Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Well, it’s about time I posted a poem.  I also wanted to stick my head up out of

the hole and say hello again.  The negative part about being “away” is that I

miss the good folks who happen along.

.

I’ve been working on some deadline driven projects, which keeps me buried.

But I love the work, so it’s all good.

.

First, a couple of notes:

.

♦  I read some awesome books in the past few weeks, and I look forward to

telling you more about those.  And there are even more that I can’t wait

to read.  Stay tuned for those shout outs.

.

♦  I’ve had a couple of acceptances lately, which is always a great feeling.

I’ll post those as soon as they go live.

.

♦   Ashley Capes has written a very nice review about my chapbook.

Thanks, Ashley!  You can read the review HERE.

.

I’ve talked about Ashley’s work here in the past, but in case you missed it,

please be sure to check out his books.  I’m a big fan of his work.  I’m not

just saying that because he wrote such a nice review of my chap.  I truly

mean it.  I read Stepping Over Seasons last year, and it was one of my

favorite books of the year.

.

Ashley’s first haiku collection, Orion Tips The Saucepan, is available

through Picaro Press.  I love that title!  I will definitely be putting in my

order.  If you click the links above, you can also read sample poems.

.

And here’s my poem for today.  No, I’m not making fun of people with

mental illness.  It’s one of my biggest fears, because I sometimes think I am

close to that thin line that divides the “normal” from the “abnormal.”  Not

dangerous abnormal.  But curl up in a ball on the floor and babble abnormal.

.

Is that too much information?  Well, shoot.  It shouldn’t be a big shock that

poets grapple with mental demons.  I have a feeling that every human being

does, too.

.

Anyway, this is really about my creative process, which is wide open,

nonstop, elevated to one hundred miles an hour, messy, wild, and…errr…a

whole lotta strange.  It’s a visceral, physical thing.  It’s a pinball machine of

nonstop thought, images, and ideas.  Often, it begins with darkness and

sorrow, but then it leads me to some sort of personal resolution.  All those

swirling thoughts have to be caught, tied up, and chiseled into a form.

.

Maybe the work is what keeps me sane.  And I’ve never had writer’s block in

my life.  That’s a big plus.

.

So, this is where I’m at today.  The end result is good.

.

,

.

Manic

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

A cold moon rambles through the branches

and so do I, with zig-zag flashes by the river,

sky lights up burnt faces from half a world away

.

and right here on this side, a mother killed her daughter

choked the father, drowned the dog, dropped the bombs

ate the poison, sank the ships, said the talking heads and I

.

don’t know what drives this fast train, this static of a brain

with too much something, the rack crack sizzle of all those

swirling words and who knows what might snap underfoot.

.

So here I go again, ten miles of river, foaming four a.m.

winding tight through vines and every pulsing vein

along the trail and I don’t care what’s over there I will

.

jump the rocks one-two-three, cross the low part rushing,

slice the water, drink the mud, move the biggest boulder

at the end,  look beneath dear God and wonder, but I

.

won’t take their pretty purple pills; I’ll go under biting,

write a poem, touch soft faces in the churning eddies,

put small red pebbles in a row—shape, texture, size,

.

swing myself to sleep a slow wet creep back to normal,

back to Wednesday morning, back to tackle, hold, love

all the slick, sharp edges of this tilted, spinning world.

.

.

.

Five Dollars and Four Kids

.

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

When the little one frowns

at her slice of cornbread

and bowl of black-eyed peas,

.

you tell her a story about

children across the ocean

.

who don’t have cornbread

and black-eyed peas.

.

When she says those kids

can have hers, because she

wants steak and potatoes,

.

you tell her to hush

her sassy mouth

or you’ll give her

something to whine about.

.

Then you go to your room

and quietly close the door

so she won’t see you cry

.

because all you have is

five dollars and four kids.

.

When you come back out,

the cracked blue bowls

have been licked wet.

.

Not one crumb

of cornbread is left.

.

They’re on the porch

whooping it up

like crazy little birds.

.

Thirty years later,

you will remember

your empty bowls.

.

They will remember

the way you sang

when you stirred

at a pot scarred stove.

.

They will remember

warm cornbread,

stories on a porch,

.

the smoky sweet

of black-eyed peas

in shiny blue bowls

.

and a big, gold moon

that was always full.

.

When John Dee Holeman

Plays The Blues

.

Every dog crawling ache, empty tank, flat tire.

Each gold tipped lie on a sweet pink tongue.

Every no account boss, lost house, lost job.

.

Each blue sky friend, slammed door,

poison pen.  All the lock jaw, rusty bucket,

soul sucking, rock crushing minutes.

.

Every shit upon, mud stomped,

bone throbbing, trespassing,

tread flapping, sweaty eyed day.

.

Every down-to-the-last

of everything

blues.

.

It all rises up

.

from his fingertips

on soft low notes—

.

a whirlwind of humanity

humming its way to heaven,

.

covered in cornbread,

grits and gravy

.

and makes me feel

so fine.

-Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

.

.

I LOVE this one!  Turn it up.

.

Awesome

.

.

This summer, I had the privilege of seeing John Dee Holeman and several other blues greats in concert, thanks to Music Maker Relief Foundation.  The concert was FREE!

I didn’t list all the performers’ names in the title of my poem (it would be way too long), but they are all among my favorites.

.

.

Music Maker Relief Foundation supports talented (and often forgotten) Southern musicians with grants for day-to-day living, career advancement, and promotion of their music.

.

Thanks to the support of MMRF, musicians have traveled throughout the world to share their talents.

Recently, Carolina Chocolate Drops was nominated for a grammy!

.

Recipients of grants from MMRF must

*Be rooted in a Southern musical tradition.

*Make less than $18,000 a year.

.

.

Many of the MMRF musicians are from an older generation that I love and adore.  John Dee Holeman was born in 1929.

.

Benton Flippen, an amazing fiddler, was born in 1920.  I’ve been told that Benton is still going strong.  I can’t wait to see him perform.

.

.

.

But they are all great.  Be sure to check them out.  You can browse the list of artists and listen to samples of their music or order CD’s, etc. You can also donate directly to MMRF.  If you have a few bucks to send their way, the information is HERE.

.

.

Christmas is coming, so I must also throw out a subtle hint to my daughter about WHAT I WOULD LOVE FOR A GIFT.    :D

Only twelve bucks!  Put “To Dad and Mom” on the package, and it’s six bucks apiece.

.

.

Music Maker Relief Foundation helps preserve the music, history and culture of Southern music.  They help many talented musicians.  But they also help people like me, who just love and appreciate great music.

.

It was an experience I’ll never forget.

It’s also Reason #590 why I love Carolina.  John Dee Holeman will be playing again soon.

.


 

In late October, things looked bleak for my parents.  They both became very ill at the same time.

.

Once again, we are learning how to hold onto the good moments.  There have been many.  My mother is doing somewhat better and was able to leave the hospital.

.

My father isn’t able to come home yet.  My parents have more rough days ahead of them.  They will also have many good days.

.

But this is not a eulogy.  They are both still very much with us.

.

What looked bleak is not necessarily bleak.  It’s just an adjustment.  My parents’ ability to adapt is inspiring.  Their strength is amazing.

.

.

This poem is in honor of my father.  I have a new one about my mother, but it’s not ready to show yet.  I’m quite neurotic about what I show here.

.

Anyway.

.

My father taught me a deep love for woods and water.  One of my favorite memories as a kid was riding in my father’s boat with him.  He would turn off the engine, and we would float for hours, not saying a word.   There was no need for words.   The water said it all.

.

My father has the ability to erase himself and become part of the natural world.   He taught that to me.  It’s much more than just a stroll in the woods or an appreciation of nature.   It’s a physical rising out of yourself and becoming part of that world.

.

Does that sound crazy? I know it probably doesn’t make sense.  I don’t mean that we literally worship nature.  We see God’s hand in the beauty.  The feeling is hard to describe, though.

.

Our family jokes about how my father and I are “hermits,” because we can both sit in the woods and not move for hours at a time—day and night.

.

It is funny when I imagine how I look–sitting like a stump in the woods.  But I don’t think it’s weird.  I think it’s beautiful.  I think it’s one of the reasons we were put on this earth.

.

And my father passed this gift down to me.

.

.

 

 

.

How To Become A Live Oak Tree

Or Things My Father Taught Me

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

.

Weave

your breath

into the sway

of Spanish moss.

.

Hear all small

rustles

inside fallen logs.

.

Seep into

the veins,

the cracks.

.

Climb damp vines

.

higher and higher–

hold each

burnt edge

.

of every star.

.

Love

the muddy tip

of Raincrow’s

feather,

.

the husky musk

of black bears.

.

Spend hours,

days, years

.

quietly watching

.

the inner ridges

on a purple

mushroom,

.

the flutter

of swans

rising

over marsh.

.

You will become

.

a crisp whisper

of black bark,

.

stirring roots,

the live oak.

.

Photosynthesize

in the dark.

.

Strong and wild,

undying,

.

you are

this moment,

.

a never-ending

present tense–

.

uncurling, growing,

ever expanding

.

your soul,

scattered ash

.

over floating

notes, rolling

.

like an echo

.

repeating

each seed

.

full

.

of the breeze

for eternity.

.

Black River – near Ahoskie, NC – by Julie

Cypress Swamp – NC – by Julie

Cypress Knees – NC – by Julie

Bald Cypress – North Carolina – by Julie

Trailer Park Quarterly

Photo courtesy of Freerangestock.com

.

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.

.

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

.

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

.

You can read my poems HERE.

.

Thanks for dropping in!

.

Coyote Beautiful

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.

.

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

.

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.

.

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

.

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

..

Connections

.

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.

.

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

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

This is the only connection I want right now.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

He moves closer.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.

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

.

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

.

The Last One On The Island

Miss Sopa

.

Sopa Abraham Botswana Jonson

b. 1907

She knows the best clay to eat

is through woods by the shore.

.

Slick on her tongue, blue-gray,

smooth, it rumbles like thunder

between her time tough teeth.

.

She names the wild horses

that eat grass by her shack–

loves them like her people

who are all dead now.

.

She’s the last one left

on Grandmother Island,

the last one to smell sweet

magnolia rotting on the path.

.

The last one to weave baskets,

laugh, tell ghost stories, scrub

her clothes on a washboard.

.

She feels the spirits of kin

sway in mossy live oaks.

.

But her eyes are too old

to see bright lights grow

on the deep pink horizon.

.

She does not know the high

market price of her heritage.

.

She cannot hear real estate

snakes slither on the edges

of her quiet island, waiting.

.

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

.

Miss Sopa was originally published in Plain Spoke

.

For another Miss Sopa poem, click HERE.

.

To read some background about the great lady who inspired Miss Sopa, click HERE.

.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.