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Archive for November, 2008

This poem published in Shoots & Vines.

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Buster Peacock & The House of Many Colors

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.Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

When the city of Freeville

widened the highway,

they didn’t plow down

a single shingle in

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Foxcroft

White Pointe

Golf Crossing.

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Instead, they took

Buster Peacock’s land.

A blind old black man

in a felt blue hat

with a sagging shack

on twenty acres of

scrub pine and sand.

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That house was old

even in Jim Crow’s day

when Buster carried

his sweet Veleetha

over the threshhold,

felt the angles of her face

the curve of her hips,

a perfect place for babies:

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Buster Jr.

Scoochie

Little Toot.

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Buster Peacock could feel the color

of four rooms with his fingers, the tips

of his toes–the brown creak and sigh

from tired floorboards at night.

The way the feather bed felt

like cool water blue when

the breeze blew gauze curtains

over Veleetha’s sleeping face.

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That little red place in the doorway

where Scoochie bumped his head

when he got so tall, the gold notches

where Buster Jr. carved his name,

the yellow dip in the hallway where

Toot liked to slide in socks.

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The silver click of the cuckoo clock

exactly eight steps from a gray hum

from the refrigerator, the green smell

of the breadbox on a hot June day.

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The city could not understand

why Buster cried so hard

over a broke down shack.

They gave fair market value.

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But they didn’t care that

you can’t place market value

on a breadbox or children

grown or a wife passed on.

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The day they moved him

to a retirement home,

the dozer crushed

through his front door.

Buster could feel color

all over again.

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…………….Miss Maudene Redefines the 70′s

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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…………………………At seventy eight, Miss Maudene

…………………………doesn’t know how to do old lady.

…………………………She does know how to play

…………………………an electric guitar, jog around

…………………………her island, do yoga in the woods.

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…………………………Miss Maudene laughs the notes

…………………………of a thousand songs; she dances

…………………………on the beach, layered in mist, sun,

…………………………the pounding passion of sand.

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…………………………She leaves her silver hair undone

…………………………to the waist, takes her black lab

…………………………in a beat up pickup truck to visit

…………………………old folks at the nursing home.

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…………………………She grows a little garden full of pot,

…………………………collects shotguns, sells her paintings

…………………………on the beach, rigs up her shrimp boat

…………………………in the setting sun, shows the boys how

…………………………to pull nets like a sea-strong woman.

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…………………………Her biggest critics are friends

…………………………from her own generation;

…………………………they call all the time to say

…………………………she must slow down.

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……………………………It just doesn’t look right

…………………………for a woman of her age

…………………………to show so much leg.

…………………………People may talk, guffaw,

…………………………whisper behind cupped hands,

…………………………call her a ridiculous old lady

…………………………with sagging boobs or a

…………………………birthday card cartoon.

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…………………………Miss Maudene says her boobs

…………………………are just fine, thank you, and

…………………………she might even buy a bikini.

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…………………………She lets the machine pick up

…………………………her telephone calls, surfs the net,

…………………………carries a longboard to the shore

…………………………to ride the deep green swells

…………………………when a hurricane is coming.

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…………………………Miss Maudene grew up

…………………………in an orphanage.

…………………………Except for a few old nuns

…………………………who tried to beat her

…………………………into submission,

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…………………………she never had a mother

…………………………to show her

…………………………how to put on a shawl

…………………………and gracefully

…………………………crawl to the grave.

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……………..Waiting For Remission

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

……………………..There is no transformation

……………………..only a mockingbird, each midnight,

……………………..sweet and deep in the cedar

……………………..behind our window screen.

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………………………Only me, in this bed beside your breath

………………………falling in thick, black curls on the sheets.

………………………Only me, awake with the thunder

………………………clearing its throat in the distance;

………………………awake with the thump of being awake

………………………and you not, the harshness of dark

………………………around your sleep thickened face.

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………………………I want to tell you of the thunder

………………………that stumbles its way

………………………through the rock dotted river,

………………………the wetness of heat that feeds the unasleep.

………………………I want to tell you of the bird pretending

………………………deep within the cedar scented breeze,

………………………rusted buckets in the unbent grass

………………………waiting to be bruised with rain.

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…………………………I want to tell you of the lie:

………………………There is no blood, no beat, no breath of life.

………………………There are no seasons, no rhythms, no jagged skies.

………………………No rider on this hot white night.

………………………There are no magic, golden rings.

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………………………There is no transformation, only your body

………………………poured into a mold of sleep,

………………………only a bird upon a thundered branch,

………………………only the dropping of blackened breath

………………………after breath, and summer swollen veins.

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………………………I will tell you of the promise.

………………………This I will do in faithfulness:

………………………Fill my mouth with the staleness of words.

………………………Fill my words with mockingbirds,

………………………the song of warm, wet wood

………………………and what might wait

………………………beyond the ticking screen.

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……………………….When the windows thunder,

……………………….there is no mockingbird,

……………………….only the drizzle of sleep.

……………………….Only me, turning to salt in the wait.

……………………….Only your face lighting in flashes

……………………….against the storm of a window.

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………………………..This is the face I will press

………………………..between the pages of a book.

………………………..This is the face I will drink in blind faith.

………………………..This is the face I will melt on my tongue

………………………..each leaf soaked midnight

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………………………..while I wait for morning

………………………..to return the bird

………………………..and those same

………………………..sweet, stolen songs.

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I’m very excited to have a poem included in Side of Grits.  Please click and check it out. 

I’m especially pleased to be listed under the “Southern Fried” link.  Hooty Hoo!  That’s me 100%.  Double dipped.  I even fry grits.  Now that’s good eating.    

I linked the main menu, so you can see everyone who is there, and not just me.  The layout is beautiful!  I love the ring from a coffee cup on the menu.  All of the poets are excellent, as is the artwork, etc. 

My blog buddy poet, Scot Young, has an awesome poem and interviews over there, too.  He’s the interview/review guru.  Be sure to look at what he has done.   

Please also check out this link  for more information about the people involved in Rural Messenger Press.  Michele McDannold is the creator and editor of Rural Messenger Press.  Wayne Mason is the poetry editor for Side of Grits.  Powerful poets!  Look at the entire site, go to the store, and buy the great work.  I know I intend to.    

A disclaimer for the three beautiful people I’ve met in blogland who are tenure track.  My academic swipes aren’t intended for you:)    

Now I’m fixing to get me some grits and collards.  Have a beautiful day.

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A version of this poem was published in The Wilmington Review years ago. I have revised it several times since it was published. .This is the latest.

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Song Of The Migrant Workers

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

Their shacks, a row of scabs

on the hot, red backs of rows

where naked children

with broken eyes

stare at the noon-white sky

and shuffle little feet

through dust, gnats, hope.

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With skin like sweat damp tobacco,

they work from six in the morning

’til eight at night, six days a week

for two rooms and a few dollars.

Heads bent low, they wear nothing

but red bandanas, burlap sacks, sun.

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Sundays, they wake before dawn

and bathe in an irrigation pond.

They go to church in a condemned

general store with no pews

and stay long after we have

eaten way too much for supper.

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Their tambourines shake with God

as they sing of the Kingdom coming,

snorting horses, stark dark revelations.

Their voices rise like rainbows

through thunder cracked clouds.

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Night grows fat outside our windows

when they speak in unknown tongues.

The wind remembers their notes.

The ground trembles beneath our feet.

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