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Archive for the ‘RANTS!’ Category

One thing I love about writing poetry is that it helps me understand people.   If I can “leave my own head” and enter someone else’s (or at least try to), I have a better understanding of why a person acts a certain way.  It helps me let go of hurt.   I also learn things about myself.

I originally wrote this poem when a friend was experiencing some rough times in her life.  She was close to forty and suddenly seemed so angry at everyone, including me.  At first, I was hurt.  My attitude was, “Everybody is older.  I am.  You are.  Big deal.  Why are you being so mean?”

Through writing this poem, I realized that my attitude was just as hurtful to her.

After a few revisions, I also realized that this poem isn’t only about her.  It’s about me, too.  It’s about every woman and the crap we have to deal with in a society that tells us we’re washed up once we hit thirty.

To that bit of conventional wisdom, I have one thing to say.  I say it for my friend and for myself.  I say it for my mother and for my daughter.  And I say it in the sweetest voice you can ever imagine:

Society can kiss off.

.

.

When She Is Older

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

.

They will say she’s not

an angel anymore;

run ashore, she will be

a sagging mast, a vessel

half full, worthless

as wings on a bull.

.

She’ll be a heavy chain

on a poor man’s balls,

a caricature in a shawl

they will draw in gray

chalk on a crumbling

sidewalk in autumn.

.

She will be issued

a uniform, told to

clip her hair above

her ears and cover

her breasts with wool.

Her body will not be

needed anymore; she

will be a discordant note,

a dust mote floating

over dry hills, a bat

flapping against rafters,

a black hole caving in,

taking up space.

.

Her beauty, her grace,

her twenty years of work

won’t be as admired

as a sixteen-year-old

girl twirling her hair

in the front row.

.

They will not understand

why the words they sow

will gestate in her soul

until she gives birth

to tornadoes of fire.

.

They won’t know why

she rages in the pasture

spraying bitter venom-

she devil, shrew,

crazy aging bitch

desperate

to fly, to fling

their words at the sun.

.

She will be shrill, they will

give her pretty purple pills.

She will not understand that

only the anger of youth

is worth reading about.

.

Right now, she is pink,

uncreased, layered in silk

and asleep with her tiny fist

pressed against her lips.

.

They say it is not real;

still she smiles, full

of a woman’s thick milk,

dreaming of angels.

.

.

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People keep telling me how much I’m going to love the movie, Nights in Rodanthe. How can anyone who’s been around me for more than five minutes think I would love a gush flick starring Richard Gere as a screwed up rich dude? “Go watch the trailer,” they say. “You’ll really be able to relate to it.

Yeah, yeah. People told me the same thing about Sweet Home Alabama, so I was instantly suspicious. But I googled the movie trailer and watched part of it. Here’s a five point comparison of how much I have in common with Nights in Rodanthe:

1. I’m from North Carolina. The film was shot in North Carolina. Okay, I’ll give you that one. 

2. I have been to Hatteras Island and the surrounding area many times with friends and some tents. Rodanthe is a beautiful place, rich in history. The surf is awsome. Amazing lighthouse. The locals are friendly, good people. But wait…this movie’s not about Rodanthe, is it?  Too bad.  That would be a cool movie.

3. The trailer preview began with a gigantic mansion built on sand. Anybody who really knows me is hee hawing on the floor right now. The places where I’ve cleaned toilets aren’t even half that fancy. I think it’s supposed to be an “inn.” What a quaint little getaway. If the hurricane blows it away, I’m sure they’ll be first in line for FEMA money. Nope. Can’t relate to that, either.  We did get some free shingles one time after a hurricane.  Sometimes they just blow into your yard.

4. There’s a doctor. Oh yeah, I can REALLY relate to his world. Next.

5. Mr. Doctor meets a lady and there’s some kind of relationship boo hoo stuff going on. Is it just me? Or does anybody else smell vanilla yogurt?  Or lettuce?  I like stories with gravy, extra thick.  Stories that leave a grease stain on the plate.         

I couldn’t even watch the whole preview, so I know I’m being mean. Sorry.

Maybe I should have stuck around to see if they have a maid with an attitude who serves the doctor blue crabs. Now there’s somebody I can relate to.

Jeeves, hand me my lyre. I feel a verse coming on.

.

We Leave The Beaches For Tourists

by Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

Let them have the new white path.

We’ll keep our old black road.

We’ll keep the marshes, the bays,

the clam loved mud, the scaly

smell of fish house sweat.

.

We’ll keep the hard blue hands

of net menders, carvers, pickers,

oystermen, crab pot makers.

We’ll keep little wooden boats

churning foam, the musk of nets

hanging with vines in front yards.

We’ll keep the grit in our teeth,

the red bent backs of generations.

.

We leave the beaches for them,

the growing rows of condos,

swift internet access, dry stack

marinas, three story malls.

.

We’ll keep the slow turn of fans

in the heat, mosquitos, the creak

of sticky wooden floors, stepping

in the sweet shit of wild horses,

pickled smells of general stores,

old fishermen who sit on benches

and tell outrageous stories.

.

Let them have country clubs,

golf courses, famous actors,

casinos, beachside showers.

We’ll keep green garden hoses

and a beacon that opens and closes

its bright midnight eye.

We’ll keep sharp September stars

and the soft secrets of girls

growing up on salt water.

.

Let them have all that.

We’ll keep all this.

But all that keeps

moving closer to

our old black road.

How quickly

it all erodes.

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Yes, I’m annoying, too. You put up with my eccentricities and weird habits. You tolerate my ego and crazy mood swings. You sigh when I arrive late to your meeting in that purple and orange glow-in-the-dark outfit I thought was a really cool find at the Goodwill store. But now it’s my turn to tell the rest of the world how weird you are. This is just a lighthearted look at:

Ten Ways To Annoy

 

Poets & Writers

(Feel Free to Add Your Own)

#10: “Give me an autographed copy.” What am I? The copy fairy? Do I look like I have a printing press in my house? Are you my mother? My daughter? If not, shut up! I get two free copies. Someday, when I publish my novel, maybe I’ll get five.

Okay, I know when you say this, you’re just trying to be conversational. Maybe even nice. But it comes off as patronizing. A doctor said this to me. Seriously. My reply? “Sure, doc. How about you give me an autographed copy of a FREE office visit?”

#9: No, I will not write your eighth grade kid’s book report for him, even though he’s going to fail if I don’t. You should have made lil’ Cheesy Mac turn off Guitar Hero and read Lord of the Flies two months ago. But give junior a few years, and he’ll probably be my boss at my day job. Then I’ll write all his reports for him.

#8: Please. I know you mean well. But please…I’m begging you. Stop giving me ads for poetry contests you clipped from the side of a cereal box and asking me why I haven’t entered any of them yet.

#7: Your stories about your cousin or your friend’s friend’s latest squeeze who wrote a book at the tender age of twenty and is riding high on the New York Time’s best seller list are just plain cruel. Am I jealous? You bet! Here…shove this butter knife between my ribs. It would feel much better.

#6: Likewise, I don’t want to hear about your nephew who works at Hallmark and entered the “Poetry of America” contest, won first place, and for just $289.95 is now a published poet in a beautifully leather bound anthology. Now I’m just being mean, but sorry…your story makes me want to kick your ass.

#5: (For good small town folk): Please stop asking me to read my poems at the Ladies’ Auxiliary poetry/arts and crafts booth at the county fair. Please. Trust me. You wouldn’t like it. If you ask me one more time, I just might do it for giggles.

#4: If you write cleverly rhymed poems about love, fluffy kitties, mythical dragons, or teddy bears, please stop sending them to literary magazines. There is a market for you on the net. A really, really big market. Or go to the Ladies’ Auxiliary poetry/arts and crafts booth at the county fair. You’ll be a big hit.

#3: When you feel the need to talk about literature in my presence, but you’re not really into it. “Uh, that Emily Dickinson has some amazing commentary about the condition of life and uh, women and stuff.” Yawn. Yes, I’m being mean again. But really…you don’t have to do this. We can talk about politics or the weather or any number of things.

#2: This one almost became number one. You know you’ve said it. “I’ve got this really good idea for a book I want to write about that time my husband and I went water skiing in Cancun, and we saw a barracuda and found this amazing little restaurant off the beaten track where everybody spoke Spanish.” Heavy sigh. “If only I had the time to write it.”

Garsh, Minnie. I’ve got a ruler and a sketch pad. Maybe I’ll design a new wing for the Metropolitan Museum of Art…heavy sigh…if only I had the time.

#1: (DRUMROLL PLEASE) When I’m at home during the day, I am working. I might not have a shovel or a briefcase in my hand. But I am working. If my door is closed and I’m not answering my phone, that means I’m not available to:

a). babysit

b). spearhead committee meetings or bake sales

c). listen to a story about your root canal.

Give me a few hours. If I’m on a roll, it might be a few days. But I will come out and happily raise a glass with you, pat your babies, admire your dogs, and listen to your stories until dawn.

Am I mad at you? Nah. You know I love you, world. You know I do. You can even create a blog about all the stupid things I say about your occupations, and I’m sure I’ll laugh.

I don’t really expect you to know all this. But now you do. So I’m going back to work now, okay? See you in a few days.

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Today’s rant is about editors of literary journals. Okay, okay…before you pelt me with leftover wine and cheese from one of your schmoozy parties, I guess I should learn to be more politically correct. Today’s rant is about crappy editors of literary journals. Not all editors are crappy. Some of my best friends are editors. There. Are you happy now?

I’m just a little annoyed with a few of the bigger dogs today (and a couple of the little ones). Currently, there are two dozen pieces of my work “on hold,” because of the crappiness of editors. Reject me, please! Let me get on with my life!

What is up with making me wait eight months to a year-and-a-half, and still there is no response from your highness? Have you never heard of e-mail? How about a spam e-mail? Dear Losers: Your poems and short stories are being held hostage. Do not complain, or your career will be shot. Do not think for a moment that this means you are being considered. Chances are, you’ll receive a form rejection note six months from now. Have a crappy day.

At least I would know you received my work!

Oh wait…that’s right. What was I thinking? That would mean acknowledging the fact that poets and writers are human beings who deserve the same professional courtesy you give anyone else. We can’t have that.

Some of you even insist on snail mail submissions!!!! Heaven forbid that we should save a tree or dip the ends of our toes into the twenty first century. And you refuse to let me submit elsewhere or even post MY OWN damned work on a blog, yet you make me wait endlessly for a simple response?

Why? Because you have the power. You know I would wet my drawers to be in your slick journal. Because it might help an idiot like me get some recognition, connections, and more publications that could maybe…possibly…perhaps lead to a little (gasp) money to buy some fancy wine and cheese of my own.

Meanwhile, my work…my life’s blood…is at your mercy. Did you receive it? Is it still in the slushpile? Under a dusty desk? Next to somebody’s toilet? In a bird cage? Did anybody even read it? I don’t know. You can’t be bothered to drop my self addressed, stamped reply postcard in the mail. And all I hear are crickets when I wait six months per your guidelines to politely inquire about the status of my submission.

You suck.

Yes, I know you are king pen of the world. You are the established machine. You are the academic literary world at its most snobby elite.

You can make or break peons like me. But would it be so difficult to recruit a few more freshmen interns on your staff (or monkeys…what the hell), so they can pin a rejection letter to my story and throw it back in the SASE I so carefully included with my submission? Is that too much to ask?

It wouldn’t be hard to train the monkeys to recognize three line stanzas or really witty foreign phrases. We all know your oh-so-progressive journal is “open to all styles and voices.” Yeah, right. But don’t get me started on that one today.

And I don’t care about your personal problems. Or the fact that your mother-in-law’s coming to visit. Or your ingrown toenail. Or how you receive “thousands of submissions” from us losers a day. Yeah, yeah…cry me a river (and see the monkey idea above).

Response times should be humane, regardless of what’s going on in your life, regardless of what you don’t get paid, regardless of the size of the slushpile. ‘Cause, honey. You signed up for it.

Yes, I’m just another annoying, crazy writer who thinks a three to six month response time is not too much to ask.

Gasp.

Stay tuned for Editor Rant Part II…when I will describe the worst editor to ever take up space on this beautiful planet.

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