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Rosalee

-Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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I feel like a damn fool.  I’m supposed to be a poet.  But I let Rosalee dress me

up like a floozy.  How does she talk me into crap like this?  I’m a grown

woman.  I should know better.

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Even with the air conditioner blasting in her Corvette, it’s hotter than forty

hells.  My feet are sweating.  Nobody wears high heel pumps to the grocery

store.  Mine are red.  Rosalee wears dark purple.  Mauve, she calls it.

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We screech into the gravel parking lot of Jo-Jo’s Groceries.  Rosalee’s

Corvette is a bright yellow 1978 classic, fully restored and clean as a whistle.

Some rich old sap she met at the beach last year gave it to her.  He thought

she was going to marry him.

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She also kept his ring.  And diamond studded sunglasses.  I can’t see her eyes

behind the dark lenses, but I know Rosalee’s not watching where she’s going.

She circles the Vette around the parking lot, flinging rocks and making people

hustle to keep from getting run over.

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Rosalee is my beautiful first cousin.  She’s a…well, I don’t know what she

does, other than con idiots out of their money.  But she has a lot of time on

her hands.  Maybe turning her hick cousin into a world renowned poet is

Rosalee’s way of giving back to society.  So far, it’s not working.

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Last month, Rosalee took me to the city where she lives.  I was supposed to

read my poetry at an art gallery.  Instead, I fainted before the readings

began.  When I woke up, I begged Rosalee to take me home.

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Today, she’s trying a new approach.  Nothing poetic.  Nothing literary.

Rosalee’s helping me build my confidence in public.  Since there are no

other stores in my town, Jo-Jo’s Groceries is about as public as it gets.

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“I still don’t see how dressing like a hoochie mama will make me confident,” I

say.  I tug at the top of my Marilyn Monroe wannabe dress.  I’m worried a

nipple will show.

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Rosalee whips in front of the handicap parking sign and stops the car.  “We

can’t park here!” I yelp.  Rosalee takes off her sunglasses and looks at me.

Her eyes are green, with little flecks of gold.  I smell lilacs.  Lily of the Valley.

Ambrosia.

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“Ever notice the people on the cover of poetry journals?” Rosalee asks.

“They either knew somebody or they blew somebody.  Or…they look good.”

She hands me a tube of lip gloss.

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“But more than anything, they’re not surprised to be on the cover.  Get it?”

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I toss the lip gloss in the cupholder.  Rosalee slides out of the Corvette, her

purse dangling on her wrist.  It’s one of those huge New York purses, and I

wouldn’t doubt if she had a little dog in it.

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I struggle to get out of the Corvette without flashing somebody.  My feet are

already killing me.  I feel sweat between my toes.  Even the three hookers in

this town have sense enough to wear shorts and flip-flops.  It’s at least a

hundred degrees.

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“If you want to be noticed, you gotta put yourself out there,” Rosalee says.

“Make sure the world never forgets.  When you write your bio, make it sound

something like this.”

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Rosalee struts through the parking lot.  Have mercy.  I don’t know whether to

applaud or cry.  Suddenly, flutes begin to play.  I hear lines from Sarojini

Naidu’s The Snake Charmer.  I imagine a serpent rising from a wicker basket.

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Rosalee’s legs are endless.  Her feet glide across gravel in six inch pumps.

Shiny, black hair bounces around her bare shoulders.  She hasn’t broken a

sweat.  The purple orchids on her short dress are stretched across her ass.  It

sways in perfect rhythm.

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I stumble along behind Rosalee, trying to catch up.  I nearly fall down when I

step up on the sidewalk.  I feel like a freak.  I can’t stop looking at my cousin’s

ass.

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The electric doors open for Rosalee.  We walk inside the store, and a puff of

cool air hits my face.  The place is packed full of Saturday shoppers.

Flat-footed housewives.  Good ole boys in their lightweight, summer plaid.

Snotty lip kids whining for candy.

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A hush falls over the store.

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I’ve got a serious wedgie coming on.  No matter how much I yank at the hem

of my dress, it feels like my rear end is hanging out.  Thankfully, nobody is

looking at me.  Every face in the place is gazing at Rosalee.

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Without missing a beat, she grabs a cart and floats over to the produce

section.  Rosalee is poetry in motion, all fluid, all form.  The lines of her body

are graceful, but exciting.  She slides her cart forward.

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The crowd parts.

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People are smiling at Rosalee.  Sure, she’s making the men horny, and their

wives are mad as hell.  But there’s something else going on.  A weird kind of

respect hangs like electricity in the air.  She could be wearing a potato sack,

and it wouldn’t matter.  She is giving them the gift of Rosalee.

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I tug to get a cart unstuck from the others.  At least I’ve got something to lean

on now.  Of course, the stupid wheel wobbles, and my cart squeaks and pulls

to the left.  I worm my way through the edges of the crowd.  Rosalee waves,

and a couple of people move to let me through.

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Rosalee looks at me, disgusted, and puts her hand on her hip.  “Lesson

number one.  Don’t let chumps butt in front. ”  She moves her hips back and

forth in time with her words.  “Nice girls don’t get jack.  A little mouse gets

the pits that the rich girls spit.”

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Rosalee drums her long, purple fingernails on a watermelon.

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“Lesson number two.  All these watermelon are your poetry magazines.

Don’t take the first one that winks at you.  Go for quality.  See?  I want the one

that’s hard to get…waaaaaay in the back.”

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She leans over the counter, stretching her legs.  Rosalee’s ass rises up high,

and I imagine Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese taking flight, announcing their place

in the world.

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A man hustles over.  “Let me get that for you, miss,” he says.  He hoists the

large watermelon and puts it gently in her cart.

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Rosalee glances at him and rolls her eyes.  Then she turns to me.  “And

another thing.”  She snaps her fingers in my face.  “Don’t thank them.  Please

and thank you for your time will land you in the servant’s quarters.  They

should be thanking you!”

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Rosalee slides her cart over to the strawberries.  She plucks a fat one from the

pile and holds it under the water mister.  She brings the strawberry to her

mouth, and slowly closes her thick, glossy lips around it.  Juice drips on her

chest and trickles down between her cleavage.  I can literally hear every man

in the store gulp.

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An old lady humphs and walks away.

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“Now, lesson number…whatever.  To hell with the bitches.  Don’t worry about

what they think.  They’re bitches.  So go ahead.  Bite the big apple.  It belongs

to you, not them.”

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She points at a pyramid of deep red apples, shining under the lights.  I stand

there, staring like a dunce, not knowing what she wants me to say.  I pick up a

cucumber and some bananas and put them in my cart.

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Phhhhht! You’re a hopeless case!” Rosalee hisses.  She grabs the largest

apple she can find and sinks her strong, white teeth into its flesh.  She plops

the apple back on the stack.

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Rosalee ignores me now and starts filling her cart with fruit and vegetables,

tossing aside the ones she doesn’t want.  She flings radishes.  She flicks

through grapes.  She swats sweet potatoes out of her way.

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Neatly arranged displays quickly turn into a huge slushpile of mixed up

pears, oranges, and lettuce.  Kiwis and mangoes bounce from their stacks

and roll across the floor.  She doesn’t bother to pick them up.

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When Rosalee gets what she wants, we make our way to the register.  She

pulls a wad of coupons out of her purse and shoves them at the cashier.  The

girl looks puzzled.  None of the coupons match what Rosalee has chosen.

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The girl glances at the other cashiers, and they all bob their heads.  Even

though I know better, I believe it, too.  Yes, her coupons are good.  Yes, yes,

yes!

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Rosalee swipes her card to pay.  She sashays out the door, her ass swaying

like a Wordsworth ballad.  Three bag boys fall all over themselves to be the

one to push her cart.

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I pay full price.  My cucumber’s got a mark on it, as if somebody stuck it with

a fingernail.  A couple of my bananas are starting to bruise.  I thank the

cashier, who says nothing and thumps my stuff into a plastic bag.

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At least I didn’t faint.  I limp back to the Corvette, and Rosalee’s standing

there with the car doors open and the air condition blasting.  She looks

bored.  The boys carefully load her bags into the trunk.

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I can’t wait to get home and forget this day.  Never again will I let Rosalee

talk me into something.  I’m mad at myself for being so gullible.  This was just

one more way for Rosalee to show off and make me look like the fool that I

am.

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I take off my pumps.  Large, white blisters have formed on the sides

of my toes.  I crouch down to touch them.  I wince and gently rub the skin

around the blisters.  I glance up.

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Rosalee’s standing there with her hands on her hips.  I see the strangest

thing.  Maybe it’s the light.  Maybe it’s a weird angle.  I can’t believe my eyes.

Rosalee has a thick wisp of coarse, black…hair.

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Under her chin?

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Another image flashes into my brain.  Drunk Bukowski farting in the bathtub.

Bubbles rise to the surface of the puke gray water and pop.

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Why didn’t I see Rosalee’s beard before?  She’s my cousin!  And I notice

everything else.  I notice mold on the sidewalk.  I notice pores on faces.  I

notice tree bark, ants.  Good Lord, I notice baby ants.

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I study Rosalee some more.  Even her profile sort of looks like Buk.  She’s got

a little roll of pudge around the gut.  I’ll be damned.  I look a little closer.

There are varicose veins on her legs!

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Rosalee sees me staring at her.  She glares at me.  Her eyes dare me to

question her beauty.  I have no right.  She doesn’t question herself.  Ever.

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She swings her hips and slides easily into the driver’s seat.  Maybe I’m just

jealous.  Maybe the heat is getting to me.  I stand up and shake my head.  I do

feel dizzy.

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Bukowski fades away, and Rosalee returns.  I must have been hallucinating.

Rosalee is a goddess.  I feel like a toad when I plop down next to her.

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Rosalee revs up the Corvette.  Before I know it, we’re flinging rocks on our

way out of the parking lot.  That woman’s got talent.  And all the best peaches

in the store.

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Note:  A friend asked me to whip up a little response to Updike’s short story,    A& P.

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We love Updike’s story for many reasons, and in no way am I comparing my response to his story.  After all, I’m not Rosalee.  But I thought it would be fun to share.

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Have a truly beautiful day!

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Photo courtesy of Freerangestock.com

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Three of my poems are up at Trailer Park Quarterly.

There’s a lot of good fiction and poetry there, so be sure to check it all out.

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I love their style.  Edited by Daniel Crocker and Rebecca Schumejda (poetry), TPQ speaks to real readers.

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If you’re interested in submitting, you can read a little more about what they’re looking for HERE.

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You can read my poems HERE.

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Thanks for dropping in!

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A friend asked me to do a blog post for a project she’s creating.  I’ll tell you more about the project once she launches it.  I’m not sure if I should talk about it now.

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My friend is cool about re-posting.  I love cool people.  Anyway, I thought I’d share my blog post here.

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If you’re one of my blog friends, the “anti-internet” sentiment isn’t directed at you.  Please don’t take that personally.  I tend to post according to what I feel like talking about on any given week.

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This week, I needed to be reminded of the peaceful moments.   And I love coyotes.

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Connections

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I turn on my old computer tonight.  It takes fifteen minutes to grind, burp, and finally connect.  I check my e-mail.  I have three Facebook friend requests.  I have no clue who the people are.  They don’t bother to write a note.

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The computer hums and whines.   It smells like plastic.  I want to throw the damn thing through the window.

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Instead, I grab my CD player and go outside.  It’s dark—the beautiful thick black of a rural Carolina night.  I root around in the tool shed and find my flashlight and camping axe.  I chop up some old logs and branches.  Pretty soon, I’ve got a nice fire going by the woods.

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I go back inside to the kitchen and get four pieces of catfish and a cast iron skillet.  An oven mitt and a spatula.  I find some home brew in the fridge.  I take it all outside to the fire.  I have an old porch chair to sit on.  It’s somewhat damp from dew, but it has a nice padded seat and leans back just enough for a good view of the stars.

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Before I know it, the smell of catfish cooking over my fire fills the air.  I sit down and pop open the top of a cold home brew.  Kell Robertson is singing Cool and Dark Inside on the CD player.  The fire casts a large circle of light on the ground.

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This is the only connection I want right now.

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Suddenly, I hear a loud rustle of leaves.  I smell the musty scent of something wild.  A dark creature comes loping out of the woods toward me.  I think it is a coyote.  I jump up and grab my camping axe.  No coyote in his right mind would run toward a fire.  I think he must be rabid.

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The animal trots up to the circle of light and stops.  Yes, it is a coyote.   My heart thumps in my throat.  I clutch the axe, ready to swing.  The coyote sits down on the ground.  He looks at the fire.  Then he looks at me.

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He’s the skinniest coyote I’ve ever seen.   All legs and head.  Even in the dim light, I can see his ribs.  His fur is matted and greasy looking in some places. In other places, he’s bald.  Half of his right ear is gone.

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Coyote leans down on the ground and puts his head on his paws.  The light of the fire makes his eyes glow gold.  Then he flips over on his back and shows me his belly.  I swear, he’s sucking it in.  This coyote’s not rabid.  He’s smart.  He can smell catfish and a bleeding heart from a mile away.

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I sit down in my chair, still clutching the axe.   I’m not quite sure what to do. I’m a country girl.  I know that feeding a coyote could be a death sentence for him.   He’ll get too used to people.   He’ll get bold.   He could become dangerous.  He might end up going after the farmer’s calves down the road. Or a pet.  Somebody will kill him.

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I should swing the axe and scare him away.  I should go inside the house, get a gun and shoot it in the air.  I should bang a pan with a spoon.  Whatever it takes to make him run far away.

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But he’s so skinny.  I just can’t do it.

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Coyote flips back over on his belly and slides a few inches toward me.  I put down the axe.   I turn the catfish so they won’t burn.  His big eyes watch my hands.  He slides closer.  He whimpers.  Just a little.

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By the time I take the pan from the fire, Coyote is only about five feet away from me.  I can see his face now.  All the sorrow of the world is spilling out of his eyes.  Whenever I move my hands, he swallows.

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I break off a piece of the catfish.  It is charred on the outside and flaky white in the middle.  I take a bite.  It tastes good—like pine bark and smoke.  Coyote flicks his tongue and swallows.  He sighs.

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I sigh, too.  “Here, you nasty beggar,” I say.  I fling a piece of the catfish toward Coyote.  Before the fish has a chance to hit the ground, Coyote swipes it up with his long tongue.  He swallows.  It’s gone.

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He moves closer.

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What the hell, I think. I’ve already started feeding him, so I may as well do it right.  I go back inside and get the rest of the catfish in my refrigerator.  Four more pieces.  He waits patiently by my door.

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I spend the next two hours feeding Coyote.  I bring out a pack of hot dogs.  A leftover pan of macaroni and cheese.  Some squash casserole.   Rocky Road ice cream.  Wilted celery.  A pot of turnip greens and hamhocks.  Cornbread. Three raw eggs.  He eats it all as quickly as I can give it to him.

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When I have nothing left to give, Coyote lays down next to the fire.   His belly is rounder now.   He doesn’t look quite as mangy as he did before.  Now I’m starting to wonder if he’d let me brush his fur.

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Coyote falls asleep.  He starts snoring loudly.  The side of his mouth is turned up as if he’s grinning.  I fall asleep in my chair.   I dream I’m running through the woods with Coyote.  We leap over logs and slosh through the swamp.  We run and run, always one step ahead of the law.  I look down, and I am running on four legs.  They are long and rangy.  My four legs are strong and fast.

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I wake up, and Coyote is laying on my feet, curled around my ankles.  I can feel the thump of his heart on the tops of my feet.   A full, gold moon is rising through the trees.  The moon makes the woods look like they’re on fire.

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Inside my house, an old computer burps and whines.  For a minute, I think maybe I should go inside and turn it off.  But it will probably get hot and crash by itself.  Right now, I’ve got a coyote keeping me warm.

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I’ve got peace that surpasses all understanding.  I’ve got the moon and the stars and the universe humming through my veins.   I’ve got a mangy friend who found another grinning fool to love him.  I’ve got poetry curled around my feet.

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I’ve got this moment.  I am connected.  This is enough.

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Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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If you come here and read more than two words, you’re probably a lover of poetry and fiction.  You’ve hit the jackpot this week.

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Here are a few good reads (in no particular order).  I hate to put them all on one post, because they deserve much more attention.  But if I wait until I have time to do them all justice, a year might roll by.

Some are just coming out.  Some I meant to shout out ages ago.  They’re all good.

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….Poiesis #4:   I just ordered a copy.  Woot!

Poiesis #4 is a poetry chapbook (compilation of various authors), edited by leah angstman of Propaganda Press.  I’m not going to wait to read it before I recommend it, because everything leah does is awesome.  I know it is good.  And it’s only four bucks plus shipping!

You can get all of the details about Poiesis #4 and easy ordering  HERE.

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No One Gains Weight In The Shoulders

by leah angstman. Propaganda Press.

 

 

 

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Some Misplaced Joan Of Arc by leah angstman

Propaganda Press

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Yes, leah is an excellent poet, too.  I love her voice and her style.  Some Misplaced Joan Of Arc blew me out of my seat.  It is one of my favorite chaps of all time.  But I love both of these poetry chaps.

Propaganda Press titles are affordable, which is one of the reasons I’m a big fan.  But the MAIN reason I’m a fan is that they are good.

Order No One Gains Weight In The Shoulders HERE.

Order Some Misplaced Joan of Arc HERE.

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The Map of Our Garden by Rebecca Schumejda.

Verve Bath Press.

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……Falling Forward by Rebecca Schumejda.

Sunnyoutside Press.

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The Map Of Our Garden is fantastic–and probably one of the most physically beautiful chapbooks I’ve ever seen.  It even comes with a bookmark in a pocket on the inside back cover.  It’s obvious the editor takes great care with what she presents.

I do love it.  But I wouldn’t mind if Rebecca’s words were written on a paper bag.  She is an amazing poet.  The beautiful presentation just makes it that much more of a pleasure. 

Falling Forward is equally as beautiful.  The poetry is excellent.  I plan on coming back to tell you more about both of these books.  But why wait for me?

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Order The Map Of Our Garden HERE.  Scroll down and take a look at the images of the chap.

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Order Falling Forward HERE.

Take a look at some reviews and information about Falling Forward HERE.

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And read a great review of Falling Forward at

Open A Real Book Reviews.

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You can also see more of Rebecca’s books at her site.   The next must buy on my list is Dream Big, Work Harder.  I love that title!

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Male, Pale and Old:  16 Outstanding Men of the Small Press.

Edited by Jenifer Wills of Literary Mary, this online journal is exactly what it says.  Outstanding.  Powerful work.  And it’s free to read by clicking HERE.  What more do you want?  Great work that’s free!

Be sure to read it all.  And read Jenifer’s introduction, which explains how she came up with the name for the zine.  It’s right on.

I love the cover, too.  The desk sort of looks like mine, but it’s a lot neater than mine is.

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….Blood & Irony by Joaquin Carvel.

Available at LuLu

Joaquin is one of my blog friends and is an awesome writer (both poetry and fiction).  Joaquin has heart and soul.  I dig that.  I love Joaquin’s voice and stories.  We are on opposite ends of the country, but Joaquin feels like kin.

You can order Blood and Irony by clicking HERE.

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You can also read more of Joaquin’s work at Lyrics and Maladies.

Joaquin also has a poem recently published at The Smoking Poet.

And another excellent poem at Deuce Coupe.   Coffee Machine is one of my all-time favorite Joaquin Carvel poems.  Go read it now.  You’ll see what I mean.

And be sure to check out Blood & Irony.

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………..OUT ON A LIMB by Ed Galing

Propaganda Press

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…………..DINER by Ed Galing

Propaganda Press

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Have you ever read a poet’s work and felt as if you would really like that poet as a person?  I don’t know Ed Galing, but I wish I did.  He’s open and honest, and his words always stop me in my tracks.

Ed Galing has been through many things (born in 1917), and his poems tell it all.  I love his work.

Order OUT ON A LIMB HERE.

Order DINER HERE.

OUT ON A LIMB and DINER are also Propaganda Press chaps, and you can find more of Ed Galing’s books in the catalog.

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Now Might As Well Be Then

by Glenda Council Beall

Finishing Line Press

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Glenda Council Beall is one of North Carolina’s finest poets.  I know that’s a big statement to make, but it is true.  She doesn’t waste a word, and her poems are pure music.  Glenda’s poetry touches my soul.

But you don’t have to be a Southern writer or poet to enjoy Glenda’s work.  It reaches across all geographic boundaries and paints a picture of humanity.

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You can read more of Glenda’s work at Writing Life Stories.   Scroll down to Glenda’s October 6, 2010 post and read the poem Tomato Man.  You’ll see why that’s one of my favorites. 

Tomato Man was the winner of the 1997 Clay County Arts Poetry Contest.  It is also included in Now Might As Well Be Then.

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You can also read more about Glenda and read her poem Miracle of Love at Scott Owens’ Musings.  I love how he calls Glenda a “MVP” or “Most Valuable Poet.”   It’s so true!

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Order Now Might As Well Be Then HERE.

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Adopted Behaviors:

Flash Memoir, Short Stories & Flash Fiction by James R. Tomlinson

Motor City Burning Press.

James is another one of my blog friends, and I know him as JR of  JR’s Thumbprints.  Now, before you go thinking I just shout out people because I know them from my blog…take a look at his site.

James Tomlinson works as a teacher in a Michigan prison.  He sees more in one day than many people see in a lifetime.  Week after week, I wonder how he does it.

His words are powerful.  James Tomlinson is one of the best flash fiction writers I have ever read.

And the book is only four bucks!  Motor City Burning Press does a great job of bringing us good reads at low prices.

HERE is one of James’ recent stories at Staccato.

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The first story in Adopted Behaviors is posted at Sleet Magazine.   It is called The Trigger Man and His Accomplice, and you can read it HERE.

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You can also read more by checking out his site.  Click on his link and look on the right sidebar for places where his work has been published.

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Anything Kell Robertson has ever written.  Okay, I just had to mention Kell Robertson again.  You knew I would didn’t you?  He’s the greatest.

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Speaking of Kell, check this out.  Yep, it’s him.  Cool and Dark Inside is his song.  I have the CD, and it’s awesome.   I don’t know who Bob is, but I love him for making this video.  It’ll probably look weird here, because I don’t know what I’m doing.  But take a listen if you can.

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There are many more books I want to tell you about.  But there’s just so much my squeaky wheel can do in a free hour.  I’ll try to be better in the future.

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Be sure to bookmark the links.  I highly recommend it all.

Thanks for reading!

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