Category: Poetry

Dempsey D. Miles: “Idle”

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Honeysuckles, Chopped Pork BBQ and Muscadine Wine

I remember walking from my grand mama’s house with my brother. We’d walkthrough the lane that was in truth a two way, one way street. I mean the signs said one way but cars went both ways and nobody seemed to mind because everybody in Starkville, Mississippi knew that the one way was a two way. The lane contained the most magical delights almost year round. There were pecan trees, peach trees, pear trees, and a long row of sugary sweet honeysuckle vines; and that was just on one side of the road. We never seemed to mind it was all on somebody else’s property. I am sure they didn’t mind sharing with all the kids who walked that lane.

My Uncle Johnny barbequed pork almost year round, no matter the season, in every type of weather. He cooked whole hogs for other folk’s barbeques and party’s. He owned a little farm, with a cinder block smoke pit in the rear. He would slow cook the hogs for long hours then once the meat cooled he would chop it up, adding grand mamma’s secret vinegar and tomato based spicy sauce. The kids made sure to hang around near enough to be unofficial, official tasters. As much as we tasted it was a wonder there was enough hog left to serve at the party. That chopped barbeque served on white bread with homemade potato salad and collard greens was always a show stopper. Add a little sweet tea, or an ice cold Budweiser, and you were in it to win it!

My other Uncle, on my Momma side liked to brew his own “shine”. That’s moonshine to everyone above the Mason-Dixon Line. He was a bit of a local legend in his day known for his jovial nature and quality of his shine. He even measured a man’s worth in increments of shine. For example, if he said a man wasn’t “worth a fifty cent shot” then you knew that person to be of low character. And who are better judges of character than shine drinking Baptist in Mississippi? My favorite was his muscadine flavored wine. He’d pay his nieces and nephews to collect ripe muscadines by the brown paper bag full; two dollars a bag, good money back in the day. He’d throw the bags in the back of his old Chevy truck and disappear off to his secret place to brew his wine. We children would always be allowed a good nip during funerals, weddings, holidays, are whenever somebody left a jug unattended and in our reach. It was always sweet going down with just the right amount of burn in the throat.

Now you tell me; ain’t I southern enough?

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Cathy Smith Bowers: The Poet Laureate of North Carolina: Six Poems

Poetry Editor’s Note:

Each April the Dead Mule publishes a Poet Laureate of a Southern State at the top its list of fine poets. This year’s honor goes to Cathy Smith Bowers, Poet Laureate of North Carolina. Born in South Carolina and Southern to the core, Cathy is the sixth in the Dead Mule’s April Poet Laureate Series.

So help me welcome Cathy to our Big Ole Southern Family.

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Prairie Markussen: “The Women of Scottsboro”: A Chapbook

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I once had a migraine in Savannah. I saw the cherry blossoms blooming in Macon. I ate shrimp and grits in Charleston. I survived a family vacation and a freak storm in Ft. Lauderdale. I did not “Eat at Joe’s” in Nashville, but I saw the sign. I drank wine and fell in love with a bearded man I’ll never see again in Makanda, Illinois, and while that might not be the official south, it seemed pretty darn close.

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Jenny Billings Beaver: “With or Without”: A Chapbook

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Hey Ya’ll. My name is Jenny Billings Beaver (used to be Jenny Elizabeth Billings – SO OLD FASHIONED) and I have lived in North Carolina my entire life. I grew up on a dairy farm – in fact, I lived so far in the country that we didn’t get cable, pizza deliveries or any-kind-of-traffic until 2002. I didn’t have a bike, I rode around our 30 acres on a golf cart – that was long after we moved out of our marigold yellow mobile home with white shutters and grassy green carpet that sat under a weeping willow (it died when Hurricane Hugo came through in 1989). I drank only sweet tea the first 18 years of my life, still call my grandfather “Poppa”, love me some grits and sausage (with a lil’ mustard, of course!) and for god sake – married a man with the last name “Beaver” on Halloween. Bless my heart!

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Carter Monroe: Four Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve lived in NC all my life. When I travel North, I often find I’m the only person in the room without an accent. I believe in seeking forgiveness for my sins, but I can’t make myself ashamed of committing adultery. I understand why Southerners never move North to retire. I refuse to eat anything I can’t pronounce. If it weren’t for vampires, I’d have no use for garlic. I know what a “potteridge” is and know that to correctly pronounce it you have to slur at least one syllable. I believe in being polite to your face. If you have to ask for chili on a hot dog, somebody ain’t from around here. I deal with my high blood pressure by getting no exercise. I only drink cheap domestic beer and I never drink just one. I’m only grammatically correct when I choose to be.

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Pris Campbell: Six Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was raised on cornbread, fried chicken and okra in a small town in South Carolina. My great grandfather fought in the Civil War. I have a photo of him with his mule. That mule is now dead.

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Tim Peeler: Four Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I come from cotton farmers on the one side and subsistence farmers on the other. I grew up in a parsonage that was located on a hill above a road that forked three ways; each fork led to a separate washboard red dirt road. During the summer they poured oil on the roads. The smell of those roads is embedded in my memory.

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Marty Silverthorne: Four Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Everybody’s dead and visiting the graveyard just don’t feel the guilt like a good plate of almost black collards, a streak of fat, a streak of lean, two cathead biscuits to sop up grandma’s molasses. It’s about being here in the barren field with a winter wind kicks up the dust and spirits run length wise down the empty roads. I don’t know if northerners are haunted by the dead or not, I’ve never been one. I’ve been here all my life, one thirty mile loop and you can visit every grave that’s inked in the back of this ole Bible passed down to my daddy and he stole it and passed it to me and I don’t know much about southern except that’s all I have ever known.

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Felicia Mitchell: Four Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

How many people can claim to have had a pet roach as a child? I can. For all kinds of reasons, that confession has to legitimize my southern roots. What else can it say? The roach lived in a mayonnaise jar in my closet for a little while, and then it died. I became a poet at an early age. Eventually my mother let bring a kitten home from next door.

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Norvin Dickerson: Four Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was conceived on a houseboat on the Ashley River in Charleston, South Carolina and was born in Monroe, North Carolina first year of the Baby Boomers. I got my undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. My kin, Irish immigrants to North and South Carolina, fought for the Confederacy. I drive miles out of my way to eat Lexington Barbeque, and belong to a band of pirates and sailors, Brothers of the Coast, located in Savannah, Georgia. I live in the town of Black Mountain in western North Carolina.

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Terri Kirby Erickson: Four Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

When some of the phrases you remember hearing in your childhood are: “I swannee,” “Bless your heart,” and “Law have mercy,” you were probably brought up in the South. So, I reckon I’m Southern enough to suit The Mule!

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Anderson O’Brien: Three Poems

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Biscuits every Sunday morning: Preheat oven to 450. 2 cups flour, ¼ tsp baking soda, 1 TBSP baking powder and 1 tsp salt in the blue pottery bowl Mama gave me. Cut 6 TBSP butter into chunks and cut into flour, add 1 cup buttermilk, easy now, moisten until JUST combined. Turn dough onto the old board, perfectly floured. Gently pat biscuits out and cut into rounds. Bake 10-12 minutes. Serve with salted ham, eggs lightly scrambled, fried apples, and, of course, fresh tomatoes. Every Southern girl knows how to make a Southern breakfast.

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