An Excerpt from The Talented Ribkins

He only came back because Melvin said he would kill him if he didn’t pay off his debt by the end of the week. It was why he left St. Augustine, why he had no choice but to drive down to Lehigh Acres and dig up the box of money he’d buried in his brother’s yard fourteen years before.

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Czar Thumbsky

A troupe of Russian dwarves retired from the circus to found a community built to their scale in South Florida. They purchased land off the Tamiami Trail bordering an endless plain of flooded sawgrass and called it Sweetwater, a mistranslation of the Seminole name for the same swamp.

Fall

A new poem dedicated to the city of Orlando, by Orlando's inaugural Poet Laureate, Susan Lilley.

An Excerpt from The Way of Florida

The sharp oyster beds cut into the feet and to move in the water is a slowness. There is a quiet around you there. The sun is almost welcome. Is almost a wanted sun up above the window of the sea you wade through the bending sights below all bended and rippled you pass a hand through that waterpane and see your arm take an angle to the oyster there...
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Out Out

I was desperate for a CVS, but instead found one of those birds—long neck bent like a spring, beak like a spear, caw like a motor that won’t turn over—wading in somebody’s blue blow-up pool.

2 Poems

When Columbia broke into a burning rain over Louisiana, fell in pieces into a thousand pastures and backyards, my uncle joined the search party. It was not a rescue mission. It couldn’t be.

Vow

An excerpt from Pat Rushin's new story collection, Quantum Physics & My Dog Bob.

Egg-Laying Queen

The bucket was half full of papery spit globs. Soon she’d be able to take it outside and add onto her project: an enormous wasp nest big enough to house a human body.

Jack’s Chair

There’s something haunting about the chair. It commands the back room of the small cottage on Clouser Avenue in Orlando like some sort of derelict general...

2 Poems

We know your floors, solid but bowing like centennial splinters, and your resonant moans from the weight of lovers, like caked twigs

Maceo

Hialeah skies have never seen a pigeon as handsome as you, Maceo. Rare is the hen who could ignore your splendor once your flight path has crossed hers.
rimbaud

I have touched, you know, fantastic Floridas
Arthur Rimbaud // The Drunken Boat

Trumped

The future was laid before her like a map. Every instinct shouted no! But somehow the road they were traveling had swallowed them up.

2 poems

In a stretch of amber water some call the swamps of Florida, a man longs for the home he has always lived in, a long-muscled wave tossing between shores, the quarter mile of liquid he knows as if he were the watchman of its vein.

Kin Stories

Once he mistook a prostitute for a hitchhiker, and twice he has invited genies into his truck. All three asked him the same thing: “What do you want? More than anything? I can give it to you.”

2 poems

The moon painted a picture of me and she called it “hay.” The picture is my hair, sliced off from the ears down, tied with rope and slapped onto a clean, metal table.

2 poems

it was coming out of your mouth we had to ask passersby to grab a cup and throw it to the birds it took 3 months to get all of it out
stevensclean2

There will never be an end
To this droning of the surf.
Wallace Stevens // Fabliau of Florida

I, Robot Driver

The Tesla driver killed in the first known fatal crash involving a self-driving car may have been watching a Harry Potter movie at the time of the collision in Florida...

A Tip

I earned an extra quarter tip once as a carhop at the Whataburger in Tampa, Florida, because I wasn’t wearing a bra...

An Interview with Dan Lopez

I was writing a book that was greatly influenced by the Southern Gothic tradition of depicting moral or social decay through physical houses, so in light of all that it felt like a natural fit to place the book in Florida...

An Excerpt from Nine Island

So I’ve sailed the seas and come to— No. I’ve sailed no seas. I’ve driven south down I-95, driven south for days, until 95 stopped and I was back in Miami. No country for old women...

Zombie Houses

Vicki Entreken salvages memories from her old Fort Myers home, which is now an abandoned house languishing in foreclosure.

The Pretender

Disney is something like the second-largest consumer of explosives in the United States, behind our own U.S. military. We’re about to see some fireworks.

Vietnamese-Americans in the VHS Era

As I grew taller and my attention span longer, I graduated to watching full-length Disney movies, including Sleeping Beauty (which terrified me), Snow White (which also terrified me), and Cinderella (which bored me)...

Death Rolls and Gator Holes

He tried to jerk free of the gator’s mouth and when that did not work, he attempted to actually pull his hand off his arm … he did not want to be dragged into the pond and run the chance of a gator roll.

An Excerpt from Worthy

Here around Tampa sometimes Leo and I have been on a horseback ride. We love animals and sight of hay and dirt, even if we don’t have skill for riding. Down Brandon Way, past all the supermarkets and dollar discounts and Kentucky Chicken drive-ups, there is pastures and quiet country.

Crackerlands

We have it all. Cotton candy skies and quarterly monster truck rallies. Datil peppers, stuffed alligators, and a t-shirt for every beach.

Just Barely

We mattered to one another. We both understood the sublime madness of Disney obsession...

Just Barely

We mattered to one another. We both understood the sublime madness of Disney obsession...

What I Still Owe You

Our running joke: anniversary cards that said, Congrats on being halfway through our marriage! Does it mean something good or bad that neither of us pointed out by how many years, with that last card, we’d overshot?

Full Moon in Chekika

A night of no-kill python hunting in the Everglades with Tom Rahill, founder of the Swamp Apes—a volunteer group using wilderness therapy to aid military veterans dealing with PTSD.

Resurrection, or: The Story Behind the Failure of the 2003 Radio Salsa 98.1 Semi-Annual Cuban and/or Puerto Rican Heritage Festival

Jesenia juts out her lips as she runs her tongue over her teeth. She probably tastes chalk—she wrinkles her face at the tang of it. She does not answer the nun, but stands and walks to the arched entrance of the church. She cups her hand and says, I’m so totally sorry but I’m freaking gonna die if I don’t. She leans down, drinks from the holy water.

Worm Fiddling Nocturne in the Key of a Broken Heart

My uncles have raised me ever since my widowed mother ran away from Break-A-Leg and left me behind. Josiah is all business and worms. Obediah is unpredictable and moody. It’s hard to tell whether he’ll yank me off my feet and waltz me across the boggy ground, or whether he’ll have one of his tantrums about waste and warmongering. He’s got a glass eye that he likes to pop in and out when he’s thinking hard about something.

Teeth

The sun is bright and hazy and hot, so this young couple decides to put their feet in the water. The water is warm, so they wade farther in. Past the shells and the gritty froth of the breaking waves, the sand is soft and slick between their toes, like velvet.

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