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Archive for December, 2010

Five Dollars and Four Kids

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Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

When the little one frowns

at her slice of cornbread

and bowl of black-eyed peas,

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you tell her a story about

children across the ocean

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who don’t have cornbread

and black-eyed peas.

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When she says those kids

can have hers, because she

wants steak and potatoes,

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you tell her to hush

her sassy mouth

or you’ll give her

something to whine about.

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Then you go to your room

and quietly close the door

so she won’t see you cry

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because all you have is

five dollars and four kids.

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When you come back out,

the cracked blue bowls

have been licked wet.

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Not one crumb

of cornbread is left.

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They’re on the porch

whooping it up

like crazy little birds.

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Thirty years later,

you will remember

your empty bowls.

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They will remember

the way you sang

when you stirred

at a pot scarred stove.

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They will remember

warm cornbread,

stories on a porch,

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the smoky sweet

of black-eyed peas

in shiny blue bowls

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and a big, gold moon

that was always full.

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When John Dee Holeman

Plays The Blues

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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.

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Each blue sky friend, slammed door,

poison pen.  All the lock jaw, rusty bucket,

soul sucking, rock crushing minutes.

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Every shit upon, mud stomped,

bone throbbing, trespassing,

tread flapping, sweaty eyed day.

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Every down-to-the-last

of everything

blues.

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It all rises up

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from his fingertips

on soft low notes—

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a whirlwind of humanity

humming its way to heaven,

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covered in cornbread,

grits and gravy

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and makes me feel

so fine.

-Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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I LOVE this one!  Turn it up.

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Awesome

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Recipients of grants from MMRF must

*Be rooted in a Southern musical tradition.

*Make less than $18,000 a year.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How To Become A Live Oak Tree

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Anyway.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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And my father passed this gift down to me.

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How To Become A Live Oak Tree

Or Things My Father Taught Me

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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Weave

your breath

into the sway

of Spanish moss.

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Hear all small

rustles

inside fallen logs.

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Seep into

the veins,

the cracks.

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Climb damp vines

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higher and higher–

hold each

burnt edge

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of every star.

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Love

the muddy tip

of Raincrow’s

feather,

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the husky musk

of black bears.

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Spend hours,

days, years

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quietly watching

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the inner ridges

on a purple

mushroom,

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the flutter

of swans

rising

over marsh.

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You will become

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a crisp whisper

of black bark,

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stirring roots,

the live oak.

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Photosynthesize

in the dark.

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Strong and wild,

undying,

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you are

this moment,

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a never-ending

present tense–

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uncurling, growing,

ever expanding

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your soul,

scattered ash

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over floating

notes, rolling

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like an echo

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repeating

each seed

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full

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of the breeze

for eternity.

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Black River – near Ahoskie, NC – by Julie

Cypress Swamp – NC – by Julie

Cypress Knees – NC – by Julie

Bald Cypress – North Carolina – by Julie

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