the shifting of universes, the curtain fluttering between acts. Everything has a blue tint that muffles the world, but it can also accentuate things. It’s like if you’re with someone, that person is a bright cut out against a cloudy sky. Maybe if I ever experience it again I’ll find the words. It sharpens my senses but smoothes my soul, providing me with a clarity that is hard to find otherwise. It makes me hyper-sensitive to magic and things that don’t exist under the blaring sun and that are hidden under the darkness of night. The natural world takes a deep breath

and exhales.

 

 

 

I should be writing a book but battling demons is messy work. Goodnight.

 

“I slept under the moonlight and set my soul free, caged within jars like fireflies”.”
― Prajakta Mhadnak

Story, dialog and Martians

“So in reality, we aren’t walking down this road together,” Rena continued. “In reality, we are in the Martian’s laboratory and they’re just projecting the images we’re seeing.” She had been telling Dawn about the Ray Bradbury story she had just read. They had met up at the clearing in the woods known as “The Place”. They often went there to get away from the prying eyes of adults, to smoke cigarettes and whatever weed they had been able to score, and to tell each other their secrets. Later, they had decided to walk down to the little store for sodas. It was a beautiful Saturday in June and school would be out in a week.
“But I can feel my feet on the road” Dawn said doubtfully.
“Ah, you think you can because they pulled that sensation out of your memory with their telepathic abilities. Actually, we’re walking on the surface of Mars, and it’s like 15 feet lower than we think we are now.”

“So we’re walking in mid-air,” Skeptical now.

“No, we’re walking on Mars, across the Martian desert, but we think we’re walking up this hill on this road in Maryland. We think we see those houses over there, and these trees, and we think we hear those birds, but it’s all an illusion pulled from our memories. In reality, on Mars, it’s completely flat, no hills, and we’re walking across this red plain, but we think we’re on this road going up and down.” Dawn looked around doubtfully.

“But I can feel it,” she said, bending over and touching the pavement. She was high and was a bit wobbly standing back up, grabbing Rena for support and sending the two girls into giggles.

“Pulled from your memories. They perfectly replicated what you would expect to see, feel and hear so you have no reason to suspect that you’re really on Mars.”

“But why?”

“I think it’s an experiment.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially. “They abducted us and now they’re running tests on their pet humans. They lull us into complacency so we think that we’re just living our lives like normal, but the whole time they’re observing us, so act like you don’t know.” Rena was really getting into it now because she could see her friend was starting to get a little freaked out.

“They’re watching us? Well what are they going to do when they’re finished studying us?” Dawn was getting more anxious by the minute.

“In the story they killed them.” She lowered her voice conspiratorially. “They took them back to what they thought were their homes, because it looked just like their homes. The Martians were disguised as their family, people they know, and there was no way to tell.” Dawn had started crying, setting Rena off into another round of giggles.

“Why are you laughing? They’re going to kill us!” It took a herculean effort for Rena to get her giggles down to snickers.

“When we go home we should act like we don’t know. Act like they’re your real family and that everything is normal.”

“We should run,” Dawn whispered. The two girls looked at each other and suddenly sprinted down the rural road, past the disapproving glare of Mrs. Beckerson where she stood in her front yard watering her garden.

“Martian!” Dawn screamed as she ran past the old lady. At that they both burst into laughter, laughing so hard they had to stop outside the store to catch their breath.

They walked into the store under the watchful eyes of Mr. Patel. The friends exchanged glances and smirked. After they paid for their sodas the girls slowly started back. The subject changed to school and their love lives and the girls made plans to meet up again the following day.

“Watch out for Martians!” Rena yelled, walking backwards down the lane. Dawn waved as she headed for home.

 

 

Missing t

T has been on my mind a lot. I miss her badly and wish I could talk to her. I’m also seriously pissed off at her. She was the closest person in the world to me, including family. She was my family as far as that goes, and I would have done absolutely anything to help her. From the time we met I was looking out for her, whether she knew it or not. I have no idea how many times I had to stand up for her when we were teens-20s. When I was still scrappy, I suppose. Any time she needed anything I did it for her. I’m the one she called in the middle of the night when something was bothering her. I’m the one who would drop everything and come over if she needed me to. She always had two best friends, me and the other J, but I’m the one she talked to more, saw more, and who was always there. I was the only one at her first wedding, and I did everything I could to make her second special. That’s not putting down J in any way… she lived further away and had kids to deal with. But it remains that it was me that was always there. So when she said I had never done anything for her, I was stunned. I know she’s parroting some bullshit someone must be feeding her, but she should have given it some fucking thought before she repeated that shit. Besides being a damn good friend, I got her a job when she needed it, a place to stay when she needed it, lent her money when she needed it, brought her things she needed, and on and on…. And for her to forget or to dismiss all that I’ve done for her is just appalling.
I hate what alcohol turned her into. It broke my heart. When she started putting the kids in danger, enough was enough. Driving drunk with the kids in the car, leaving them to fend for themselves, leaving them at sleazy motels while she went chasing after her ex… Just not acceptable. When she decided she was going to try to get Jason back after what he did to R, I could not be a party to that in any way.
Still, I thought eventually we would work it out. I thought she’d sober up and realize how she had been behaving. That’s what other people thought too. I was the fourth person to call about the kids. I hated to do it. I cried for two weeks before I gave in and did it. That was after talking repeatedly about it to various people who encouraged me to do so. I know it was the right thing to do but I still felt bad about it. Still, we had been friends a lifetime. I didn’t think anything could break that.
Then damn if she didn’t move in with my ex, of all people. I know she has a problem being alone and God forbid she actually has to work or something, but that was really fucking low. He let her drink so she stayed, and in doing so, made it clear that she did not think we would reconcile. I was already pissed at her, but she still threw away our friendship for a place to drink.

Then to find out that she somehow thinks her fucked up life is somehow my fault, is just too much. She’s the one that ruined her relationship with her kids when she chose her child’s molester over her child. She’s the one that ruined her relationships with her friends over drink. Then her drunken ranting on facebook about how “I’m evil” and to “give her back her daughter” like Raven was a thing I had stolen. She did apologize for that and her excuse was that she was drunk. But I am sick of being blamed.

I was so angry over this the other day I started to log on just to say “fuck you, Tara, you broke my heart”. I managed to control myself, but I tell you, it took both hands to grab hold of myself. I’m so lonely I could die sometimes, and I miss talking to my friend. So many things remind me of her. The memories of 25+ years are wrapped up with her. When she messaged me recently I laid into her. I was still furious. I am still furious. But underneath that I’m just really hurt and I miss my sister. I keep telling myself that she has shown that her friendship is no longer worth having. She has shown how easily she will turn on someone if it is to her advantage. It makes me wonder if she was always such a shitty person or if it’s just the booze. I want to believe it’s the booze, but I honestly don’t know if there is any of her left in there.
I just wish I could go back in time and stop all of this.

Hedgewitch’s Garden

As early as I can remember the woods were home. They were my safe place, they were where I played, and I knew every inch of my domain. I knew where certain plants grew and at what time of year. I knew where to find chinquapin trees and berry bushes when I was hungry, and I had hiding spaces all through the forest. When I was eight we moved away from the woods to a development. I remember buying a plant at the community yard sale there not long after we moved. Before long, I had a whole windowsill full of potted plants that various people had given to me. I was a child and didn’t realize it, but I know now I was homesick for the forest. When I was seven I got a set of children’s books for Christmas – “Alice in Wonderland”, “Little Women”, “Black Beauty”, “Treasure Island”,  “Heidi”, and others. I understood Heidi. When they took her off her mountain to civilize her and she became ill from being away, I empathized. I was Heidi.
We moved again when I was fourteen and I was surrounded by woods once more. Woods and the river, so I had my soul back. When I began driving I could drive to the State Forest nearby and get lost in the woods. In my 20s I had an apartment in the upstairs portion of an old house. I had a porch, and soon had the porch filled with various plants. They were potted, but I could still dig in the dirt and grow things, and I could run to the forest whenever I needed. Then, finally, I bought a house. I wanted to turn my entire yard into a garden! I had visions of magazine spread gardens with gates, arbors, pathways, all filled with an abundance of flowers and fountains. Unfortunately, it was just me and I soon found that doing a single bed was a hell of a lot of work. Still, by the time I sold the house, I had multiple garden beds in different parts of the yard, a variety of trees and bushes, and a vegetable garden as well.

I was born and lived most of my life in rural Maryland, where nature is always nearby. Wildflowers, creeks and the Chesapeake Bay live alongside Maryland State Parks and Forests. When I got married, I moved to South Carolina, and quickly found that gardening here is quite a different matter. There are swamps here instead of deciduous forests and rivers, and the sun is brutal. It’s a different climate; it’s much hotter and the UV rays are much stronger. I can’t be out in the worst of it. Different plants grow here. Plants that behaved in Maryland get invasive in South Carolina. Other plants take one look at the sun, chuckle weakly, and wilt over to die.
This blog will cover a variety of gardening and plant related knowledge. It’s not just growing things, it’s also the medicinal properties, the magical properties, the folklore attached to plants and how we use them. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with plants and everything related to them, from companion planting to which plants attract the faery folk to your garden. If this were a couple hundred years ago, I would have been a hedgewitch living on the outskirts of the village, treating people’s illnesses of body and mind with plants and a little bit of magic. I hope this blog is interesting and helpful to whoever is reading. As for myself, I hope this blog will aid me in getting back on a writing schedule, and help connect with other gardeners. It’s a little rough right now, but it should be fun. I’m not abandoning this one, but I’d like to keep the gardening one separate. So here it is at Hedgewitch’s Garden

Mother is the name of God

“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”
 – William Makepeace Thackeray

There is a single shining memory she holds close. She protects this memory like the ephemeral thing of beauty that it is to her, only bringing it out in her darkest moments. She was nine, and it was just her and her mother in the bench seat of the old pick up truck. She loved that the beat up old truck sent her bouncing off the seat whenever it hit a pothole, and sent her into giggles while her stomach did flip flops. It was a sunny Spring day and her mother’s hair shone pale blonde in the light. She thought her mom was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen, and the love she felt for her filled her so that there was barely room to breathe. Her mother was laughing and she just wanted this time with her to stretch out, closing a bubble of euphoria around them that would protect them from the world.

Her brother was just a baby and she held him close. He too was laughing at the bouncing truck. She could smell the clean baby scent of him as she stared at her mother. The visits with her mom always went by too fast and she never wanted to go home. Growing up, she had always worried about her mother, as she knew her mom was unhappy. She would hear her mom crying in the bedroom and run out of the house to hide. She had special places in the forest, and she would go there and sit thinking about her mom. Things had changed since her mom had moved out. Her mom was happier and that made her happy, but her mother’s new friends scared her sometimes. Sometimes she was angry that her mom had left her with her father, but she would quickly push that down. None of that mattered at this moment. The Rolling Stones song “Beast of Burden” came on the old radio and her mother sang along, turning up the volume. Holding her baby brother close, watching her mom sing, she wanted everything to stay like this forever.

It was the last precious memory she had of her mom before she died.

Not my president

Right now I am stunned and absolutely sickened that Trump is being declared president. Fuck the electoral college. Hillary was far from perfect but I trusted her not to start a nuclear war or to ruin the environment. Trump’s anti-science stance is unacceptable. We have been making tremendous progress on renewable energies and now his plan is to send us back to the 1970s. The man is putting a climate science denier in charge of the EPA. This is unacceptable. Scientists have pretty much come to a consensus that climate change is driven by our activities. I read an article on National Geographic a few days ago that sourced multiple major science organization studies. Across the board, 97% of scientists agree. I don’t care if it’s inconvenient. It’s the truth and we are already seeing the results of it.

Nature and the environment are critically important to me. They are a big part of who I am, and have been throughout my life. I have always had an affinity for and a connection to the natural world, more so than to humans. To see this man reverse what little progress we’ve made to mitigate climate change is abhorrent. Other countries are ahead of us on renewable energy and it’s something we should be leading the way in, but our country has been dumbed down so much that they will gladly let other countries pull ahead of us. “Make America Great Again” is utter bullshit. It’s already great. He wants to undo any regulations put on he and his cronies businesses. Fuck the environment, our water, other species, the ocean, they want to use it up for a quick buck and let someone else worry about the consequences. It breaks my heart.

I’ve seen multiple articles about emboldened racists chanting about white power and the wall (which is never going to happen) in high schools, while there has been an outbreak of racist graffiti including swastikas boldly paired with Trump slogans. This is what Trump has created with his unadulterated hate. I hate to think of the damage this man can cause in four years. Not to mention the supreme court. I wish Democrats had won the house so we could be as obstructionist towards Trump as they were towards Obama, but we are always the party to try to play nice. Well we need to quit playing nice and fight back the way they do. Supreme Court nominee Garland has been waiting 215 days now for approval. That is unacceptable. Republicans are not the only ones to get to nominate judges. No. I am glad there are protests all over the world over this orange piece of shit taking office. There are multiple petitions to use the electoral college to put Hillary in office using the popular vote. I doubt they’ll go anywhere but it’s worth a try.

Meanwhile, Trump has multiple court dates coming up. So if he gets convicted of fraud and racketeering, then what? We just ignore it? They tried to impeach Clinton, who was a damn good president, for lying about his sex life. That’s somehow worse than this misogynistic, racist, illiterate, incomprehensible old fat man who can’t speak without lying? I don’t think so. He’s a fucking con artist and nothing more.

I have seen multiple people on facebook that are worried about their kids. Their kids are scared and they don’t know what to tell them. At first I thought this was maybe a bit overkill, but after giving it some thought, I can sort of understand. They are trying to teach their kids to be good people, what’s right from wrong, and then this man gets elected president? No wonder they’re confused. God forbid if you aren’t white. Then I have LGBT friends and relatives who are devastated because Drumpf and Co plan to roll back the equal rights gained under Obama. I am so very demoralized right now and needed to vent. I could go on but I think I’ll go pet a kitty instead.