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Posts Tagged ‘folk art’

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Story Quilt

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

The women sew stories

at sunset on the porch,

an old wicker basket

full of fabric by their feet.

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There’s a square of green

from the gingham dress

a girl wore when she first

kissed a boy by the river.

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Here’s a gray head rag,

stained with sweat

by a grandmother who

plowed the jagged back

of this black mountain.

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Those bits of blue denim

are a father’s overalls.

He lost a leg and died

working the railroad.

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That piece is from

the wedding dress

mother made with

a white lace tablecloth.

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This strip of yellow

was a blanket, dotted

with brown circles

of blood and covered

a chicken feather mattress

where babies were born.

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Four bright pink ribbons

belonged to the twins

who came out holding hands.

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A red checked apron

fed thirteen children

with two catfish

and three stale loaves.

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Each piece, a meaning,

a patchwork of souls

threaded together

by generations

of callused fingers

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on a front porch

between live oaks

and wisteria vines–

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the lingering smell

of warm cornbread

from the oven.

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Gold and purple sunset

stretched across the sky.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Aunt Maleena Hit It Big Selling Lipstick

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So she bought a big mortgage

for a house in Pelican Pointe

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where no more than three cars

can be parked in the yard at all times

and each one must run.

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Play equipment must match the design

of the development and be child safe.

No tire swings or tree houses allowed.

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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.

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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.

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

No kudzu or other creeping vines.

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No black labs crapping on the lawn.

No one-eyed cats hiding in tall grass.

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No American flags, totem poles.

No pictures of white or black Jesus.

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No pink flamingos, whirligigs,

or wooden cut outs of boys peeing

and grandma showing her drawers

when she bends over to weed.

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Holiday candles must be pure white

(a maximum of three per window)

and turned off the day after the holiday ends.

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No bonfires, mules, peacocks, target practice,

dirt bikes, trampolines or fireworks allowed.

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No wailing blues or clog stomping fiddle music.

No fishing for crawdaddies in the ditches.

No dirty faced, barefoot kids ripping around the yard.

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

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

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Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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