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Archive for May, 2009

Amber Yoder is working with Respect! Films on a documentary about the

life of Grant Morrison.  In case I haven’t mentioned it a hundred times

already, Amber is my amazing daughter.  Grant Morrison is well known as a

comic book writer.  I am just learning about him, and he seems like an

interesting person.  No doubt he is talented.  I think there will be big interest

in this film.  In July, they will be filming at a comic book convention in San

Diego, CA.  If funding comes through, they may also go to Scotland to film

Morrison in his homeland.

Check out their trailer for the documentary.

By (Sequart Films) and Respect! Films

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Amber also works for Paul Devlin Productions and is an Associate Producer

for Blast! The Movie.  The theatrical performance of Blast! will premiere in

New York City on June 11-18.  Details about the DVD and locations and times

of the screenings are HERE.   In the film, Paul Devlin takes us on the journey

of a team of scientists who launch a telescope under a NASA high altitude

balloon.  The aim is to study the origins of the universe.  I’m a science lover,

so what they learn is fascinating to me.  Their struggles with instruments and

the elements also had me on the edge of my seat.

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Blast! is unique, because it also follows the personal lives of the

scientists–their questions, debates, and doubts.  We don’t usually think

about the human side of scientific research, and I like this angle a lot.  It

shows us the hardships caused by time the scientists spend away from their

families.  The film also touches on discussions among the scientists about

belief in God or not.   It shows both sides of the debate in a very even handed

manner and leaves the conclusions up to the viewer.  I think it is a very

honest and exciting look into the world of science and the people who bring

science to the world.

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Blast! The Movie by Paul Devlin

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Paul Devlin is an excellent filmmaker.  Here’s another one of his films that I

know many people who visit this site will love.  SlamNation is a high energy

look at the world of the U.S. national poetry slam competition.  I never

thought about the controversies or drama involved with a slam competition.

Both sides make some very valid points.  Is poetry a competition to be

judged with numbers?  On the other hand, it is the art of the spoken word and

performance.  I love slam when it’s done with a good spirit, because it’s a

great way to bring poetry to the people.  It’s also a great way to introduce

young people to poetry.  Again, I like how Paul Devlin shows us the scene and

lets us make up our own minds.

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I have a copy, and it is awesome.  Check out the way cool trailer.  Any

irregularities you may see here are only due to my lack of

embedding skills.  The films are top rate.

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This weekend, Amber is joining her group, the NYC Film Collective, to

participate in the 48-hour Film Project.  They will draw a genre theme out

of a hat at six o’clock this evening.   Each group will have 48-hours to write,

produce, shoot, and edit a film.  A character, prop, and line of dialogue will

be announced and must be included in the film.  I can’t wait to see the

results.  You can see some more of their short films on the NYC Film

Collective link above.

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This weekend, I’ll be floating in a canoe through the woods with no shoes on.

I might see a bobcat on the riverbank.  Seriously.  That is my creative world.

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In many ways, Amber and I have similarities in personality.  We both have

creative energy that never stops.  But I also love the differences.  I love

how Amber has shaped her own creativity in her own unique way.  She has

taught me a lot.

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Genevieve, Born During A Hurricane

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Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

Back then, they had

the predictions

of women.

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The smell of wind,

expanding clouds.

The drop of pressure

deep in their bones.

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She was due to arrive

in that season of heat.

Brown calico curtains

had slapped for days.

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The women felt her

in their wombs;

dreams

were of rosemary

flames

blew the wrong way.

A blue baby heron

fell to the ground.

.

They boiled water

boarded windows

pulled boats to shore,

smeared crosses of mud

across their front doors.

.

The women gathered

with a rustle of sheets,

massaged their sister

with herbs and oil

.

held her small

fevered hands

chewed on roots

moaned through

contractions

hallucinations

.

breathing in unison

panting, searching

for the rhythm of

a curly black head

shoulders, arms

ten fingers, ten toes.

.

Genevieve came in

with raging wind

salt-thick water

loud yellow sky

.

blood and tide

rising

over their feet

.

chunks thumping

on a cottage roof

trees bowing low;

waves clapping back

across broken shore.

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They finally heard

the creak of quiet.

Small drops of

sleeping

baby’s breath.

.

They washed Genevieve

with soft brown sheets;

saved the slick glisten

of remnants

in rusty pails.

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Their breasts

were heavy,

filled with milk.

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Her mother,

fourteen,

did not survive.

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***************************************************************************

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I don’t usually post brand new work, because it’s not finished.  Are they ever

finished?.. But I felt compelled to share this draft because of how it began.

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One night last week, I dreamed I was walking along the shore back home.  I

was wearing a peasant style dress that (somehow) I knew was from the early

1900′s.  I wondered why I was wearing it.  I saw a mirror floating in the water,

and I picked it up and looked.  I looked like a girl I don’t know.  Maybe she

symbolized me or someone else in my life. She had black curly hair

and bright green eyes.

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Then the mirror turned into a piece of wood.  I became very excited, because

I knew it was a piece of wood from my father’s boat.  I don’t know why that

excited me.  My father’s boat was sold when a family member couldn’t afford

to work the water anymore.  When I’m awake, it makes me sad to think about

the boat.

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I turned the wood over in my hands, and it had the title, Genevieve, Born

During A Hurricane on it.  It also had these words written under the title:

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The women felt her

in their wombs;

dreams

were of rosemary

flames

blew the wrong way.

A blue baby heron

fell to the ground.

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The words were written in bright yellow, and I could move them around with

my finger.  But in a few seconds, the words would move back to their original

positions.

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So I woke up with a prompt for a poem.  I left the stanza exactly as it

was written on the wood in my dream.  I can still see the words vividly in my

mind, including the semi-colon.

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I wanted the poem to be about Genevieve. .But, as usual, the poem is taking

me where it wants to go.

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Today, I remembered that an elderly lady once told me rosemary would

keep evil spirits away.  I looked up some of the history of rosemary

superstitions online, and I read that it was also considered a “women’s

friendship” herb, and women used to always include it in their weddings.   It

sort of freaked me out to read that after I wrote the poem.  I hear the song

from X-Files playing.

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One final thought.  Why am I always a peasant?    :D


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Read Full Post »

100_0040

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The Dying Song

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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We brought him home in a Hospice van,

unplugged the wires and made a bed

of mossy pine by the salt sweet shore.

Downwind of his huge and fertile garden,

he slowly bloomed inward, while we

held his hand beneath a live oak tree,

wiped his lips with watermelon hearts

and watched while he tilled

that last black row.

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The doctor had rolled his eyes:

I don’t have time for crazy hicks.

Let them take their bag of bones.

He won’t make it through the night.

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He died for six more months–

while summer thunder cooled his face

and fall lapped small waves around his bed.

We knew he couldn’t go, he wouldn’t go

until first frost sweetened the greens

and he was good and damned ready

to sing his dying hymn beside the shore.

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He smelled like collards cooking

in an old black pot,

fat back and vinegar and salt.

How gentle those large, scarred hands

thick with sweat, the breath of notes

and the pulse of Sunday voices.

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Amazing the clay, he sang, so sweet

the birds hush their singing,

the salt still clings to the roses.

Those blue eyes breathe beside the tide.

Those blue eyes keep breathing.

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That saved a wretch a cough like me.

How sweet the sound rolling down

a flight of stairs in hard darkness.

And the voice I hear falling on my ear

once was dead but now it grows.

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Was blind, a man in a garden,

faceless under a hat, bends to scoop

a handful of black.  A cough, a plough,

children run like scattered marbles.

But now I see the deep, dark green.

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A broken hoe;  unbroken smoke.

.

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The Dying Song was first published in Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal.

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Read Full Post »

Miss Fish Refuses To Evacuate

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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…..Miss Fish sits on the roof.  She is seventy-five-years old and hanging onto

shingles.  The water is now above her windows.  It is hot, and the sun

threatens to shine.  She wears a red bandana as a kerchief.  It flaps in the stiff

afternoon breeze.  Her black boots are muddy.  She cut her leg and tore her

favorite jeans climbing through the bedroom window and up the old trellis.

She dropped her canteen of water.  It took too long to get up here.  Now all

she wants is to be left alone.

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…..She didn’t ask anybody to rescue her.  She won’t go.  It’s her house.  Her

land.  If she ends up drowning in flood waters, well then.  That’s her business.

At least she’ll die with North Carolina salt water up her nose.

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…..After the last hurricane, she never saw Almeeta again.  Almeeta is her best

friend.   Now she’s gone.   Almeeta’s kids talked her into moving to Chapel Hill

with them.  Just for a little while until we can clean up, they said.   Ha!  They

sold so fast it made everybody’s head spin.  Now Almeeta’s laying in a nursing

home, dying with the hard hands of strangers flipping her over twice a day.

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…..Miss Fish is right where she intends to draw her last thin, blue breath.  She

was born with a silver bucket in her hand and has worked at McCumber’s

Shrimp House since she was old enough to carry it.  This creaky yellow house

next door to McCumber’s is her home.  She grew up here.   She falls asleep

every night watching the lights of shrimp boats slide across her bedroom

walls.  She loves the deep gurgle of engines, the shush of shovels in the ice

room.  She loves the way the fishermen cuss.   She loves the smell of marsh

mud, the mockingbirds in the trees.   Every cypress root and thick patch of

moss on this beautiful black ground sings her name.

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…..McCumber’s is on the verge of closing down, but Miss Fish refuses to

move.  When the developers came in and made their big offer, she wouldn’t

sell.   And now, she won’t move off this roof until the waters go down.  Then

she will clean it all up, stick by stick.

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…..Miss Fish hears a helicopter again and looks up.  It’s the people from the

six o’clock ActionNews! team.  They will show her on the television tonight.

She gives them the finger.  She might be an old woman, but she knows what

the finger means.

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…..Let people call her a fool.  What people say never worried Miss Fish.  She

gave birth to Cully back when having a baby out of wedlock was unheard of.

She refused to quietly leave town.  She refused to give him up for adoption.

Miss Fish held her head high.  She marched to the front row of Oak Shore

Baptist Church every Sunday with no husband and little Cully boy in her

arms.   She made them love Cully.  And they did.  All the men in the

community became his daddy.  He had cousins galore.  They patted his curly,

black head and swung him high in the air.  They built him a flat bottom skiff.

He spent his childhood in that boat with crab pots and nets.  He was a fine,

strong boy.

.

…..Cully paid them all back by moving upstate.  Mr. Big Shot computer

programmer.  He lives in a fancy mansion in some subdivision that smells like

lettuce.  He just turned forty, and he looks like an old man.  Always talking

about how stressed out he is.  His prissy little wife acts like she smells dog

crap when they visit once a year.  And the kids!  Two sad, fat boys who don’t

even act like boys at all.  They sit on the couch all day staring at gadgets in

their hands.  Whoever heard of an eight-year-old with a cell phone?   Kids

should be out in boats or playing in the woods.

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…..She wonders what happened, where she went wrong.  Miss Fish was the

first and only woman in the county to become a captain.   She knows

currents, wind, and tide like the back of her two big hands.  She ought to

be taking those kids out on the water and showing them a thing or two.  If she

hadn’t let Cully sell the boat, she would be on it right now.

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…..Miss Fish was so proud of Cully when he went to college.  He was the first

one in the family to go.  Then he came back and announced that he didn’t

want to be a fisherman.   Well, that’s his choice.   But he could have at least

helped her on some of the campaigns.   For years now, she has fought on

behalf of the small commercial fisherman.   She has protested, written letters,

joined groups, gone to meetings.  She even goes to the capitol to speak for

them.  “You just can’t fight it, Mama,” Cully says.   “There are too many

government regulations.   The price of fuel is too high.  Too many of the

waters are closed.  Real estate is the only way to make any money around

here anymore.  You could sell this place, get a nice condo in town, and never

have to worry about finances for the rest of your life.”

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…..A condo!   They may as well put her in jail.  She won’t do it, not even

for Cully.  Miss Fish hears an engine in the distance.  It might be the Coast

Guard.  They’ll climb on the roof and carry her off.  The muscles in the backs

of her legs are knotting up in cramps.  She scoots her backside a little to see if

she can move.  That doesn’t work too well, so she lays down on her stomach

and slides toward the chimney.  Shingles come loose under her as she

moves.   She pants.  The skin on her arms is on fire.

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…..She makes it to the chimney and catches her breath.  The sun has come

out now in full force.   It is so hot.   She wishes she had her canteen.   Her

tongue has never felt so dry.  She wonders how much time has passed.  It may

have only been minutes, but it feels like hours.   Mosquitos swirl around her

eyes.   Her leg below the knee is bleeding.   She takes off her bandana and ties

it tight around her leg.

.

…..It used to be that the wishes of elders were respected.  When Cap’n Orrie

wanted to die on his boat, people let him.  Nobody rushed him to the hospital

to be hooked up with tubes and machines.  His time came, and he left the way

he wanted to go.  Rocking gently in his boat on a soft pile of old nets.

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…..Miss Fish sits up and leans against the chimney.  She’ll rest for a minute

and get over this dizzy spell.  If she can get a good toe hold on the chimney,

she’ll climb inside.  They’ll never reach her in there.   If they try, she’ll jab

their hands with her little pocket knife.

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…..The helicopter circles above her head again.  How they would love to see

an old fool drown!  She sees the boat coming closer.  Heat shimmers on the

roof.  She feels like she might throw up.  She looks down at her backyard.

Clothes are hanging in the tree limbs.   The red and blue patchwork quilt

Grandma made looks like a jellyfish flapping in the water.  Little white squares

float all over the yard.   She hopes it’s not the box of pictures she tried to

shove up in the rafters.  She sees a patch of green cloth float by.  Maybe that’s

Cully’s boyscout uniform.

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…..Her little Cully.  He was such a sweet boy.  He used to peek around the

corner of her bedroom to see if she was awake every morning.  Then he’d grin

with those two front teeth missing.  He couldn’t wait to get to the fish house.

When he grew up, he couldn’t wait to get away.

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…..It is so hot.  So hot.  Little white spots dance in front of her eyes.  The

water has leveled off now.  If they would just leave her alone, she could make

it.   The men on the boat are coming too fast.  She can see them now.  Their

faces are young and round.  She hears the beeping of crazy computers inside

their boat.  A boy talks on a radio and looks bored.  Miss Fish gets on her

knees and puts her arms around the chimney.  She hangs onto the chimney.

She stands up.

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…..She never said Cully had to be a fisherman.  Even after he came back from

college, she didn’t pressure him to go out on the boat with her.  He sat in the

back room for days at a time.  He liked to build computers.   He could take an

engine apart and put it back together when he was in the tenth grade.  It

seemed logical that he’d want to work with some kind of machine.  She

cooked his supper every night and left it covered on a little table by his

closed door.  She tried to leave him alone.

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…..But Cully could have helped his people with the computers.   He could

have spread the word.  All she wanted him to do was help her make a flyer.

She made flyers with an old typewriter.  His machines could make fancy

colored letters and spit out twenty of them at a time.  “This dump is not worth

saving!” he screamed.  He crumpled up her handmade flyer and moved out

that night.

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…..Miss Fish feels faint.  Her legs buckle.   She tries to hold onto the chimney,

but her hands slip.  She falls on her side and begins rolling.  Sky, roof, sky,

roof.   It feels like she is rolling into space.  Any second now, she will feel the

drop.  The warm water will clap around her body.

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…..She stops rolling.   She is on her stomach again, still on the roof.  Her body

is perpendicular to the gutter.  Her face hangs over the edge.  Miss Fish

stretches her arms sideways and feels shingles.  She digs her fingers

underneath the shingles as hard as she can.  She should have kept going.   If

she rocks her body back and forth, she can roll into the water.  It will only

hurt for a little while.

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…..Miss Fish pants.   The sun slaps like a demon against her body.   A wild

horse floats by, struggling to swim.  It is a pretty one, dark brown with a

blond mane.   It holds its head above the water as far as it can.  Its eyes are

rolled back and white.  Slowly, the head goes under.   It comes up again.  Then

it goes down.  The eyes disappear.

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…..There’s a pile of muddy nets wrapped around the trunk of the live oak

tree.  The net is full of trash and beer cans.  There’s the gold lace tablecloth

Almeeta gave her.  There’s  a crab pot buoy.  She sees more things from her

house float by.  But she can’t imagine what they are anymore.  Colors appear

beneath the surface and turn into a thick, gray line.  Everything looks the

same.

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…..The men climb up on the roof.  In no time, she hears boots thudding

toward her.  Hard hands grab Miss Fish around the waist.  They flip her over

on her back.   They cut her shirt and favorite jeans from her body.  The hands

wrap her in a scratchy, wet sheet.  Quickly, they carry her down.  She refuses

to cry.

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mule2

Two of my poems, Lessons in Genetics and They Called Him Cap’n Glass, are published at The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.  You can see the poems by clicking HERE.

I love The Mule!   Stick around and read it all.

Cap’n Glass is based on a real person who was a colorful soul.

In Genetics, Lesson #4 is dedicated to my daughter.  It’s one of the things I always tell her about family.  My tongue is firmly implanted in my cheek, of course.

Thanks for reading!

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