Well I’m goin’ down to Florida
Get some sand in my shoes
“Orange Blossom Special,” Ervine T. Rouse

We loaded the army green 

Pinto wagon 

& headed south 

for the land of orange blossoms 

& coconut palms. 

We saw Rock City 

& the birth place of Davy Crockett, 

but our mission 

was to find the warmth of the sun 

on the white sunshine shores 

of the white sunshine state. 

In Fort Myers 

we ate burgers and watched 

Cary Grant catch a fish 

with his bare hands,

but he never gave it a half-nelson. 

He never attempted a suplex 

on that South Pacific island. 

After Cheerios

& hard-boiled eggs, 

we passed through

Bonita Springs, Naples, 

Marco Junction in search of 

pastel landscapes

 & Art Deco beaches. 

We never heard the whistle 

of that train from New York City. 

We never saw that cocaine sunrise 

over the cocaine sands of Miami.

East of Ochopee 

we got lost in Big Cypress. 

Driving those muddy two-tracks 

& the reed ensconced paths 

of the ancient Seminole Nation, 

our ancient Pinto 

was axle-deep in turtles, 

snail kites, marsh rabbits.

Asking directions 

at a gas station, 

we drank Dr. Peppers 

& sampled the local jerky, 

but out back was something special. 

I was seven years old, 

too young to be wandering alone 

in the black water swamps, 

but I wandered alone 

& found the soul of old Florida. 

As the river is the heart 

of the land pumping life-blood 

water through arteries 

of peninsular wet-lands, 

the soul of a state 

is hidden in

its tourist traps. 

He never heard the whistle 

Of that train for New York City

He never saw that golden sunrise

Over his ancestral sands of Miami

Behind that gas station, 

a grizzled man with 

grizzled teeth

waited to put on his show. 

Three generations of that 

Osceola family 

paid their bills 

& paid their dues 

in the arena of the alligator. 

The arena of the prehistoric beast. 

The trick is to fight a big one: 

the muscle mass makes them 

slower and less flexible. 

Before De Soto, before Ponce de Leon,

his family were royalty: 

kings, queens, princes. 

I watched the Duke of Chokoloskee, 

with his scars and filth, roll a gator, 

catch a tooth in his forearm, 

and pin it for a ten count. 

We got back in the old Pinto 

& headed further down 

The Tamiami Trail 

as the arterial swamp pumped us 

towards the shore.

Andre F. Peltier III (he/him) is a Lecturer at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches African American Literature, Science Fiction, Afrofuturism, Poetry, and writing. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his wife and children. His poetry has recently appeared in CP Quarterly, In Parentheses, Lucky Jefferson, La Piccioletta Barca, Fevers of the Mind, Punt Volat, The JFA Human Rights Journal, Griffel Magazine, Barzakh, The Madrigal Press, Melbourne Culture Corner, Fahmidan Journal, Spillover Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, About Place, Novus, Open Work, The Write Launch, Closed Eye Open, and the anthology Turning Dark into Light. Many of his poems are forthcoming in various journals. In his free time, he obsesses about soccer and comic books.

Twitter: @aandrefpeltier

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