Archive for April, 2009

A dear friend, Bob Church, passed away on April 29, 2009.

Bob has touched the lives of many people in the blogging world, including me.  He is an incredible writer and an amazing man who will be sorely missed. My heart is heavy.

Shirley Whiting Allard of Word Catalyst Magazine says it much better than I can.  You can read her tribute and poem to Bob HERE.

You can see Bob Church all over the internet, and his blog is HERE.

More good words about Bob can be found on BloggingPoet.com.

And here’s an awesome poem from Nan Jacobs of Silver Fox Tales.  I love what Nan says.  Yep.  Bob has done all that.

Here’s a beautiful poem by Scot Young.  It’s also in the comments section, but I don’t want anyone to miss it.  Thank you, Scot.  It is perfect.

I’m sure tributes to Bob Church will be all over the internet.  He will never be forgotten.

Bob, thank you for allowing me to come along for the ride.  Thank you for the stories, the e-mails, the journal entries, and your book.  Thank you for the great advice and wise counsel.

Thank you for the laughter!

I appreciate your friendship here on earth, and I look forward to seeing you someday.

I can’t help but be jealous of the angels.  Now they get to hear all the new Bubba Lee Strunk stories.  We will miss you.

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I’m getting ready to tell this elsewhere, but I thought I’d crawl out of the mud and share it here first.  You all have been such a great encouragement to me, and I appreciate it very much.


WARNING! ****Shameless Self Promotion****


-I’m excited to have a chapbook coming out with Backpack Press.  I’m not sure of the date yet.  Crystal Folz is the editor.  She is also an excellent poet and writer.  Crystal is the editor of Shoots & Vines, which you can see HERE.

My chapbook will contain all new poetry, never before seen on the internet or in print.  It will have nothing to do with alligators (I think).  I just dig gators.


-I will have three poems included in I Can’t Be Your Virgin and Your Mother, which is also edited by Crystal Folz.  It should be out by the end of May and is full of amazing women.  I’m thrilled to be in the same pages with them.  Click on the title and read Crystal’s very thoughtful description.  I love the spirit she intends in this journal.  And…is that a great title or what?


-I’m also in Crystal’s, The Telling Time, which is due out by the end of June.  Crystal has been learning Chinese book binding techniques.  It is an honor to be presented by an editor with such high artistic standards.


-Three of my poems will be in the next edition of Big Hammer.  I’m so excited about that!  Dave Roskos is an awesome poet and editor.  To order any issues, you can contact Dave at PO Box 54, Manasquan, NJ 08736.  I’m not sure of individual pricing, but I know it is affordable.  I will give more information soon.


-Three of my poems will be in an all-woman project for Literary Mary.  Go, sistahs!  What a beautiful journal!  This will be an online edition, with many more to come.  I’m very happy to be included.  More info. soon.


-Two more of my poems will be in the May issue of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.  Click the title and look at that totally cool picture of the mule and the little one.  All of the the April poetry and fiction is excellent.  April also includes one of my favorite North Carolina poets, Shelby Stephenson.   My poems will be out in May (next week, I think).  I’ll post the link here.  You know how I love the mule!


-One of my poems will be in Plain Spoke this summer.  Fine folks.  Another beautiful journal.  I’m assuming it’s in the print edition, but I will let you know for sure.


I was going to turn off comments, because I’m heading out for the weekend and won’t be around much to chat.  But I’m too dense (and in too much of a hurry) to figure out how.

So please don’t worry about commenting.  You need a couple of days to rest, too!

Thanks so much for all of your support.  It means the world to me.  Have a beautiful weekend, y’all.



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One of the great things about having this site is that I can share some of the books I love.  I always feel compelled to say that I’m not a reviewer.  I’m a fan.  I’m like the buddy who knocks on your door and says, You’ve just gotta read this one.

Since I’m trapped in this cyber pen, I’m even better than your buddy.  I can’t drink all your beer or stay at your house for a month.

So, please open the door!  Here’s a poet you’ve just gotta read.



justin.barrett (aka Justin Barrett) is one of the best poets of our time.  Is it too bold to make that statement about one poet among thousands?  Nope.  I’ll say it again.  He’s one of the best.

justin.barrett is well known in the small press world, as well as on the internet.  He was nominated for a Push Cart and is very active (and is a featured poet) with the Guerilla Poetics Project.  You can see some of his publications HERE.

I recently had the pleasure of reading two of Justin’s books, which have been published by Propoganda Press:  (untitled) and nowhere, UTAH.

Both books are equally beautiful.  But for a bit of brevity in this quick-bloggy world, I’ll focus on (untitled).

I love the variety in this book, which is evident in all of Justin Barrett’s work.  There is humor.  But there is also tenderness and pain.  Regardless of style or variety, each poem always points back to the very real world of human beings.

I usually notice humor first, because I admire people who can make me laugh. Barrett’s poem, heredity, is one such example.  When recalling his mother’s words about how he could be anything he wanted to be when he grew up, the narrator assesses his life and concludes:

“i don’t ever recall

wanting to be

my Uncle Jimmy.”


Justin Barrett’s humor has a deeper side, of course.  But I love a poet who can make me melancholy and make me laugh at the same time.

It’s also interesting to note that Justin works as a chemist.  I’m always impressed by people who can live in both the scientific and the creative world.  That is really how it should be.

The scientific side of Barrett can be seen in (untitled).  The voice is not the stereotypical cold voice we often associate with science.  It is beautiful.  It realizes the larger picture.  It places us as members of this awesome and strange place we call the universe.

These thoughts go hand-in-hand with the narrator’s relationships to the world of love and human beings.  In his poem, the Big Crunch, the narrator hopes the universe will contract back to a singularity:

“where every place in

the universe

will once again be

the same



where you

and I will have

no choice but

to be together



Another awesome poem in this book is theory of everything.  A poet who couples scientific theory and love is tops on my list.

The voice that speaks of the narrator’s love is genuine.  It is one of real relationships. We can all relate to the themes in (untitled).  Barrett portrays the joy, tragedy, and loss of being human.  Just like life, the emotions I feel when reading this book are varied.  The same poet who makes me smile with a “husband and wife” poem called red boxer briefs also breaks my heart with a poem about suicide called hoping for an answer.

I admire these surprises in Barrett’s work.  He sees comparisons that many people (even  many poets) don’t see.  In it’s kind of like being a poet, the narrator compares a poet’s life to a surfer between waves.  The best part are the lulls

“in between the




it is only



his board


and the infinite

gallons of



beneath him.”


That should be required reading for all new poets.  The best times are not when we receive applause or go to events.  The best times aren’t even when we’ve just written the “masterpiece” of our lives.  The best times are the lulls, the times when we’re alone with the keyboard or pen, floating in that infinite ocean, trying to catch the next good poem.

justin.barrett catches many great poems.  He has a keen eye for detail.  His lines are sharp and professional.  Yet they breathe.  In what matters most, Barrett brilliantly sums up a poet’s life.  When William Carlos Williams noticed a red wheelbarrow, what matters most isn’t the fact that Williams was in a room with a young patient who just died.  What matters most is the fact “that he noticed.”

You can check out (untitled) by justin.barrett HERE.  Believe me, I know the economy’s rough.  But it’s very affordable and well worth the low price.

Nowhere, UTAH is a small art book.  By small, I mean it is two inches by three inches in size.  But here’s one time when size really doesn’t matter.  The words inside pack a huge punch.  I truly mean it when I say it is as beautifully written as (untitled).  I was blown away by the poems inside, and I recommend it highly.  Plus, for $3.00, even grunts like me can scrape up enough change to order.  You can see Nowhere, UTAH by clicking HERE.

You can also check out some more samples of justin.barrett’s work by clicking on his website HERE.

Both Nowhere, UTAH and (untitled) are published by Propoganda Press.  leah angstman is the editor and does excellent work.  Check out her entire catalog of work by clicking HERE.

Thank you, Justin, for allowing me to talk about your work.  I’m glad you’re around to notice the world.  I’m glad you’re around to share this beautiful, crazy ride with us all.

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The Devil’s Tramping Ground


The devil walks

in a circle

hoof footed

in the thick black

Carolina woods.


Around, around

sizzle pop ground.

Nothing will grow

where he treads.


Not one weed.

Leaves won’t

fall in his wake.


Dare to put

a penny in

his circle;

it disappears

by morning.


He snorts,

leans forward

head down

hands clasped

behind his back


thinking of

new ways

to burn me.


Maybe I will

never find a job

or pay the rent.


My car might

not start again

and if it does

surely I will

lose control

down slick



At his beck and call,

furry things crawl

down my dark hall.

A man with an axe

breathes by my bed.


Some silent something

swells in my cells.

Somewhere a finger

hovers above

the button.


Damn this devil

who stomps

round and round


leaves a zero

in my gray space,

poems unwritten

work undone.


He laughs

when the sun

comes up and

it all swirls,

turns to smoke,


Julie Buffaloe-Yoder


The Devil’s Tramping Ground is a real place that’s only about an hour-and-a half drive from where I live now.  Supposedly, there is a circle in the woods where nothing will grow, not even weeds..

My grandfather was a master storyteller, and I heard many stories about the Trampin’ Ground from him..

He made up his own versions, including one of my particular favorites that involved a wrestling match with the devil..

I’m not saying there’s anything “to it” or not, because I don’t know.  I just love the stories..They’re part of the language and rich cultural heritage of North Carolina.

According to Wikipedia, the Southern Supreme Fruitcake Factory is located near the Devil’s Tramping Ground.  I almost busted a gut over that one.  Dang, I love my state.  There are poems everywhere you turn.


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Poetikat and Annie King have beautiful sites.  They are also just downright nice people to know.  I visit their blogs regularly.  Please click on their names and check them out.

They have both asked me to answer a few questions.  Since the questions were similar, I combined them.

WARNING:  Y’all are going to be let down!

I’m about as exciting as watching mud crack.  I think watching mud crack is exciting.


What are your current obsessions?

There’s a blue thread in my carpet that’s driving me crazy.  I keep picking at it.  If I don’t remove it before June 13 at exactly 3:33 in the morning, the feds will come and take me away.

Just kidding.  Sort of..

I have an extremely obsessive personality.

I’m also obsessed with the river near my house.  And the woods.  Big shock.

What’s for dinner?

We call it supper here.  Fried croakers, hush puppies, collards, black eyed peas, and silver queen corn.  No kidding on this one.


What’s the last thing you bought?

Bag ‘o taters.  Then I spent an hour griping about how expensive a bag ‘o taters is nowadays.  I mean…come on…they’re TATERS!


What are you listening to?

Voices.  They’re everywhere.  They won’t stop.

I’m also listening to a new CD by Blonde Boy Grunt & The Groans.  It’s called Never Buy A Skinned Rabbit. Excellent music!

One of the songs on the CD was written by my hero, Kell Robertson.


Say something to the person who tagged you.

Kat, I love your wit and your sense of humor.  I love your lively style.  I wish I could have gone to your poetry reading.

Annie, I love your kind heart and the observations in your writing.  I love your informative articles, too.  I wish I could meet you in person someday.


What are your favorite vacation spots?

The Carolinas.  I live in one of them, but I love to explore both.  Actually, anywhere that’s hot and has beaches and woods is cool.  My friend, Kimberli, has a great blog with travel information called Carolina Towns and Trails.  She’s another Buffaloe, but we’re not related.  I used to read her blog and daydream about coming home.  Now I use it to plan my next road trip!


Vacation spots I must visit before I die:

Montana and New Mexico to see two dear friends.


Guilty pleasure.

This is a female answer:

Chocolate laced with chocolate on a bed of chocolate between layers of chocolate with an extra scoop of chocolate on top.

But I don’t feel too guilty about it, so it might not count.


Which item from your closet do you wear the most?

Jeans.  T-shirts.  I also love to steal my hubby’s hat when I slog around in the woods.

..I gots me a hat.


First spring thing?

We moved back home in February and saw the first spring flowers.  I have missed seeing those early flowers, so that was sweet.


Best thing you ate or drank lately?

#1:  Mama’s cooking.

#2:  An oyster roast.


What spring flower are you most anxious to see?

The dogwoods are blooming, and that’s beautiful.


Care to share some wisdom?

I don’t have much wisdom.  Go down swinging is my motto.


Name the last blog you visited before this one, on which you left a comment:

Joaquin Carvel at Lyrics & Maladies.

Christine Swint at Balanced on the Edge.


Do you nap a lot?

People won’t let me.


Best new thing you’ve discovered about the place where you live (I added this question):

The awesome Cool John Ferguson is local!  Check him out HERE.   And look at him in action HERE. or HERE

I’m excited to know he’s around and that electric blues are alive and well.  I’m headed out to see him every chance I get.


Who was the last person you hugged?

My lovin’ hubby.


What is your favorite weather?

Extremely humid and hot.  95 degrees makes me feel invigorated, renewed, born again.


What’s on your bedside table?

Pretty typical.


If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be?

Can I have acreage?  I’ll trade in the fancy house and furnishings for an old house on a hundred acres.  Salt marsh bay with woods all around.


Name the things you can’t live without:

My loved ones.


What would you like to have in your hands right now?

A notice that some rich guy has just paid off all my bills.


What is your favorite tea flavor?

Iced tea with lemon…SWEET!


What would you like to get rid of?

All politicians, wars, hunger, people who hurt other people, my debt.  Did I have to just pick one?


If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?

I’d go to California to watch my daughter begin work on her first film.  But I wouldn’t let her see me.  I’d hide behind bushes to watch.  Sort of like when she rode her bike to school for the first time.


What did you want to become as a child?

An adult.  Then I found out it was overrated.  And a writer.  Also overrated.


What do you miss?

My daughter.


What are you reading right now?

A book of short stories by Paul Ruffin called Jesus in the Mist.  He’s an awesome writer.


What do you fear the most?



Favorite book you’ve read this year?

The Goofy Goddess On The Wall by Kell Robertson.


When did you first know you were a writer?

Third grade.  I mostly kept it to myself, because it wasn’t an acceptable occupation in my working class world.  My mother wanted me to be a newspaper reporter or a lawyer.


Well, I guess I’d better get back to watching mud crack.

Thanks, Annie & Kat.  Have a great weekend!













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Dear Amber.  As you fly off to begin an exciting new venture, my heart flies with you.   The title of this poem is true.  You were brought into the world with one dollar and twenty five cents.   I celebrate that now.

Yes, your birth changed my life, but the changes were in ways that are so good, I cannot even begin to describe the joy.

The God-like allusions in this poem are meant to be a contrast to the scared little girl I was in the beginning.  I’m sure you know that, because you probably understand my poetry better than anyone else does.

Mothers tend to feel like they can move mountains.  But I don’t take credit for any of your successes.  You have earned them.  You.

I am so proud to be known as the mother of Amber A. Yoder, filmmaker.

Four Quarters, Two Dimes & A Nickel


And a big eyed baby, looking up at me

like I’m God, not some snot nose girl

who just turned the dresser drawers

upside down, praying for payday,

willing to sell my soul twice

for something warm to fill

those neverending eyes.


Now the cold’s creeping through

the rattle crack glass and Good Lord, I’m

down-to-the-last-potato broke but know

blues won’t make my baby girl strong.

It’s time to get moving

what’s got to get done.


So, I leap over the chasm, swim the dead sea.

Wrestle angels, throw the bolt, stop the wind, catch the key.

Rearrange the universe, drop by drop.

Bend the nail, chew the whip, pull the hunting bow taut.

Rebuild the wall with a sword in one hand.

Swat away the locusts, hoe the worn land.


Grind the chaff, roll the stone, lick the flames, kiss the ring.

Plug up my ears when the pretty moon sings.

Sweat inside the furnace, lock the jaws, lick the sores.

Kill the four horsemen, find the scrolls.


I hold the world.


Now she’s so fine, so strong,

taller than me and looking down

a new paved road.


Someday, she’ll stop and wonder

how on earth a Mama did all that

with four quarters, two dimes,

and a sticky little nickel

in the bottom of a drawer.


Right now, this story is my song.

But I’ll sing it as I move.

There’s more to be done.

-Written by Amber’s Mama


This poem was first published in storySouth.


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