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Archive for May, 2010

Washing Away

My heart goes out to the people on the Gulf coast.  I have debated whether

or not to post anything about it for several reasons.  I’m very emotional

about the subject.  The internet is full of a-holes with keyboards and

opinions.  Yes, I’m one more a-hole with opinions.

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I don’t want to hurt the people who are already suffering.  I don’t want to

glorify myself by posting it on a poetry blog.  It’s not about me.  In a way, it

just feels too damn narcissistic, and I struggle against that.  Yet here I am

writing about it and explaining myself.  It makes no sense.

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On the other hand, that’s what poets and writers do.  We write about what

we know, what we’re feeling, what pisses us off or makes us sad.

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What made me finally decide to post is a worry.  I worry that the people of

the Gulf will be forgotten.  Long after the media packs up and heads off to the

next disaster, people will be hurting.  But I also worry that they are already

being forgotten.   What is being done for them today?

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I searched online and found a couple of organizations that are taking

donations to help people in the Gulf who have lost their livelihoods.  But I’m

a little wary.   Before I post anything, I will have to make sure it is

legitimate.  I do know a wonderful organization in Ohio that helps people

worldwide.  I’m assuming they will be helping in the Gulf, but again, I need

to make sure.  If you know a legitimate group that will give to people and

not political causes, please e-mail me (juliebuff AT gmail DOT com) and let

me know.

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It’s not like the people in the Gulf had it easy to start with.  Did you know

there was a Fisherman’s Rally on Washington in February?   The media

doesn’t care too much about the struggle of fishermen.  In my own state,

they are often vilified by groups that claim to be “green.”  The groups have

an agenda, lots of money, and they are spreading harmful lies.

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The fishing families I know on the Gulf coast have been having many of the

same problems we have here in Carolina.  Now they have this atrocity.  I

cannot even imagine what they are going through or what they will do.  So

many people are hurt.

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I posted this poem almost two years ago, but it seems appropriate today.  It

wasn’t written with the Gulf in mind, but in a way, it has everything to do

with what’s going on now.  I wrote it after yet another fish house in North

Carolina was forced out of business.

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No, it’s not a yearning for the “good old days.”  It’s a love for a culture,

a way of life, which some people seem determined to destroy.  To date, the

area is still beautiful and culturally rich.  I hope lawmakers will have sense

enough to treasure the land and the people who are part of the land.

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The small commercial fishermen on my coast know more about marshland

and marine life than any “expert” with an environmental science degree will

ever know.  They are environmentally conscious people, not because it is

fashionable to be so, but because it is their way of life.   They don’t just give

it lip service.  They quietly live it.

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Last year, my daughter gave me a print she made, based on my poem.  She

is amazing.  The picture is cut from tiles by hand, using a knife.  I can’t do it

justice here, because I just took a picture of it with a camera.  The real print

is even more powerful.  The small “flowers” floating in the sky are part of the

paper and work perfectly with the theme.  If you click on the picture, you

can see the detail a little better.   Thank you, Amber.  It means a lot to me.

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Washing Away print by Amber Yoder

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Washing Away

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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That old shell of a building used to be

where Jeeter Davis picked the blues,

while us girls picked the sweet meat

of blue crabs to sell for market price.

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We worked with red bandanas

on our heads, and boys on our minds.

Our squeaking, rubber gloves

on warm, wet wood kept time.

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The mockingbirds sounded

like little boats chewing foam.

The shush of shovels in crushed ice

meant supper would be on the table

for at least another season.

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Our fathers were worn out

after a good night’s catch,

their boats heavy with a living.

But they kept us full

.

of their stories, oh Lord, that day

Jeeter Davis sang a song about

a cheating wife and a cabbage head,

we thought we would die laughing.

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Now there’s a big, black boot,

old net that needs mending,

and an upside down crab pot

floating in the tide.

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There’s a rotten crate

with SHRIMP stenciled

on its side, the letters R, M, P

almost faded away.

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There’s a mossy brown stump

where the oyster bed was,

the handle of a shovel,

and two rusty pennies, heads up,

lying in the mud.

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There’s our old crab house

creaking in the breeze, and inside,

the briny smell still echoes

like Jeeter Davis’ cold, steel blues

sliding off the walls.

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There’s glass that snaps underfoot,

three rubber gloves, a pink hair brush,

a radio that might still work,

and a guitar pick crusted with fish scales

stuck in a crack in the ice room door.

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There’s half a receipt book,

and compliments

of Bell-Munden Funeral Home,

there’s an unmarked calendar

still opened to the year

when we lost our soul.

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Across the bay,

there’s a healthy row

of condominiums growing.

They call it Fishermen’s Ridge.

There’s a billboard that has

a happy family on it.

They’re not from around here.

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There’s a cartoon picture

of a boat and a shrimper

hauling in his heavy nets.

He’s bathed in light and way

too clean to be working.

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They tell us maybe

we can get big tips over there

if we entertain the tourists

with our watermen’s accents

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or serve imported crabs

in the restaurant

or mop their pretty floors.

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So shiny, so bright,

like the Whore of Babylon,

like a brand new bay.

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God help us.

We’re all washing.

We’re all washing away.

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Reclamation

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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The swamp was drained,

a permit obtained

to build a gated

neighborhood

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called Egrets’ Landing

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over what was water

over herons’ muddy nests

over cool live oaks

.

over a mossy shack

where for years

an old lady in a red hat

loved to watch gators.

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Now owners complain

about rattlesnakes

on their driveways.

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Black bears in trash cans.

Deer eating pink hibiscus.

Coyotes howling at all hours.

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Permits and money

could not stop

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goose, fox,

bobcat droppings

on deep green lawns,

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the thickness of mosquitoes,

ticking of crickets on carpet

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humidity that breathes,

squeezes,

drips and drops.

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Four car garages

smell of leather

and mold.

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Mildew grows

over vents.

Air conditioners

hiss, break down

.

as the land slowly

pulls inward,

back to the mud

it was before

.

alligators lay

on the golf course,

their mouths wide open

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waiting for moss

to return.

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Life has been crazy for me the past couple of years.  Right now, it’s

especially crazy.  The kind words people have given me here keep me going.

I’m not just saying that.  I doubt I would have lasted six months on the

internet without all the good souls who come along.

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Today’s post is a nod to two poets and bloggers who have been good to me

recently.  But please know how much I appreciate you all.

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Terresa Wellborn has posted one of my poems at her beautiful site,

The Chocolate Chip Waffle.   Thank you, Terresa!   You can read the

poem HERE.  If you’ve been reading here for a long time, you may have

read it in the past.  But I chose that particular poem as a tip of the hat to

Terresa’s life experiences.  The lady in the poem was very real.

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I love Terresa’s poetry.   Take a look at her poem, Checking Myself In.  Is

that awesome or what?   That’s exactly how I feel lately.  She nailed it.

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You can find more of Terresa’s work HERE or just by reading her blog.

Please do.  It is so beautiful.  I know I will be reading her work in journals

and books for many years to come.

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Another thanks goes to Ashley Capes, who posted one of my poems at his

site, kipple.   Now my face is turning red, because I should have thanked

Ashley ages ago.  I am a huge fan of his work.  Please check out Ashley’s

blog  HERE and read more of his poetry.   I was especially happy to

see there’s a new review of his latest book at Overland blog.

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I love all of Ashley’s work, but lately I’ve been loving his book of poems,

Stepping Over Seasons.  I plan on telling you more about this fantastic

work.   But don’t wait for me.   Read the review at Overland blog.  And read

some sample poems HERE.   You can also see Ashley’s first collection,

Pollen and the Storm, HERE.

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Now, don’t think that I’m saying good things  just because Terresa and

Ashley were good to me.  I was a fan already.  One of the best things about

the internet has been the awesome work I get to read and pass along to

others.  You may already know Ashley and Terresa, but if you don’t, please

read and link!  You’ll be very glad you did.

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Eating Oysters Out of Season

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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They go down easy

like a linger

of salty breeze

on the tongue.

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No chewing required.

No engines needed.

.

We heed no warnings,

dropping barometers,

or turning of the earth.

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You and I have fire,

the smell of sand on skin,

a hammock, magnolia trees,

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a silver knife wedged

just so and we open

with a slow black creak.

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The thunder, the pump

of snowy egrets’ wings,

that flash of pink lightning

on horizon cannot stop

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a slicing of fingers,

a mixing of blood,

the wild, warm taste

of souls on a shore.

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We walk the swirls

with muddy buckets–

thickening wind in coves.

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Over and over, we gather us

by the dozen, tossing pearls

into the moving water

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loving the toxin,

the aftershock

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the fullness that remains.

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