Mar 3, 2019

Devil's In the Moonlight

The Twila Series

“Twila, you’re too damned curious!”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my mama rattle that across her tongue. According to her I was born spine curled into a question mark. She pushes me toward the “traditions’ with her right arm and pulls me back with the “hell no” thumb on her left.

The swamp on my family tree goes deeper than these cypress trees squatted down on their knees listening to the dark tongues of the Atchafalaya. My whole life I’ve watched mama and her family boil reasons in the bath water why that gator birthmark on my hip marks me as the next mambo. I believe that should come with questions.

I’ve never been to a church because there wasn’t an open aisle pew run in the county that would welcome our cackle throng to share communion. Mama said her family’s Hounfò has always been right here on the mud breast of the Atchafalaya. I figure with all of this asking I have stomping on my teeth this is the place to spill them in the mist.

Alone isn’t feeling like it does when I’m walking in sunlight. There must be a thousand eyes staring at me from every tree and root crowding the waterline. Even the moon looks like it’s a skyclops one eyeing my back to measure the length of shiver from neck to tailbone. With all those eyes looking I wonder how many can see the ancestors chanting in my head. I hope the rose water juju in my pocket will keep dark spirits from finding a door in my skin. Mama tells me to never show fear. My wind chime bones keep rebelling.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Magaly Guerrero over at Poets United prompted us to write prose based on one of our poems either on our blogs or in one of our printed books. I chose to write from my Twila series poems. This particular writing is written as an introduction to my poem, Beneath the Atchafalaya Moon.

The other poems in my Twila Series:

Notes: (No, I don't do voodoo.) Mambo: High priestess 
Hounfò: a voodoo temple and its precincts
Skyclops: My made up version of Cyclops

Poets United ~ Telling Tales With Magaly Guerrero


  1. Paragraph One is a gem!!!, luv the whole tale
    Happy Sunday
    THEN MOON SMILED: a haiku fiction sequence
    I did not link to PU today because i did poetry, still drop by

    much love...

  2. As you probably already know, I love Twila's spunk. You've written so much strength into that character. I mean, you don't describe her walk, but I swear that through her voice/tone, I can see her walking with more determination than a small army fed by the notion that some things must be done.

    I really love the imagery, the way your power as a poet makes the fiction more delicious.

    Yum! Yum!! Yum!!!

  3. I really love the way you describe the atmosphere of a landscape I only can imagine...(even if I have visited the Mangrove)... I can feel the scent and the sounds at night...

  4. I love this tale and the metaphor of"..these cypress trees squatted down on their knees .."- wonderful imagery

  5. Oh Susie, this grabbed me and pulled me in so that I had to look up the other Twila tales on your site as well. You (and Twila) officially have a new fan!

  6. Oh gosh this is a real gem!❤️ I enjoyed the riveting tale and the lush imagery especially; "My wind chime bones keep rebelling." You are a rock star, Susie! Woww!❤️

  7. I like the way you have dealt with atmosphere in this poem. I can picture / feel the setting vividly. The last paragraph is particularly riveting!

    1. Sigh - not poem....prose! I am so used to poetry that I inadvertently used the wrong 'p' word in my response! Grrrrrh.

  8. A wonderful story, just what I like! And I think the source poem is a sheer masterpiece. Love the other two also, and look forward to reading more about Twila in any genre.

  9. Great storytelling here filled with mystery and a strong character. I read your poem as well. You turned it into an intriguing piece of prose.

  10. WOW!!!!!!!! What a SPECTACULAR write! I can see a whole book of Twila.......I LOVED the Skyclops! Smiles. Absolutely brilliant writing, Susie.

  11. Just love how this feels ==what a great story!

  12. A rich textured story. Love all the eyes staring, very specially the one eyed moon. A gorgeous piece, Susie.

  13. I am with Magaly, i love Twila's spunk! You have really set the scene so wonderfully Susie! I love it!

  14. There is so much dark magic in this piece--dark and enchanting, lively and compelling!

  15. Damn... I just fell into this tale with arms wide open. This just had such a marvelous and consistent voice to it. You got the sense of character and place right off the bat. I'd read more in a heart beat.

  16. The imagery in this! The skyclops & the windchime bones...I am in love with this story and the way you situate it on along axes of silence/speech and belief/trust.