Archive for October, 2009

This poem was inspired by a dear friend.  I can’t even describe how

much I love him.  But it’s also intended to be a big tip of the hat to all the

good folks who still value the beauty of “slow” human communication via

letters and e-mail.  It is an art form, and you do it so well.


Even the small amount of time I spend on the internet sometimes gets to

me.   But you are real.  You are beautiful.  I print out your e-mails, and I find

your envelopes in my mailbox.  I take your words into the woods with me

and read them away from the mind numbing hum of the computer.  Thank

you for taking the time to send your soul.  You keep me sane.


The man with the mandolin in this poem is real, but I don’t know who he is.

I just thought it was perfect that I heard his singing on the day my friend’s

letter came.   His words are music.



A Friend Sends Me Letters


Julie Buffaloe-Yoder


I walk barefoot

to the mailbox

at the end of

my dirt road.


Two hills away,

a man sings and

a mandolin plays.


Last night’s rain

has melted into sun.


A wild turkey clucks

through muddy reeds;

mist rises by the pond.


The mailbox shines silver,

creaks open, and there’s

a letter my friend sends


covered in stamps

and a picture I love

of a stick man

he always draws

on the envelope.


He writes letters

to me

with two fingers


on a manual typewriter

under noon day shade

of a black locust tree,


leaves little bits of himself

on the paper–his words


smell like a garden

churned butter,

a rumble of thunder.

Warm beer spilled

on a barroom floor.


He tells me stories

about red chickens,

the wind and the rain.

Guitars, lovers, poetry.

Those hard old days.


It’s not an electronic card

sent to fifty others

with a push of a button.


Not a Facebook message.

Not a snippet on Twitter.


It’s an experience

inside a sunny box

on a wet wooden pole.


It’s a slow cup of

black coffee,

a piping hot

slice of sanity,


a soft waltz

in the country.


An unfolding

of a soul.


It’s how words

on the page

should sing.



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A Sunday Drive


The road beside the window, dark with smoke,

grinds beside the glass, it growls, it grows.

Nothing but poles along the road to mark the time

and wires above our heads, thick with breath

and sweat and the pulse of Sunday voices.


Your hard hands on the wheel hold tight

to some soft thought scraped from plates

then thrown with bones beside dry highways.


We see nothing but graves rectangled with sun.

Nothing but fields and hills that slowly turn away.

Nothing but nothingness breathes and feeds

and falls across the ground to scrape beneath.


It is too heavy, too loud, this echo of wind

when no more lights rise from the reeds,

when a baby doesn’t think of drinking bottled air,

when his thin life quickly opened, then closed

like broken breath from an empty chest.


Outside the window, clouds swell their bellies

and trap us inside the faded white lines of a lie.

Past the point of turning back–this moment

is where we will remember our forever.


Too numb to sleep, we will not stop the hum,

the breath, the spin of earth under wheels.

We make our way over those small bones

turned to stone, tossed like gravel, crushed

with glass on the side of an unmarked road.

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder


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Things I Learned Early


Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

My name is not Rockefeller.


A clean, faded dress is good.

Dirty work jeans are better.


Don’t throw anything away.

A twist tie from a bread bag

might save your life.


Tires found in the ditch

have lots of tread left.


A cracked windshield

is no big deal.

A cracked engine

gets fixed in the yard.


Shoes with holes

still walk to the field.


A large cut will heal

if soaked in the ocean.


Duct tape is a must

for home renovation.


A week of flour and lard

collard greens and beans

means you get to eat

for another week.


Poor girls do not

lay around all day.

Smart mouth girls

get slapped back

into last year.


Don’t lie, cheat or steal

from the boss who

lies, cheats and steals

from you.


Whining is a privilege

for people with money.


Sleep is for politicians.

Dreams are for fools.



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Sweet Seeds



November by the river.

You give me bitten apples

from your pockets.


I taste your little hands

inside the peelings.

Wondering at the hush

of teeth, I sink into the skin.


Upside down and too close

to deep water, you ask me

if the earth is octagonal.

Daughter, how can I tell you?

I never knew the sides.


The sky thickens and you

give me rocks you’ve tasted,

clay shaped against your tongue.

Your breath the smell of mussel shells

hidden in your palm.


Busily, your fingers find

the inside soft of fallen trees,

muddy underneaths of leaves,

steep slick edges, mossy clouds.


The dampness of the breeze

against your skin, you ask me

if the earth will lose its spin

and when.


Daughter, you will discover

we make our way on broken clay.

I did not leave a trail.


Your voice falls in fragments

mud jelled in footprints

beside the shadowed

bruises of a river.


You say God lives in all small places,

frozen in the limbs of autumn trees,

in the apples, the leaves, the rocks


and unless we lose our way

we should walk softly

not to wake the rocks.


We will not lose our way, I say.


We leave your sweet seeds

along the twisted path

to be eaten by the birds

at dawn.

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder



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