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Lemoncharles by southern writer John Calvin Hughes

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I’m John Calvin Hughes, son of a son of a preacher chased out of Mississippi for plucking the flock. I’m a southern boy who moved south and found himself surrounded by Yankees. I’m in Florida. There’s not a hill in sight and the restaurants that specialize in “Real Southern Cooking” put sugar in the cornbread. My own son told me the cat pushing on his chest was “making bagels”!

Christopher Rowe: High Water

  “That was a nice cast, boy, your daddy’s been teaching you something right down there in Florida.” “Now, don’t start in again, Hiram. The child wasn’t the one decided to pick up and move off. We’re blessed to have him visit for the summer.” “I ain’t saying anything different, Martha, I was just commenting […]

Becky Meadows “Three Seconds”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up on my grandmother and grandfather’s farm, where we ate fried potatoes, green beans (cooked for an entire day or more on the stove in a pot), and cornbread. Fried chicken was a treat we enjoyed, and it was really fried—not the carbon-copy fried chicken found frozen in stores today. We ate tomatoes from the garden (straight from the garden). My southern heritage isn’t limited to food, though—I have the most marvelous southern accent that I have refused to relinquish for academia. I’m proud of my heritage!

Jackson Culpepper “Judgment House”

SLS: Growing up in south Georgia, I have a Stockholm Syndrome-type relationship to temperatures over ninety degrees and one hundred percent humidity. But the devil can have his damned gnats.

Erin Kelly “Sound No Trumpet”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I talk slow. I eat etouffee, jambalaya and boudin. I’ve clapped my hands to gospel in hot, crowded churches, and visited Catholic psychics. I’ve gone through many Louisiana winters in short sleeves and shorts.

Barbara Nishimoto “Identifying Trees”

Southern Literacy Statement

I was born and raised in the North, but now have lived most of my adult life in the South. When I first moved my mother acted as though I were moving to another country and told me all the stories she had collected from the tabloids she loved. When she visited during the summer she rolled and tied a hand towel around her head, a desperate hachimaki, and stuffed tissues around its edges to catch the sweat before it fell into her eyes and down her cheeks. “Eight o’clock at night is the same as three o’clock in the afternoon,” she said. “That’s why horses go crazy and impale themselves.”

John Davis, Jr. “The Legend(s) of Mailman George”

SLS: John Davis Jr. is a sixth-generation Florida native. His poetry has covered the South like kudzu, including a prior appearance in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Now he’s trying his hand at a little down-home fiction. He hopes yall like it.

Diane Thomas-Plunk “The Call”

SLS — Born and raised in Memphis, Diane Thomas-Plunk is highly skilled in the three B’s of Memphis — blues, barbecue and beer. These may be enjoyed individually, in various pairings, or — best yet — all together.

Schimri Yoyo “Root For The Home Team”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I spent four plus years of undergrad in Greenville, SC–the Buckle of the Bible Belt–and I’ve got plenty of stories to tell.

Jennifer Green “Keeping a Dead Mule Down”

Southern Legacy Statement – Half Mexican, Half Redneck. I use that to describe my heritage.

Upon hearing that: my mother’s family gets upset and offended, my father’s side laughs and hollers. I’ll let you decide which is half is which half.

From ages three to eighteen, one year of my life was spent in Southern California, the next in North Georgia. The odd-numbered years were in smoggy cities, people giving me odd looks for ordering sugar in my tea, and mocking me when I say “ya’ll.”

I was fired from my first California job because customers insisted I insulted them by saying “sir” and “ma’am.” When I got older: I chose fresh air in the woods, people that became your new best friend when you share the counter at Waffle House, and smiles when I reply to statements with “sho’nuff.” Now, I’m the boss and all my employees know full well to treat all customers with respect and address them with “sir” and “ma’am.”

Jo Heath “Sweet Tea and Ice”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Excuse me for being southern and for not. I’ve lived all but two of my seventy-five years in the deep south, defined here as lower Alabama, and yet I drink unsweet ice tea with sucralose, and everytime I’m introduced to my place, or my duty, or sometimes my manners, I wiggle and stretch and work my way out and around.

Donna J. Dotson “Gus”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I have spent my entire life at the foot of one hill or another in North Carolina. When I was a little girl, I spent my summers with my grandma and pawpaw.

They were farmers, but my pawpaw ran a little country store over by the road…just co’colas, nabs, moonpies and such. They had 23 grand-younguns so he kept a whole shelf full of every kind of penny candy you can think of. Whenever we would go visit, he would give each youngun a tiny little paper poke to fill up with as much candy as the bag would hold. Well, grandma dipped snuff and in the evenings we would sit on the front porch and string beans or shuck corn or cut up cucumbers to make pickles – whatever the garden was producing that day and I was always amazed at how far that woman could spit. Still am..

I admired my grandma and in my eyes she could do no wrong, so when I went to fill up my candy sack, I filled it right up to the edge with Tootsie Rolls. I would tuck one under my bottom lip and let the spit build up, then I would get grandma to spit for an example and then I would give it a go. Grandma would always clear the porch and her brown tobacco juice would land in the holly bush, but my Tootsie Roll spit would splat right there on the porch. Grandma would keep a straight face, but I could see her belly jiggling as she chuckled at my efforts. After dark, when pawpaw closed up the store and came home, we’d still be sittin’ on the porch with all the spit puddles. He would get mad and start fussin’ – using his favorite cuss words like “dad gimmit!” and “drot take it to the dickens!” while he stomped over to the spigot at the pump house to fill a bucket with water and wash the spit off the porch. The first few times, I thought I was in trouble, but then, I saw him wink at grandma and he tossed me another handful of Tootsie Rolls.

Al Lyons “Tilt-O-Whirl”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I never tire of telling my Northern friends stories of my childhood, growing up near Tampa, FL. During season, our old man would wake us up early to pick grits from the grove of grits trees up the road. We would gather the necessary equipment: a burlap grits sack, magnifying glass, tweezers and a tall ladder. The biggest, ripest grits always seemed to be at the top of the tree. We would carefully select the grits, one by one, gently plucking them off the branch with our tweezers, then deposit them into the burlap sack on our back. As a child, I could only fill one sack before noon.

I was always amazed by my father, who could adeptly climb up and down the ladder, quickly and methodically picking the finest grits, like an artisan at work. He would fill 3 or 4 bags, before we sat down to our packed lunch of scratch biscuits and strawberry jam. As the day grew late, we would make our way back to the house, dragging the full grits sacks behind us. Tired, but excitedly anticipating Mama cooking us up a big plate of fish and grits for supper. Afterward, the old man would take out his fiddle and sit on the porch to play.

Sometimes Uncle Jim would come over and join us for dinner and bring his mandolin. We would drift off to sleep with the sounds of fiddle and mandolin coming in through the window.”

Joe Seale “Bona Fide”

SLS: Deep South is different than South even though I can’t prove it. Ever since I moved north from Alabama to Tennessee I’ve felt like a Yankee. Writing Southern is about writing legacy, and that ain’t easy. We pronounce things like they sound, and I can’t hear a banjo without tapping my foot. Sweet tea tastes different when Mama mixes it up, but yall already knew all that.

Mark McKee and Julie Sumner “Bucket List”

Southern Legitimacy Statement: How yall doin? I’m Mark McKee, born n bred in Dyersburg, TN. Short jaunt from Memphis, home of the Delta blues, Elvis, what have ye. This here story is, like all good southern yarns, based on a truth, of sorts. After relatin it to my Kansan buddy, Julie Sumner, she come along and had a right fine ending for it. Here we ere.

Scott Rooker “Food Lion”

Southern Legitimacy Statement. I was born in Sherman, Texas in the summer of 1979. I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1981. Everyone in Raleigh is from upstate New York. I have lived in Raleigh, Wilmington, and Chapel Hill. I love Raleigh.

Will H. Blackwell, Jr. “Literary Brushcut”

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I was born and raised in Mississippi—I suppose I could stop my justification here! But continuing, nonetheless, I eventually migrated to Ohio, to teach (obviously, they paid me to do this). After many years, I made my way back south, finally to Alabama, where I have watched my outstanding wife, Martha Powell, work very hard—first as Chair, now “just as” Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Alabama. In addition to my attempts at creative writing (poetry and, sometimes, a short-story), I still manage a few publications in biology (on southeastern, water fungi)—As I have been wont to say, my academic publications’ backlog was as big as anybody’s! It is my hope that inclusion of limited but appropriate quotation (from a far, far greater writer than I) in this present story will, perhaps uniquely, enhance its effect. In any event, I hope you enjoy what I have written.

By English Turn: River Trilogy, Part Two by Robert Klein Engler

“For those who hope in the World to Come, Mr. Mark, Arthur Conan Doyle was correct when he wrote, “We cannot command our love, but we can command our actions.”

Cock-a-doodle-doo by L. E. Bunn

Southern Legitimacy Statement: My Daddy, who was born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, taught me the finger lickin’ pleasures of Sunday breakfast of biscuits and gravy, and, oh, yes, GRITS.

Death’s Sister, Silence by John Bach

I was born and raised in the Appalachian South, specifically east Tennessee. Thus, I have Scotch-Irish blood pulsing through my veins, and some German… and a little Cherokee, I was told by my sweet granny. I hope she was right. I also lived for a time in the Deep South, twice. Once in McComb, Mississippi, and once in Yazoo City, Mississippi. I believe my geographical dalliances as a child bode well for me in my literary pursuits.

“My Disqualification” by Prosenjit Dey Chaudhury

With respect to a Southern Legitimacy Statement, I would like to state that although I have never been in the American South, I have deep admiration for the determined and pioneering individuality that marks the people of that region. I could indeed think of the protagonist of my story as exhibiting some of that individuality in her own way.

Eula Shook, a love story by Grant Jerkins

Southern Legitimacy Statement: The thing about The South is that it isn’t southern anymore.

Cock-a-Doodle-Doo by L. E. Bunn

Southern Legitimacy Statement: My Daddy, who was born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, taught me the finger lickin’ pleasures of Sunday breakfast of biscuits and gravy, and, oh, yes, GRITS.

Athena Sasso: Throw Down

Southern Legitimacy Statement: These are names of my relatives: Clem, Lettie, Garlin, Annabelle, Elmer, Cayce, Velma, LV, and Baby Doll.
Dear Mule readers take note: every Spring needs a baseball story and this year, Ms. Sasso has given us a superb one. Read on!

C. L. Bledsoe “Stray” [2007 revisited]

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I grew up on a catfish and rice farm in eastern Arkansas. I must admit, I will take biscuits and gravy over grits any day, though.

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Southern Fiction, Poetry, Essays & More Since 1995
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