Posts Tagged ‘heritage’


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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Beautifully and Wonderfully Made

What Naomi Told Her Daughter

When the Kids at School

Called Her a Half-Breed

Julie Buffaloe-Yoder.


Take these roots.

Chew them slowly.

They are close to bone,

sinew, tissue, womb.


Braid them in your hair.

Taste the ticking wood,

the synchronicity of cells.

Watch them softly twist

through slices of moon.


No microscope can show

the rings they carve

in your spine, the humming

of particles—each piece


a moving world, a color

singing on the tips

of a blind man’s fingers.


This legacy

is rhizome,

a curling inward,

an umbilical cord

stretching back

across oceans.


Cut them and they

will grow fourfold.

Fight and they will

tighten around your soul.


Listen to the pumping

of rocks that rumble

underground, the lift

of concrete, a drop

of hot wild seeds

in the dark wet earth.


Take these veins.

Give them birth.

Let them birth you.

Melt this twisting river

on your tongue.


You will become

that woman,

cypress strong, covered

in the warmth of blood,


turning to root

only you can name.



Carolina Cypress Swamp by Julie

Spider hanging out – by Julie

North Carolina Cypress by Julie

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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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