i tell you what

I like stories. Full of everything-real and colour.

Small, heavy words soaked with life. Words you can’t find in a dictionary and couldn’t spell even if you tried.

Words that mean more than they ought – because they’re so little and all.

I want to be a storyteller. But my tone is never right. My words always fall short. I stutter and turn sideways and focus too much on grammar and intellect and forget what it’s all about.

I’m no good at telling stories. My grandfather is. So I steal his voice, because I know he won’t mind.

It’s soft, deep gravel that goes Boom Boom Boom and “Boy, I tell you what”. It reminds you of wise men from the East, turned Appalachia, and a little boy running through the mountains with no daddy and no shoes.

When he remembers, you see it in his eyes. When he tells stories, he does it with his hands.

They wave and jump and spread to the tune of him. There’s life in them, and when they still, so will he.

They’re hold-up-mountain strong; and that’s no play on words. That’s what they did. For years.

William was a roof bolter.

He drove steel spikes into the ceiling of the mountain. Sandwiched the layers together so they wouldn’t fall. Machines do it now. Pa did it with his hands.

Hands that were crushed and broken. He had his fingers cut off the week I was born. They sewed ’em back on. Crooked. One without its tip. He plays the piano with them now.

Hands that laugh and cry and hold the mountain off your back.

Full of stories of life’s been hard ….. but ain’t it grand!


You may also like


  • b.A.Carter
    Mar 25, 2006 at 14:48

    Thank Goodness you can write like the dickens! I can ‘tell’ a story but my burden is trying to write it down. I worry so much about the layout and sometimes let the story fall by the wayside.
    Your stories feed my need to be more myself. You have your own style but with a touch of Faulkner. But sooo much eaisier to read!
    Get cracking, I want to read more – or at least buy the book!

  • David
    Mar 26, 2006 at 3:31

    What are you talking about? You’re a great story-teller! Maybe not vocally, I dont know, since I’ve never met you, but literally? You literally are!

    But I think the best way to tell a story is to be excited about it. Pretend you’re living the whole thing again, and tell it like you mean it. I mean, if you’re not excited about your story, who will be? You know?

  • ChickyBabe
    Mar 26, 2006 at 6:46

    From what I’ve read of your blog so far, you tell a very good story!

    I know what you mean about focussing on words instead of just writing and letting the story flow. I do the same at times.

  • kerri
    Mar 26, 2006 at 10:26

    This is indeed a great story. You write wonderfully. Your grandfather sounds awesome.

  • Jay
    Mar 26, 2006 at 11:38

    I think you do have a voice, and I think we’ve heard it well.

  • shesawriter
    Mar 26, 2006 at 17:34

    You hit the nail on the head! That’s exactly what I want too. 🙂

  • Miz BoheMia
    Mar 26, 2006 at 18:46

    You are a weaver of words and I love this specific tapestry. Beautiful.

  • bj
    Mar 26, 2006 at 19:42

    You have a gift with words. You put feeling in them. I can feel the pain and joy of your characters.
    Keep up the good work. You are brilliant!!!!!!!!

  • Dawn (webmiztris)
    Mar 26, 2006 at 21:54

    hey, how did pa’s fingers get Bobbitted?

  • Ken
    Mar 27, 2006 at 14:48

    So when are you going to invite us all to sit around a fire with you and Pa so he can tell us stories? 🙂

  • Serena
    Mar 27, 2006 at 14:53

    Awe, I definitely think you’ve been demonstrating a knack for “voice”. Keep it up!

  • Jasika
    Mar 27, 2006 at 17:17


    This is incredible. You should share this with him. It gave me chills.

  • Melissa
    Mar 27, 2006 at 18:16

    You basically just wrote about my grandfather who spent nearly his entire life in one small town in Mississippi and who died back in November. I almost cried.

  • hattigrace
    Mar 27, 2006 at 19:29

    “Hands that were crushed and broken. He had his fingers cut off the week I was born. They sewed ‘em back on. Crooked. One without its tip. He plays the piano with them now.

    Hands that laugh and cry and hold the mountain off your back.”

    Why did that pierce into my heart, catch in my throat and fill my eyes with tears?

    Oh Buffy, if our Father chose to put His words into print, didn’t He know the power of the written word?

    The audience of a story-teller is limited. The audience of the written story is universal and timeless.

    Buffy, thank God you write. Your stories deeply touch us all.

  • bella
    Mar 27, 2006 at 20:02

    Sounds like someone I would like to meet. I always sat with my grandfather by the fireplace and listen to his stories, while everyone else disappeared! I would also love to read more of your writing. I shall return 🙂

  • Oob
    Mar 28, 2006 at 11:57

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Love your descriptive writing style… I’ll be back!

  • Merteuil
    Mar 28, 2006 at 16:26

    “Good enough”??….Buffy you are crazy. 🙂

  • amanda
    Mar 29, 2006 at 15:24

    your story-telling is evocative and original. you have an amazing voice, an economy of language. i am awestruck. i love “They wave and jump and spread to the tune of him. There’s life in them, and when they still, so will he.”

  • better safe than sorry
    Mar 30, 2006 at 3:21

    i like stories too but i’m not a writer, i’m a reader. it’s such a struggle to find the words i want to express what i think, much easier to the words of others.
    thanks for dropping by my blog earlier.

  • laura
    Mar 30, 2006 at 15:39

    I love listening to stories from my grandparents. I believe they tell them best. It’s so important to listen to them and understand where they’re coming from. And you know they always say, “Ah, life was much easier then…”
    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  • Lynn
    Mar 30, 2006 at 20:32

    I like that he’ll hold the mountain off your back. Every little girl needs a daddy or a grandpappy to do just that . . . even when they’re in their 20s.

  • Trish
    Apr 1, 2006 at 8:59


    Sorry I haven’t been ’round in a while. It’s been nice catching up.

  • Wodge
    Apr 8, 2006 at 1:00

    Thats really good. You write well. I like the photo too.

  • Joanna
    Nov 7, 2006 at 19:05

    What you can do is describe a person, a place or an action that makes the reader think they are right there! He reminds me of my dad. I can remember him telling me stories…He would lay his head back, close his eyes and a big smile would come across his face as he would begin to tell his tale.

  • Devilwoman
    Nov 8, 2006 at 1:50

    Love the way you weave.

  • followthefrog
    Nov 15, 2006 at 20:28

    In reading this, you make me remember my grandfather. No, they aren’t very similar necessarily, but you capture the essence of someone well, and that makes me think of the essence of my someone.