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Friday, January 1st, 2016

1996-2016 February of our twentieth year   We think, with fingers crossed and humility at the forefront of our stating this: We have fixed the Mule Loading Problem of January 2016. Join us in thanking everyone involved. In the midst of all the .com problems, we began working with Shopify to create a Dead Mule […]

being an editor ain’t easy

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Be careful online.

Interviews and the Challenges of Responding with Grace and Humility

Monday, November 9th, 2015

The Mule will begin a retrospective look at its some of its brightest works. The regression began with a simple question referring to the Mule as a “staple of contemporary Southern Literature”…

Ted Harrison — Southern Legitimacy Statement

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Now this is how it’s done!! My Southern Legitimacy Statement:  In an earlier statement I told you a little about Paw Paw Owen’s mule. That mule is still dead—not because I had my picture made “tall in the bareback” as it were. My Uncle Richard was Paw Paw Owen’s only son. The two men farmed […]

Lemoncharles by southern writer John Calvin Hughes

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

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”!

Three Poems by Thomas Alan Holmes

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Where I’m From (My Southern Legitimacy Statement)
after George Ella Lyons
I am from a back porch, from Coca-Cola and accidental parallel fingertip slits from my curiosity of discovering our first air conditioner’s condenser coil.
I am from the closetless, socketless, south-facing bedroom.
I am from the chinaberry and the redbud, from the mimosa, the looper caterpillars dangling in fine, translucent strands from its branches.
I am from first Sunday in May and first Sunday in June and close reading of scripture, from Byrum and Welton and Portis.
I am from working by the job and not the hour and from finding the next thing to do,
From “cry me a handful so I can feed the chickens” and “washed in the blood.”
I am from the belief that “born again” is a change of character and a political liability.
I’m from Cullman County and Morgan County, almond pound cake and corn meal dressing.
From Uncle William’s fishing too close to the locks when the TVA decided to release water from the hydroelectric dam, Aunt Kate’s refusing to try the home-canned pickles until only one jar was left and her crying about it, my parents’ eloping across the state line to Iuka, Mississippi, on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1956.
I am from the middle kitchen cabinet drawer, below the medications and above the dishtowels, in an envelope box of snapshots with edges worn as hammer handles, smooth as seasoned skillets, frayed as pockets.

“Bushrod” by Andy Madden

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Southern Legitimacy Statment:
I am a true son of the South. I was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. My mother once said to me that myself, Elvis, and US Highway 45 were the only three things that ever came out of Tupelo worth mentioning. I was raised in Corinth, Mississippi. I graduated from Corinth High School and ventured forth into the big world beyond Alcorn County in 1983.

I hunt and fish and purposely seek out mud holes to whip my pickup truck through, even though mud in California can some times be at a premium. I have a cousin named Larry Joe. I have been known to pick up fresh road kill on occasion. I believe barbequed Raccoon on a hot biscuit is one of life’s more special pleasures. I love my Mama and visit her twice a year no matter if I can afford to take the time away from my West Coast life or not.

I am Southern, first and foremost. Everything else is just, well…….extra.

Pyramid Schemes and Multi-Level Marketing

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Testimony on “Oversight of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement” Read the entire testimony by clicking on the title. Andrew Ceresney, Director Division of Enforcement March 19, 2015 The staff also has recently seen what appears to be an increase in pyramid schemes[6] under the guise of “multi-level marketing” and “network marketing” opportunities.[7]  These schemes often target […]

What is the south coming to?

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Help the best of “The South” stay as is. Let the bitter past be studied — not re-lived — and let us not seek to destroy a unique culture.

Sara Whitestone “An Outsider’s View of Guns…”

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Any woman who can bake a crawfish pie–and enjoy eating it–should be counted a Southerner no matter where she lives.

Schimri Yoyo “Root For The Home Team”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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.

Kelly Jones “24 Going On Nothing”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

1. The car I used to race Lance in is gone, broken into and caught on fire by someone trying to get out of the rain. Whoever was in there tried to put it out with the sweater strewn on the floorboard. They took the warmer winter jacket and all the CDs but left the […]

A Tribute to Shann Palmer by Debra DuPree Williams

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Southern Legitimacy Statement
Hey, yall. I was born in the Heart of Dixie, Lower Alabama, or LA, as the natives like to call it. I cut my teeth on my Granny’s lard biscuits and drooled over her blackberry cobblers and egg custard and sweet potato pies. Cornbread was fried, made to look like little golden doughnuts, hole in the middle and all. I’ve picked cotton (made $1.10 for a whole day’s work, I was only 6), blackberries, peas and butterbeans, and I’ve gone to the mayhaw groves where they laid old worn-out sheets on the dirt beneath the trees. They shook the trees until the red-orange little berries fell to the ground. Best danged jelly you will ever want to eat! The Peanut Festival and the Boll Weevil Monument are part of my vocabulary. All night Gospel sings and Sacred Harp sings were two of my favorite things. Catching fireflies in an old Mason jar was a typical summer eve’s activity. I’ve eaten scrambled eggs with pork brains, and every true southerner knows that the fish roe was the best part of the fish! Being southern does have its perks, now, doesn’t it?

Celia McClinton “About Dr. Smilnik” [2007 revisited]

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Celia is southern. She knows it, we know it… and Mule readers of our previous 10 years of literary excellence know she’s southern.

Gideon Kennedy: Blast from the Past

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

By Gideon C. Kennedy   The Desire of Wrestling A southern experience   “Weighing in at 250 pounds and hailing from Shermer, Illinois, The Nature Toy Devin Desire!” The goateed ring announcer directs the audience’s attention to one of the side doors. It’s Thursday night, June 29, in Atlanta’s Hyatt Regency and every part of […]

Barbara Conrad “Scar Tracks” from 2000

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

My daddy got branded on a day in a southern summer hot enough to make a plow mule kick, and that’s just what happened along a dusty old road, Daddy out to fetch the mail with my uncle marvin, his older brother. Maybe that old mule got a fly or what just tired of them […]

Made it through the holidays …

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

I find more and more that the stories surround, and revolve around, the joys that are grand-kids. Having six of said creatures I have plenty of raw material to choose from. I also congratulate myself on not killing their mothers when they were teenagers, although I was sorely tempted at times.

The Subway Bride by Meg Stivison

Monday, November 18th, 2013

SLS: Meg Stivison did indeed move from Brooklyn to North Carolina when her handsome Southern boyfriend proposed, but as far as she knows, he is not actually a changeling.

Poems by D.M Aderibigbe

Monday, November 18th, 2013

I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, that is the southernmost part of Nigeria, and I’ve always had predilection for the Southern part of any nation. I love New Mexico and Texas in America. I’m a proud southerner of the world.

In My South by M. David Hornbuckle

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I have lived in Birmingham, Alabama off and on my entire life, with brief stints in Mississippi, Florida, and New York City. The following essay is, in essence, an extended statement of my Southern legitimacy.

Jesse Lee by Sandy Ebner

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

On my twenty-second birthday, in the spring of 1979, I had a crawfish boil, my first. Ninety pounds of red mudbugs on a picnic table spread with newspaper, my birthday cake sitting at the end of the table like an afterthought.
I hadn’t been raised in Louisiana, but no one cared about any of that. My friends treated me like I was a local. After we ate we played pool at a bar downtown. Full of crawfish and Dixie beer, I drank shots of peppermint schnapps and flirted with the boy at the next table, telling him yes when he asked if I’d like to go to the city.
We drove uptown, to Tipitinia’s—this in the days when tourists hadn’t yet discovered it was the best place in town—and later, long after midnight, to the Dungeon, just off Bourbon, where I would navigate the steep wooden stairs on my way up to the bar, trying not to fall, drunk with desire for this boy I barely knew.
When the sun came up we took the old Hammond Highway home, driving through the bayous with the car windows open, WRNO cranked up loud, taking our youth and freedom for granted because we didn’t yet know any better.

Of Mothers and Whores by Coco Papy

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I do solemnly swear, that I am a child of the low-country, spanish moss ways, though transplanted among the concrete jungle known as New York City (please dear friends, do not hold this against me). That I was born and raised in the traditions of superstition and folklore, of witches, ghosts, and of food that comes from bottom barrel hunger, for necessity is the ruler of invention. That even as I had unfortunately shed my accent and so many of my mannerisms, for fear of being found out as southern, that I have seen the error of my ways, and there is no other place I can call home. I am from the tribe of y’all and might could, of women who have ruled the roost while segregated to backrooms. I am 3,000 miles from the shores of where I came from, and never more than now, closer to home.

Mark Vogel: Poetry: Three Powerful Poems

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Mark Vogel has lived in the back of a Blue Ridge holler for the past twenty two years with ducks, cats, dogs, horses, and his family. He teaches English at Appalachian State University.

Deb Jellett “Southerness”

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

I used to say I was from the South, but not “of” it. I think I just had to find the right kind of Southerness.

Seven Prodigious Poems by R. Flowers Rivera

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

R. Flowers Rivera is native of Mississippi, she completed a Ph.D. at Binghamton University and an M.A. at Hollins University. Her short story, “The Iron Bars,” won the 1999 Peregrine Prize, and she has been a finalist for the May Swenson Award, the Journal Intro Award, the Naomi Long Madgett, the Gary Snyder Memorial Award, the Paumanok Award, as well as garnering nominations for Pushcarts. Her poetry collection Troubling Accents is forthcoming from Xavier Review Press. View more of her work by visiting http://www.promethea.com

Davis Slater: Helping Daddy Win

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and raised between the Mississippi and the Ozarks, where Missouri eats into Arkansas, you can walk to Tennessee, and you can wave at Kentucky, I’m now vegan, not for health or environmental reasons, but because I’m pretty sure I ran the entire South out of edible critters when I was a boy.

Phillip Thompson: A Novel “Deep Blood”

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Review copies arrive on a semi-daily basis here on Brown St. This month brought quite a few volumes of teen fiction and those were passed on to willing recipients. Then there were the two novels that were especially readable and noteworthy. One from a dear friend, Mule writer Jim Booth, titled “Completeness of the Soul”   […]

An Interview with Dayne Sherman

Monday, July 1st, 2013

by Thomas Scott McKenzie *from Summer 2007 Dayne Sherman is writer both dedicated and determined. A former high-school dropout, he began writing fiction in the spring of 1996. In a little more than three years, he has racked up 13 short story acceptances and has published a novel with MacAdam/Cage. That novel, Welcome to the […]

Six Short Works by Joyce Rushing “Dancing With Dementia”

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Joyce has never published a darn thing in this world. Never thought she was a writer but knew she had some stories to tell. So she figured out how to submit with our Submittable process and we loved what we read. If you think this whole submission process is too complex, take heart. If she can do it — so can you. You will hear more from Joyce in October in our True Stories from the South issue. These six works are Prose Poems but they are more because of the quiet dignity of their truth. They will be published in both the poetry and essay sections.
Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I’ve been married to a Mississippi boy for 54 years and lived in Mississippi for 50 years. I’m responsible for bringing 16 southern souls into the world… so far. That alone ought to be good enough for anybody.

Ben Shields … “Jim Threw Things From Trucks”

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

I grew up on a plantation. I’ve been baptized. My grandmother just died. At her house there’s a monster sycamore. My grandfather hung a fire extinguisher on it probably thirty years ago or more for fish frying. The tree grew around it, and now there’s just a piece of pale red not yet sucked up into the bark. My family is selling the house and the little piece of land it sits on. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. I’ve got pictures of it on my cell phone. That disturbs me more.

Chad Rhoad: A Novel Excerpt Or an excerpt from a novel…

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

SLS: I come from a town with 700 residents in South Carolina. I thought it was legal to drink and drive until I was 14. I fired a gun before I kissed a girl. I use the word ain’t in my proper speech, and I pronounce the word “can’t” the same way I do the word “ain’t.” I am the only liberal in my hometown. I never stay longer than 24 hours at a time.

Heath Carpenter: Postmodern Reality Television: White County, Arkansas

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

SLS: I have spent the majority of my life in small-town Arkansas, with small stints in Europe and Florida. In that time I have experienced the glorious and the grit that encompass Southern living: Mint juleps and front porch sitting mixed with dirt roads and mosquito swatting. In the end, I am more Southern Gothic than Southern Gentry; give me Oxford American over Garden and Gun– O’Connor, Faulkner, and Percy are my champions.

June Poets

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
Does being a vegetarian disqualify me from being “southern”? I have accepted grits, cornbread, okra, and ridiculously sweet iced tea, but I can’t abide collards and barbeque. I don’t have loquacious uncles spinning yarns at huge family reunions or eccentric aunties that out-butter Paula Deen. All I have is a developed love of the land as I have lived over half my life now in North Carolina. I have hiked in the Great Smokies and splashed off the Outer Banks. I have gardened in the Piedmont’s red clay and in the flat sand of the coastal plain. Elizabeth City is the fourth NC city for me, trending eastward from High Point. A remnant of the Great Dismal Swamp is in my back yard along with the Pasquotank River. They inspired these poems.

From Helen Losse

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

A word or two from our Poetry Editor Emeritus

“Never Trust The Weatherman” by Shane Hinton

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

My family has been farming in the South for fifty years; longer if you count cotton. I don’t count cotton.

Paranoia by Joseph Finder, movie to be released Aug 16th

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

About mid-way through this Mule’s life, I worked for Popmatters.com as the Books Editor. We had around 70 critics in my department and back in that day, digital previews were not available. I had to arrange for books to be sent to the critic direct from the publisher. It was an interesting job. I still […]

In Loving Memory

Monday, April 1st, 2013

* * The 2013 April (Poetry Month) Issue of the Dead Mule is dedicated to the memory of Elsie R. Jones  May 13, 1921 – March 12, 2013 Beloved Mother of Poetry Editor Helen Losse. * Elsie Rosa Jones, born in Swindon, Wiltshire, England, was the youngest of eight children in the Jefferies family.  Her […]

Linda J. Himot: Four Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Starting out in New York I gradually migrated south—Charlottesville, VA, Highland County, VA and now Tallahassee, FL where flowers bloom year round.


Daniel Pravda: Sanctuary

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in Norfolk, VA and raised in Virginia Beach. I have danced on Jefferson Davis’ grave in Richmond and smoked his eagle-claw pipe in Hampton. I live in Norfolk today and teach at Norfolk State University. I say “y’all” every day.


Vera Tuck: Memoir and Requiem by Randall Ivey

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’m so Southern the only other book I allow on my top booshelf besides the Bible is “Gone With The Wind”.

February and March 2013

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

New works

Shelby Stephenson: Four Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Here are 4 pieces from Shub’s Cooking. (One of my nicknames is Shub.)

These (poems) are “real” recipes, or based in things I grew up eating, mostly cooked by my mother. And I learned something, after I got toward the end of running out of food to write about: my mother did not use a recipe for anything other than something she did not grow up cooking.

In other words: if we did not kill it, the food, we did not eat. Or: if the chickens didn’t lay we didn’t eat eggs. Pigs, small game and so on–same.

The recipes I found in her box with the tin eagle tacked on the front–that little box is filled with recipes for desserts.


Wanda Reagan: Two Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Born and bred in the Deep South, heart of the old Confederacy
Red clay under my nails and a voice as sweet as soft iced tea
I explain myself better in verse:

Thomas Scott McKenzie: Spook In the Night

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Another great tale straight from the 2000 archives.

Cynthia Ezell : Mountain Laurel

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement

In my house, Saturday nights meant fried chicken and mashed potatoes and Buck Owens on the little black and white that sat in the corner by the fireplace. Like a proper southern man, Daddy grew all our vegetables, raised beef cattle and filled the freezer with venison. My mother taught me how to make hot biscuits and red-eye gravy when I was in elementary school. Our neighbors sometimes called the police when our rabbit hounds got a bit stirred up and bellowed all night. I never knew there were people who did not put sugar in their iced tea, didn’t eat cornbread with their white beans, and didn’t say y’all when addressing more than one person until I went to college. I never wanted to go anywhere else. Why would I? The South has Emmy Lou Harris, the Mississippi River, Flannery O’Connor, flaming red azaleas, catfish and stone-ground corn grits.

William Wurm : Junior Hoarder

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

SLS…I have only become more Southern since I last submitted anything. The story series is inspired by West Alabama (going there soon to prepare for deer season) and is written in Ocean Springs, MS.

Shelia Lamb “Lodestone”

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement
I grew up in Manassas, Virginia, near the battlefield. (Just ‘the battlefield’). I graduated from Stonewall Jackson High School. A one-armed, long-bearded Confederate in uniform was our mascot who shot cannon blanks when touchdowns were scored at football games. It wasn’t until my junior year that I understood the South had lost the war. Also, I like okra.

2013, how odd is it to type that?

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Welcome to 2013. Welcome to the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. We love your writing and we look forward to reading your submissions. Not every thing you send us is accepted BUT that does not mean it is unacceptable. Your writing could very well be superb. What happens is, with all well-thought out and […]

December Fiction and Essays

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

  Over the river and through the woods … The illustrations for the fiction and poetry sections this month come from a drawer full of old Christmas. Many of the senders are gone from this world and most of them are gone from my memory. Without my mom here to remind me about this aunt […]

Reno Gwaltney “Trigger Foods”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement
I live in Bergamo, a lovely medieval city in northern Italy. No big deal, considering that 130,000 other residents here are doing the very same thing right now. The only difference is that while most of them were born here, I grew up on some prime North Carolina swampland that only a reptile or the U.S. Marine Corps could call home.

Twenty-eight years of expatriate life and an intense love/hate relationship with Italy have indeed made a foreigner of me in both of my homelands. Perhaps the essays I have written about my life here in Italy as a gay Southern Wasp-turned-Buddhist and my childhood in the American South are an attempt to unite the two worlds.

December 2012 Poetry

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Photography redux in this issue… Little did we know, back then, that most of these iconic Southern buildings would be long gone by 2012. Hurricanes and floods destroyed every building in the images featured in the poetry section. If damaged by Bertha, the death of the buildings was assured post-Dennis and Floyd.

Pris Campbell: Two Poems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in a small town with one stoplight and one caution light in South Carolina. I still would do almost anything for a platter of fried okra or fried green tomatoes. I never have learned to pronounce the ‘g’ in words ending in ‘ing’ and don’t intend to. My father invented to perfection the secret hush hush barbecue recipe for the Lion’s Club annual all night wood-smoked cooking and basting of the pig the town feasted on the next day. And we in the south know real barbecue isn’t just meat tossed on a grill with a bottle of red stuff poured on it. My great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. He owned a mule. That mule is now dead.


Lori Blake: Two Poems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in North Carolina. My first home was a 12’ X 48’ mobile home situated on a red clay patch that had once been a watermelon field. I lived a free range childhood, spending many a day avoiding summer heat by hiding deep in the woods, catching crayfish and minnows in the creek, observing termites on old logs, or trying to push my brothers into the creek beside of the big rock we were convinced housed a snake. We roamed in a pack, which probably explains the lack of wildlife sightings during my childhood years. Imagine ten children running barefoot down a trail their feet knew by heart, knowing just when to jump to clear the old hog fence now hidden by vines. We ruled the woods, and thought we ruled the world! It was not until many years had passed that I would realize how rare that kind of freedom really is.

It was not until I moved to Europe in the early 1990’s (my husband was Army) that I realized that 1) I did indeed have a Southern accent 2) Not everyone puts slaw on a hot dog and 3) a toboggan is a sled, not a hat! Well, who knew? My hiatus from the south was brief, and I am now back to stay. While I love to travel, I will always come home to where the dirt is orange, the tea is sweet, and dead mules are mourned.


Danny P. Barbare: Southern Tea

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I love sweet iced tea. Pecan pie. Have two trees in the yard. And one large Magnolia I could once jump over; it’s now about 40 feet tall.


Poetry for December Issue!

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Excellent poems coming your way Dec 15.

Lee Wright — Tuesday Evening In A Small Southern Town

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Lee Wright was born, raised, and educated in a tiny textile mill town just across the Georgia line from Chattanooga. In spite of that, he managed to learn to translate things like “I knowed that he’d get throwed outta school for drankin’ ‘n’ when he growed up, he wuddn’t gonna ‘mount to nuttin’.” into actual English sentences.

Original Southern Legitimacy Guidelines

Friday, September 14th, 2012

From the submission guidelines of yore: You can submit a valid SLS if any of the following applies to you or someone you know or someone you made up out of the whole cloth: you live in The South. Or the North. Or the midwest, northwest, southwest, east, west — any damn where, even Canada […]

The Intruder by Brenda Rose

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement
I grew up barefoot and poor in southern Georgia. During the summer months, I worked in the tobacco fields. Mama and Daddy were my parents. I speak and write in the language of the South.

Educated Tina by T L Sherwood

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

My SLS is like a country song. At 17, I moved to Texas, got married, moved to New York, got divorced and now I think about my exes, and Texas, but not always. Sometimes I think about the pool at the La Quinta hotel next to the Kettle restaurant where my husband and I used to eat pecan pie.

Berrien C. Henderson: Four Poems

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve lived in the South all my life—southeast Georgia, in fact–and currently live so far in the sticks that the turkey buzzards feed on the other turkey buzzards that have lost a vehicular battle of one sort or another.

Jennifer Hollie Bowles: Two Poems

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve lived in the South my entire life, well, except for that short time I lived in Kansas City, MO, but we won’t talk about that. I’m well-educated, but the slang still slips out, sometimes like chicken gravy, and sometimes like molasses. I have a nose-ring, and I don’t look Southern at first glance, but if you get to know me a minute, you’ll see. I’ve got that thing you can’t put your finger on about Southerners, that thing that hissy-fits through life screaming: “I’m going to forge my own path come hell or high water!” And because I’m so damn charming, you’ll never know what hit you… As my granny always says, “butter wouldn’t melt.”

Cynthia Manick: “Ethel September”

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Fish sandwiches after church. Blue hallelujahs. Gossip. Grits on toasted Wonder Bread, never wheat. And tea so sweet, it makes your teeth hurt. I’m a northern transplant but Santee, South Carolina is my original home. People visit there now for its golf courses and to drink at Myrtle Beach. But I miss the paper plant that smelled like sugar when crossing the bridge, my grandfather’s shop that sold boiled turtle eggs and bootleg crab, and the red ants and bullfrogs that followed me around during the summers.

Jerry Leath “Jake” Mills, a dead mule inspiration

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

We note with sorrow the passing last week [July 22, 2012] of the quintessential dead mule signifier: Jerry Leath Mills of Washington, North Carolina. His passing leaves a hole in the heart of any discussion of southern equine fiction. As noted in his obituary in the Washington Daily News: His 1996 Southern Literary Journal essay […]

Poems Submitted Without a Southern Legitimacy Statement

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

The Dead Mule is getting too many poems submitted without a Southern Legitimacy Statement. Now we are southern and polite, so we usually return these and point out the error. But we are getting more submissions these days, so please stop wasting our time, or one day we might just flip out and delete them […]

John Davis Jr.: Four Poems

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

In college, my Rhode Island roommate had regular nightmares that I was running Robert E. Lee’s battle saber through the top bunk, and consequently, him, from beneath. Seriously. The dreams may have had something to do with my insistence he keep my six-foot-by-ten-foot stars-and-bars tacked above his side of the room. Yeah, I was THAT guy.

Other than that, I guess I’ll have to rely on genealogy: I’m a sixth-generation Florida Cracker. My great-grandfather made the whips that Florida’s cowboys were nicknamed for. My family members, great-granddaddy’s descendants, have resided in the same pine farmhouse smack dab in the middle of Hardee County since 1901. That ought to about do it.

Denise Dix Leonard: Three Poems

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

It was quite a while before I realized you could say “yankee” without the appropriate adjective. If you could have only 2 books, they should be the Holy Bible (KJV) and Gone with the Wind. You NEVER measure when you sweeten a pitcher of sweet tea. The most beautiful accent I ever heard was that of my paternal grandfather Milton’s first cousin’s wife, Avis (also called Clifford) who was from an exotic country pronounced Jawjah. Daddy’s mantra: “The South Will Rise Again.” Nannie, my paternal grandmother, God rest her sweet soul, always sent me back to college with 2 fried chicken breasts, 2 rolls, and 2 pieces of homemade pound cake wrapped in tin foil in a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box. When I lived in Atlanta, I discovered Lewis Grizzard, one of the greats of southern literature. When I wrote a story in a writing class at UVa about “Grit Trees” some damn yankee thought it was serious…

Works by some old friends and a few new ones

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

I know, I know, I promised fiction and essays on the 15th and didn’t deliver. That’s pretty much what everyone expects, isn’t it — me being a day late and a dollar short? Oh well. The wait was worth it, I assure you. Once you read this month’s goodness, you’ll forgive me. And how about […]

Heat by Dempsey Miles

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

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!

A Mule’s Gotta’ Die by Molly Dugger Brennan

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Southern Legitimacy Statement: My family, having disappointed everyone on the European continent, arrived on the shores of Virginia in the early 1700s to start anew. Being too lazy to pack for another big move, we have stayed in Virginia ever since and made the best of it. I live in the Shenandoah Valley with my husband and the trifecta of Southern legitimacy: a porch, a pack of dogs, and pie.

Pris Campbell: Six Poems

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

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.

Felicia Mitchell: Four Poems

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

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.

Terri Kirby Erickson: Four Poems

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

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!

Alice Osborn: Four Poems

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born below the Mason-Dixon Line in Washington, D.C., a North/South limbo gumbo to a French mother who hated Southern France and a father who loved Charleston thanks to his long gone Citadel days. My dad’s Beaufort, SC ancestors fought in Petersburg in the War of Northern Aggression and his grandfather has an elementary school named for him on Parris Island. I am a Southern girl because way before I lived in Charleston and Myrtle Beach I knew I had a high humidity tolerance and felt comfortable driving without hubcaps. I still know how to avoid all of the sketchy roads in Charleston and I’m mistaken for a native by the tourists every time I visit this fine city—it must be my floppy straw hat and blue flip flops. Today as a Tar Heel I’m hopelessly addicted to bacon, I freak while driving in snow, and I love to spin tales that may not have a point.

Ellen Summers: Four Poems

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

When I first crossed the North Carolina state line in August, 1980, my radio sang, “We love you, North Carolina.” I was driving my first car, an AMC Gremlin, one of the worst cars ever built, hauling all my possessions from my childhood home in St. Louis to Chapel Hill, where I would spend the next eight years. That jingle on the radio surprised me because I never heard anyone sing, “We love you, Missouri.” The southern half of Missouri is in many ways a colonial outpost of the South, and growing up there can induce a derivative sense of identity. I now live in Greensboro, North Carolina and like it very well. It’s almost as if I belong here.

Snakes in the Kitchen by Donald Harbour

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
Being Southerner is a frame of mind. A view of the world, neighbors, friends and family filtered through words, thoughts, and deeds of the people that have raised you. I was fortunate to have grandparents that lived a Southern life in Arkansas where I have lived off and on since 1948. Grandpa taught me how to plow a field with a team of mules, what leaves and herbs to gather from the woods and fields to make healing poultices and teas. Grandma taught that hands were for gentle touches, caring for those you love, and cooking the best pan of biscuits any human has ever eaten. There is a lot more but when I think back over 68 years my memories are of those simple things that have shaped my life and given me the values of a Southern man. What a great way to live.

Solitaire by Bob Thomas

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’ve spent, summer afternoons plucking honeysuckle blossoms and sucking the sugary sweet nectar from them.
I’ve gnawed Louisiana sugar cane until the last drop of sugar ran down my chin.
I’ve patiently licked all of the honey out of a honeycomb, and chewed the wax like gum for hours.
I’ve eaten ginger bread with lemon sauce. I’ve eaten Pralines, beignets, home made hand cranked ice cream, bread pudding, rice pudding, lemon pie, key lime pie, pineapple upside down cake, pecan pie, watermelons by the ton, cantaloupe, persimmons, figs, strawberries, Muscatine’s, fresh picked Georgia peaches and Florida oranges. . . all before 1953 when I was 10 years old. (…more within the essay)

Church Stories by Sam Morton

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Southern? Absolutely, born and bred.

Terri French – When Pig Flies

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
It’s been almost a quarter of a century that I have lived in the south. I am an almost legitimate, 100-percent, bona fide, honest to goodness, dixie chick. Sure as a cat’s got climbing gear, I am as country as a churn. These hills ‘n hollers, this red clay, is my neck of the woods, my stompin’ grounds, my. . .Ok, so I’m trying too hard. I’ve still got a few months left to get the Yankee out of me, ok?

Ray Clifton – Zombies in the South

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up in the southern edge of the Blue Ridge in central Alabama, the product of a father from the cotton mill village and a mother who lived on the “respectable” side of the railroad tracks. A forester by trade, I roam the back roads of Alabama meeting people and looking for stories. Besides reading and writing, my interests include old country music, motorcycles, pork barbecue, and fine Boxer bulldogs.

Ann Landsberger – Peacocking on Barbed Wire

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
Long-suffering educator; freelance griper. Mother of five; drunk by seven. Rigorously embroiled in a twelve year battle over the pronunciation of the word “muscadine”.

Charlotte Hamrick – Four poems

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve lived all but eight of my more than 50 years in the south. If that doesn’t qualify me as a southerner, my crazy Tennessee Williams-style life certainly would.

Aaron J. Poller – Poetry

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement: 

A Northerner by birth, I have become a confirmed Southerner after living in North Carolina for the past nine years. Sometimes people try to tell me that North Carolina is not part of the South. Personally, as long as I can park the Honda on my front lawn, I don’t consider myself a Northerner anymore.

Jennifer Lobaugh – Two Poems

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I have lived my entire barefoot-walking, gravy-eating, Johnny-Cash-loving life in the great state of Oklahoma. My grandpa picked cotton, my dad raised pigs; I guess I chose a little different direction by going to school for literature and languages. Sure, I’ve left Oklahoma a few times, but I always come back to the home of Will Rogers and Woody Guthrie, where people say “y’all” unironically and the sunsets are actually breathtaking; where Sooner football is a way of life, and my sweet tea addiction is somehow socially acceptable.

February Poetry

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

We have some ever-so-fine poetry for you this month. Sixteen poets. New fiction will be online on the 15th. New creative non-fiction and essays available then also. Fred Hawkins’ photography will be featured — I’m working on it right now. You all know the Southern Legitimacy Statement … right …? One of our poets sent […]

Sara Amis – God of the Marching Teddy Bears

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Sara Amis has lived in Georgia her entire life, except when she moved to Chicago for two weeks. She currently resides in Statesboro on a dirt road off a four-lane highway.

Jeff Baker – Interviewer in the Dust

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement: SLS: I was born in Tuscaloosa, AL, and spent summers with kin in either Arkansas or Mississippi. Attended the University of Mississippi & worked at The Oxford American magazine. I drop peanuts in my Cokes. When my relatives say “ain’t” it never sounds wrong. I have heard my uncle construct a sentence that contains only articles when referring to how deep in the woods his coon dogs took him: “Way back off down in there.” I like fried frog legs (they do not “taste like chicken” — they taste like frog legs.) I now live in Seattle, where the tea served in restaurants is horrible, and the waitresses do not know what “unsweet” means. I spend most of my time straightnin’ the curves, flatnin’ the hills. Someday the mountain might get me, but the law never will.

Rick Mitchell — Three Poems

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement: For most of the year, I live in Western New York, where people and vegetation and water freeze solid for four months of the year, but I escape to Fairfax, Virginia, each spring to stay with my son and to Raleigh, N.C. where my girlfriend’s BFF lives and where I’ve seen the people that I write about.

Jean Rodenbough — Parable

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I am a Southerner and I eat greens and barbecue.

William Wurm — Trash Lightning

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I am eating Stuart’s Cajun Dill Beans from a mason jar (canned in Gautier, MS), wondering where do I even start? I was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I saw Bear Bryant in his tower when I was 8 years old. I moved to Prattville, then Clinton, MS. I married my college sweetheart from the Mississippi Delta. I’ve lived in Starkville, New Orleans, Nashville, Franklin, Jackson, and Ocean Springs. At different phases of life, I’ve been Methodist, Southern Baptist, and Presbyterian. Barter Theatre is as good as the Wintergarden Theatre, in my opinion (better really — they do more with less — isn’t that a Southern thang?). My grandfather Fritz is mentioned in Melissa Delbridge’s “Family Bible”…I like to write.

Gary McGregor – Four Poems

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and except for the five years I spent studying at the University of Cincinnati, I have lived here in this wonderful small city. We are only one and a half hours from New Orleans, one hour from Mobile, and a hop, skip, and jump from the white sandy beaches of the gulf. This almost as deep South you can get if you don’t count Florida. There is much here to inspire writers of every persuasion. I’m a solid southerner with a foreign born wife whose German accent has now taken on a southern bent.

By the way, you should add fried okra to the list of southern food. It’s a great favorite down here.

Kevin Ridgeway – Four Poems

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I am a California boy, born and bred. The paternal side of my family is wonderfully southern, hailing from scattered places–Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas, especially. My grandfather was a proud southerner, although a drinker and unstable character of ill repute–one you might find in a Carson McCullers novel, perhaps. The most time I’ve actually spent in the South have been in airports–but I could smell its beauty and hear its music having my curbside smokes on those layovers, and I could see the majesty of its landscape from my cabin window. Much of the music I love comes from the South, and much of the literature I love comes from the south. The South is in my blood and it owns a part of my spirit. Most of my dreams take place in the South.

Danny P. Barbara – Two poems

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Danny P. Barbare has two pecan trees in his yard, since his youth. Loves to visit Charleston, SC. Loves the Mountains of North Carolina. Since he grew up in the South and has spent his whole life here, he know nothing else but to write about it. He has been writing poetry for 30 years and has been published locally, nationally, and abroad including in Dead Mule.

The Tipping of Miss Julia by Deb Jellett

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and raised in the South, exiled to England and then returned. *one of two stories in this issue by Deb Jellett.

Royalty Visits Mobile by Deb Jellett

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement: As to my SLS, I was born and raised in the South, exiled to England and then returned.

I have been a teacher, a lawyer and a business owner.
I am now blissfully retired.

A Few Words on the October 2011 Photographs:

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature highlights images found within the Library of Congress. This month our imagination is captured by the Carnegie Survey of Southern Architecture. Photographing in the 1930s, Frances Benjamin Johnston’s glass slides capture compelling portraits of over 1,700 buildings. Johnston primarily traveled through urban and rural regions of VA, MD, […]

S. Scott Whitaker Chapbook “News From the Front”

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

My great grandmother helped rebuild Vicksburg from Grant’s siege as a toddler, helping to carry bricks up and down the hillsides of Vicksburg.

Once I killed a water moccasin on the Skilligalee creek with an air rifle while pretending to be Davy Crockett. I call Mississippi, Georgia, and Virginia my home. Once i ate squirrel at the deer camp because someone told me it was Grizzly.

Mark Blaeuer – Four Poems

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in southern Illinois but got an M.A. at the University of Arkansas decades ago. I currently reside on a mountain outside Hot Springs, but I also lived in Fayetteville, North Little Rock, and Newton County (the latter is quite rural except for Jasper, its urban hub, but I was situated three miles north of Swain). On top of that, I found Arkansawyers in my lineage. One aunt hailed from Siloam Springs, and her grandmother was born between Mena and Mount Ida, near Waters (now called Pine Ridge, after the town in the “Lum and Abner” radio show and movies; in fact, one of the regulars at their Jot ‘Em Down Store had the same last name as my great grandmother’s, which I’m convinced is not coincidental). My great grandmother married my great grandfather in Lonoke; he sold supplies at DeValls Bluff to cotton plantations. It also turns out there are Confederate soldiers in my family tree (who evidently became Union soldiers after capture and drew a federal war pension). Reading family letters from the 1800s, I found some cousins with an address in New Bern, North Carolina. If all that’s not enough, I now employ the phrases “might could”, “might should”, and “might ought” at least once a year, without even trying.

Jane Shlensky – Four Poems

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Born in North Carolina, I’ve lived here the majority of my life except for years when I was off gallivanting in other parts of the world, getting above my raising. If mixed farming in red Piedmont clay can’t make a girl hanker after far-away places, little will. After my college escape from the farm, I rid myself of my home accent, but in my dotage have embraced my southern roots and, as memory fails, I call everyone honey and darling and bless their hearts. I still honk hello to dairy cows, call hound dogs sugar, and make my own music. I know about bee keeping, frog gigging, moonshine making, and cures for chigger bites. I can milk a cow and saddle a horse or a tractor; I pick up snakes and carry them away from our house; and although I’ve studiously avoided it since my youth, I can prime tobacco and make hay when the sun shines, then go to the kitchen and make lunch for the men folks. I still indulge in southern cookery, but except on special occasions, the men folks can make their own damned lunch and, if they’re willing—God love their precious hearts—mine.

Richard H. Peake – Three Poems

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Born and bred in Virginia, now a Texas Resident, Richard Peake is a partially unreconstructed Confederate, who learned about Sherman Sentinels from his mother and uncle speeding through Georgia on the way to Mississippi. Three of his maternal great uncles served in the Army of Northern Virginia. One survived. His maternal grandfather voted at the Constitutional Convention that brought Mississippi back into the union. Educated at UVA and the University of Georgia, he grows and eats collard greens, although he’s never been able to eat chitterlings. He has been published in such bona fide Southern journals as Impetus, The Georgia Review, Jimson Weed, The Steel Toe Review, Boundless 2010 and 2011, and The Book of the Year 2010 and 2011 of the Poetry Society of Texas.

Our Dead Mule — Best of the Net 2011 Nominations

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Congratulations to these fine poets and writers.

A Snake in The Grass by Randall Ivey

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I live in Union, SC, and have all my life. I’m so Southern that NC is little better than a Yankee outpost to me.

Poetry Submissions Open

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Poetry submissions are open.  Please put your Southern Legitimacy Statement and all poems in the body of the e-mail.  All poems will be left-justified.

Maril Crabtree – Four Poems

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Long, long ago a baby girl was born in Memphis, TN. She grew up there until the middle of the sixth grade when she (and her family) migrated to Charlotte, NC. A year later, they moved again, to New Orleans. Imagine an early-blooming 7th grader hitting her first Mardi Gras, watching the Mummers strut down Canal Street, leaping into the air to catch every gaudy gewgaw thrown anywhere near. Five years later, a word-loving 17 year old, editor of her school newspaper (The Tom-Tom if anybody’s from East Jefferson High – go Warriors!) left the South to study journalism at the University of Kansas. She got sidetracked into English, French and law school. Moved to Kansas City. Married and had two kids. Through it all, she wrote. And still writes. Every now and then she ventures back to the South, inhales the gardenias and magnolias, and wonders what life would have been like if……..

Alexandra Edwards – Three Poems

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

After an island childhood off the coast of northern Florida, I spent eight years in Atlanta wrangling puppets and searching out the most perfect brunch ever cooked by God or man. I recently relocated to a special corner of hell known as Philadelphia, where nobody serves queso dip and some kind of strange ice stuff falls from the sky even in March. After completing my MA in English, my only goal will be to cross back over the Mason-Dixon line so fast you’ll think the devil’s chasing after me.

Glenn Cassidy – Three Poems

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Glenn Cassidy has now lived in one house in Carrboro, North Carolina longer than the total time he lived in four different houses in New Jersey, the state he was born in. He still does not like sweet tea, grits, or watching the pine pollen paint his car chartreuse every March. But he loves wild dogwoods in bloom, the scent of magnolia flowers, and ACC basketball. My father was a stubborn as a mule and my mother says I take after him.

Ki’ esha Lee – “Southern Beauty” – A Poem

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in the South. I was born in the middle of nowhere or Edenton, NC. I was then raised next to the middle of nowhere or Greenville, NC. I love the south, the hot summers, the country twang. I have a southern booty with a southern attitude and I flaunt them both the way the south does.

Haircuts and Memories by Ray Clifton

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up in the southern edge of the Blue Ridge in central Alabama, the product of a father from the cotton mill village and a mother who lived on the “respectable” side of the railroad tracks. A forester by trade, I roam the back roads of Alabama meeting people and looking for stories. Besides reading and writing, my interests include old country music, motorcycles, pork barbecue, and fine Boxer bulldogs.

Steve Meador – Four Poems

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I think that the prettiest woman were raised in trailers.
I think it is pathetic that any man would pay more that $6 for a 12 pack.
I do not consider hookworms or chiggers as evil.
I think gator tail nuggets are best with real Louisiana Hot Sauce.
I recently added to my bucket list: Spend a weekend working with a certified Florida Gator Trapper.

Kent L. Reichert – Four Poems

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Legitimate? Why I once stayed two nights at the Grand Hotel in Hazard, Kentucky. When asked how I would pay replied, “American Express.” The night manager looked at me and said, “Fella, when you come up up here you can leave home without it!” I have fly-fished the Watauga; savored succulent Lexington Style BBQ; crossed the Bonner Bridge to the Outer Banks and ferried out of Okracoke. I’ve been towed by the Coast Guard from Shackleford Banks and been stranded for hours in a half-inch snowfall less than a mile from my home. I met two elderly sisters in the Mississippi Delta whose mother had given them the same exact name. Why I’ve even been known to say, “Ya’ll.”

Richard Allen Taylor – Four Poems

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

If being born in North Carolina is not enough, I claim Southern Legitimacy by virtue of the following loves of my life: shrimp and grits, not just grits made with water but the kind made with cream, and garnished with a slice or two of andouille, washed down with a good Pinot Grigio; fried green tomatoes, homemade biscuits with sawmill gravy, string beans seasoned with a little fatback or bacon grease (very bad for you, I know, but don’t you hate it when the restaurant serves you haricots vert that are practically raw?); visits to Charleston; vacations at Myrtle Beach; pulling for the Carolina Panthers (even when they suck) and being on one side or the other of any of the following college football rivalries: UNC vs. N.C. State (or Duke), South Carolina vs. Clemson, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, or LSU vs. Old Miss.

Hal J. Daniel III – Four Poems

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. I was educated at the University of Tennessee and the University of Southern Mississippi. I was in the same graduating class at USM as Jimmy Buffett. I have lived in West Tennessee, South Mississippi and Eastern North Carolina, where I taught as a Professor of Biology at East Carolina University for 39 years. I just recently retired, living on a Preserve/Farm in Falkland, NC where 5 colleagues of mine and I were funded as conservations buyers to protect the creek and forest habitat from development. A bunch of carpetbaggers were going to put in a golf course and pollute Otter Creek and the Coastal Land Trust funded us as Biologists to “preserve” the beautiful habitat. I have a wife and 3 children, all of which have graduated (or soon will) from southern Universities as well. My great grandfathers fought for the Confederacy during the war of northern aggression. I am also both a cook and chef, specializing in southern and continental cuisines as well as entomophagy.

Lucie M. Winborne – “Moss In Florida Streetlight” – A Poem

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I can legitimately claim Southernership due to my native Floridian status, my conviction that no one on the planet has ever fried okra or creamed corn better than my late grandmother (no breading for her, thank you very much), and my creed that good manners are next to godliness…in addition to other reasons too numerous to list here.

Terri Kirby Erickson — The Fixer

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement
I do not have a pickup truck or a hound dog, and the only thing I hunt regularly is my glasses. But I do love me some homemade cornbread, and still miss my Grandma’s fried chicken. That woman could fry a boot and make it taste like heaven! I also think The Andy Griffith Show is the best series that’s ever been on television…

Jessica Kirwan – Four Poems

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve come to learn that Cuban-Americans, like me, and Southerners share distinct similarities, most importantly barbecue, storing lard, and wearing jackets in 65-degree weather. I had to move six hours north of Miami to learn to become a Southerner. I have come to believe Thanksgiving turkey should be served with hot sauce. I garden year-round. I swear I spotted an ivory-billed woodpecker in my backyard. But I finally felt Southern when my daughter started calling me Momma unprompted.

Herbert Woodward Martin – Four Poems

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was legitimately born in Birmingham, Alabama.
I crossed the Mason and Dixon Line at age 13.
Cousin Louise took care of me and my cousin
daily, while our mothers worked.
I was the trustworthy cousin sent to pay bills
with the money penned safely to my underwear which
was not to be removed until I reached the teller.
And I was not to forget to return home with the
bill marked paid.
My father, called Boy, and my uncles Ad, and Bud
were weekend alcholics.
I like all the foods in the pyramid except possum.
I am called crazy by the men in the family.
So help me God.

Pierrette Stukes – Tilted Toward Life

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
My mother’s people hail from South Carolina, my grandparents tenant farmers during the depression. My grandmother, Pearl, was the matriarch of our family, her bowed back a sign of years bent over a shovel or a tray of biscuits in devotion to her kin. She wore scratchy, faded cotton pants and fed her family from a chest freezer out in the back shed. The rusted-metal freezer was always stacked high with parboiled vegetables, waiting to be brought to life again and then cooked to death with fatback and heavy doses of sugar. Looking into that chest was like gazing on the Holy Grail.

Nancy Hartney – Jumping Mules, A Southern Speciality

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

My family comes from Georgia, and while they have mostly died off or moved further south, I still call Atlanta home. My great granddaddy wore grey and fought in the War. My daddy was a dirt farmer and Mama a school teacher. My growing up years happened in that strip along the south Georgia-north Florida state line on a hard scrabble tobacco farm. We also raised hogs, corn and for a time, cotton. Those days, tomatoes, fresh from the garden, and corn on the cob signaled the beginning of summer. Grits, fried catfish and hushpuppies got served up at least weekly sometime more often, depending on who got loose to fish. Bird shooting, coon hunting and hounds marked the fall, barefeet, tobacco picking and watermelon characterized the summer while the winter was given over to busting up pine stumps and hauling wood for the fireplace. I have lived in California and Texas and, for the last 30 years, Arkansas. Sweet tea is still my house wine.

W. F. Lantry – Desire

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement

The Mason-Dixon Line means nothing. I was at a party in Fairhope Alabama. There was a woman there drinking Bourbon. I told her I’d lived in the South before. She said, “Oh, really? Where?” I told her, “Charlottesville, Virginia.” She said, “Oh, that’s not really the South.” So I told her my Australian Shepherd was born in Red Level, Alabama. I told her, I’d driven out to the farm to pick him up. There were old propane tanks rusting in the yard, and a John Deere tractor that wasn’t even green anymore. Everything, even the dirt, was the color of rust. “That counts as the South,” she said.

Donald Harbour – Three Poems

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

In the far distant past, my childhood memories resound like the thunder of an approaching storm. There were evenings heavy with the smell of a cut hay field ready to bale. In the twilight of evening the cicadas charmed one another with their raucous songs. One of Little Ma’s quilts was spread on the lawn where my little brother and I laid watching the Dragon Flies dart about. You could smell the fragrant bliss of fresh caught bream in the a frying pan being cooked for supper. Mingled with the sounds and smells of an Arkansas evening was the gentle laughter of Momma and Little Ma. Oh how I dearly miss those sweet Southern moments of life. I never envied my cousins that lived in cities of concrete and steel. Never wanted the smell of exhaust fumes, the roar of engines, or the hurried stampede of crowds. I was raised in the comfort of love and the security of my kin. I was raised among the oaks, cedars, and tupelos where the smells and sounds of life still play their music in my heart. As I grow older I welcome the sharp vision with which I view life for these are the observations that have stamped my being with the soul of a Southerner.

kenneth ennis – artus and buck

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
As a kid I lived in rural west central Alabama. Artus was just one of many people that were part of my everyday life. It was a good time to be alive.

Alberto Arza – A New Number

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
My Latino roots offer a unique perspective to my Southern legitimacy. I was raised so far in the South it’s not even the South to many, that’s how far south I lived, Miami to be exact. Eventually I moved up with you “northerner’s” to Raleigh, North Carolina, and was introduced to a pig pickin’ almost immediately. My friendly neighbors weren’t impressed about how we Colombians do the exact same thing, but they were awful polite! So here I am, a stranger in a strange land, 5 years now. I say hey, not good morning, and my wife is hot on the trail of the best hushpuppy recipe she can find. Legitimacy established!

Submishmash – the New Mule Standard for submissions

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

We’re switching over to Submishmash submission process. It’s in the beta stage now and Helen still receives poetry via the gmail link but flash fiction, visual poetry and others should check the submission page for the new process information. No we do not take any of your information nor do we put you on any […]

Devon Brenner – Two Poems

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve lived in Starkville, Mississippi for eleven years. I grew up in mid-Michigan, where I walked on frozen lakes every winter. Now, I wear long johns under my jeans and sweater, under my jacket, inside the house, when I visit for Christmas.

Echoes Across the Blue Ridge: Stories, Essays and Poems by Writers Living In and Inspired By the Southern Appalachian Mountains

Monday, October 4th, 2010

As a group, the writers of the Blue Ridge area not only have a keen sense of place but also a great appreciation for character and story. Nature molds the character in the small towns and remote villages in which mountain people live.

Steven Mooney – A Mike and Ike Tycoon

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
Along with my brother and sister, I was hauled away from Minneapolis at a knee-high age by a couple strangers who took us to red soil red brick red hot Atlanta, and then to a sleepy town near Charlotte. To ease our alienation they said they were our parents, so we were nice to them and let them read us stories and take us to the Dairy Queen, though I had my doubts when they committed us to a fenced brick edifice full of kids screaming Yankee and whistling spit wads, that is until I knew the Civil War would never end and that we were outnumbered and surrounded. By then we had grown older than tree frogs in The Old North State and so they figured we had surrendered, as indeed we had, gracefully; that trial by assimilation gave us our root and heart home not merely in the South, but in North Carolina: ‘with all the rights, honors, and privileges thereunto appertaining.’

Paul H. Yarbrough – A Lady

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
Reared in Mississippi; married in Louisiana; raised a family in Texas. When I get north of Kentucky I get shortness of breath, cold sweats, blurred vision. It’s a weary existence far from home.

Terri Kirby Erickson – Samuel and Nannie White, a “Southern” Love Story

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
If having a book of poetry published in which many of my readers’ favorite poem is called, “Tomato Sandwich,” and writing this essay about my “Granny” and “Papa” White doesn’t firmly establish me as a “Southerner,” I don’t know what else to say…

John Tarkov – I Just Grew Up There

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
Pat Conroy once wrote, “I am a prisoner of geography.” I know the feeling. I’ve been stuck in New York most of my life. However, I’ve crossed the Mason-Dixon Line a few times, and I’ve always felt a lot better entering the South than leaving it. I use Louisiana Hot Sauce — thank you, Justin Wilson — on foods that other people flavor with maple syrup, and I read The Dead Mule, to see what I’ve been missing.

Avery Oslo – Storm Chasers

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
“I was raised by nomads and so am a native of nowhere (but also of everywhere). This makes me Southern not by birth (or the “grace of god” if those bumper stickers everyone has on their trucks down here are to be believed) but through choice. I’m currently working on a YA novel set in my current residence; Nashville, TN.

Fall Fiction and ya’ll listen up now, hear?

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

ya’ll Mules are the best readers AND writers online.

Jim Collins: Martha Jane and The Suit

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

” Well just put the wheels back on your goddamn house and pull the sum-bitch offa my lot !” As funny as that sounds now, there wasn’t one touch of humor in her voice. She was yelling into an older model cell phone, about the size of a shoe. She had that unmistakable, southern, country […]


Friday, July 16th, 2010

Poetry Submissions at The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature are closed until January 1, 2011, unless you are or have been contacted and asked to send something we are expecting.  All submissions that arrive after midnight EDT Friday July 16, 2010 will be deleted. ** The Poetry Editor had hoped to let submissions remain […]

Kevin D. Blankenship – “In the Low Country” – A Chapbook

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I have had coon dogs, and know how to make sweet tea and fry chicken, fry pork chops, fry everything I think. I know the sounds of Sunday in the south, and I know the whispers of honeysuckle in the twilight. I am southern to the core, for better or for worse.

Editor’s note: All chapbooks in this issue are by invitation only.

CL Bledsoe – “My Mother Making Donuts” – A Chapbook

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was raised on a catfish farm in Eastern Arkansas. My family raised cattle, soybeans, and rice. My favorite meal is biscuits and gravy for breakfast and Memphis ribs for lunch. Supper is cornbread and white beans, of course.

Editor’s note: All chapbooks in this issue are by invitation only.

Cynthia Staples – “Summer Storms” – A Poem

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I grew up in south central Virginia and attended college North Carolina. I currently live in New England. I like up here a lot but I do still yearn for the south—its people, places and uniquely southern events. I miss how strangers will tip their hats in greeting, and I miss how thunderstorms roll through in summer with such fury and then leave behind a sky scrubbed clean. I have talked of returning to the South, to Virginia, most likely. A small house with a back porch, on a hill. I can sit in my rocker and stare out at the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. It’s a dream.

Pris Campbell – “Men of the Cloth Trilogy”

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in South Carolina. My idea of a great meal is fried okra, fresh collard greens, fried chicken with gravy and homemade biscuits. My great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. He owned a mule. That mule is now dead.

Cynthia Fleetwood – Three Poems

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Am I a legitimate daughter of the South? I present the following for your careful consideration: I know what a poke is. I have attended tent revivals on hot, humid summer nights where I just about wore out my wrists waving a paper funeral-home-fan on a wooden stick to keep from fainting. I give directions with landmarks. I always have a block of cream cheese and a jar of hot pepper jelly on hand to spread on Ritz crackers for serving company, even those folks who don’t have the common courtesy to call first before dropping by. I keep my granny’s pitcher in my icebox filled with fresh tea, a bottle of Southern Comfort at the back of my pantry for medicinal purposes, and a bottle of Jack Daniels Black Label stashed away in my secret hiding place for special occasions and impromptu celebrations. I know the middle name of every child I grew up with. I have been lulled to sleep by the sound of rain on a tin roof in the winter, and the soothing hum of a big round floor fan at the end of my bed in the summer. I have eaten just about everything in Ernest M. Mickler’s “White Trash Cooking” cookbook, and I know folks who have eaten the things in it that I wouldn’t. I was blessed to grow up among folks who loved to tell stories. I’ll never get too old to love listening to them, one after another, especially when they’re told in a soft, slow voice that rounds off the edges of words as they are spoken. I respectfully submit this statement as sufficient evidence of what I already know: I am Southern through and through.

Hattie Wilcox – Three Poems

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I say “hey.”

Chris Bullard –“ At the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, I Go Looking for Allen Tate’s Grave” – A Poem

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

My mom’s from North Carolina . My dad’s from Virginia . My birth mom is from Kentucky , but no need to go into that. I grew up in the suburbs of Jacksonville , Florida , eating Merita bread (which our Methodist Church diced into cubes for communion) with mom’s fried chicken and white rice. My uncles were all named Bubba, or Lee. I grew up listening to Roger Miller and Ray Charles without realizing that, for many people, there’s a big difference. I was the utility man for junior cotillion, being brought in only when someone’s cousin showed up unexpectedly. Now I live in Collingswood , New Jersey , where there’s more snow, but fewer reptiles (except for the lawyer types).

Nexstara – the Mule needs IT too.

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

For Sharepoint Users in the Pittsburgh Area, the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature recommends calling Nexstara for all your IT needs.

Perhaps You Missed It

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

It has come to our attention that some poets have missed some of the announcements we have made, so we will say them again. We are southern and polite but we have lives and we have our own creative work, that we imagine is as important to us as yours is to you. We don’t […]

Brian Baxter Smith “Marmaduke Jones”

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I was born, raised, and have lived my entire life in Louisiana. My high school’s mascot was a rebel foot soldier, and our flag was the Confederate flag. My Me-Maw’s pecan pie was the product of a secret miracle recipe that to this day cannot be reproduced. My grandfather wore his best overalls to church. Although I’m now a vegetarian (an unforgivable offense where I’m from), I can shoot and skin anything, set crawfish traps and run a trot line (but never on Sundays). I learned to swim in ponds, out-swimming water moccasins and mosquitoes. The good and the bad, the exquisite and the brutal, the refined and the raw, I am and always will be a proud Son of the South.

Wayne Scheer “Sweet Potato Pie and The Word”

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Although after living in the South for over thirty years, I still find it more natural to say “You guys” than “Y’all,” I hadn’t realized how Southern my progeny had become until a recent dinner with my son and his family. My son, who was born and raised in Atlanta, prepared curried chicken over grits.

Jennifer Hollie Bowles – A Classic Southern Legitimacy Statement

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I don’t know exactly what a “southerner” is by single sentence definition, but I know its meaning intuitively from my experience, and I know it when I see it… (read the rest of this SLS)

Stephen Orr Manning – Four Poems

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Momma was born in Arkansas, Daddy in Mississippi. For the geographically challenged, that’s opposite sides of the river. If you have to ask which one, I wouldn’t admit it. I have no idea how they got together; as far as I know neither one could swim worth a hoot.

Born in Memphis, I grew up in the Tri-State area, living in small towns that spawned the stories and themes in my work. Both my family names are all over the map of this region, but I joined the service, traveled the world, educated myself, became a total stranger to those who stayed behind. So I returned to memories of a South of a different era; some good, some bad.

I remember sharecroppers, black tenant farmers, picking cotton by hand, mule-drawn plows and wagons. And stoop sitting before TV.

I remember the black school on the far side of town that got our hand-me-down football pads and helmets. And porch gliders.

I remember preachers denouncing JFK from the pulpit, and driving smart kids away from religion. And grocery deliveries by high school kids working after school.

I remember the falsettoed phoniness of the “Belles” who cracked their make-up if they quit smiling. And making a pretty good meal of sausage gravy and fresh-baked biscuits. Any meal.

I remember Moon Pies, Nehi Grapes and big orange drinks. And pecan pie.

Keith Wilson – Four Poems

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, and grew up in California. When I graduated middle school and told everyone my family was moving to Kentucky, they did one of the following two things. They asked me how much fried chicken I was going to eat, or they’d fake a southern accent. Bonus points if they did both. I think that’s some sort of baptism by fire.

Also, there is nothing better than collard greens, except for hot sauce. On absolutely everything.

Oh yeah, as a mulatto, there’s some kind of (offensive) connection between the mule and myself. But no one but can say that, other than me.

Helen Losse – A Review of Paternity by Scott Owens

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

February 2010

Every once in a while, one of our editors does something different—just to mix things up a bit, to keep the Dead Mule fresh, figuratively, if not literally. This month our Poetry Editor, Helen Losse, has reviewed a poetry book, Paternity by Scott Owens. Owens is a regular contributor to the Mule. Losse is a poet herself as well as our Poetry Editor. Her first book, Better With Friends, was published last year by Rank Stranger Press. The Mule may or may not publish other reviews. But if we do, it will be because we have decided to do so and the time is right. Please don’t ask us to review your book. Don’t even hint you would like us to review it.
–the editors of the Dead Mule

Long quotations appear with permission.

Stephen Orr Manning – “The Big House” – A Long Poem

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Much of my childhood was spent hunting for the bobcat ‘Ole Three Toes’ who lived on the farm, fishing for the grandaddy bass ‘Ole Split Lip’ who lived under the stump in the creek, playing shortstop, playing saxophone in a jazz band and being bored with school. Not wanting to interrupt my education, I quit and joined the United States Air Force, which made it possible for me to spend 30+ years overseas, get a Master’s and miss fried chicken, catfish and Cajun cooking. Now 44 years later, back home in my woods maybe 100 miles from where Momma was born, I get the question, “Ya’ll not from ’round here, air ya?” Now I watch baseball, listen to Southern music but I’m still hunting Ole Three Toes and fishing for Ole Split Lip. I’m going to get them, too.

Gary Carter’s new book is out!!

Monday, November 16th, 2009

t’s not the usual mid-life temptations, a young chick or a new Harley, that have Eliot Smith casting about restlessly as he enters his fiftieth year on the planet. Rather it’s the “things done and left undone” in his life that send him off on a meandering road trip in Eliot’s Tale, the engaging new […]

Wendell Wood Collins – Widow’s Walk

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement — I’m a Tar Heel Born and a Tar Heel bred (and educated – UNC Chapel Hill J School) and when I die I’ll be a Tar Heel Dead. For the past 20 years I’ve lived in the Southern Yankee town of Princeton (the only Ivy where Southern gentry seem to get away with seersucker suits and white bucks), but I join my motley family of mostly women on an annual summer trip to Sullivan’s Island SC or thereabouts, the location of my story.

Cleo Creech – Four Poems

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was raised on a rural tobacco farm in eastern North Carolina. It’s hard to describe to people exactly where. Like many rural Southerners I have to start with a big city and work my way down. “Do you know Raleigh?” If you do I can add in, “Well maybe you know Rocky Mount or Wilson with the tobacco markets and all the bar-be-que? How about Kenly? They even have an interstate exit on I-95, along that stretch where you can’t even pick up a gospel or country music station.” Only people from North Carolina usually know those places. The real test then is “Ever heard of Stancil’s Chapel? Crocker’s Nub? Shoeheel?” Only the people that I barned tobacco with or went to my highschool in the middle of a cornfield have heard of those. Those aren’t so much cities or even towns, just places where country roads cross and there’s generally a small general store if anything. Shoeheel is actually where someone nailed an actual shoe heel to a post so they could keep track of where they were and give directions – thus it’s name.

Our family actually moved to eastern NC before it was even a state. They were told to pretty much go down and hang on to whatever they could, but that they’d be pretty much on their own. A couple of years later the whole family would almost be completely wiped out from an Indian massacre. If a couple of the boys hadn’t been working out in a back field on a Sunday (when everyone else was in church) we would have been. So our family owes its very existence to a propensity for casual church going. I’ve tried to keep that family tradition alive as best I can.

We were one of the first families that “went Baptist”, if you find a particularly old Baptist Hymnal you might even find the page that credits an old relative William Creech for choosing the songs that went into it. He was what you might call the first Baptist music director, just from that I have to assume he’s not a direct relative, but more likely a bachelor cousin that probably never married. You know what I mean.

Lastly I think as almost an ultimate bit of Southern Legitimacy, my grandfather was not only a tobacco farmer and ran a goat dairy, he was also a bit of a country vet – and he raised MULES! One of my fondest memories was riding with him on his mule cart to make his milk deliveries. Before baby formula country doctors would recommend goat’s milk for fussy babies that didn’t take to breast feeding. This would later explain my love for Thai Tea, since I grew up on an overly sweet creamy concoction that was generally half goats milk and half sweet tea, so sweet it had that fine sugary sludge at the bottom. One of my least favorite childhood memories though was having to patrol acres of goat pasture for any wild onions that might spoil the milk, the whole time keeping a watchful eye out for any sneaky billy goats. Especially since if you got butted and scraped a knee, my grandfather would slather the wound from this big blue glass bottle of veterinarian antiseptic, it would sting like hell and the bright blue color would dye your skin a dark blue for weeks to come. If we complained, he’d just blow it off “well, if it’s good enough for my mules…”

Sarah Harris – Southern Comfort – A Poem

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve been to almost every state in the union but picked eastern NC! i wept for joy at my first taste of grits. i can make biscuits faster than i can can log onto FB. my out of state family all say i have an accent, but so do my neighbors. my boys hate putting socks on to go to church. i’ve caught myself saying, ‘well bless your little achin’ heart’. the sun rises over our beaches and sets in our mountains

Burying the Stranger by Carla Martin-Wood

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I was born in Alabama and have lived in the south almost all my life. Being about three bricks shy of a load and stubborn as a mule, I strayed north once upon a time. Turned tail and ran back home after three months because it was Sunday and I couldn’t smell fried chicken cooking. And nobody understood that pot likker and moonshine aren’t the same thing. I’ve been to river baptisms, downhome revivals, and my share of dinners on the ground. I don’t eat fried green tomatoes unless cornmeal and a cast iron skillet were involved in the cooking. After the famous movie came out all these crazy Hollywood types started putting out low-fat, baked versions – that would’ve had my granddaddy writing Washington and threatening to secede again. And when I was a kid, Grandmama picked out the cloth sacks of flour and feed based on her fashion sense because I wore feedsack dresses till I was about seven.

D. C. Lynn – Two Poems

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and bred in the State of Alabama, the Heart of Dixie, but I have worked abroad for most of my professional career. I have lived, worked and traveled in 33 countries. Through it all, I have never lost my love for the Deep South, its customs and its traditions…for quality of life and the warmth of its people, nothing else comes close.

R. T. Smith – Her Mule, Count No-Count’s Steam Locomotive

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I believe in the tarpaper shack, the tin roof, the dog under the porch, his howl all over the yard. I believe in Miss Flannery and Miss Eudora and Wild Bill, rats in the corn shed, peafowl yelling help, help at passing cars. I believe my hometown of Griffin is just close enough to the asylum in Milledgeville to whiff the crazy fumes. Shotgun with its cracked stock fixed with plastic wood, deer hooves opening up the first melons, a bottle tree with blue bottles (they have to be blue). I believe it is a mistake to try to teach the pigs to sing: it wastes your time and irritates the pigs. I believe the world is going to hell in a ham biscuit. Could be worse. Need some rain.

Submit to the Mule…

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Finally edited the Dead Mule submissions page. Yes, it’s still way too wordy. But it’s been changed, just a bit, and maybe it’s as clear as mud now… rather than a piece of recently forged iron fencing. Submit. Submit to the Mule. You know you want to… that’s a great new slogan Submit to the […]

Miriam Johnson — Johnson’s Bridge

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

How much more Southern can I be? I was born and raised between Auburn and Phenix City, Alabama, 30 minutes from the nearest gas station. Our land has an old slave house, water wheel, pecan orchard, and a creek. While growing up, I played with sticks and climbed trees for fun, because we didn’t have more than 3 TV channels. II worked at a Western Store, selling boots and spurs, ropes and cow feed. I went to Auburn University, where, as any Southerner knows, tailgating and football is a way of life. I then moved to the UK for graduate study and am trying to bring a bit of the South to the rest of the world. So far, I have convinced my friends that roping is the best thing ever and that y’all is an acceptable phrase no matter what your accent.

Wayne Scheer — Neighborly Concern

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’ve lived in the deep South long enough to get annoyed when I hear a Yankee or a Texan use “y’all” in the singular.

Gary Carter — The Ghost of Dale

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement: As we say down here in North Carolina, I’m Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred and when I die, I’ll be Tar Heel dead. Fruit of a good old boy who loved his beer and was full of colorful sayings for every occasion. You know, something that smelled real bad would “gag a maggot,” while a steamy July day was “hot as a young wife’s passion.” His nemesis was dear old mom, who would roll her eyes when these things popped out of his mouth because she was the daughter of a Southern Baptist minister, which makes me the grandson and is deemed worse in some circles, and god knows I’ve tried to live up to it (or down as the case may be). One of our best family stories involves my daddy standing in line in the ABC store with a bottle of bourbon when one of the deacons from granddaddy’s church happened in, getting a little spooked when he knew he was spotted. “I’m, uh, just picking up something for a friend,” the deacon claimed. “That’s okay,” daddy told him. “I’m getting this for the preacher.” My granddaddy stayed pissed off about that for a long, long time.

Albert Anthony Saltalamachea — Ode To The Waffle House

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement – I hereby do swear and attest that I am, always have been, and always be a resident of the SOUTH. During those unfortunate times that I have had to leave it has remained the home of my heart and soul. BBQ sauce runs through my veins and sweet ice tea on a hot Southern Summer Day is my heaven. I may be a Yankee by virtue of birth but the south is where I have planted my heart!

Colonel Gassious Q Clay — Dad and the Mule, or a Lesson in Southern Literature

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in the south. I have always lived in the south. And I plan on dying in the south. And on my tombstone it shall read “Her Lies Colonel Gasseous Q Clay, Proud to have never even visited New York City”. -If that is not the core of southern beliefs, I don’t know what is. By the way, Colonel is an honorary title bestowed upon me by my most gracious neighbors.

Kevin Levin defines “Southern Heritage”

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

An interesting blog post to consider.

Adam Moorad – Franklin

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I was born in the North but moved to the South at a young age. When I did, my accent was loud and nasally
and no one liked it. I mellowed out and started chewing tobacco. It helped me fit in. My family joined one of those Baptist mega-churches with a jumbo screen in the auditorium. I was baptized there in a pool-sized tank up on the altar. Afterwards, they told me I was saved. I only felt wet. I live up north now. People here tell me my accent sounds like a banjo. I don’t go to church anymore, but I still chew tobacco.

The Submission Guidelines For Poetry Have Been Amended

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Hear ye. Hear ye. The submission guidelines for poetry have been amended to say, No simultaneous submissions. The Poetry Editor is taking a Summer Sabbatical but usually replies within two weeks. That’s not a promise – just a historical fact. So please do not send previously published poems or simultaneous submissions. And if the poems […]

D. C. Lynn – Jackson Street – A Chapbook

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I am a native Alabamian, born in the wiregrass of Dale County and raised in Montgomery. I was educated at Auburn and Pepperdine. I am a university lecturer and have worked abroad for most of my teaching career. Since 1856, all Auburn students, including English majors, have been required to register for, take and pass a mandated course entitled “Fundamentals of Agriculture.” At Auburn, this is commonly called “Plowing 101.” As an Auburn alumnus (class of ’73 and ‘81), I am proud to say I passed “Plowing 101” the old-fashioned way. This should, therefore, more than satisfy the “mule” pre-condition of this journal. Moreover, I would love to elaborate on my plowing experiences at the “Loveliest Village of the Plain” and to expatiate more upon how this time spent behind a mule, this vital training at a great Southern university, more than prepared me for further graduate study and university life in California, with all its various and sundry extra-curricular activities, but my mother will probably read all this; so, as a true Southern gentleman, I must respectfully decline. God Bless, War Eagle and I hope I pass the audition.

Stephanie Bryant Anderson – Poem

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

My twin sister and I were the flower girls in my cousin’s wedding, and we needed dresses. those dresses are referred to as our “Generation Dresses” because my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all worked together to sew it. It is peach in color, of course. But, that, I believe, is what I love most about being Southern; the generations of southern families that uphold family values and standards by sharing and doing together, and never backing down to hard times. Even if it is sharing a southern dialect with such words as ‘backair’ and ‘right-cheer’, or phrases my grandfather used like, “Got ‘ny sugar to put in the bowl?’. And of course, in my family, we always correct our gossiping with “bless her heart”.

I knew I had found myself too far from home once when I went into a restaurant and ordered sweet tea, and the waitress responded, “We have peach tea.Is that what you mean?”
The slow drawl of the Tennessee will always be home, and a place I will never have to put on shoes in warm weather!

National Poetry Month at the Mule

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

April is National Poetry Month. And this year the Dead Mule has once again put together a diverse group of poets for its April issue. The Mule just keeps getting better and better, if I do say so myself. Included in this issue (mostly in no particular order) are H. Dale Duke, who sent us […]

Ozark Beats by J. B. Hogan

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Here’s my Southern Legitimacy Statement: When you are born and raised in the Arkansas Ozarks where does one begin a southern legitimacy statement? Do I actually need one? Well, okay. I grew up thinking Robert E. Lee was the father of my country. I also grew up being fed the plantation owners’ version of southern history, which had nothing to do with my part of the state or our way of life. Northwest Arkansas was as pro-Union as it was pro-Confederate. I am a staunch Federal Unionist and always have been but I was trained to be a southern Rebel. It creates a mixed mess sometimes but I remain a Southern-American. I spent forty years away from home but have come back to finish my life as a writer. I write about local history, I write fiction that sometimes is about or set in the south. I write all the time. That’s pretty southern right there, isn’t it?

Old John by Dale Cross Purvis

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Southern Legitimacy Statement

Although I live in South Georgia now, I am descended (proudly) from the pioneering Mississippi family of whom I write. My ongoing research into family history continues to delight, amaze, and teach me. I hope that Mule readers who were introduced to Purvis folklore in the previously published “Utah Grits,” will also enjoy “Old John.”

Miss Don and Miss Praytor by Anne Whitehouse

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. Even though I have lived in New York City for many years, I am instantly recognizable by my accent. When I taught English to high school students in Arequipa, Peru, I informed them that the pronoun for second person plural is “y’all.”

The New Year is upon us…

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

We welcome this year because it brings us hope and passion.

“Poorly” and “I Wonder What Makes People the Way They Are” by Henry Dale Duke

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Even today when my energy is low because of a cold I see my Aunt Nina coming at me with the bottle of Vicks Vapo-Rub. How I hated that sticky ointment and the statement I knew would come out of her mouth, “If you would quit going outside with your hair wet, you wouldn’t be sick now! Though I now live in Oregon I have infused into the people who work for me the knowledge of,”Lit up like Levi’s.” This was a department store in downtown Louisville, Kentucky that at the turn of the century had a LOT of lights. People used the expression, “Lit up like Levi’s, whenever they saw what to them was a preposterous amount of lighting. Every time someone left on a trip the words hearken to me from long ago, “Don’t watch them out of sight, its bad luck.” WE still have our superstitions. If you drop a fork, a woman is coming. If you drop a knife a man is coming. If a bird gets in the house and sings on you’re bed, God help you.

Even though I was born in Northern Indiana frequent visits from a seemingly endless amount of cousins kept my accent skewed towards the South. I remember my first year of school when I had to explain to Mr. Rust, the principal of West Township High School that someone had stolen my towel. “Mr. Rust my taaal is missing.”

“You’re what?”

“My taaal.”

“What is that?”

“The thing you dry your self on after gym class.”

“Son that’s a Ta-wool. “ I don’t think even he had it quite right but communication improved gradually.

Every summer we returned to Louisville (Loo-eh-vuul) to visit our relatives. My mom would take us to Cherokee Park and show me the great rock in the river that supposedly had three bodies under it from when it fell. She showed me the big hill they used to wait by, when they were roller-skating. Now they were not at the top, but waited at the bottom for a car to slow for the turn onto the hill, and grab its back bumper to ride to the top. Many skinned knees and hilarious stories came from those times.

My cousin’s house in Corydon, Indiana, which was just across the bridge from Louisville, was up in the hills, past the church with the blue Iris’s. I would have so much fun there. They did not have running water but they had a cistern. They grew tobacco and had cows. The cows were a never ending source of pleasure as they often “got out.” “Russell, Cherry is out agin’.”

Motivation was not a top priority in my family. Their extended fence was a single line of barb wire around several acres. Russell would yell, “Get ‘im dogs,” and charging out from under the porch (I swear to God this is true) came a bunch of dust and dirt covered dogs, barking ferociously, heading straight for poor Cherry. She knew the game and hopped the wire and the dogs returned bearing their heads high with Southern dignity.

Bob Eager, Motivational Speaker at the School of Southern Literature

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I live in Phoenix Arizona. I hang out at North Phoenix Baptist Church and like most Southern people, I eat a lot. Southern people speak their minds and say things whether they are popular or not.

Marty Siverthorne – Five Poems

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I spent most of my life in a poor community called Doodle Hill. One grandma lived behind me and one in front. Breakfast was always ready before putting in tobacco or going to dig foundations with granddaddy. Feeding hogs was half of my early childhood. At fifty, it is a little weird having to proclaim my legitimacy as a southerner. Yes, we have it all here, the good and the horrific, the beautiful and the tragic. Where else could Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond be promoted up the political gang plank for their opinions on segregation. Where else could black and white kids play doodle bug under a grandmother’s house while their parents graded tobacco together. If nothing else says southern, the title of my chapbooks “no good will”, “No Welfare, No Pension Plan”, and “Pot Liquor Promises” should sound it out. Yes, I know who was the first person to introduce the steel guitar to the Grand Ole Opry and who introduced the drums to country music and who really wrote “Hello Walls.” Well if this doesn’t legitimize my southerness, I am due to get a tattoo proclaiming my love for mother, Jesus and whiskey. Hallelujah. Set the dogs free.

A Very Bourbon Christmas

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

If I need a Southern legitimacy statement again, then let me say that I drink my tea sweet, that I make my biscuits from scratch, and that I do like a little bourbon during the holiday season.

Essays are the staff of life.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Mule essays provide a wonderful link to real life.  Southern stories are less fiction and more truth than any tales around. Enjoy this month’s collection while sipping some hot cider… or buttermilk egg nog. Yup, there is such an animal – but ya’ll have to do your own googling. I’ve got more stories to load […]

Happy Holidays From the Mule Staff

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Working on the post-holiday updates of the Mule… the database updates we mean.

The Dead Mule Holiday Homecoming

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

This is a call for Holiday Poems and Micro Fiction (500-750 words) from those of you who have already been published in the Mule. For this issue only, we are accepting previously published submissions. Send poems to Helen and micro fiction to Val by November 29. As always, we reserve the right to reject poems […]

John Amen – Four Poems

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I spent a lot of years trying to get away from the south; now I can’t imagine living anywhere else. So many of the images and references that I carry with me seem or feel southern, though I’m still hard-pressed to say what it is that renders a thing or experience uniquely southern. I know that I feel a deep and oftentimes painful affinity with the south. I miss the southern accent when I go away. I love our seemingly southern garden—all the honeysuckle, magnolias, crepe myrtle. Tomatoes, mint, rosemary, thyme. I’ll always vividly remember what it was like being drunk in the Pacolet, buying moonshine down on Scrivens. Working in the peach orchards. I love the red Carolina soil (though it is a bit spongy). The fireflies and long, sweltering summers. Ghosts everywhere. I’m open to visiting almost any place on the planet, but I want to live in the south—and I want to die here too.

Life on Black Mountain – the book

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Okay folks. Fans of Ann Hite. Lovers of fine prose. Samplers of the short story form, tipplers of torrents of fictionary delight… Click here to download the .pdf version of Life on Black Mountain by Ann Hite A collection of short stories featured in our own *applause* *applause* Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

Cindy Childress – Four Poems

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I grew up in a Tennessee town with the only movie theater–one screen–for 45 miles. When I was ten I got a calf, Nancy Drew, and we came in third at the county fair. She wasn’t as fun as Bocefus, our deer that’d eat cat food from your hand and butt a beach ball with his nose. I’m a teacher in Louisiana now, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl; the students love that I call them “y’awll” and make “fight” sound like “faht,” and I still whip up Mammaw’s turkey dressing. Here’s a hint: it’s not from a box.

Barry Yelton – Two Poems

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Well, some ten generations of us dirt farming Yelton’s have trod the good soil of Virginia and North Carolina. I am a Rutherford Countian by birth and live there now after periodic exiles to Charlotte, Greensboro and Atlanta (which used to be a Southern city). I study the Civil War and live it in my waking dreams. I admire Lee and Jackson, Longstreet and Hill. My great-grandfather shed blood at Amelia Courthouse when Lee’s miserables were forced to skedaddle west and south by the Yankee hordes. I have written a novel, which I self-published, Scarecrow in Gray, based on my great-grandfather’s Civil War experiences.

I travel on foot, in my thoughts, and sometimes in my dreams to the high mountains of the Old North State as often as possible. Their pull on me is strong. I like to write about them and their mysteries. They are as old and inscrutable as the moon.

I love Southern writing, though I find Faulkner a bit dense and claustrophobic. I prefer Pat Conroy, Howard Bahr, and James Lee Burke.

Jennifer Croy Bostic – Two Poems

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

Southern Legacy:

My Daddy’s nickname is Pooch or Poochie. All his sisters say that when he was just a little boy, the local yard dog bit him…but to the dog’s surprise, my Dad bit him back. Speaking of my Dad, he has a faint blue scar across the bridge of his nose, something about an ax and coal dust. In the secretary upstairs are pictures of my Mother in her coffin and a tape cassette of the funeral. Who does that anymore? Is this southern or just some morbid way of remembering the dead? I always tell people, if I’m stranded on a deserted island all I want to eat is hot cornbread with cold milk (and maybe a bowl to eat them together) and red velvet cake. Hmm, that’s really a toss-up between the Red Velvet or the Mississippi Mud cake my Granny (who always said she was gonna get shed of things) made for each of my birthdays. And last, but certainly not least, sausage gravy and biscuits. I once read an article about cooking with kudzu and thought it was a really good idea. Oh yeah, and speaking of southern legitimacy, my Daddy once said, “what’s wrong with having a red neck?” If that doesn’t take the cake, then I don’t know what does.

Special Call For Holiday Poems

Friday, August 1st, 2008

We are hoping to publish some Holiday/Winter/Christmas Poems in December. Please send submissions to deadmule.poetry@gmail.com by November 15. The regular submission guidelines still apply, especially the requirement for a Southern Legitimacy Statement. The only exception is that we will publish poets in back to back issues for this special issue. No previously published poems. If […]

Best Served Cold by southern writer Jared Ward

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I live in the South. I coach tennis and go to school in the South. I drink in the South. But not sweet tea, because I’ve never liked tea of any kind, though in the last four or five years my wife has gotten me to drink Asian tea when we have sushi. I used to hate sushi. Now I eat with chopsticks and drink Asian tea that might be more correctly called Oriental tea, but does anyone really know for sure? I eat in the South, way too fucking much. But not grits. They never made me smile. Though by the ever-increasing size of my ass, you wouldn’t think that taste, texture, or FDA guidelines were any kind of pre-requisite. Just whether or not it fits on a shovel. I drove through the south once. Camped with a dirty Mexican in the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. We never got out of the car because we were so afraid to hear the ding-a-ling-ding of dueling banjos drifting through the trees. It was June. We hadn’t showered for a couple of days. We were drunk and sweating. I think we had to burn the car when the trip was over.

Fire Fight by southern writer Alice Folkart

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement
My Daddy’s people came out of Arkansas in nineteen hundred and thirty-two ’cause their land blew away and all the people left. And the Sheriff wasn’t even after them! In fact, my Grandpa Milo was the Sheriff, kept the lock up and he owned sixty acres and a couple of mules too, share-cropped ’em. Never farmed himself; he was ‘quality.’ Grandma Pearl and her sister, Mae, kept the general store, and since she’d gone clear though 8th grade, she also taught the one-room school. It was Grandma Pearl who saw the writing on the Red Sea and said, “Enough is enough,” and dragged her husband and three boys off to California in their 1924Ford touring car. […more]

The Boy He Took To the Prom by southern writer Ed Cone

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement
Would anyone in his right mind claim to be Southern who is not? I was born thar, my family still lives thar, I go back for visits regularly to keep my accent in shape. Little Rock Central High School class of ’58 (that’s 1958). Heard about the integration crisis, and Faubus, and Eisenhower calling out the 101st Airborne to help us integrate? If that’s not Southern, what is ?

Jim Carson – Poem

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born, raised and still live in Atlanta. I remember this town before the Braves and Falcons came. I remember when what is now an access road used to be the interstate. I still say ya’ll (it is only proper), know the difference between dinner and supper and know a frog strangler is a heavy downpour. I’ve eaten at the Varsity more times than I’d like to admit, been a Waffle House patron before it was cool and order tea assuming it will be sweet. Strangely, I don’t care for grits. It must be some recessive Yankee gene.

Getting a Jump on May

Monday, April 28th, 2008

The halls are buzzing—here at the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. So much excitement about Poetry. So much excitement about Ann Hite. So much anticipation. Even rumors, once in a while, concerning the upcoming Southern-style Garden Party honoring Ruth at which time Poetry Editor, Helen Losse, will meet Fiction Editor, Phoebe Kate Foster face […]

How “Life on Black Mountain” came to be. An Introduction.

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

“The Last Stopping Off Place is the final story in Nellie’s life and is told from quirky Bea Weehunt’s—the readers will remember her from Mr. Snake Gets Religion—point of view. When I wrote this story I thought it was over. I thought, okay that’s the end of Black Mountain. Now I move on somehow.”
–Ann Hite

1st Annual Micro Award, but it ain’t southern… that’s ok.

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Submissions are now being taken for the 1st Annual Micro Award, an award for previously published fiction not over 1000 words in length. Authors and editors may each submit one story published in 2007. The submission deadline this year is September 30. Submissions may be mailed to Micro Award, POB 9110, Chico CA, 95927-9110. Rules […]

Ned O’Donnell “I Need To Tell You This”

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement
I am a Yankee.

Because of my deep concern that you may find my roots both despicable and unworthy of consideration in Southern Literary society, I have copied on this e-mail the names of two respectable Southerners who, I believe, will vouch for my sincere love of the South and hopefully assuage your concerns that publishing something of mine would in some way attenuate or otherwise weaken the forward progress of Southern culture for which we have fought on both sides of the Mason-Dixon for the better part of one hundred fifty years.

There is, in the South’s climate, a heat that enlivens the intellect, causes brain to sweat with the heart, making them one, to produce writing that stirs the reader somewhere deep. Anyone who has had so much as a taste of that heat never forgets it.

Mary Bass — Beware the Belle

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
The Southern in me pipes up so fast that I usually have no advance notice of it. I’ve been known to state that I never want to live north of the Mason-Dixon line, that I enjoy a good fish fry of catfish and hushpuppies, that I can let off steam by sliding into an out-in-the-country-Bible-thumping-hands-raised-to-heaven deep south church service at the passing of an old straw hat in lieu of a collection plate and that I can pick out the best barbeque places (and we must have pork!) by knowing their look — the tucked away, hole-in-the-wall, dirty, grimy shacks that pass the sauce-better-than ambrosia dripping sandwiches through the front door and the super “gullet washers” out the back.

Elvy Howard — Nealy Gets Some Help

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement

I was born to Yankees but that’s not my fault. I did have the good sense to get them to move to Birmingham, Alabama before I was born, but then they moved me to New England where I learned to talk with one of those weird New England accents!

Poor me. I worked on the universe and got us to move to Richmond, Virginia when I was six and where I managed to stay ever since. Now nobody claims me. Whenever I open my mouth people around me say, “You’re not from around here are you?” I think my accent ended up somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike. I believe one day I’ll travel up there and find my hometown where I speak like a native and no one looks at me cockeyed.

But my heart will always be here in the South, my real home, even if nobody does claim me.

Like the true Southerner I am, I don’t give a shit.

Sam’l Irwin — Death on the Marsh

Friday, January 18th, 2008

I’m a Cajun from south Louisiana, the original, original, original land of Dixie.
An outrageous claim?
Louisiana was home of the ante-bellum ten dollar note with the word “dix” printed all over it. Dix, of course, is the French word for ten and it is really pronounced “deese,” but the Americans that poured into Louisiana, especially after that whuppin’ Colonel Jackson and Jean Lafitte put on the redcoats in 1814, didn’t know it was pronounced “deese.” They said “dix,” as in “Gimme some of that Dixie beer.”

I’m descended from the Acadians of New Brunswick, that fat and sassy bunch that wouldn’t pledge allegiance to the King of England in 1759. At the same time, I’m also descended from a redneck from the piney woods of north Louisiana.

I’m just as likely to say “poo yai” or “dang” in exclamation or greet you with a French “Comment-ca vas?” or a “How y’all doin’? How’s momma and them?”

I like okra and tomatoes and corn bread and milk, only we Cajuns call it couche-couche (pronounced cush-cush).
So when I meet folks from Mississippi or Alabama or Florida and they, upon hearing my Cajun accent, say, “You sure do talk funny!” I reply, “I like the way you talk.” And then they admit, “I like the way you talk, too.”

Lise Whidden — Dexter Munroe

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
When I was a little girl my Granny took me uptown to have my picture made at Belks Department Store;I think I was about five years old. She said that the photographer talked to me a bit and laughed as he told me , “Honey, the house would burn down before you got anybody told.” One word out of my mouth and the whole world knows I’m southern. Not just southern, the mountains of North Carolina southern and believe me there’s a whole lotta south in that kind of accent. Imagine the voice of Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton if they couldn’t sing. I used to season everything my family ate with fatback and salt until the doctor told my husband that I was trying to kill him. I cook healthier food these days except at Christmas and Thanksgiving. Sometimes when I’m eating something that really needs salt I remember my Granny who lived to be 96 and never ate a new age ‘healthy’ meal in her life. She ate eggs from her own chickens, pork from a pig slaughtered on her own land, and vegetables out of a garden she planted. She prayed over her food with a voice that sounded like it had a mountain in it. I might just ask that doctor what he thinks about that.

Are You a Published Mule?

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

For the writers who have books available through Amazon, send us a link for the Southern Bookstore. For the writers who have published but their work is not available on Amazon, send links and we will build a page for the Mule to include them. Chapbooks, anthologies… Send your information this way: to submit.mule at […]

Dead Mule Writers (in this case, poets)

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

The Dead Mule prides itself in being family. You know, writers who support each other. Here are some comments from recent Mule poets that I found on the web. This is not an attempt to find all comments nor an attempt to imply that others have not left comments elsewhere nor even an indication that […]

An Interview With Evie Shockley

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Meet one of the newest poets in the Mule family as Helen Losse, Poetry Editor for the Dead Mule, interviews poet Evie Shockley. The amazing, in-depth, insightful conversation is poetry itself. I hope our readers enjoy the interview as much as I did — V. MacEwan, Editor/Publisher

Tim Peeler – Propagation – A Chapbook

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I grew up playing baseball on fields with chicken wire backstops and no outfield fences. We named our dogs after the ones on the Beverly Hillbillies. We weren’t farmers, but we raised two acres of potatoes, an acre of peanuts, and slaughtered a black angus bull every other year. We named the bulls after famous explorers. The biggest dare was riding a bike across the top of the textile mill dam.

About “Gone” and Fall Poetry

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

New work from eight poets, Dale Wisely, Jilly Dybka, Ross White, Leslie Joseph, Jessie Carty, Evie Shockley, Tim Peeler and Carter Monroe, will be published on or about November 20. I am completing an interview with Evie Shockley that will be online the same day. Photographs by Bill Losse will be published at this time. […]

Dead Mule Best of the Web Nominations

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

After careful deliberation, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature has nominated the following writers and poets for Best of the Web 2007. Check out their fine work. Fiction: “Clamming in January” by John McCaffrey “Death’s Janitor” by Andrew Killmeier . Poetry: “Among the Missing” by Pris Campbell (scroll down) “Fireflies” by Jenni Russell (scroll […]

Susan Kathryn de Vegter — Passions of Dixie, a chapbook

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born a “Telfair baby” here in Savannah, Georgia. Telfair was the Woman’s Hospital that faced Forsyth Park in historic Savannah. My parents walked next door to have me as they lived in the Round House, meaning the porch went all the way around, circling the old home , built before the Victorian era at 10 East Duffy Street.
When I would “go missing” they’d find me taking a tour of the hospital with one of the nurses showing me off. I got off onto the social ladder in this way.

Being Southern means knowing the etiquette handed down by the genes and knowing when to draw out that twang a little longer when there was an audience. I milked it for everything it was worth.

My father was assigned to the USS Savannah, a Naval Destroyer Escort that made her maiden voyage from Savannah. He met my mother as she was walking her dog through Chippewa Square (famous now for Forest Gump’s “life’s a box of chocolates”. They were
married shortly after they met and went on to raise eight children in those huge houses that the south is noted for from way back. I was raised on hoe cakes and cane syprup and grits with tomato gravy.

The south is more than tradition for me. It’s a religion of heritage and pride. I’ve traveled the world since my birth and the one redeeming factor with all people all over is when they hear the southern accent, a huge grin comes over their faces and they ask you to say …waw ta (water) again and again. Being a true southern belle is an institution that isn’t found anywhere else in this world and reason enough to be proud of the passion found only in the great tradition called “Dixie”. I’m a proud part of that institution and endear the tradition in my heart and I wouldn’t trade Dixie for all the high cotton on earth.
~Susan Kathryn de vegter~

“Holman’s House” by Darrell Grayson

Monday, July 30th, 2007

This chapbook will always be available on the Dead Mule. It is not archived. It is published in memory of Mr. Grayson who was executed by the state of Alabama on July 26, 2007. These poems were, for the most part, committed to memory and then told to … who went home and recited then […]

“A Razorback Dithyramb” by Thomas Aiello

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

With the exception of one summer at a northeastern university, I have never left the cope of the South for more than two weeks consecutively. For that matter, I have never left the cope of the broader boot of Louisiana and Arkansas for any sustained period. And when I felt homesick that one lonely summer, I became the only person (I believe) to pace the walks of Cornell University with the Ole Miss Rebel Marching Band’s version of Dixie blaring through his or her headphones. I told the greeter at the Walmart just outside Ithaca that the store was to be my semi-official Southern embassy. Furthermore: I wholeheartedly approved when my friend Flick convinced his fiancé to let him play the LSU fight song as their wedding recessional. I preface questions with preparatory preambles such as “Let me ask you this.” I went to a segregated high school in the early 1990s. I made a scene at a California wedding when I realized they didn’t have (nor had they heard of) a groom’s cake. I spend inordinate amounts of money traveling to Southeastern Conference football games that I can’t afford and that my favorite team often loses. I received my terminal degree in American History from a fine Southern institution (the University of Arkansas—Woo Pig Sooie!), specializing in Southern cultural and intellectual history, as well as Civil Rights and race relations. Finally (in a list intended to be representative rather than comprehensive), I feel no offense when seeing a Confederate flag, but feel simultaneously guilty for not being offended. And nothing is more Southern than a divided mind.

“Southern Comfort” by Glenda Barrett

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

A native of Hiawassee, Georgia, I appreciate my heritage and try not to stray too far from its teachings. For example, I know what the word, “Gaum,” means. I’ve heard my grandmother say many times over the years, “This house is a gaum!” I still cherish sayings such as, “He’s a snake in the grass!” or “I’m fair to middling! As we speak, I am cooking a mess of soup beans, and will later bake some cornbread to go with them.

Summer Issue submissions update!

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

We’re reading and reading — if you submitted before June 7th — and will send out emails regarding your writing around July 5th. If you submit after June 8th — you’re in the second batch of submissions and you will receive an email after July 10th. The Summer Issue is scheduled to go live on […]

Marlette and MacEwan, a conversation

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Various members of the community were given highly fictionalized analogs in the novel, from a vegan restaurateur to a sex-toy manufacturer. But most of the book came straight from the imagination. I thought by giving Pick qualities nobody would ever attribute to me it would inoculate me from criticism. I was wrong.

The Dead Mule Archives — March 1998 – Summer 2005

Monday, April 16th, 2007

For access to archives for this issue, use “archives” link at bottom of each page. For 1998-2005, see the page linked to this excerpt. 2007 archives will eventually include all the Mules … and don’t forget to read the rest of the MuleBlog entries.

It’s about the tax man…

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Thanks be to Mule writers and a hint of what I’m about to publish on the Dead Mule this morning.

Alice Parris “For a Fresh Gust of Sea-Wind”

Monday, April 16th, 2007

I was born in Greenville, North Carolina. My mother and father were born in North and South Carolina, respectively. I attended college at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee for two years (majoring in foolishness) and graduated from Tennessee State University in Nashville in 1977 in nursing. I spent almost 25 years in the desert of Arizona in the man-made paradise known as Scottsdale, yet I returned to Nashville last September because I felt a deep need to return to the South.

My ancestors of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe in North Carolina have been there for hundreds of years, and my ancestor, Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, was making “colored babies” at least four hundred years ago. I do enjoy collard greens, grits, fried chicken wings, cheese biscuits, chess pie, sweet potato anything, and hot water cornbread. I love Southern gospel and the gut-bucket blues. For these reasons and all of those that elude my conscious mind, and have not yet surfaced, I feel that I am indeed of Southern authenticity.

Darrell B. Grayson “Holman’s House” a chapbook

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

Am I southern because I was born and raised in Wilton and Montevallo, Alabama? Am I southern even though I do not reside anywhere, as they like to say in the south, but am incarcerated on Alabama’s death row at Holman prison?

Does being sent out as a child by my sisters and other pregnant women in my neighborhood in search of a certain quality of dirt and then to the store to buy them boxes of starch to be enjoyed like candy on the porch in the evening qualify me? And what about my also acquiring a taste for the stuff? Almost as delicious as honeysuckle!

I think I know that I am southern when I remember growing up in a small town and hearing some folks referred to as negras. I often wondered who they could be talking about. It could not be me, after all I knew I was black. Ah well….you tell me!

Lance Levens “My Daddy’s Not a Hippophagist”

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

One great great grandaddy sent four sons to fight at Battery Wagner and Okalustee (Fla.), another sent three to die at Vicksburg. I scratch when it itches, even when the quality is watchin’.

Carter Monroe “Selected Poems”

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

I’ve lived in the Provinces of Eastern North Carolina all my life with the exception of a couple of years (not consecutively) up north. I know that BBQ is a noun and not a verb. The word “tote” is a regular part of my vocabulary. I believe in the basic politeness with which we were all reared and think if we adhere to our raising we are automatically politically correct and believe if you have to think about what you say before you say it, you’re politically incorrect even if you get the words right. That having been said. I don’t believe in political correctness and think art to be impossible to make if such is a consideration. (click on title to read more of Mr. Monroe’s SLS, it’s just amazing… one of the best ever on the Dead Mule…)

Pris Campbell “Songs in the Night” a chapbook

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
-I was born and raised in Pageland, South Carolina, a town of 2500 souls and The Watermelon Capital of the World.
-My great-grandfather Dickson fought with the Palmetto Sharp Shooters in the Civil War. He owned a mule. That mule is now dead.
-I can’t pronounce the ‘g’ in words ending in ‘ing’ if you pay me.
-I would do almost anything for a plate of fried okra, collard greens, crowder peas and fresh cornbread.
-Yes, I still think of my father as ‘Daddy’.

Sean Ryan “The Okra Story”

Friday, April 13th, 2007

The three boys came back from their “coming-of-age” cross-country trip in mid-August, a few days before their freshman year at Rutgers started. When they got back, they took their girlfriends out to a fine Italian restaurant (at the suggestion of one of the boy’s old-fashioned Italian mothers) with the remainder of their cross-country funds (an […]

About this here Mule.

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Old about page, new one coming eventually on account of none of this has really changed so why re-write it, eh? Except to say: Ruth Florence Chapman Heinold is ninety years old today, April 13th, 2007. ABOUT The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature is found on the web at: www.deadmule.comFounded in 1995 [Dead Mule […]

Spring 2007 — Dale Cross Purvis “Utah Grits”

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Except for an occasional trip to Utah, I spend my time in South Georgia, writing about grits, molasses, and my grandfather’s mule (whose name was Old Kit). To be sure, all of the above show up in the piece that you are about to read.

2016 Submission Guidelines

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

First requirement: A Submittable account. Open one or use your existing account. Second requirement: Submit your writing according to the guidelines set out within Submittable. Check the Categories and look for specific writing prompts and requests. Don Stewart, our Editor for February, wants Essays with “The Day I Grew Up” as the title. Include your […]

Spring 2007 — Connie May Fowler and MacEwan, 2001

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

The female protagonists in Connie May’s books don’t become “one” with their adulthood by hitting a triple and sending Frankie in for the scoring run. These girls don’t have a fumbling, poignant, first sexual encounter that is both bittersweet and endearing, and they certainly don’t become mature adults by sucking it up and just “getting over it.”


Saturday, March 10th, 2007

What can we say? It has been 11 years since the Dead Mule was first published. This Spring 2007 issue begins what will become, in ten years, our Second Edition. The Technical History of the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature I. Each decade brings change. How many “years” is an Internet year? The year […]

About / Staff

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature is found on the web at: www.deadmule.com We love The South. We appreciate all the quirks, follies, and faults that have brought the region to where it is today. If our beloved “below the Mason-Dixon Line” self  gives way to the influences of a status quo world which […]

February 21 update

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

The superior quality of the fiction and poetry submissions we’re receiving come as no big surprise. Boy, that’s a cumbersome sentence. The First Issue of the Second Edition of the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature will be mule-tacular, barn-a-liscious, ass-tounding. Helen Losse is in charge of the poetry section and, aside from being an […]

New Chapbook

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

We have an excellent chapbook online now. What a marvelous work to begin our Second Edition of the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature… Helen and I would like to present Darrell B. Grayson’s work: Holman’s House.

Blessings in the South by Faith L. McCammon

Friday, January 1st, 1999

1990s Dead Mule

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Southern Fiction, Poetry, Essays & More Since 1995
ISSN 1535-8488 :: Published in The South, USA
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