Archive for December, 2009

Hoochie Sobers Up Long Enough

To Read His Poems at the Soup Kitchen

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

He’s an ornery devil,

hard scaly and covered

with brown liver spots.

There are bits of sticks

curling up like horns

in his slick white hair.


He shuffles to the podium

in a faded plaid red coat,

takes the last three puffs

on a Lucky Strike,

then puts out the fire

with the tips of his fingers.


He burps, scratches,

clears his phlegmy throat.


His stink has created a wave

that washes across the room

and smells like Thunderbird,

rotten onions, dried up piss


and wet dogs sleeping

in cardboard boxes

under rusty city bridges.


He has never worked

an honest day in his life.

If you put bread in his hand,

he will not thank you.

If you give him a dollar,

he will drink it.


But when Hoochie reads,

prayers fly on gold wings,

angels sigh, a boulder rolls

away from an empty tomb.


Trumpets sound.

Mysteries unseal.

Saved souls gather

by a shimmering river.


Love comes down

at Christmas time.


We sit in silence

and listen to the light

of a soup kitchen star

who gives us his gifts

then stumbles back

into the vacant night.


We are reminded

that beauty is not


for pretty poets


and grace is not

a privilege

just for saints.


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Do you know what a Pee Boy is?  They’re all over the world and have been for a long time.  Well, I don’t know if Pee Boy is the technical name or not. The Pee Boy that’s familiar to me is a handmade, wooden “cut out” picture of a little boy taking a pee.  A wire formed in an arch and attached to the wood is the pee.  People put them in their flower beds (and other places) as a joke.  The Pee Boy became a low income hit in the rural US several years ago.


I love low income folks.  I am one.  I understand the reason for a “Private Property” sign in front of a singlewide trailer.  I understand satellite dishes and Cadillacs in front of shacks.  I understand Pee Boys.  I sometimes think that people in other countries understand us better than many of our fellow Americans do.  Here, we are often ridiculed.  It doesn’t bother us too much, though.  We know how to laugh at ourselves…and everybody else.


Actually, I feel a big connection with anyone who is low income, no matter the locale.  I also appreciate them the most when I am traveling.  Rich areas tend to be dull and all look the same.  Poor folks’ yards are interesting and colorful.  I’ve seen houses that are painted in many different shades of neon, even gold.  I’ve seen houses decorated with bottles.  What can be done with trailers is amazing.  I don’t mean this as a joke.  I am truly impressed.  Often, it’s done out of necessity.  But I love their creativity and individualism.


I’m always late for supper when I go to my parents’ house, because I have to stop and look.  One of my favorite memories involves an ass kicking machine.  Yep, you read that right.  It was a contraption built out of wood.  It looked like a booth.  People stood in front of it and pulled a lever.  A real boot came out on a long leg to “kick” the ass of the person who was in need of it.  I’ve got a picture somewhere of me with the ass kicking machine.  I wish I could find it.  I’d use it for my poet’s picture.


Did I ever live in one of these creative places?  You bet.  We didn’t have a Pee Boy in the yard, though.  I still don’t have one.  I’m arrogant and want to outdo everybody else.  That’s part of the fun.  My dream yard will have statues in it.  Really odd looking gargoyles and such.  Maybe I’ll paint them purple.  But first, I have to gather some car parts and figure out how to mix cement.  The best statues are handmade.  And beautifully funky.



Aunt Maleena Hit It Big Selling Lipstick


So she bought a big mortgage

for a house in Pelican Pointe


where no more than three cars

can be parked in the yard at all times

and each one must run.


Play equipment must match the design

of the development and be child safe.

No tire swings or tree houses allowed.


No laundry may be hung on fences or clotheslines.

No Private Property… Keep Out…This Means You signs.

No above ground, plastic pools bought at the Family Dollar.


No private gardens full of collards plowed with rototillers.

However, all residents are encouraged to plant one square

of lemony herbs in the communal meditation center.


All trees must be pruned and planted neatly in a line.

No kudzu or other creeping vines.


No black labs crapping on the lawn.

No one-eyed cats hiding in tall grass.


No American flags, totem poles.

No pictures of white or black Jesus.


No pink flamingos, whirligigs,

or wooden cut outs of boys peeing

and grandma showing her drawers

when she bends over to weed.


Holiday candles must be pure white

(a maximum of three per window)

and turned off the day after the holiday ends.


No bonfires, mules, peacocks, target practice,

dirt bikes, trampolines or fireworks allowed.


No wailing blues or clog stomping fiddle music.

No fishing for crawdaddies in the ditches.

No dirty faced, barefoot kids ripping around the yard.


After two days, Aunt Maleena got five fines and three citations.

Well, hell.  We’ve been kicked out of much better places.


Julie Buffaloe-Yoder


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Pre-orders are now being taken for my chapbook, Price Reduced Again.  Don’t worry, y’all.  I won’t chase you around the internet and demand a purchase.  I’m just trying to be better about spreading the word.  So here she goes.


Price Reduced Again is the first release from Backpack Press.  Crystal Folz, who has created beautiful journals such as Shoots and Vines, is the owner of the press and has done an amazing job with layout and editing.  I love the look and the feel of the book.  It’s not glossy and I like that.  It shouldn’t be.


My daughter, Amber Yoder, created the awesome cover art.  Amber hand cut each of the tiles with a knife and pulled a print.  It fits the theme perfectly.  You may not be able to see it from this web picture, but there’s an old house on there and also a nickel with the word “LIBERTY” on it.  Thank you, Amber.  I love it!


The poems are all new and not posted on the internet.  I originally set out to tell the story of my own financial struggles.  But I always meet people who touch my soul.  Their stories are in there, too.


To reserve a copy and for more info., click HERE.

Requests and checks can be mailed to:

Shoots and Vines
Backpack Press
PO Box 489
Poseyville, IN 47633


The actual mailing of the chapbook will begin after its December 14 release.


The cost is $8.00 U.S.

$11.00 for orders outside of the  U.S. (the extra charge is to cover shipping).


Many thanks to Crystal Folz for this beautiful opportunity.  It’s not about money.  It’s about creation.  Being a poet and writer herself, Crystal understands the need to create and share words.  She has been much more than an editor.  She is a dear friend.


Thank you all for your support and encouragement.  I appreciate you very much.



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Millie’s Egg

Millie’s Egg

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

They glued a yellow ribbon

to a plastic pink egg

and hung it on Millie’s door

as a beacon, so she won’t get lost

in long, white mazes of sameness.


Still, Millie floats down the halls

in her dirty blue slippers.

She sneaks up behind nurses.

She bothers the visitors.


Her hair is long and knotty white.

Her pale fingers peck the hem

of a thin gown, buttoned wrong.

One long, heavy breast hangs out.


She is looking for the drawer

where those witches have hidden

her baby boy–among old papers,

behind tubes and wires, maybe

inside the brown bottles of pills.


Here, Millie.  Let’s go find your room.

See your pink egg?  That’s a good girl.


She’s not good, damnit.

And she’s not stupid.

She’s not a puppy to be called.

She doesn’t need an egg

to tell her to go to hell.


This is not her room.

It is a stranger’s womb, a sallow

sinking of wet concrete walls

where she swims in a thick elixir

of piss stale breath, surfacing

in moments that open, then close.


She wants to slap the nurses

and the skinny old man

who rocks back and forth

over the bed, calling her Mama,

pulling stiff sheets to her chin.


She wants to grow tall enough

to reach the egg on the door.


She will tear it down.

She will crack it open

and find her baby boy inside.

She will wrap him in her

soft red checked shawl.


They will sail off the edge

of this flat white world

in a dirty blue slipper,

and that damned pink tomb

will never hold them again.



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