Monday, February 16, 2009

Editor's Note - Shoots and Vines is Moving

It's been a wonderful two and a half months since S&V first began, a thought I had while washing dishes. :)

S&V has grown so quickly: sixty-four contributors in the online zine alone since inception.

Beginning today, S&V's new home will be at Many thanks to Lynn Alexander for helping through the beginning stages of setting up the new site. I couldn't have done it without her.

New submissions addy:
New info addy:

New site:

On the drop down bar of the new site is a list of all the contributors. Each piece of work has its own page. I hope everyone enjoys the new look, still dark and disparing. :)

Take care and check out the new site. Bookmark it, tell your friends, and keep submitting!

Thanks to everyone for making this such a huge success. I never would have dreamed this zine would hit over 5800 views in less than three months, but I also didn't have any idea how many great writers were still hiding in the underground.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Featured Writer: Julie Buffaloe-Yoder Day 3

Buster Peacock & The House of Many Colors

When the city of Freeville

widened the highway,

they didn’t plow down

a single shingle in


White Pointe

Golf Crossing.

Instead, they took

Buster Peacock’s land.

A blind old black man

in a felt blue hat

with a sagging shack

on twenty acres of

scrub pine and sand.

That house was old

even in Jim Crow’s day

when Buster carried

his sweet Veleetha

over the threshhold,

felt the angles of her face

the curve of her hips,

a perfect place for babies:

Buster Jr.


Little Toot.

Buster Peacock could feel the color

of four rooms with his fingers, the tips

of his toes—the brown creak and sigh

from tired floorboards at night.

The way the feather bed felt

like cool water blue when

the breeze blew gauze curtains

over Veleetha’s sleeping face.

That little red place in the doorway

where Scoochie bumped his head

when he got so tall, the gold notches

where Buster Jr. carved his name,

the yellow dip in the hallway where

Toot liked to slide in socks.

The silver click of the cuckoo clock

exactly eight steps from a gray hum

from the refrigerator, the green smell

of the breadbox on a hot June day.

The city could not understand

why Buster cried so hard

over a broke down shack.

They gave fair market value.

But they didn’t care that

you can’t place market value

on a breadbox or children

grown or a wife passed on.

The day they moved him

to a retirement home,

the dozer crushed

through his front door.

Buster could feel color

all over again.

Waiting For Mother

Waiting for mother was easier

before autumn crackled in

and ate the days up early.

It was my job to never cry

and light the living room fire.

I was six and alone with wood

and the sharp clear bark of cold.

The wind tip-tapped

the spider crack windows

looking for a place inside

to build its nest.

I knew Mother would come,

she would come home and see

me in the big of the dark,

clumsy with wood and the room

closing its teeth around me--

the naughty buds of fire

refusing to open and grow.

The room smiled pumpkin warm

when I coaxed the fire to raise

its broken, bloody wings.

The branches fluttered shadows

like long lashes on the walls.

Those nights were yellow glad;

I could play and wait, listen

to the purr of wind against the sky.

I liked to watch the moon

scrape across the window.

I liked to tell stories to my dolls,

hold them close to the fire,

watch their smiling faces melt.

And the moon held me.

And the smoke held me.

And the long curly hair

of the shadows held me.

And the moon made me full.

And the fire ate my fever.

And the rise and fall of flames

sang me softly to sleep.

Sometimes when I woke,

the fire left burning sores

on tangled legs of branches.

Sometimes when I woke,

the moon rattled at the window.

The cold was thorny

up and down my back.

The knots in the wood

stared like bad baby eyes,

and the clock was click click

clicking its high heels

in the crying midnight room.

I knew when Mother came home,

she would come, singing red shoes,

the pretty side of her face

an orange fire glow.

She would turn off the bad baby eyes

and the meanness of the moon.

She would listen to the falling leaves

and hear the angel wings with me.

She would fall asleep, and I

would rub her small, soft feet.

I would smell her lemon hair.

I would find her missing slipper.

I would kiss her warming temple,

never ever burn.

Waiting for Mother was easier

before the greedy winter came

and chewed up all the wood.

One night, the wind slapped hard.

I only found the skinny twigs.

One night, through the click of cold,

I filled the fireplace with dolls

and books, pennies, chairs,

stale dry blankets,

And I let the room catch on fire.

Upstairs, on my mattress,

I waited for Mother

to creep up the wooden steps

and tuck me in.

She would come quickly.

She would come warmly.

I knew she would come home

and I would not be alone.

And together we would listen

to the broken goodnight moon,

the glowing wind, and babies

falling from the sky.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Featured Writer: Julie Buffaloe-Yoder Day 2

Shaqueena, Big and Tall

Shaqueena had the biggest tits

I’ve ever seen, I mean each

of those puppies was the size

of a Rottweiler’s head.

Even us straight girls

couldn’t help but stare

at them in gym class.

Soapy globes in the shower,

suntanned worlds unknown,

Shaqueena had the power

of a woman in eighth grade.

Those glamorous glands

didn’t slow Shaqueena down.

She didn’t try to stop them

with eighteen-hour harnesses

or hide them behind books.

She put them out there, honey,

for all the small girls to see.

Goddess of the braless,

large dark nipples peeking

through thin white lace.

Bouncing on the playground,

they’d hit us in the face.

We memorized her mammaries,

worshipped her jiggling temples,

wrote poems about them,

gave both of them names.

We were jealous as hell.

Shaqueena, Queen of Meat.

Sturdy, curvy, proud, loud.

When God was passing out

boobs in the lunch room,

Shaqueena took all the trays

and ran away, laughing.
Washing Away

That old shell of a building used to be

where Jeeter Davis picked the blues,

while us girls picked the sweet meat

of blue crabs to sell for market price.

We worked with red bandanas

on our heads, and boys on our minds.

Our squeaking rubber gloves

on warm, wet wood kept time.

The mockingbirds sounded

like little boats chewing foam.

The shush of shovels in crushed ice

meant supper would be on the table

for at least another season.

Our fathers were worn out

after a good night’s catch,

their boats heavy with a living.

But they kept us full

of their stories, oh Lord, that day

Jeeter Davis sang the one about

the cheating wife and the clam bed,

we thought we would die laughing.

Now there’s a big, black boot,

some old net that needs mending,

and an upside down crab pot

floating in the tide.

There’s a rotten crate

with SHRIMP stenciled

on its side, the letters R, M, P

almost faded away.

There’s a mossy brown stump

where the oyster bed was,

the handle of a shovel,

and two rusty pennies, heads up,

lying in the mud.

There’s our old crab house

creaking in the breeze, and inside,

the briny smell still echoes

like Jeeter Davis’ cold, steel blues

sliding off the walls.

There’s glass that snaps underfoot,

three rubber gloves, a pink hair brush,

a radio that might still work,

and a guitar pick crusted with scales

stuck in a crack in the ice room door.

There’s half a receipt book,

and compliments

of Bell-Munden Funeral Home,

there’s an unmarked calendar

still opened to the year

when we lost our soul.

Across the bay,

there’s a healthy row

of condominiums growing.

They call it Fisherman’s Ridge.

There’s a billboard that has

a happy family on it.

They’re not from around here.

There’s a cartoon picture

of a boat and a shrimper

hauling in his heavy nets.

He’s bathed in light and way

too clean to be working.

They tell us maybe

we can get big tips over there

if we entertain the tourists

with our watermen’s accents

or serve imported crabs

in the restaurant

or mop their pretty floors.

So shiny, so bright,

like the Whore of Babylon

like a brand new bay.

God help us.

We’re all washing

We’re all washing away.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Featured Writer: Julie Buffaloe-Yoder Day 1

Aunt Aggie and The Alligators

Aunt Aggie never had babies.
She had alligators
that floated under leaf wet logs.
She had a mud brushed shack
beside a slow moving river
downwind of Ocketawna Swamp.
She had boxes of fossils
on her kitchen counters.
Six foot long rattlesnake skins
hung as decorations
on her front porch.

Half Cherokee, half Irish,
Aunt Aggie had one brown eye
and one blue; she had two
bright silver braids that swung
past her ass when she danced.
Aunt Aggie smelled like cypress,
muddy boots and fresh mint tea.
Her hands were as loving tough
as summer collard leaves.

Aunt Aggie had no neighbors.
She had a Smith and Wesson
and ninety six root thick acres.
She had record breaking reptiles
who turned over her trash barrel
in the lapping heat
of those thick cricket nights.
She had the faded yellow skies
of August hurricanes,
not too many water bugs,
mildewed faces growing
on her window screens,
and every knick knack
Woolworth’s ever sold.

Each spring at dawn on the edge
of the riverbank, Aunt Aggie threw
leftovers, buckets of fish guts,
and rotten fruit in mossy holes
where the gators waited
for her to call them by name:
Miss Eula Belle!
Matthew-Mark-Luke and John!
Josiah Ezekiel Twain!
Old Slow Moon!
Little Bitty!

During mating season she crouched
waist deep in swamp to watch
the big ones make the water dance;
kept a two-by-four held tight in case
the young ones should try to get fresh.

Aunt Aggie had a fit that stormy day
when relatives explained the papers
that came in the mail from The State:
Eminent Domain.

They said maybe she should take
the money they offered.
Find a nice retirement home.

Everybody thought Aunt Aggie
would shoot the lawyers
and the politicians
and the real estate developers
and the police in their fat heads.
Instead, she cut all her silver hair
and let it float down the river
with the moon of the green corn.

They found Aunt Aggie the next week
curled up and brown on her porch.
The biggest gator next to her, eating
fish heads, bread and moldy cheese.
Aunt Aggie’s last supper
before her babies were put to sleep.

Snake Handling

They call him Rattlesnake,

a row of diamonds

sliced across his back

in a bar room brawl.

All the girls say he is

the best thing to curl up

on their hot back porches

since before the devil’s fall.

They say he’s so pretty

like slant-eyed danger

wrapped in gold-brown skin,

muscles the size of sin—

he smells like a man, damnit.

This laying on of hands

fathers do not understand,

this power to tread through

tall grass, groping under

the dark side of logs,

searching for an answer.

When they dare to hold him,

they shed their old souls

and are born again

beneath a thrill of stars,

dancing to the rhythm

of the rock of ages.

Speaking unknown tongues,

that ticking crescendo

of dry pinestraw is alive

like tambourines of fire.

Like strychnine shooting

through a country girl’s veins.

The sting might not kill

but it makes them feel

like it will, and even if

they swell, they don’t

give a damn—they say

it’s better than Heaven.

I've had work published in Side of Grits, storySouth, Clapboard House, The Wilmington Review, A Carolina Literary Companion, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, Calyx: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Grain, and Pemmican.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

When the Wolves Came Down the Mountain by Jason Michel

When the wolves came down the mountain, we rang the bells and took turns throwing rocks at the damned wild hounds. All teeth and eyes. There seemed to be no rhyme nor reason to it all, ‘cept they wanted our blood split from open wounds onto the female earth’s holy gash.
And we damn well wanted theirs.

An aged Scotsman stood next to me, the one we called Ancient Mac Cock on account of his obsession with his withered mediocre genitalia, and launched a large stone that misfired and smashed the dull stained glass window that showed Christ’s crucifixion on the grim, hunched-over Presbyterian church. When the realization of the consequences of his wayward action hit him, he turned to me and whispered, “Might wake th’ ol’ bastard up fer once, hey lad …”

As I brought down a rock and cracked open the skull of one of the beautiful creatures, watching its pale blue eyes become shot with spilled scarlet ink and its grey purple cerebral mass seep through its ears, I noticed a little girl squatting over the dismembered stomach of a lupe and pissing all over its entrails, washing the blood away. Then I knew I was nothing more than a cell in a gigantic beast that went on forever and forever. The question was whether I was a virus or part of the immune system. As I looked around at the carnage and the numbers of the dead on both sides, I glimpsed the answer and prepared for tomorrow.

Jason Michel has been turned on, tripped up and stumbled over all around the world on an eleven year(so far)self imposed exile. He now lives in France.
He has recently published his first novel “Confessions of a Black Dog” at and has had work published in various print and online magazines.
His work can be seen at

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Todd Among the Nightingales by Mikael Covey

Todd meanders down the street, scrawny, pot-bellied; I see he’s lost most of his hair now. Comes over to the guys outside the half-way house with a big smile on his face. They’re sitting there smoking cigarettes watching the grass grow, whatever. Friends of his, I guess.

I’m making a delivery, dropping off a package. “He was one of the Chicago Seven” I tell ‘em. Todd smiles, starts recounting the names “Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin...” Yeah, and Todd Obermeyer.

We used to talk about it, back when I was his caseworker, as if that’s all there was. Paging through the high school yearbook, pictures in black and white. Pretty girls in pep club outfits, Pierpoint Rustlerettes 1967.

Todd looks at the pictures objectively, distantly; tells me how shy and dysfunctional he was in school; even though his folks had money. A scrawny little mouse with droopy eyes and big ears, short hair cut. Like none of that ever mattered anyway. “I’m forty-eight years old y’know.”

Then in college, somehow in a fraternity, in with the bright young going somewhere crowd. The cusp of future leaders. Chicago ’68, when he had the breakdown. They brought him back from Canada, put him in the hospital for twenty years. Ten more after that on the outside, still that’s all there ever was.

Lives alone in a spotlessly clean apartment, government funded. Everything neat and orderly, very nice. “I got no food” he says, objectively, not that it matters. Just something to talk about, making conversation. We have to meet, we have to talk. What else is there to say.

First of the month his check comes in. The vultures swoop down and take it away. Tougher needier mental patients who prey on the weaker ones. Borrow things, like your money. “They talk me into it” he says “what can I do? He says he’ll pay me back, and he never does. Next time I’m gonna just tell him no.”

Aint gonna happen. I’d like to see Todd get really angry about it, just to see how far he’d go before he’d back down. Like a couple of pomeranians fighting each other. Or maybe that’s how we all are when you think about it.

Take him to the food pantry where people donate food so that others who don’t have any can come get some. Todd’s very picky. “Do you have...” this, that, the other, like we’re at the supermarket, anything you want. I’m embarrassed. This is free food Todd, just take what the lady gives you, okay? Asks if he can come back every month, his problems would all be solved.

I like Todd, he’s so different from what you’d think a schizophrenic would be. So quiet calm peaceful. That slight smile, like things are amusing to him, or beyond his control. Always so friendly, gentle, dignified in his own way. A pleasure to visit with him, to escape from the constant tension and stress of the job. Just to sit here in this spotlessly clean apartment, reminisce about old days.

When I get to know him better, he confides in me a bit. The color coded signals God uses to tell him things. He saw a man on tv wearing a blue suit. Blue means royalty, that was a good man. Something yellow in a magazine would be a warning. Don’t go out today. Orange is even more dangerous.

That was years ago. I’m surprised he’s made it this far. But I like Todd, I’m happy to see him. Later run across him meandering down the street, big fleshy bulge on the side of his neck. “Todd, how you doing?” “Well...I got cancer. Of the lymph nodes, I guess. They’re giving me chemo... I’m fifty-eight years old, y’know.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Photography by Jeff Crouch

Remains Day

Sense of Play


Jeff Crouch is an internet artist in Grand Prairie, Texas. Google him.