Posts Tagged ‘culture’


Story Quilt

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

The women sew stories

at sunset on the porch,

an old wicker basket

full of fabric by their feet.


There’s a square of green

from the gingham dress

a girl wore when she first

kissed a boy by the river.


Here’s a gray head rag,

stained with sweat

by a grandmother who

plowed the jagged back

of this black mountain.


Those bits of blue denim

are a father’s overalls.

He lost a leg and died

working the railroad.


That piece is from

the wedding dress

mother made with

a white lace tablecloth.


This strip of yellow

was a blanket, dotted

with brown circles

of blood and covered

a chicken feather mattress

where babies were born.


Four bright pink ribbons

belonged to the twins

who came out holding hands.


A red checked apron

fed thirteen children

with two catfish

and three stale loaves.


Each piece, a meaning,

a patchwork of souls

threaded together

by generations

of callused fingers


on a front porch

between live oaks

and wisteria vines–


the lingering smell

of warm cornbread

from the oven.


Gold and purple sunset

stretched across the sky.




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The Storytellers

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

They tell stories they learned

in school, take off their shoes,

black out a tooth, put on

straw hats to look cute.


They hold their hands

the way the teacher

told them to


talk about possums

and articulate with

just enough

dramatic accent


to make the crowd

in the auditorium go

hee hee and a haw haw.


Then they get in SUV’s

and drive back to

gated communities.


Old Mr. Orrie tells stories

at the Fish House for hours

on a black dock that rocks

when waves lap against it


under a full moon that burns

a gold hole through heaven.


He carves a loon decoy

while he talks, sun hard arms

a criss cross of white scars.


Curls of wood fall

soft in the rhythm.

Feathers appear

with a whisper

of his hands.


When the spirit moves him,

Mr. Orrie picks up his guitar

and sings Lonesome Wind

for a while, then tells us


about that spring in ’48 when

a gale came down from the north.

It rained blue crabs for three days.


That was the first time

Mr. Orrie learned how

to catch a headwind and

make his shrimp boat fly.


Beside the neverending tale

of live oaks and salty roots


he didn’t once

talk about

possum stew


and he didn’t

go to school

or charge us

a rusty penny.



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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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