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More from the past: Aug 2011 Hurricane Irene & letter from the editor

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Remembering the Letters from the Editor — this one from Aug 2011 … but maybe Oct issue I’m formatting? Never fear, I will find all that was once on the Mule.

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Kathryn Stripling Byer, Three Poems

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Kathryn Stripling Byer has not forgotten her southern roots. True, she was the North Carolina Poet Laureate. True, she has received accolades and praise. True, she is very, very busy. But when the Mule contacted her, asking for poems. she promptly said, “yes,” because she is as southern and polite as we are. *From April 2007

These poems come from Byer’s new manuscript, more mountain women’s voices.

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Becky Lee Meadows: Boo Boo Kitty

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Becky Lee Meadows, and yes, that middle name is “Lee,” is a southern country girl all the way through. She grew up in northern Kentucky on a farm, surrounded by cows, dogs, cats, and all manner of four-legged creatures, and she loves animals to this day. She is excellent at code-switching, so she easily blends her Ph.D. in Humanities and career as a professor with eating cornbread and taters. She is not new to the Mule, having had a previous flash fiction piece, “Three Seconds,” published in June 2014.

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Tom Sheehan: Now, from a Carolina Peak, a Small red Star

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

I just returned from a week with sons in North Carolina. with vivid memories of a southern poet never met in the flesh, but fully remembered on the occasion, John Bush, and how my SLS began with a Press 53 release of a book of mine, and long before that, when I trained with the 278th Infantry Regiment from Elizabethton, Tennessee at Ft. Devens in MA before deployment to Korea.
So, for this submission I have chosen a poem, “Now, from a Carolina Peak, a Small Red Star,” to be considered.
On top of 24 books published I have work in Rosebud, KYSO Flash, Copperfield Review, The Linnet’s Wings, Literary Orphans, Danse Macabre, Literally Stories, Provo Canyon Review, 3AM Magazine, MGVersion2datura, Eastlit, Rope and Wire Magazine, The Literary Yard, East of the Web, Green Silk Journal, Western Online, Indiana Voices Journal, The Path, Faith-Hope-Fiction, HSS MSS, Plum Tree Tavern, Scriptor Press, Serving House Journal, Subtle Tea, Wilderness House Literary Review, Abbreviate Journal, Million Stories, etc., and have nominations for 28 Pushcart Prizes and one National Book Award nomination.

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Mickey Hunt: Just Cold

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

SLS: Even if I hadn’t lived in Kentucky and western North Carolina for the past 39 years and had my six children all born here, I’d still be Southern. The following story happened on my grandparent’s place in Washington State when I was young. One day Grandma marched down from the garden with a possum by the tail. She set the inert beast on the ground and said it was dead, that she had clubbed it while it dined at the compost pile. This sort of thing was not unusual with Grandma. I tapped it with my toe and its lips curled back. I said it wasn’t dead, only pretending. It was dead, she insisted. I told her I’d prove it was alive, that I was going to dispatch, cook, and eat it. She expressed lively revulsion. My grandfather Tim had by then come out on the porch and was watching the argument. Tim had Parkinson’s and hadn’t spoken a coherent sentence in weeks, but then he said out of a clear blue sky, “Why, possum is a great Southern delicacy, my dear.” I’ll spare the interesting details except to say, the possum proved me right.

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Austin Eichelberger : Fluency

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Here’s my Southern Legitimacy Statement: I could dig post holes, shovel manure and handle horses single-handed by the age of 11. I grew up on a farm 45 or so minutes from every school I attended until college. I’ve never seen my mother wear make-up and I’ve never seen my grandmother without it. I’ve been stepped on, head-butted, kicked and bitten by more kinds of livestock than most people have seen in person. The neighbor’s kids and I used to play in the hay balers in their barns, the sawdust pile in

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Terry Barr: The Day I Grew Up

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

I discovered Neil Young in 1971. After the Gold Rush, particularly “Southern Man.” Not so amazing a discovery then, except I was a 15 year-old boy in Bessemer, Alabama. Most of my friends thought Neil sounded like a girl, a “fag.” I didn’t. I couldn’t. Things got worse when he fought a war of songs with Lynyrd Skynyrd who weren’t even from Alabama. But they had that Sweet Home song, and the crowd yelled for more. Did you see them? I hated Skynyrd then and continued to hate them until that song became the anthem of today’s Alabama Crimson Tide. My daughter, a Tide fanatic made in my image, asked me why I didn’t dance to Sweet Home with her, and I explained about Neil. “Oh Daddy,” she said. “You gotta get over that.” And so I did. Skynyrd is alright with me now, but as an Alabama man, I still know that Neil knew what he was talking about too. So no, I haven’t forgotten “what [my] good book said.”

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Jo Williams: Do It Yourself Medical Testing

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Proving my Southern authenticity is as easy as fallin’ off a mule. I was born and raised in Cowpens, SC, a famous Revolutionary War site. For nearly five decades, I lived in a farmhouse built by my Great Grandmother Lily Kate Price. Six generations of Southerners enjoyed making family history in that 1880’s homestead. Except for some very brief times, South Carolina has remained my place of residence. I’m so Southern I bleed white sop gravy

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For and About the Mule’s Helen Losse

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Original Southern Legitimacy Statement,
(sent to the Dead Mule for the September 2002 issue)

“I’m southern ’cause I wanna be.”

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An Editor’s Lament

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

What makes me crazy? Cleaning up code gremlins from the Mule.

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Ted Harrison :: Place

Monday, February 1st, 2016

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 together—subsistence farming. They raised corn, wheat, cotton. They had apple trees and pear trees. Together they cut wood to be used for warmth in winter, for cook stoves year ‘round. There was always a vegetable garden. Sometimes in the winter, Uncle Richard worked at Baxter’s Clothing Store as a way to make ends meet. (Some people call that “public work.”)

In the spring and summer, Uncle Richard raised watermelons and cantaloupes. He peddled these door to door in Salisbury. When gas became more plentiful, he ranged out as far as the village where we lived. (More about the village later.) I was with him on one of the trips. Not yet 12, my job was to make sure he had melons and cantaloupes to show. He got about fifty yards away from me and yelled at me to drive his car to meet him. A 1937 Chevrolet with gears on the floor was a challenge. I remembered the best I could how to make it move. By jump and buck and stall, I made it to where Uncle Richard smiled on me. He smiled, but he drove the rest of the day.

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T. Alfier :: The First Three of Six Poems

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement: SLS – Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) began kindergarten in Dallas. Even though it was many years ago, she still remembers her first dog was a “Heinz 57” named Sam Finkelstein the Third Rifkin. She remembers a family outing to the zoo where a lion peed on her best friend Betsy who lived down the street, and eating chicken fried steak at the Surrey. Her dentist lived next door and his x-rays tasted like cinnamon. Today she has good friends in Texas, and is pleased to see at least one of them in an earlier issue of this journal.

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Art Heifetz :: Procession

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Art Heifetz teaches ESL in Richmond Va. and tells credulous Southern ladies that his family is FFV. He really came from Southern NYC 39 years ago became a good old boy and although Jewish learned to eat grits and Smithfield ham.

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Rudy Ravindra :: GPS Lady

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement: What makes me a real Southerner? I don’t eat corn on the cob, it gets into my teeth, and takes forever to floss it out. I don’t like grits, too runny. I don’t speak like no Southerner from Aberdeen, MS (My ex-mother-in-law’s hometown, she was a cotton picker and a snuff pincher, god bless her soul).

Oh, well, I give up. I am a Southerner because I lived and continue to live in the good ole South.

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Tim Mattimoe : Waiting For Rain

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement I am an American by birth, a Southerner by choice and a Tarheel by the grace of God. I live in the woods of Chatham County, NC, where I retired after working after teaching for thirty years Downeast in Beaufort County, NC. We moved up here to be near our children and grandchildren. Good thing they don’t live further West where otherwise good folks desecrate fine, honest pork with tomato sauce. I spend my days talking to turkeys and crows, writing poems and pondering why otherwise decent people would claim that barbecue consists of anything other than chopped pork cooked slowly over hickory coals and seasoned with vinegar and red paper flakes. But life is full of imponderables.

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Ted Harrison : A Family Event

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Statement of Legitimacy:
Having been born to the daughter of a subsistence farmer, marrying into farming families and living in one Southern state all my life- so far—I can hope I have been weighed and found whole in the D. O. S. (Department of Southerness). (Some say long sentences are a Southern trait—I won’t argue with that.) While I never pulled tobacco, I have picked cotton. While I never won a dancing contest, I have shagged at the Pad in O. D. For much of my life I have known the difference in the two Southern Beaufort cities. And I remember when Wake Forest University was Wake Forest College in Wake Forest, N. C. and not Winston Salem, N. C. Let this attest to my Southerness. Thank you.

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Annie Woodford : Nine Poems

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement

“All good art is an indiscretion”—Tennessee Williams

My daddy had a junkyard behind the house. I grew up playing in the musty interior spaces of old cars, kept for parts and pride. The cats would have kittens in the hidden recesses of our broken-down Rambler. I felt the first sting of my social class because of that junkyard. In latter years, I have come to respect the ingenuity of poor men, like my daddy, who could fix anything if he had the parts, and who recognized beauty when he saw it, even if it was covered in leaf mold.
When I go back to visit, I see our old bass boat there, fiber glass glitter still winking among the poison ivy vines, and I remember flying over the glassy lake, my daddy’s home-built Mercury nearly pushing us up into the air. We left a spray of water (called a “rooster tail” in local parlance) still pluming there, in my memory, back before all the textile mills and furniture companies left my hometown and people still had the spare money for such fanciful and foolish dreams.
I learned how to be beautiful, how to slide words around and around like I was checking the bead in a jar of moonshine in my Aunt Lovelene’s hair salon. Her husband, the fixer at the towel mill and a carpenter savant, added it onto their saltbox house back in 1982 and I grew up reading Readers Digests and National Enquirers while half listening to the endless gossip spinning round and round like my aunt’s chair. She talked me out of getting a rat-tail in 2nd grade and wove me an up-do with arthritic hands when I went to the prom. I can still smell her Avon deodorant. May my ghosts never leave me.
My mama’s people came down from the mountains to work in Bassett’s furniture factories. My daddy grew up at the edge of the Shenandoah. Sharp Top resonated, blue and giant, in the distance of his yard. The ownership and blood memory of that land haunts him to this day. Hell, it haunts all of us and one day that land will either divide us all or call us home. When my mama tells me her father drank himself to death because he hated the chair factory, missed the mountains, I know sadness has been passed down to me as surely as the tendency to drink too much, too often.
But I live in the midst of mountains and they soothe my sense of eternity. I travel home to the Piedmont, sixty miles south, and the kudzu-choked hollows of Henry County, the low blue line of ancient sea bed harkens to me like a beloved body. One day I might find Jesus, just like Doc Watson promised, but for now I’ll live a bit longer with these wildwood flowers, the land and my people and my memory forming altars in my heart.

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Ray McManus: Four Poems on Place

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
My bio is simple: every dirt road in Lexington County has blood on it. I was born from that blood. I was born southern to a fading fall of split chins, calluses, and hog killing; every pine tree has my face on it. I didn’t grow up with poetry in my house, so I stole it. I carry the scar of South Carolina on my left knee.
In my hometown, most of the farms were already ruined before I got there. We grew pot in the chicken houses, mixed mash behind the junk yard, shot wild dogs. This was long before mobile meth labs, long before we defiled ourselves with cornbread and copper wiring. And I always wanted more from boiled peanuts.
I don’t want to be defined beyond a history that is not mine. I am not the story of every kid who punched back the dust, pulled up re-election signs, and threw bricks through school windows. I am not the story of every broken bottle on the straw. I am the straw.

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Norvin Dickerson : Six Poems on Place

Friday, January 1st, 2016

SOUTHERN LEGITIMACY STATEMENT

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

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Wendy DeGroat : Two Poems about Place

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Going Vegetarian While Southern (My Southern Legitimacy Statement)

After I realized that coffee, and grits shimmering with sugar and butter were still on the menu, I decided I could handle it if I could figure out how to make two recipes palatable without real meat: red beans and rice, and sausage, biscuits, and gravy. I lucked out with the first recipe I tried for red beans and rice, though I had to trudge through four stores to get the ingredients. Sausage, biscuits, and gravy required three takes. But even as I declared the third attempt acceptable, I pictured spooning homemade sausage into a hot pan, sausage like RJ made after his pig roasts that neighbors for miles down the valley showed up for, lining makeshift tables in the woods with cole slaw, potato salad, pickled beets, sweet tea, and eight or nine kinds of pie. The scent of that sausage frying could beckon ten-year-old me to the kitchen from a dead sleep. Grown-up me stayed vegetarian for nearly a year, and I still eat that way most of the time—except when I order sausage, biscuits, and gravy for breakfast, preferably with grits on the side.

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Dan Leach : Farmer’s Market

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Because I have a friend named Banjo. Because in describing him I’ve been known to use the phrase “drunker than Cooter Brown.” Because when explaining who Cooter Brown is I’ve been known to quote Shelby Foote, Ronnie Van Zandt, and William Faulkner.

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Jeanne Ferran : Three Poems about Place

Friday, January 1st, 2016

My Southern Legitimacy Statement

Born in the swamp of south Louisiana, I was taught that everyone who lived above I-10 was a Yankee, and even though my Cracker ancestors didn’t even get to this blessed country until after the Civil War, I knew what that MEANT. (Yes, that’s right. I-10. Because in the insular New Orleans community, anyone who wasn’t part of the 2 degrees of separation for the “Who’s ya mama” and “Where do you go to church?” questions was not to be trusted).I was raised as a plaid-skirt wearing, uptown Catholic schoolgirl on the weekdays, but on the weekends, my extended family piled into a three bedroom fishing camp. The smell of cocahoe minnows and crab boil is forever stained on my skin.
My mother’s family, Y’ats from Mid-City, were owners of a po-boy shop (the kind with crusty hot sauce bottles and Barq’s Root Beer to hold down the corners of the butcher paper that wrapped the most heavenly roast beef poboy your lips have ever touched) that had seen most of the 20th century, only to be wiped out in Katrina. I spent my summers serving drinks at hotel bars in the French Quarter, where I learned New Orleans was a city to grow up in, not to visit.
At 18 I made the big leap- I crossed I-10- to attend the University of Georgia, where I majored in “shows at the 40 Watt and Georgia Theater,” but I also experienced mountains and winter for the first time. I had grown up making etoufee and gumbo and bisque, so it was a miracle I did not starve.
I have gotten further away from my nucleus and bounced around mountain hamlets in Western North Carolina. My natural cycles and rhythms lie less with the changing of the seasons (4 of them!) and more with the Liturgical traditions of my hometown. New Orleans and my upbringing has never left me, but like all good Southerners I am haunted by the ghosts of the people and places that are no longer present. Yet the further I get away, the more I feel the pull, and I hope that one day, after I clear my conscience and achieve the merciful redemption I hope to I deserve, I will find the road that takes me and my children and my black Lab mutt back home.

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Ellen Perry : I Wonder

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Mom from Colbert, Georgia, where the Confederate monument has yet to be defaced. Dad from Johnson City, Tennessee. Born in Weaverville, North Carolina, where I still live today. 40 years old and still in Weaverville! Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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Adreyo Sen : A Poem

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement Adreyo first came across “Gone With the Wind” at the age of eighteen and has read it from cover to cover five times to date. He never goes anywhere without it and although he sympathizes with Scarlett, his favorite character is Melanie Wilkes. It has been his fortune to languish in unrequited love for a strangely beautiful woman from Atlanta for the last three years.

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Travis Turner : Chimney Sweeps

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Son of Alabama’s Black Belt. English/Literature/Writing Instructor. Lover of black cats, good bourbon & better storytelling.

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Friday, January 1st, 2016

1996-2016 April it’s just a wonderful month and not at all the cruelest Check out our first Tribute To One of the Dead Mule’s Finest, which we know you’ll agree has to be For and About Helen Losse. Those Mules above? Jack Niven’s genius, just gotta’ let it grace out cover once more. Brilliant … […]

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An ESSAY to celebrate the day: “Life Mission” by Byron Crownover

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

SLS: Having been born in the middle of the last century, I sometimes feel as old and worn out as some of the farmland surrounding my home. Weeds taking over my mind much as they do to fallow fields, pushing up memories with their roots. Not all of the weeds need to be pulled, but once pulled one thought leads to another and stories, if not exactly true, should be, follow.

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.

Having been born and raised in the state of Arkansas, I don’t consider myself as a Southern Gentleman, or even a Colonel of the Old South, but rather as just a man, much as my father was, trying to do his best to do the right thing, to be kind to dogs and kids, and to be respectful to my elders, who get fewer and fewer each year.

I guess I am best summed up in the saying, “American by birth, Southern by the grace of God.” There is no other place I’d rather be.

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being an editor ain’t easy

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Be careful online.

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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”…

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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 […]

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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”!

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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.

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“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.

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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 […]

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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.

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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.

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Becky Meadows “Three Seconds”

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

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

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Erin Kelly “Sound No Trumpet”

Monday, June 16th, 2014

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

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Barbara Nishimoto “Identifying Trees”

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Southern Literacy Statement

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

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

Monday, June 16th, 2014

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

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Katherine La Mantia “Vines”

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Southern Legitimacy Statement: In elementary school, a boy named Jedediah taught me how to drink the nectar from the honeysuckle blossoms by pinching the end of the flower. My mother stared at me for a full three seconds the first time she ever heard me say “yall.” I stared at her even longer when I first heard her say it, too.

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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.

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Jennifer Green “Keeping a Dead Mule Down”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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Jo Heath “Sweet Tea and Ice”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

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Donna J. Dotson “Gus”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

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

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

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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 […]

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Al Lyons “Tilt-O-Whirl”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

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

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

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Joe Seale “Bona Fide”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

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Mark McKee and Julie Sumner “Bucket List”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

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Scott Rooker “Food Lion”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

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Will H. Blackwell, Jr. “Literary Brushcut”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

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

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Running Water by Ted Harrison

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

SOUTHERN LEGACY STATEMENT: In my archives there is a picture of a young tyke sitting astride a mule—a live mule. The youngster is me; perhaps age 5. The mule was one of the pair my Grandfather owned: Bob and Mag. Poppa plowed those mules on his farm in Rowan County, North Carolina where he raised cotton, corn, wheat, and a vegetable garden that couldn’t be beaten.
Although I wasn’t raised on that farm, I was allowed to pick cotton in his fields. Rest assured as a young grade school kid, my bag wasn’t one of the big bags made up of two “tow bags” sewn end to end. Those bags stretched out along the rows as various family members pulled the white fibers from the bolls. As small as my bag was, I was never able to fill it. Poppa usually gave me a quarter for my meager efforts. He took the coin from his leather purse which he kept in the chest pocket of his overalls.
I have memories of him sitting in the “fire room” of the weather beaten farm house as he filled his pipe from his can of Prince Albert smoking tobacco, listening to Gabriel Heater on the radio during World War II.

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

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

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

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Princess by Gardner Mounce

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I live in Memphis. It’s a wonderful town. I resent the Yankee preconception that Memphians have but a full set of teeth between them. We have many teeth. I have between fifteen and twenty, whatever’s the normal amount to have.

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“My Disqualification” by Prosenjit Dey Chaudhury

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

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

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Eula Shook, a love story by Grant Jerkins

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

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

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

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

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

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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?

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Athena Sasso: Throw Down

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

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

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

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

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

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John McCaffrey “Clamming in January” [2007 revisited]

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

As for my southern legitimacy: sweet tea. Once, when visiting family in Mocksville, North Carolina, I drank so much during the week that I had something akin to the sugar DT’s when I got back north. Snapple can not compare.

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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.

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“Life Story” by Lauren “Elyse” Phillips (58 word micro-fiction) 2007

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

As for Southern Legitimacy: I couldn’t possibly be more Southern. Paw-Paw is a cotton farmer, Aunt Jean’s favorite phrase is “for cryin’ in the cow butter!”, and the little old ladies in the grocery store used to run up and touch my head so they wouldn’t give me “ojo.” If the preacher’s sermon went long, he’d apologize for holding up dinner. “Kudzu,” “The Lockhorns,” and “Tumbleweeds” were all staples in the morning paper where I grew up, though I’ve never seen mention of any of them elsewhere until now. I left home, but it’s shaped me, and most of what I write is about the love/hate relationship I have with my Southern past.

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“Christmas I-55” by John Calvin Hughes

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

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 (if I spell it southren you’ll get it, right?) boy who moved south and found himself surrounded by Yankees. I’m in Orlando. There’s not a hill in sight and the restaurants that specialize in “Real Southern Cooking” put sugar in the cornbread. I’m making my own red eye gravy

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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.

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Shann Palmer Chapbook “Skip Tracing Angels” or “Uttering and Publishing”

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in Houston, Texas January 4, 1950 when there were so many babies born my mother was on a cot out in the hall. I was premature and not expected to thrive so was placed in an incubator with another baby, a boy. My name was supposed to be “Sharon Rose” but when the woman with the clipboard came to my unconscious mother, my grandmother told he my name was to be “Sharon…..and…”. I am grateful to this day my name became Sharon Ann and not Sharon And. I later shortened it to Shann for what I thought were good reasons. We weren’t poor, we were genteel, though sometimes before payday I remember eating cereal with water, giving my dad babysitting money I made so he could buy gas (and it was cheap then). I could go on about moving to Virginia in 1971 after attending the University of Arizona, but I plan to tell that story in a different way when I figure it all out.

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River Haven by Pepper Smith

Monday, November 18th, 2013

For my southern legitimacy statement, I’d say, my name is Pepper, which has caused me much grief living in the DC area, but made a lot of sense in my home of Mississippi, where I was born and grew up. There it was warm and unpretentious. Here it’s silly and people will say things like, “what’s a grown man doing with the name Pepper?”

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Rapid I Movement by Alexandra Edgeworth

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up in Frederick, Maryland elementary, middle, and high schools, often finding myself visiting Baltimore to see the Ravens and read extensively on Poe. Everywhere else felt like an invasion until I moved to South Carolina to graduate from a Florence high school. I went to Francis Marion University for an undergrad in English and Coastal Carolina University for my Master’s in Writing. I currently enjoy teaching college literature in Beaufort, SC and cannot get enough of the eager, curious faces at the mention of “Lenore” and “The Case of M. Valdemar.”
I consider myself a writer of dark fantasy, though my nonfiction pieces borderline on the absurd and bizarre. As part of the Southern Gothic Revival I feel it is necessary to be positive in every aspect of my life, even when the deep southern Classics weep in their ledgers. We are a collective of strong, captivating people, I see it in my southern husband—all the loving and unique facets of the South: intelligent, rational, observant, collected, close, empathetic, and, of course, creative. My husband is my Gothic Muse and the South my office tucked away in the thick, old growth forests. We have great ancestral roots that wind their way freely into our lives, our families, at the dinner table during grace, and our imaginations.

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Transcript of Audio: Miss Jewell Eppinette by Nonnie Augustine

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I now live in Panama City Beach, Florida and have been living here since 2005. There was also a six year spell here in the 80’s. I was born in NYC, grew up in New Jersey and have lived in NYC, NY State, New Mexico, Maryland, and England, and my first book of poems, One Day Tells its Tale to Another was published in Ireland. Please excuse me for including that last bit but I couldn’t help myself. …This is a fiction submission, originally written for a Surreal South anthology and although they kindly told me it did not make it to the book, it did make it to the later stages of decision-making. Ahem.

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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.

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The Wink That Saved Me by Cindy Shearer

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: My family cookbook has recipes for fried chicken, fried venison and fried squirrel. (As to the latter entrée, submitted by my Uncle Toodler, he notes that Aunt Fay “says she would just as soon eat a cat.”) Note: Ms Shearer has allowed that she will give out family recipes, upon request.

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Blackout by Alan Watson

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Alan Watkins was born, raised, and still lives in the Raleigh, NC area. Generally, his writings end up as short films, but recently he has decided to delve into the written word after being intrigued by several anthologies of horror related short stories. As a Southern Baptist, there are generally subtle religious aspects in most of his stories.

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Three Poems by Charles Edward Wright

Monday, November 18th, 2013

I know that my Southern legitimacy may be marginal, having lived my whole life in a border state, but thanks to my North Carolinian grandmother, my father’s family name was Bubba, and we only ever vacationed in Morehead City. And I reckon that my hometown of Indian Head, MD had adequately Southern sensibilities. I am hopeful that my SLS effectively expresses my honest affection for the people amongst whom I grew up.

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was raised on a narrow neck of land between the Potomac River and the Mattawoman Creek, in a town where the eggs were never poached but the venison very likely had been.

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Poems by D.M Aderibigbe

Monday, November 18th, 2013

MY SOUTHERN LEGITIMACY STATEMENT
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.

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Four Poems by Robert Wooten

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

My southern legitimacy has oft been disputed, and for this reason, I really am at a loss for words. If you can believe it, I was told “you sound like a New Yorker” and (mis)identified as the descendent of “carpetbaggers”—false, false. Perhaps there was a bed switch. Anyway these poems have pleased. And I have an MFA from Alabama

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My Father The Millionaire by Travis Turner

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Son of the Blackbelt. Lover of good bourbon & better storytelling.

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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.

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Let The Honey Soak Through by Connie Bull Stillinger

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: There is at least one dead mule in my family’s history. My uncles “accidentally” killed the family plow mule with a hammer blow between his eyes, then tried to bury him but rigor mortis set in and his feet stuck up about two feet about the ground when they rolled him in the hole. Being rural Southern Children of the 1940’s guaranteed their resourcefulness and determination and so they buried him anyway. My grandfather discovered him when he went looking for the mule that had run off. My uncles were 10 and 13 at the time of the “incident.” I’m a child of South Carolina’s low country, story telling and black water runs in my veins and family history. I’m a fading Southern Belle who believes and says; ” Here in the South we don’t keep our history in a moldy old book on a dusty old shelf, WE LIVE it EVERYDAY!”

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Possum Holler Morning by William Matthew McCarter

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Them folks up there in St. Louis prolly think that Johnny Cash is a pay toilet but we know how the cows eat the cabbage down here in Ironton.

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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.

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Adam Smokes by Kim Ferraez

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I have lived in Miss since I was born. I have run barefoot over its dirt for years. I expect to be planted in Mississippi just like my prized tomatoes. I want this dirt to be my final resting place. Amen.

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Two Points for Charlie by Beth Gilstrap

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

A Carolina girl through and through, I’ve been drunk and burnt to a crisp at Myrtle Beach, yelled “fire in the hole,” when lighting fireworks at Lake Hartwell, rode four wheelers in Union County, snapped beans, shucked corn and ate at my share of meat and threes. I still love a veggie plate with Mac N Cheese from The Diamond. I’ve frequented honky tonks and rock bars from Nashville to Chapel Hill and seen my share of debauchery. I have travelled far and wide, but nothing feels as good as coming home South to my husband and our family of four dogs, four cats and a damn fine porch swing.

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Ridge Runner by Nicole Yurcaba

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Nicole Yurcaba hails from a long line of Ukrainian immigrants, coal miners and West Virginia mountain folk. She combines her love of farming, hunting and fishing with her passion for writing and teaching. When not playing cowgirl on a cattle farm in eastern West Virginia, she teaches English at a local community college. She lets her belt buckles do the talkin’ and her cowboy boots do the walkin’….

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Quick Change on a Street Corner by A. J. Tierney

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: An “Okie from Muskogee” I am one of very few women who have been crowned both Miss Azalea Festival and Miss Indian Summer. I was convinced for years that Colonel Sanders was my grandfather since my grandmother worked so many hours at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I tagged along curling up under her desk with my Snoopy dog that she bought me with S&H Green Stamp books. I’m still stunned there are people in the world who don’t know about paper shell pecans. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve watched your grandma fry potatoes, okra, pork chops, and chicken in a cast iron skillet in bacon fat that’s been out on the counter all day.

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Langland’s Grocery by Dempsey Miles

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement
Honeysuckles, Chopped Pork BBQ and Muscadine Wine

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

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

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

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

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Little White Girl by Sheryl Rider

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Growing up, we never thought about being southern, probably because nobody ever called us that. Truth be told, everybody we knew was southern and since we never ventured outside the south, there was really no point in mentioning it.

Come to think of it, nobody ever called us children either, or kids, or god-forbid, young ones. We were young’uns and we were of the “seen and not heard” variety.

We were told what to do – “you just go right back and lick that calf over again,” and what not to do – “you better know better.”

We were told what to eat – “you’ll eat what’s on your plate or go hungry” – and what not to eat – “spit that out right now.”

We were told what to say – “yes sir and thank you ma’am,” – and what not to say, “are you sassing me?”

And in moments of frustration and warning, they were all rolled up into one of two admonitions. At home, it was “you better act like you’ve got some damn sense.” And before going out in public, it was “you better act like somebody” with the emphasis always on that second syllable.

And wouldn’t you know it? We learned to listen before we speak, to do things right the first time, to heed our consciences, to be grateful, and careful, and polite, and respectful.

Mostly though we learned that if you act like you’ve got some damn sense, southern or not, you’ll grow up to be somebody.

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Bob War by Don Stewart

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

The colonel passed my fancy computer-generated laser-target print-out across the table to his colleague, a retired Marine and veteran of three wars, who glanced over at me, his gaze shifting slowly from tolerance, to curiosity, to something resembling respect.

“Where’d you learn to shoot, son?”

“I’m fifty years old, sir, and I was raised in the South.”

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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.

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An Honest Trade by Angie Mayfield

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

When we discussed the vocabulary word “paradox” this week in my English class, my students said, “Why, that’s you, Mayfield – an educated redneck!” I guess my twang – and the deer head in my office – are dead giveaways. My colleagues eat salads, talk of fashion and pampered pets, and decorate their offices with pottery and plants. As they gab and giggle, I nibble on squirrel and dumplins and read my Mules and More magazine. “What are you doing this weekend?” one asks, and I say, “Riding my mule.” Their eyes grow large, they gather their plates and utensils, and they flee the area for more civilized settings. I smile and stretch out. “Finally.”

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Hope Denney “Waiting for the Undertaker” [flash fiction]

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: When you’re a half Jewish girl from Tennessee with a heavy Appalachian accent, people really don’t know how to take you.

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Thom Bassett “Keep It In There” [flash fiction]

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I confuse the nice old ladies at my Rhode Island supermarket by asking for my groceries to put in a paper *sack instead of a bag. I’m an atheist Jew who thinks “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” is the prettiest hymn. I call hymns and lots of other things “pretty.” I get red in the face when people don’t say “excuse me” or “thank you” in public intercourse. Because I believe in decorous public intercourse. Atlanta doesn’t feel Southern to me. Hell, small towns in Massachusetts have more of the South in them than Atlanta. Or Dallas. Or Nashville, I say.

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Heather Adams “Warmer Over Here” [flash fiction]

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Honey, my southern roots go way back – at least four generations of my family have been born and raised in western North Carolina.

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Ashley Fields “Legacy” [flash fiction]

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

SLS:
I never thought I was very southern until my neighbor from California came over early one morning. We were going through a “lifestyle change,” and she had arrived to drag me out for an early morning jog. She went into conniptions when she saw what I was eating – a country ham biscuit dipped in red eye gravy. Cholesterol, calories, carbs, oh my! It hit me that I was southern through and through when I very calmly told her “Something’s bound to get me eventually,” got another biscuit and a helping of grits smothered in butter, and ate to my heart’s content.

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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.

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“Pretty, Black, Shiny Shoes” by Dean Stracener

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born in 1934 in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama in a house that didn’t have indoor plumbing. I was only seven-years-old when we moved to Mobile, AL. Except for a few months in Fla. and a few weeks in Saint Louis, I have always lived in Alabama. I always loved to write, even when I was a kid. I was married for eleven years and divorced, married for 32 years and widowed. I am quite well and happy.

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“Not Nihilistic” by Pete Armetta

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

SOUTHERN STATEMENT

I’m a Native New Yorker who’s now Southern. When I came here I didn’t think it’d get a hold on me, but it did. Living in Charlottesville, VA via too many other places to count, it’s now a life of mountains and big sky and dogwoods and hawks. Of back roads and wood- burning stoves. Of bourbon and mint from the garden in May and swimming in the river in August. It’s the long talks with old-timers of how their descendants were run out of what’s now Shenandoah National Park-mountain people getting by as moonshiners. And it’s standing on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, with the columns of its Rotunda and his ghost and magnolias and people from the world over. Just like me. It’s the slow pace of living that’s tamed me. And I never planned it.

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“Our Nativity – 1970” by Dawn Wilson

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: My sister used to experiment on me. At the age of twelve, she taught me how to do a Southern accent–and I got stuck. I couldn’t get rid of it. The phone rang, back in the day when you couldn’t get rid of telemarketers, so my sister started making me answer it with my fake Scarlett O’Hara oh be still mah beatin’ heart accent–and she didn’t stop laughing for three years.

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Suzannah Gilman: Three Poems

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

True, I was born in California and grew up in Florida, which is such a melting pot that it’s not really the south—not unless you’re in Clewiston or Macclenny or Bithlo or someplace like that– but I’m still a southern girl. I say “Bless her heart” after I say something unflattering about someone (I won’t admit to gossip), and that’s about as southern as you can get. My legitimacy honorable mentions: I had a Mawmaw and Pawpaw, I used to say “anyways,” and I still say “yall.”

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Michael Diebert: Three Poems

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
My parents are native Californians who moved to Tennessee before I was born. I married a Pennsylvanian. I can’t abide sweet tea, sweet desserts, egg salad, or chitlins. I never developed much of an accent, apart from “y’all” (with an apostrophe). The fervor of Civil War re-enactors and NASCAR fans has always puzzled me. Nevertheless. Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia: I have lived here all my life, and I am as much Southern as I am anything else. The South, for me, is a James Agee summer night: lightning bugs in a jar, invisible chirping crickets, everything familiar and settled, the world at relative, temporary peace. But the South is also a state of mind, a sort of vigilance, a waiting—and a fecund, green place where the strangeness and play of poems is made possible.

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Michael Parker “message in a bottle”

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Raised and fed by a Southern lady from Chattanooga, who taught me good eating and good manners.

When I die and go to heaven, I’m praying the heavenly banquet will include:

Fried Livermush
Pintos (with pork in them)
Green beans (with pork in them)
Collards (with pork in them)
Corn bread (with pork cracklins in it)

If there is no livermush or pigs in heaven, then–if I have my ‘druthers–I reckon I’ll have to stay right here in North Carolina.

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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.

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Deb Jellett “Daddy Elvis”

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

southern legitimacy statement: I was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, but never learned to be a cute or sweet purdy girl, so I moved to England where surliness is appreciated.

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Zacc Dukowitz “Ernesto and the Mule”

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement*
I have shot containers of propane with my grandfather’s 12 gauge and yodeled with delight at the plume of flame that erupted into the night like a spume of blood from the skull of a Foreigner. I have walked often and barefeeted, and never been a stranger to hardship. I have thought of Andrew Jackson while alone in the darkness of my dead lover’s room, and been comforted.
*featured on the Dead Mule’s Facebook page

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Rena McClure Taylor “Onions Can Make You Cry”

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: We only eat Vidalia onions.

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Margo Roby Poems

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
1] My ancestors helped settle Charleston, South Carolina. The cemeteries are filled with them.
2] Several of them are named Zorababel. That’s a first name. If you were male, why then, it became Zorobabel.
3] During the Civil War my family fought for the South [one half of us — the other half are damned Yankees].
4] My husband’s wedding present to me was a pistol. Forty years later, I still have it and we are still married.
5] My husband and I appear to share a few ancestors. I am much more excited about this than he.
6] We live on Peachtree Road, Atlanta, Georgia. Do I even need the first five?

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Thom Brucie: Three Poems

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was once instructed on the proper division of north from south: All citizens who live below Highway #10 are Southerners; all citizens who live above Highway #10 are Yankees; all citizens who live above the Mason-Dixon line are damn Yankees. I once lived in New York.

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Always Clap for the Band by Clint Tyra

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born in Alabama, grew up in Georgia, went to school in Mississippi, lived in Nashville and do my fishing in South Carolina. I’ve spent a lot of time on the grounds Faulkner’s Rowan Oak and on the highway around Larry Browns farm. I currently live a street over from Carson McCullers’ house. I don’t know how much more legitimate I can be than that.

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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

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Molly Felder “Custody” flash fiction

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: The family’s all tore up: PawPaw and Mimi because Pepe was such a teeniny dog and just flattened under the wheel of that teenager’s Camaro—never stood a chance!—and me because I’m on the outs with Aunt Jean.
I was only joking about her potato salad.
“Aunt Jean and her potato salad” was truly all I said.
I may have also laughed.
And now she won’t say boo to me, as if I meant that she went around offering it to people, whether they wanted it or not!
So you can see that if you accept my story, it will be cause for celebration. PawPaw and Mimi would smile again, and Aunt Jean would congratulate me, although I’ll have to take her out for some broasted chicken, Texas toast, and hand-packed ice cream first.

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Jessica Wimmer “Sweet Baby Lamb”

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

SLS: It was probably around age seven in the middle of a winter night that I realized how southern I was while dangling my legs in Granny’s outhouse.

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Susan Miller “Last Job” flash fiction

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Born many years ago in the ‘Who’sthare’ state, this writer seeks to expand and share stories with anyone who enjoys a midwestern flavor. I enjoy trying flash, shorts, and vignettes, or (postcard stories) if you will. The name ‘Dead Mule’ grabbed my attention as I’ve been called a j.a. many times over the span of 50 some years. I like walking in the nettles and then wading in the crik.

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April Winters “Radio Waves”

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Grammy used to make the best rhubarb pie. Her meals were the type where every inch of the long table was covered with food: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, and vegetables from her garden, and dessert of rhubarb pie. Yum! She expressed her love for her family by making sure we all had full – I’m talking really full – tummies. She had a quick wit and what she called a “hillbilly” accent. She may not have been ‘book’ smart, but she sure was love smart.

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Ted Harrison “Brotherly Love”

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: When you are born of Scot-Irish and Welsh stock in Piedmont North Carolina you start with a perceived southern legitimacy, but perhaps when you grow older you want to prove it —

One of my grandfathers was a storekeeper and the other a farmer. The storekeeper died sometime before I started school. The grandfather who was a farmer gives me a sense of southern legitimacy—at least in my mind. He farmed with his son, my uncle Richard. Their homes were about a hundred yards apart, separated by a field that by turns yielded cotton, or corn or wheat.
In the mid-1950s, Uncle Richard decided it was time to install indoor plumbing in his home. Running water in the kitchen, a bathroom, the works. He approached my grandfather with the idea that while the work was being done Poppa’s pump could be electrified, pipes run into the house for the kitchen and a bathroom, too.

I don’t know how long the discussions took, but finally Poppa agreed. Agreed, to a point. When the work finished at my uncles home work began at Poppa’s. First the pump was electrified. No more pumping the handle up and down to fill a bucket to take into the house for use. Yes, when the modern work finished you could turn on a spigot, then fill your bucket of water courtesy an electric pump—then you could carry your bucket into the house for use.

Maybe not southern legitimacy for some, but it works* for me.

*Works for the Dead Mule, too.

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Herbert Martin “Our Dearest Abandoned Sister” and 2 more poems

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born in Birmingham, Alabama and even though my family migrated in the forties looking for work, I remain a Southerner in manners and diplomacy. I am not sure but I think that this is a Southern Statement.

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Niles Riddick “Dog War”

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’ve lived in the South my whole life. I haven’t wanted to. I’ve wanted to live in more exotic places like Paris or London or even in the United States, places like San Francisco or New York. But I don’t want to move. I just fantasize about it. I grew up in Georgia, lived in Tennessee for 15 years, and then moved back to Georgia.

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Paul Smith: Bye & Bye

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

I hereby certify I am a Yankee. Put down your guns. Having visited your website, I’ve come to the conclusion that once you figure out i’m not related to William Faulkner, you may still read what I have wrote written. By way of introduction, this is a preamble, a necessary and unfortunate assembly of words before The ‘Southern Legitimacy Statement,’ which is forthcoming.

‘Southern Legitimacy Statement’ by Paul Smith
Part 1 of the First Part ‘I deplore the degradation of Gatlinburg, Tennessee into the tourist nightmare it has become because I remember when it was young and somewhat pure, and although I don’t remember the actual event itself, I may have been conceived there, since mom and dad liked it and came there a lot (please don’t snicker at any unintended double-meanings.
Part 2 of the First Part ‘ I know why there are so many Ogles in Gatlinburg. They are not descendants of James Oglethorpe. They are descendants of King Og, who was some kind of King in England. I realize Wikipedia says something else, but this was told to me by one of the Ogles, possibly Kates, who let me ride his horse.
Part 3 of the First Fart – ‘I have been to Dollyville in Pigeon Forge and have eaten pancakes in one of the 26 ‘All You Can Eat’ pancake houses between Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge.’

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John Riley: How It Went Bad With Horsepen

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: When my son was just a little guy, four or five, and studying the violin he loved to take a break from classical music and go with his pap-paw to an old barn down in Pittsboro that had been converted into a little music hall. When it was their turn the two of them would climb onto the stage and the women in the audience would say, “My, my” and “Look how cute he is.” My boy would be wearing his little white cowboy hat and jeans and boots and when his pap-paw gave him the signal he’d dip his head and start going to town on “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” or “Old Joe Clark” or “The Orange Blossom Special,” maybe even a Bob Wills song or two, while the house band accompanied them on dobro and rhythm guitar and bango. My son’s parents would be in the audience beaming like bug lights as their boy and his pap-paw fiddled away. I’m sure this happens in other parts of the country, but I’m not sure there is anyplace else where playing the old-time music weaves warmly through generation to generation the way it does here in North Carolina, where the music was born and the best little fiddlers in the world are bred.

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Sylvia Dodgen: Encounter

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and bred in the Alabama Wiregrass, where fireflies light summer nights and whippoorwills cry, as souls depart. My daddy never set his hat on the bed, fearing bad luck and didn’t believe in starting any project on a Friday. He believed in planting by the moon and swore long-dead cows could be ghosts too. Unmarried I said I wanted a baby and thought of artificial insemination, he said, “The little bastard will just be welcome.” He was a wise man.

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Erin Cochran: Ferris Wheel’s End

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: It’s been said that my daddy’s family is so southern that no one in it from the time brothers Chance, Gardner, and Claude set foot in the Carolinas in 1642 had ever lived north of the Mason-Dixon line until my first cousin moved to Michigan in 1997. That was a travesty in our family worthy of comment from our Uncle Claude, the man who could engage in an hour long conversation without uttering more than five words. He was almost as concerned with her move as he was in finding mamaw’s peach cobbler recipe after she passed away that should have been among the good nighties stored away unopened for that inevitable trip to the hospital. I guess that makes us southern but if not, there’s an entire county in Alabama that our children have been warned about finding a mate in, as we are related to the entire county in some form. That’s probably an exaggeration but there were 1600 people at the last family reunion we attended all descended from one couple and most people came from less than an hour away. The table of “greens” was actually nine tables long and I’m pretty sure my dad ate some from each and every pot.

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A. J. Tierney: Stuck Like This Forever

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: An “Okie from Muskogee” I am one of very few women who have been crowned both Miss Azalea Festival and Miss Indian Summer. I was convinced for years that Colonel Sanders was my grandfather since my grandmother worked so many hours at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I tagged along curling up under her desk with my Snoopy dog that she bought me with S&H Green Stamp books. I’m still stunned there are people in the world who don’t know about paper shell pecans. You haven’t truly lived until you you’ve watched your grandma fry potatoes, okra, pork chops, and chicken in a cast iron skillet in bacon fat that’s been out on the counter all day.

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Art Heifetz: Three Poems

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Came to Richmond in 1977 as a damned Yankee, that is one who decided to stay. Gradually lost my New York accent and started saying “youse all.” Told my clients that my people were F.F.V. and they shook their heads earnestly. “Don’t believe I ever heard of Heifetz.” “Just kidding, ma’am,” I replied. “ We’re from North Carolina.”

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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.

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Jeanne Lupton: Candy

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement
I live in the place of my yearning, Northern California, but I can’t get Virginia out of miy mind, 250-year-old Hopewell Friends Meeting House on a hill with the Blue Ridge in view, homecoming picnics there with a hundred cousins, some aunts named Ms. Pigeon, all eating fried chicken, deviled eggs, potato salad, watermelon, chocolate cake, staying cool in the breeze, calling me Thee. Dear Grandma laughing, “Everybody’s crazy but me and Thee, and sometimes I wonder about Thee.”

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Phillip Thompson: Kenny’s Saturday Night Cake Walk

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I didn’t have a “grandmother” or a “Nana.” I had a Granny. She wore red lipstick, always carried a pistol, drove fast, smoked cigarettes, believed in the Good Lord, cooked with lard (in which everything was fried — chicken, okra, corn, you name it), took all 10 grandkids fishing and was capable of slapping the taste out of your mouth if you sassed her (not that you ever would). She didn’t say “sweet” tea because there’s only one kind of tea in Mississippi (that’s spelled M-I-crooked letter, crooked letter-I-crooked letter, crooked letter-I-humpback, humpback-I), and if you ask for “sweet tea,” you’re clearly a damn Yankee. Or a carpetbagger, take your pick. She had more grandkids than she had room, so we stayed outside a lot in the summer — shirtless, shoeless, sweaty and loud and buying Co-Colas at Bubba Cox’s store or playing in the bed of Granddaddy’s dump truck. If we behaved, we could come in to cool off and listen to “Ode to Billie Joe” on the record player. She said things like “that boy’s as crazy as a junebug” and “bless her heart.” From the South? Hell, she was the South.

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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”   […]

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Celebrate the Fourth of July, 1933 with a Story from Pete Peterson

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Southernicity Statement

I live in Southern California but was reared in the Missouri Ozarks and attended schools where more hogs and dogs were under the school house than text books inside. I know that when you hunt coon or squirrel or quail, even turkey, you kill ’em and brag at church how many you killed. However, when fox hunting, the fox holes up after four or five hours and you thank him for a good race and promise to run him again.

I fry chicken in a cast iron skillet that’s been in the family over a hundred years. It makes great cream gravy. My monthly chicken dinners are quarterly affairs now, since my doctor said I’m to eat only foods I like, and fried chicken’s not listed. (He doesn’t know about the yellow corn grits and sausage on Sunday mornings.)

I understand the difference between the American Baptist, Reel Foot Baptist and Southern Baptist churches and have tasted the baptismal water of all three. I call ladies of a certain age ‘Ma’am’ and younger ones ‘Miss’. Finally, if there’s a more delightful sound than a nightingale singing at midnight from a magnolia tree under a full moon, only angels have heard it.

When I’m not writing you’ll find me tending my Arkansas Traveler, Nebraska Wedding or Brandywine heirloom tomatoes,

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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 […]

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“A Very Bad Thing” by Jim Booth

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Jim Booth was born and raised in Eden, North Carolina. He wrote a novel about his hometown – you could look it up. His other novel has the word “Southern” in the title. You could look that up, too. He likes barbecue and sweet tea. What more do you need to know?

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“Imagining a Son’s Barns Elsewhere From Here” by Tom Sheehan

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I once worked in the south, went through the south to and from an appointment in Korea in 1950-51, have written many stories set in the south, had four books published in the south and many Internet and print appearances in the south, including Dead Mule some time in the past in that southern exposure.

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“Saturday Afternoon at the Drive-In” by Al Lyons

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

*We love this story because it rings so true. Real Stories of Real Folks Posted As Real Fiction.

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and raised in sunny St. Petersburg, FL during the time of Webb’s City, where the mermaid show was free and the ice cream cones were 10-cents each. Once, in my youth, I attended a donkey-baseball game. I spent many a Saturday watching Creature Feature and Professional Wrestling on TV-44, while carefully adjusting the rabbit ears and tinfoil on the back of the set. In college, I waited tables dressed in bib overalls and a straw hat at Skeeter’s Home of the Big Biscuit. I believe eggs and bacon should always be served with grits, as the good Lord intended, although I do endorse the sacrilege of added cheese. I know in my heart that God is a Gator. Several years ago I escaped to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC. I have a homemade camper and a homemade fiddle, and I can be found wandering in the mountains, when I lose track of time.

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“Grandpa! Grandpa!” by Jeanne Lupton

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

southern legitimacy statement:
Since coming to Northern California ten years ago from a lifetime in Virginia where my father’s Quaker family had lived sinnce around 1720, i can see my time there more clearly as material and have enjoyed working with memory to write about it. Hope you enjoy.
**We encouraged Jeanne to find her voice. The little voice tucked away in her heart. Well, dammit, she did. How old are you when you remember? Six? Four? You will find this touching and brilliant. Odds are, you too will start remembering and when you do, write us a piece of your history. You can be six or four… or eighty.

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“Fried Tomatoes and Milk Gravy” by Margaret Frey

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

My Southern Legitimacy Statement is as follows:

I’m a native of New Jersey, South Jersey to be precise. My family and I were transferred to Tennessee a decade ago. I write from the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Though I have yet to develop a taste for grits or okra, I have fond childhood memories of fried tomatoes, best summer dish around!

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“Jolene Jolene” by John Michael Flynn

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I live in central Virginia, and I teach English at Piedmont Valley Community College. My wife and I have owned a little townhouse on the outskirts of Charlottesville for five years now. One of my writing mentors was the late George Garrett, who back in the mid-eighties encouraged me to write and got me a full scholarship into the University of Michigan, where he was then teaching. My story derives from my time as a very young man working as a tobacco farmhand in western North Carolina.

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Joyce Rushing: A Prose Poem

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Joyce is southern by virtue. A true friend of the Dead Mule who is finding her voice.

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“My Wife As a Dog” by John Tarkov

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

SOUTHERN LEGITIMACY STATEMENT
From September to December, I watch SEC football on TV, and I spike my mouthwash with Louisiana Hot Sauce.

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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.

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Brenda Wilson Wooley: “The Poem”

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born in Kentucky into a family of storytellers. I spent many summer nights on my grandmother’s front porch listening to relatives tell one story after another about the eccentrics in the family: a great-grandfather, who walked everywhere he went (even though he had a fine buggy) and had a song written about him (“Walk, Tom Wilson”); a corncob-pipe-smoking great-great grandmother who took off running and hopped on her horse from the rear; a distant cousin’s wife, Lily, who baked cakes when she was depressed. Many cakes. All night long. And a distant cousin who strolled into the local truck stop, perched himself on a stool at the counter and leisurely sipped a cup of coffee. (Did I mention he was clad in nothing but a towel?)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Donna Orchard: Highway 61 Road Trip

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: My creative non fiction piece is about sister and I touring an historic blues corridor, Highway 61, through Mississippi looking for the music.

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John Lane – Three Poems

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Much of my genetic material has been circulating between the blue Southern sea and the Blue Ridge for over 200 years. (My sister, an obsessive genealogist, can certify this.) A few family names: Mary Caldonia Behealer, Christopher Columbus
Bradley (“Lum”), Walter Scott Lane, Aunt Lottie Belle. will send my mother’s pinto bean recipe upon request.

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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.

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From Helen Losse

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

A word or two from our Poetry Editor Emeritus

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“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.

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“Damn Tourists” by John Baradell, Jr.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

SLS: Most of my family was born and raised in the Deep South, and remains there (Mississippi, Alabama, and East Texas). Things get a bit confused by some in those areas when they find out that I grew up in the Upper South of Tidewater, Virginia. When they hear my soft accent or that I prefer to be asked first before my tea is sweetened, I am sometimes accused of being a Yankee (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Not so with my family, though–I’m still Southern through and through–and proud of it. I’m so Southern that I can go into great detail about my usual scratch staple of grits and its historical importance to the South’s survival. True, but I eat them so often (always stone ground–never instant) because they’re soooo good.

Plus, I know the difference between a chicken house and a hen house, and have met both chicken catchers and chicken sexers.

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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 […]

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Everyone Wears A Nametag – Valerie MacEwan

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
My yard dogs are polite and only bark when strangers walking by neglect them and forget to speak to them. The voices of people I’ve never met will waft up to the second story windows of my home, “Hello there, everything okay today? How ya’ doing? Sweet pups. Nice pups … “

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Jessica Wimmer – If I Let My Babies Be Born

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: It was probably around age seven in the middle of a winter night that I realized how southern I was while dangling my legs in Granny’s outhouse.

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Diane Hoover Bechtler – Illiteracy

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Southern legitimacy statement
my grandmother made fat back sandwiches at lunch for all the grandchildren and our cholesterol is just fine.

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Kevin Winter – What The Storm Did

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: A snapshot of the South. A line of watermelons laid out in the grass. The road, just glorified gravel. My wife pointing through the windshield at the hand-painted cardboard leaning against the fence post. A smile playing across her face in the shifting sunshine. An empty gumdrop jar gleaming beside the cardboard sign. “Take a melon” on one line, “Leave a dollar” on the next.

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Hannah Thurman – Snakes in the Ceiling

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: When she was 8, Hannah attended a weeklong Kay Yow Lady Wolfpack basketball camp at NC State University, where dribbling was optional but prayer mandatory.

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Frances Badgett – Wishbone Stick

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up in Lexington, Virginia steeped in summer afternoon storytelling that winds its way late into the night. I walk 74 percent slower than most people I know here in Washington State. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who orders grits at the diner here in town. I have that way we have that makes us really tiresome at the grocery store in places like Seattle and New York. I’m descended from Felix Grundy. I’ll let you Google him.
*ValNote: I google’d him.

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Robert Klein Engler — The Tourist

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I have passed a lot of time living in New Orleans and traveling from there to Des Plaines, Illinois and back to NOLA. I take comfort in living by a river. I know what “lagniappe” means, and I plan on being buried above ground.

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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 […]

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Joseph Bathanti – NC Poet Laureate

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Mr. Bathanti is well known to many of us in NC. Bathanti is currently a professor of creative writing at Appalachian State University where he is also Director of Writing in the Field. He is the Writer-in-Residence for the Watauga Global Community.

He was installed as the seventh North Carolina Poet Laureate on September 20, 2012, at a ceremony in Raleigh, North Carolina. During his two-year term, he will be an “Ambassador of N.C. Literature” and will remain free to create his own long-term projects. The position requires the laureate to participate in various literary activities across the state, working with “with schools, community groups, and the press.” We see the two extraordinary poems here in the Dead Mule as an extension of his poetic mandate.

Mr. Bathanti has received many honors including:

The Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award (1995)
Oscar Arnold Young Award – The North Carolina Poetry Council (1997)
Carolina Novel Award – Banks Channel Books (2001)
Sherwood Anderson Award (2002)
Linda Flowers Literary Award – NC Humanities Council (2002)
Novello Literary Award (2006)
The Spokane Prize – Eastern Washington University
North Carolina Poet Laureate (2012–2014)
Ragan-Rubin Award – North Carolina English Teachers Association (2012)

*Wikipedia entry re:Joseph Bathanti. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, check his Wikipedia page for more details and a list of his publications and access links.

Statement from the Editors:

Every year, in April, the Dead Mule publishes the poet laureate of a Southern state as the centerpiece of its Poetry Issue. Helen Losse established this tradition early in her career as Poetry Editor here a the Mule. In past years, we have featured such esteemed poets as: Kathryn Stripling Byer, Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda, Marjory Wentworth, Claudia Emerson, Sue Brannon Walker, and Cathy Smith Bowers.

This year we are fortunate to have two unique and wonderful poems from Joseph Bathanti, the Poet Laureate of North Carolina 2012-2014. He was appointed by Gov. Bev Purdue.

This April poetic tradition is a joy to create each year and we hope everyone enjoys reading all the incredible writing.

Later in the middle of the month — don’t forget — Fiction! Essays! And now, read on — on down the page — there are 27 more poets here.

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Janet Joyner : Six Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Number One: if you’re the one asking “Honey, who are your people?” let’s just say mine have been here long enough to understand the question; Number Two: there’s a reason my middle name is Lee; Number Three: I grew up in the Carolina low country where even the sweat sweats. That good enough?

**

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Jim “Jazzbo” Chandler: Five Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I heared tell of some moron passin’ around the word that Jazzbo Chandler might not be pure bred Southern…ignernt sumbitch claimed he was born north of the Tennessee–Kentucky line and jest claimed to be a man of the True South.

Boy, ‘at got my damn blood boilin’! I was hotter than Granny was when she caught Grandpa out in the barn commiseratin’ with some of the livestock in a manner that was again the law, I reckon. Grandpa claimed both snaps on his Dee-Cee bibs failed at the same time and he was astandin’ on the five-gallon bucket ’cause he didn’t wanna get cow manure all over his new clod stompers.

I don’t reckon Granny believe ‘at too much, ’cause she went up aside his head with a single-tree and brained him. He got outta the hospital a couple days ago after about six month, but I reckon they’s somethin’ still wrong with him . . . he said he’s some German scientist named Brownsher Bosch and he owned the Ford Company. Hell, Grandpa ain’t got a bucket to piss in nor a winder to throw it out of, not since his boy, Uncle Claude, went to sleep with his crack pipe and burnt down the house.

As the poetry editor of this here profane and vulgar magerzine tole me, us Rank Stranger stick together. Hell yeah we do; I’m buyin’ me one of them damn plastic squeeze bottle syrup thangs, hell with them Karo bottles! They always mess up on me and I look like a sight with them pieces of biscuit stuff all over my overalls.

I’m a good Southern boy, though. I always let them pore kids what ain’t got no food lick off the stickins. They shore like me.

**

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Ronald Moran: Four Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I love the South. Although I was not born in the South, I have lived my last 53 years in Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. My late and beloved wife, Jane, of 50 years is, along with her parents, buried in South Carolina; my parents are buried in North Carolina; and my children, born in Louisiana, live in the South, as do all of my grandchildren. Near the end
of my teaching career at Clemson University, one of my classes presented me with a framed certificate with the following inscription:

This Certificate
Allows as How
Ronald W. Moran
By Virtue of his Literary
Achievement
Is Now and Evermore Shall Be
A
Son of the South
That means a lot to me.

**

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Wendy Taylor Carlisle: Four Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was raised in Florida in the days when I could ride my horse across New River Bridge and tie her to a parking meter while I shopped in the 5 & 10. (yes. a nickle and a dime) Arkansas took hold of me in 1973; hasn’t let go yet. I was an accidental Texan for a while. In the land of Budweiser and boviculture, I kept trying to get back to the mountains. When I went to school in Vermont, one of my buddies and I ordered a sack of grits shipped in so the cooks could make grits for everybody–not everybody ate them. Right now, I live in the Arkansas Ozarks and damned glad of it.

**

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Joe Mills: Four Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Although I wasn’t born in the South, I have lived here long enough to acknowledge strangers I pass rather than walking by silent and stone-faced. I hadn’t realized that I was doing this until a trip up North a few years ago when I received several startled reactions from people whose expressions said, “I don’t know you. Why are you talking to me?”

**

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Stan Absher: Four Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in North Carolina and, except for two years in France and a few years in Utah, I’ve lived in Virginia or North Carolina my whole life. I don’t much like grits, unless they’re baked and served with shrimp. My immediate family briefly owned a mule, primarily (I think) so my father could brag about it, but my uncle stubbornly continued to use one to cultivate his garden when everyone else had moved on to gas-powered tillers.

**

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Alina Coryell: Four Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I came to Alabama from communist Romania with a banjo on my knee at the stunning age of three. While my friends were learning how to slobber out the correct “cain’t”, I wore red jeans to Catholic school and learned from the nuns that communism was thick as blood and showed up in pants. I wrote speeches for my next door neighbor to deliver to the local chapter of the D.A.R.— long, windbagged proclamations of hot and heavy patriotic ardor, stories of generals and saints who hated all the right people for all the godly reasons.

These days, I practice the fine southern art of sauntering around aimlessly with my three unschooled children hoping to attract the eye of that handsome city slicker I married. As a stay-at-home feminist, I refuse to keep more than one room of the house tidy at a time and maintain a strict “no cleaning on weekdays” policy. This explains why the family often camps out in the backyard at night.

Being a dilettante does not receive the respect it deserves in my hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. That’s why I plans to join the Green Party this year.

When I’m not admiring the sublime curvature of my rather buxom nose, I like to force my children to dress as early American settlers and scream “slow down” at old men in cars inching through the neighborhood.

**

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Norbert Krapf: Four Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and grew up on an island of German Catholics in southern Indiana surrounded by folks from Appalachia. Driving to the east and crossing the Ohio River, we came into Louisville, where I still have many maternal cousins. Going on forty-three years ago, I married a Cajun from Lafayette, Louisiana, whose mother’s maiden name was LeBlanc, from the LeBlanc Settlement. During the thirty-four years we lived on Long Island, on the cusp of New York City, where we raised our adopted daughter and son from Bogotá, Colombia, we had crawfish (never “crayfish”) flown in annually on dry ice from Cajunland. Indiana was a second and Louisiana a third home to our children. When my wife and I retired from teaching and moved back to Indiana in 2004, I started collaborating with jazz and blues musicians. I have been to see Minnesota minstrel Bob Dylan perform more times than I will here admit. I fell deep in love with the blues in the late 60s and have been a devotee ever since, culminating in several trips to Memphis and the Mississippi Blues Trail. It’s all been one great gumbo.

**

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Anne Robertson: Four poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I grew up in North Carolina under the shade of the hugest magnolia tree you’ve ever seen. I spent 18 years of my life smelling like magnolia, speaking with an accent I never knew or admitted I had, walking by confederate flag t-shirts in the halls of school, and trying to figure out the difference between the people who lived in the big houses on Riverside and those who lived out in the boonies in Chesterfield. The difference is who sold the most chicken versus who has the most heart. I ran away to New York as soon as I’d learned what my high school could teach me, which was how to stay human amongst the sound of ghost cannons and the swish of the debutantes’ crinoline laughter. It’s hard to go home now, because I’ve learned what it’s like in places where people don’t ask “how’s ya mama’n’em?” or warn of rainstorms by tellin’ you “it’s fi’in’ to come a cropper,” and this has let me settle with the absolutely heart-breaking beauty of living in the Blue Ridge Mountains and I want to keep my memories of sitting above Linville Falls just as they are—a matter of nostalgic poetry. I’ve been told my poems sound like bedtime stories when I read them out loud. That’s because they are. They are all the truth my mother and hers passed down in whispers and shouts to the girl whose middle name always gives her away as a Southern woman.

**

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Peg Bresnahan: Four poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Born and raised on the shores of Lake Michigan, my poetry was heavy with water. I’ve lived in Western North Carolina for ten years and now write about copperheads, turkey vultures, waterfalls, (all water being vertical save for the man-made lakes I don’t count), lichen and moss, balds, cougars, smilax, chiggers, laurel and rhododendron. I’ve learned that ‘bless her heart’ is the kiss of death, that almost everyone has an arsenal either in their car or house, and despite the fact drinking liquor is frowned upon, many people drink it. I have made the greatest friends, have wonderful neighbors, and wouldn’t move away from the Blue Ridge Mountains for anything. When I first arrived, I saved the messages on my answering machine just so I could hear the accent. Of course, being from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, I don’t have one.

**

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Gabriel Sealey-Morris: Four Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

My father threw up at the end of a tobacco row at 7 years old. I taught my Jerseyite wife to eat collards. By God, that in itself is enough.

**

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Harold Whit Williams: Four poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Several generations of my family have lived and worked the land in rural Winston County, Alabama – such an ornery and contrary and rebellious place that they seceded from the just-formed Confederacy, becoming the Free State of Winston. Both my parents and my sister have tremendous musical talent, and whatever musical amoeba that flourishes in the Tennessee River got inside my bloodstream as well. I soon found myself copying Hubert Sumlin and Steve Cropper guitar licks, playing in local garage bands, and even doing a session at the R & B mecca, Fame Recording Studio. After college, I moved to Austin, Texas to end up as guitarist for the critically acclaimed rock band, Cotton Mather.

**

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Carrie Teresa Maison: Four Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I have been in DC almost fifteen years now , but I am still a country girl at heart. I grew up on the border of North Carolina, and I am here to tell you that the sky really is bluer there than anywhere else. I have had the pleasure of working with the folks at The Dead Mule before and I am happy to say I have returned! I still miss mornings waking up to eat breakfast with Granddaddy in front of the wood stove. Mama’s sweet tea is still served in a Mason jar and I still eat those peanut butter crackers all day long. These are my stories, mainly told over Kentucky bourbon and buttered biscuits.

**

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Joan Mazza: Four Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

After living 32 years in South Florida, I ran from hurricanes to live in the woods of central Virginia. No traffic, no noise, close to nature, where I can hear myself think. I’m noisy on the inside.

**

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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.

**

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Ann Chandonnet: Three Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

After spending 34 years living and writing in Alaska, poet, food historian and nonfiction writer Ann Chandonnet is spending her “Golden Years” in Vale, North Carolina, where she gardens and listens to owls.

**

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Susan Carter Morgan: Three Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I moved almost every year of my life until finally settling in Virginia 35 years ago. Every time I drive through the Blue Ridge mountains, my breathing changes. I know it’s spring when my fringe and dogwoods start blooming. I love calling my historic town home.

**

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Heath Jones Carpenter: Three Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

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.

**

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Rita Quillen: Three Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

My husband and I, whose families have lived in Scott County, Virginia for generations, raise Angus cattle on a southwest Virginia farm just over the mountain from the little community of Hilton, Virginia, where I grew up. I play oldtime music with the Rockhouse Stringband, following a long family tradition. My husband has not followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was at one time a moonshiner.

**

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Kathy Ferrell: Two Poems and a Haiku

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

A native and mostly life-long resident of West Virginia, I am descended from several generations of Irish stone masons and English sea-farers. When I discovered that my great grandfather arrived here from Limerick, I immediately understood why I so often think in rhyming verse, and why my father was more comfortable telling stories from his head than from a book.

Possessed of such a strong Appalachian accent that fellow West Virginians dismiss me as a congenital idiot, I’ve learned to use it for my own entertainment. I am adept at forelock tugging and “shining on”. My dream is to see drastic change in what passes for “Patrons of the Arts” in West Virginia, in that I would like to see fewer hors-d’oeuvres and more books and actual paintings in their homes.

I throw rocks with remarkable accuracy for an old woman, and once came jailhouse close to bludgeoning some fool to death with my cast-iron skillet. While he slept off my fried potatoes.

**

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Curtis Dunlap: Two Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement #7:

These things I learned as a small boy living in the south: 1) A penny placed on a railroad track becomes a highly prized possession after it’s flattened by a train. 2) A dead snake draped across the branch of a tree will end a summer drought and bring rain. 3) Swapping a flattened copper penny for a flattened copperhead is an equitable trade. 4) Draping said snake onto the top of a withered tobacco plant will make it rain, too…leaving an eleven year-old boy with the distinct impression that he’s solely responsible for saving the family farm and the occurrence of Hurricane Abby.

**

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Peter Sragher: Two Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

southing with the sun. sun never has south. at dawn it drags its red face from east through the cold water, a beauty in its coolness, as if it were blood trying to warm up for the flow through the body. the sun at dusk glows down in the west, far away from our eyes, loosing it’s body in the night mysteries. in midday sun is a yellow sphere you cannot look at, cause you would burn your eyes and wouldn’t see the incandescent raging sun any longer. his face lifts the north, rises the north feeling into the air. i’m though always southing. the sun cannot ever turn south. the stubborn sun cannot get to earth, down, down, to feel my smooth south soul. I will once teach the sun to south, to put his heart on the earth and glide on the feeling.

**

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Michelle Hartman: Two Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement

Michelle Hartman was left on a doorstep in Fort Worth lo these many years ago by a band of post-reactionary, Pagan Gypsies. After a grueling four years at the Martha Stewart School for Exceptional Females she took her rightful place beside the lucky man who won her in the county “Ho Down”. She’s taking a break today from polishing silver, planning a week of gourmet meals, buffing the handcuffs nicks off the headboard, and building one hundred and twenty rabbit figures from various sizes of marshmallows, to share her poetry and short thoughts on a complete life.

**

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Hal J. Daniel III: Two Poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Except for a 2 year post doctoral fellow stint at the University of Zurich and a 2 year visiting scholar appointment at the University of Washington, I have lived my entire 69 years in the South including Tennessee, Mississippi and North Carolina.

**

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Glenn Halak: Two poems

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I grew up with my great-grandmother half the time and she inspired me to paint and write. She left Georgia in a covered wagon sometime after 1867 – when she was born – to live on a Texas farm near Texarkana and to marry a musician/composer who taught high school bands all his life. When I was two I remember a tornado coming to the farm, a wagon, and then pitch black outside. But I spent most of my growing up time in Wisconsin. My great-grandmother became bedridden when a drunk hit the car my grandmother was driving killing my great-grandfather in 1943. I often lived in their house with its many paintings of southern landscapes and darkly genteel poetry and all the stories of cousins and tornadoes. My grandmother never lost her Texas accent and didn’t want to. My great=grandmother was terrified she would wake up in her coffin. She died in bed at the age of 97. I for felt her pulse because my grandmother was afraid to. There was none.

**

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Michael Evan Parker : if it rains

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Raised and fed by a Southern lady from Chattanooga, who taught me good eating and good manners.

When I die and go to heaven, I’m praying the heavenly banquet will include:

Fried Livermush
Pintos (with pork in them)
Green beans (with pork in them)
Collards (with pork in them)
Corn bread (with pork cracklins in it)

If there is no livermush or pigs in heaven, then–if I have my ‘druthers–I reckon I’ll have to stay right here in North Carolina.

**

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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.

**

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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”.

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February and March 2013

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

New works

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Seeker by Cecile Dixon

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Mother, Grand-mother, Great Grand-mother, nurse, writer, chief cook and bottle washer, they are all me and they are all Southern. As the years of my self imposed Northern exile roll I by, I have come to know that Southern is who I am, no matter the location.

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An Eyepatch and a Grainy Orange Keypad by Kevin Winchester

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement…well, I poked a dead mule with a stick once. I know where “yonder” is. The first time I traveled north of the Mason-Dixon line I got in an argument with the assistant to the assistant manager because their restaurant did not offer grits on the breakfast menu. Speaking of grits, I like mine with red-eye gravy. I believe Dukes mayonnaise and Cheerwine are part of the vegetable food group. I know how to clean a squirrel. I may or may not have Wilkes County, NC moonshine in a Mason in my cabinet. Did I mention that I know where “yonder” is? Eight generations of my relatives are buried in the red clay of North Carolina, and I reckon I will be too. Right over yonder…

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A Birdbrain Journal by Carmen Kunze

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’m a native Floridian, born in Hialeah, seasoned lightly in Belle Glade and served up in West Palm Beach. I consider myself a Cuban Cracker.

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Ballerina of the Neighborhood by Jeanne Lupton

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement
How I miss the Virginia countryside, the dusy red dirt, the soft summer rain, the green of the Shenandoah Valley, the damp heat of the swampland where I grew up. I’m so proud Virginia went Obama’s way in the election. The Old Dominion ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be. How I love her, even now from the other coast, and I always will.

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The Familiar by Sylvia Dodgen

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I was born and bred in the Alabama Wiregrass to a father, who said, “Yes, Ma’am” to every female no matter how old or young, and a mother, who painted her lips and nails red and wore heels, hose and a garter everyday of the week except Saturdays, when she rode horses with my father then she wore jodhpurs and boots. Her hair was the hardest thing she had to deal with on a daily basis. If for some reason she couldn’t make it to the beauty shop, she took meals in her bedroom, announcing that her hair looked like a “stump full of granddaddies.” She believed in benign neglect. I ran around barefoot in cutoff dungarees without a shirt. The dungaree suspenders pulled over my shoulders and hooked to metal buttons on a bib, covering my chest. I was sandy, freckled and tick-ridden.
Occasionally, daddy would bring in quail and partridge from a Saturday morning shoot. I would pick them clean on Saturday night, while my parents were dining and dancing. We’d have fried quail and grits for dinner at noon on Monday. We ate fried fish roe and grits for breakfast on Sundays and brains and eggs many weekdays. I grew up on scuppernong wine made by my granddaddy. I was a child of the 1950’s and life in the Wiregrass was peaceful, pleasant and in some ways peculiar (I just didn’t know it then).

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The Vehicle My Father Slept In by Jason Sobelman

Monday, February 18th, 2013

SLS : I have seen a couple episodes of Lizard Lick Towing. No?
Well, I traveled across two states to hear a Southern Preacher, because that is as close as he would get to the abyss that is my current residency . God bless you Pastor David Terrell.

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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.

**

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K.C. Bosch: Four Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

My dating website is YesterdaysTractor.com. My truck is known as Red. My dog is named Dog. I have three girlfriends named Anne: Sue-Anne, Betty-Anne, and LuAnne; my hunting buddies are Wilmer and his brother Ennis. My sister is a teetotalin’ non-smokin’ monogamous vegetarian, but she’s from Boston. The Rapp News covers national and international news on one page, but has 5 pages of high school sports, NASCAR, and local gossip.

Redneck is a noun and a verb. My keys stay in my truck my house ain’t ever been locked. Town is OK as long as it’s ten miles away from here. Tea is sweet and gravy is what you put your eggs over. Black-eyed peas and corn bread are more than a New Year’s Day novelty snack. Living in Huntly, I know that Virginia is not the south; it is the middle, the middle of everything.

**

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David Wiseman: Four Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Hillbilly bibliomancer, unindicted co-conspirator, instigator of bad habits, and occasional stone-mason, has met the devil a couple of times and come away from it with no more than a few bad habits and a prescription. I am fond of whiskey, hound dogs, and pork. I claim to have lived in Virginia for 225 years, and am older than I looks. I write poems because the universe is falling apart like a toilet paper submarine and someone must point at it and laugh. My recent work has appeared in a number of online and print journals.

**

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Gary Carter: Four Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Growing up in the North Carolina, where you’re Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred and when you die you’re Tar Heel dead, I believe—no, am downright certain—that ghosts and monsters surround us, seen and unseen—and sometimes the living ones are more frightening than the ones lingering in the darkness, as in any down-South member of the Republican Party. But still I keep circling back like some broke-nose Faulkner character and lingering, this last time around to Asheville, where I was purportedly conceived, and which seems to be a slightly crazed place where pushing words around until they make sense seems to make sense—for now. And where you can just escape up into the mountains and find some peace.

**

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Michael Lee Johnson: Four Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’m not southern as such, having lived most of my life in the Midwest United States, and 10 years in Canada; however, I did live in Florida for three years under humid, stressful times and a divorce. I’m not sure if Florida even qualifies as the South with so many “Florida Snowbirds” coming and going. In Florida while walking near a cypress swamp along a water canal area I was about a half-mile down the trail when I saw at least five cottonmouth snakes on the other side of the bank or my side, with their white mouths wide open. I had foolishly purchased a 22 caliber pistol a few days earlier thinking I was going to shoot at some birds or anything else that moved. At that moment, a cottonmouth snake slithered across my tennis shoes, startling me, and I fired, almost shooting my own foot off. I ran faster than any rabbit back to my car, to my sheltered life. Does that qualify as southern?

**

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R. W. Haynes: Four Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Pushing grits and Confederates aside for the moment, I’ll just say that my recollections of childhood in southern Georgia are illuminated in strange and intriguing ways each time I return to William Bartram’s Travels, a book Mark Van Doren suggests Wordsworth took with him to Germany in 1798. OK, back to hog-calling, possum-wrestling, and turpentine-drinking.

**

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Steve West: Three Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in the Arkansas Ozarks, taught high school at Shirley, Arkansas (population about 600); went to graduate school in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and have taught at a college in Pulaski, Tennessee, for 28 years. That’s pretty well covering the South, especially as Pulaski is infamous as the home of the Ku Klux Klan, a dubious honor that it has been diligently trying to overcome for years now.

**

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Jill White: Three Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

For more than twenty-five years, I have lived in the Panhandle of Florida, where the humidity curls my hair and hot hushpuppies curl my toes. I live for the scent of confederate jasmine in April and the sight of dolphins at play in the bayou. If you call me on the phone you can even hear my Southern legitimacy first hand!

**

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Adreyo Sen: Three Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in India, which is where I now reside, in the gloriously dirty and laidback city of Kolkata. I’ve been educated on the eastern seaboard of the United States on two separate and unequally instructive occasions and as far as the south goes, I have no legitimacy. Save a great fondness for Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ and a fine lady by the name of Ada McCoy.

**

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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:

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Natasha Wall: Two Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I love being Southern bred and born. I love the simplicities of life and the nuances that we hold. I love how we like sweet tea and Kool-Aid–affectionately known as “diabetes in a glass.”

**

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Deborah R. Majors: Two Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Even though I’ve lived overseas and up North, living in the Florida Panhandle since 1969 and having a father from a small town in southern Georgia makes me, I believe, a true Southerner. As a child, I’ve smelled the dried tobacco leaves of Georgia tobacco farms, climbed the same oak tree my dad fell out of as a boy and broke his arm, sat on a creaky wood porch swing and listened to the adults until shooed off to bed, ate peaches–fuzz and skin if I didn’t have a knife, walked to the store for a grape Nehi which we plucked from a chest refrigerator, slept in Great-grandma’s tin roofed house with a fan and no AC, swam in many-a-creek, eaten mullet and shark, went crabbing and floundering, and sugared my feet with the white sands of the Emerald Coast, which was called the Panhandle’s Playground in 1969.

As an adult, I’ve walked up on a gator, shot what I thought was a rattler, had an escaped ostrich run beside my van on a country road, and had a neighbor’s cow look at me through my living room window. Mimosa, honeysuckle, yaupon, tall pines, turkey oaks, live oaks, magnolias, dogwoods, wild azaleas, blueberries, scuppernongs, broom sage, and a slew of other southern flora dot our 30 acres. I often sit on my porch at night, listening to the kudzu grow, sipping sweet tea, reading Paula Deen’s cookbook, and swatting skeeters.

**

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C.P. Varnum: Two Poems

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in Tucker, Georgia, a sleepy little town with a main street bisected by train tracks. I grew up barefoot and tree climbing every chance I got; until the long piercing whistle of my grandfather would call us in to wash up before supper.

My teenage summers were spent: sneaking cigarettes at church camp, listening to Lee Greenwood over the loudspeakers at the Laser show and sharing Coke and cherry ices from the Milk Jug on Hwy 29.

After a gracious yet failed attempt (phew) as a debutante—I hitched a ride north to the Appalachians, where I quickly acclimated a love of moonshine and mandolins.

I currently reside in Charlotte, NC with my partner and four-year-old daughter. In our yard there’s a broke down 1974 VW super beetle, enough weeds in my flower beds to make my mother cringe, and a fire pit covered with a plastic baby pool so it won’t get wet. It’s not red-neck, its resourceful southern planning.

My white chicken chili is the bees-knees.

**

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G. C. Compton: Hillbilly Heaven

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was jerked up by the hair of the head between Doc Bill Holler and Buzzard’s Roost, Kentucky. My daddy was a coal miner but could read writin’ and knew all the words to “Sally Goodin.” I’m a member in good standing of the Game Fowl Breeders Association and drive my wife to church in a four-wheeler. I don’t eat grits but like soup beans, taters and dry land fish–for breakfast. I’ve got a Rebel flag in the back widow of my pickup and a sign on the front bumper that says: Honk IF You Love Jesus! I don’t speak nary a word of plain English and always thought the diphthong was what the purty girls wore at Myrtle Beach.

**

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Evelyn Seay: On the Dock in September

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Born and raised in Yorktown, Virginia I recently relocated to study Poetry at George Mason University. There, I have learned that I miss drinking real sweet tea on my humid back porch, watching my 4th of July Fireworks on the Yorktown Battlefield and seeing people dressed in colonial-era garb on a regular basis. My fondest memories stretch across the south, from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and Tennessee’s Appalachia to Lake Gaston and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then farther still to the swamps of Florida.

Editor’s Note:

The Dead Mule is always pleased when we learn that we are the publisher for a poet’s first published poem. Congratulations, Evelyn.

**

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Mary Laura Philpott: Sisterhood

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

We moved around a lot growing up. Born in Nashville, now in Atlanta, I’ve left pieces of my youth in Chapel Hill, Hagerstown, Memphis, Augusta, Davidson, and Charlotte. I married a boy from the Kentucky bluegrass, and our babies wear seersucker and say yes ma’am. I learned to snap beans from my grandmother in Birmingham and perfected the art of deveining shrimp with a Palmetto Pale Ale cradled in my elbow during summers in South Carolina. When asked where I’m from, I just say “the South.”

**

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Thomas Scott McKenzie: Spook In the Night

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Another great tale straight from the 2000 archives.

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Jeanne Lupton : Morning Glory Blue

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

The best thing about this essay besides the essay itself? We’ve asked Jeanne to write more for us. Betcha’ can’t wait until next month …
Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up in Virginia and live in Norhern California now. In imagination and memory Virginia will dwell within me as long as I live as a place of summer rain, the brilliant maples of October on Barton Street, cozy nights and peaceful walks in the woods at Skyland, a walk in a blizzard up to Columbia Pike to buy a jug of Gallo Port, wanting poems in a bottle, and such memories that make a life that’s a lot about the place where it happens.

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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.

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Tim Bullard : The Little Red Man

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Tim is the oldest of Mule Friends. He is one of my very first true online friends. His talent as a writer speaks for itself. His southern legitimacy transcends a statement. Welcome back to the Mule, Tim.

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April Winters : Mommy’s In a Better Place

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Southern Legitimacy Statement

Grammy used to make the best rhubarb pie. Her meals were the type where every inch of the long table was covered with food: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, and vegetables from her garden, all topped off with rhubarb pie. Yum! She expressed her love for her family by making sure we all had full – I’m talking really full – tummies. She had a quick wit and what she called a “hillbilly” accent. She may not have been book smart, but she sure was love smart.

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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.

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Anthony Marshall : What Remained

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

SLS: I live in the REAL south, South Carolina, and, while that statement alone should legitimize my southerosity, please indulge me. I own a wardrobe sprinkled with camouflage shirts, pants, hats even though i do not hunt. When I was young, my parents told me total bullshit stories of how my grandmother, sometimes great grandmother depending on how much PBR she had drunk, (Always a female ancestor), was a Cherokee. As I grew older and realized how many of my fellow southerners had this ridiculous mythological Cherokee ancestor I quickly ditched the story. As I type this, I am wiping the slime off of my boiled peanuts on my camouflage pants and airbrushed wolf-howling-at-the-moon-while-sitting-next-to-an-indian t-shirt that I bought from the flea market.

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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.

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Ed Laird “Crazy”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement
For southern highlanders and we who are their descendants, words are revered, but reserved and used with economy. But when the few words we use fail us, music enlarges our emotional vocabularies, and our simple ballads of love and heartbreak speak volumes.

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Deb Jellett “Dancing Pine Trees”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement
I was born and raised in the South, occasionally eat grits, but hate football. Oh dear.

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Tracei Willis “Cornbread Musing and All Such As That”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement
I learned many a lesson at the hands of the women in my life, from my mama to both my grandmamas, to my aunties on both my mama and my daddy’s side, but there was one critical lesson I never actually mastered to anyone’s satisfaction, not even my own children–making a decent pan of cornbread. For as far back as I can remember, there has always been some well meaning relative in my life trying to explain the do’s and don’ts of cornbread making to me. Pull up a chair, sit awhile, and listen to some of my kinfolk explain the Holy Southern Art of Cooking Cornbread.

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Bobbi A. Chukran “Sadie and the Museum Lady”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in Texas and influenced by eccentric kinfolks who were farmers, artists, graveyard caretakers and sharecroppers. I was raised on fried catfish (caught on trot-lines using blood-bait), fried chicken, collards and turnip greens. I used to help my grandmother gather poke sallet down in the bottoms. At the age of 42, I realized that I was more Southern than Texan. Since then, I haven’t forgotten that.

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Carmen Kunze “My Skunk Ape Christmas”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I am a native Floridian, born in Hialeah, lightly seasoned in Belle Glade and served up in West Palm Beach. That makes me from the South and I’m proud to be a Cuban Cracker.

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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.

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Laura Seaborn “The Turkey’s Beard”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
We moved to Florida when I was sixteen and when we crossed the border into the state, there were bill boards: This is Wallace Country. That was my introduction into a different and intriguing world. I took to the South, learned to love grits, rutabagas, and anything deep fried. My Midwestern born and bred parents never adapted to Southern ways, but I quickly learned to call sweet potatoes, yams, and baked them into pies like any true Southerner.

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Caren Rich “The Fruitcake”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement
I was born and raised in the South. Sweet tea runs through my veins. There are enough lights on my house during the Christmas season to signal planes. I make fruit cake and love the sweet sugary pillows that are divinity. My kids run year round barefoot and the dog doesn’t wear a collar. I am southern and proud of it.

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Gregg Punger “The Candle Girl”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:
I was born and raised by a true southern woman from Mars Bluff, South Carolina in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where I spent most of my youth making forts and mud slides in the creek behind my house and playing football. Through her stories about her life growing up on a farm and my time spent at my ancestral home, a two story white farm house with columns and a large porch surrounded by woods and acres of fields, I learned to be a southerner.

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Steve Gowin “Ringneck”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

SLS
I am a Yankee… Ok you’d find out sooner or later. But most of my writer friends are Southern writers. My affinities are for Faulkner and O’Connor. Well if that doesn’t sink me, I hope you enjoy my story.

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Marah Blair “My Grandfather’s House”

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement
I was born in the “sticks” of Central Virginia. Silos across the street, bare feet in the freshly tilled garden patch, and mud fights in the rain. I am a very big fan of sweet tea, biscuits with real salted butter, and good old fashion bon fires. The south is very dear to my heart.

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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.

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Ray Sharp: Wind Fierce as Love

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I left the South many years ago as a young man, yet still on long winter nights I ask myself why. The Northern Lights are beautiful with their cold and alien glow, but I surely miss sticky summers in the Ohio River Valley, honeysuckle vine on the back fence, and the soft lilting way that Laura is pronounced Laahrah.

**

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L. A. Lawton: Four Poems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

I’ve lived more than half my 74 years in the South, mostly by choice. I regard “y’all” as a perfectly legitimate second-person plural. I make super crabcakes and key lime pie, but I don’t eat grits out of loyalty to my mama’s Hoosier corn pudding. I have a photo of me with Eudora Welty, dated one of her cousins in New York in the sixties, and wish I’d ever encountered Flannery O’Connor; I knew a man who had. I’ve been kissed on the cheek by two Southern bishops, one for a glass of wine and one for finding him a C.S. Lewis poem with the word “longanimity” in. One of my great-great-grandmothers was a Virginian who eloped with an abolitionist lawyer and another one pioneered Midwest from Carolina, where I plan to leave my dust.

**

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Gretchen A. Bateman: Four Poems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Born in Connecticut, raised in Maryland (yes, it’s below the Mason Dixon Line!) and now living in Tennessee, I have come to realize that I am a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. I’ve been writing since I was a child and had my first poem published at the age of 8. I enjoy the outdoors, sports, and trying to emulate the Tennessee twang.

**

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Will H. Blackwell, Jr.: Four Poems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I am from Mississippi (Jackson area), and attended school in Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas—“postdocing” in Missouri. After a brief sojourn in Ohio (a mere 26 years!), teaching at Miami University (They were kind enough to offer me a job), I returned to the South—stepwise (following my illustrious, biologist wife, Martha Powell)—first to northwest central-Virginia (Harrisonburg, James Madison University), and then to, you guessed it, “Sweet Home …….” (where I am adjunct in Biological Sciences, U of AL). So, who says, “You can’t go home again”?—or, almost, anyway. I have been back in Alabama for the last 15 years (and a bit); so, if you are counting, you will realize, I ain’t no “spring-chicken!” But I have tried to stay active: in research—on microscopic, freshwater Fungi (Hey, they deserve study too!), especially forms occurring in the southeastern U.S.—and in writing (on the occasional occasion of “inspiration”). The narrative-poem style is a good vehicle to express certain experiences in my life—or flights-of-fancy pertaining thereto. I hope you enjoy what I have written.

**

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Addy Robinson McCulloch: Three Poems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Every Thanksgiving, I make homemade chocolate pecan pie with bourbon and dark Karo syrup in my home in southeastern North Carolina.

*

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Betty O’Hearn: Three Poems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love. Over thirty five years ago I followed a path that took me from Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Florida and finally to rest in North Carolina. As I have lived below the Mason-Dixon more than half my life, I am part of the South. However, I must stipulate that the South will not rise again. One last thing… grits and barbecue will never touch my lips.

Poetry Editor’s Note:

The Dead Mule wishes to congratulate Betty O’Hearn on the occasion of her first published poems.

**

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Karen Chinetti: Three Poems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I am a resident of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, daughter of a native North Carolinian, and graduate of Northern Kentucky University. I’m southern by choice and birth. My poetry has a little hint of southern influence, too.

Poetry Editor’s Note:

The Dead Mule wishes to congratulate Karen Chinetti on the occasion of her first published poems.

**

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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.

**

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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.

**

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Jean Rodenbough: Two Poems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve been published before in Dead Mule, and I’m still a Southerner. I have trouble identifying which Southern state is which on a map if the name is missing—states south of North Carolina, anyway. But I can’t find France on a world map either unless it bears a title. I eat collard greens occasionally, grits at breakfast (my mother served grits at dinner), fried chicken when I get tired of other kinds of meat, but I don’t care much for mince meat pie. . . .

**

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Michelle Hartman: Two Poems

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Michelle Hartman was left on a doorstep in Fort Worth lo these many years ago by a band of post-reactionary, Pagan Gypsies. After a grueling four years at the Martha Stewart School for Exceptional Females she took her rightful place beside the lucky man who won her in the county “Ho Down”. She’s taking a break today from polishing silver, planning a week of gourmet meals, buffing the handcuffs nicks off the headboard, and building one hundred and twenty rabbit figures from various sizes of marshmallows, to share her poetry and short thoughts on a complete life.

**

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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.

**

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Robert Howell: Tonight

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in Lakeland, Florida. That ought to be enough.

**

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Nicole Yurcaba: White December

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Nicole Yurcaba is a West Virginian bear huntin’ poet, backwoods feminist, farm hand, adjunct instructor of English—basically a Jill-of-all-trades-mistress-to-none. Her family on the maternal side hails from Southern West Virginia and Kentucky. She is finely trained in the Southern art of bear huntin’ and ‘coon-huntin’ with hound (RIP–IKE). When not writing poetry or short stories, she enjoys outfishing and outhunting her father and boyfriend in the wild mountains of eastern West Virginia. In the schools where she teaches, she is the only instructor to teach class while wearing cowgirl-cut Wranglers, Laredo cowboy boots, and a Confederate flag belt buckle.

In life, she refuses to buy a map; doing so could ruin everything.

**

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Jamie Poole: All of me

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in Saraland, AL. I love biscuits, cheese grits, and okra. All of my words have at least two syllables, and I’ve been cow tippin. I am legit. 🙂

**

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Jim Davis: In a Coffee Shop in the Plaza on Weed Street

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I spent this weekend past in Bethesda, Maryland, burying and celebrating my Grandmother – a Williams/Davis/Hoover who first was Pessou, a branch of the Louisiana swamp grass family come east upon the war of northern aggression. The small clapboard church atop the hill in which she and our family have gone to rest since the 1700s is lined with framed etchings of Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee; acorns from the chapel’s ancient oak are planted across the south, east, mid- and mountain west in her honor. Davises, many, have been schooled at Sewanee (the University of the South), and my Godfather, Bob, went to earn his MD at the U. of Tennessee. Mine come from the southern banks of the Mississippi and the horse pastures of Rattle and Snap, where southern charm, manners, and hospitality have not been lost on the branches of the Davis tree – not too an affinity for vodka-lemonade on a dusky sun porch, finding ways to beat the heat, and life with deep appreciation of our firmly planted roots.

**

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Poetry for December Issue!

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Excellent poems coming your way Dec 15.

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Tanya Grae: Four Poems

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in Sumter, South Carolina while Daddy was stationed at Shaw, though I consider Tennessee home. Uprooted and moved cross-country many times during childhood, summers were spent in Smyrna at Mema and Daddy Tom’s, plus sleep overs at Aunt Ada’s (say A-der). I grew up on fried chicken, bbq, bacon, pinto beans, chow-chow, and fried pies. Nene (Mema’s mama) always crumbled her cornbread in a china cup and ate it like cereal. Daddy Tom was Smyrna’s judge for years, and everyone knows everyone, so don’t go airing your drawers out. Manners are so important, how you speak to others, and offer concern and respect, that you can spot a Yankee right away. I was raised on yes, sir, and no, ma’am, and that’s just how it is. If it wasn’t, well there was surely a switch with my name on it out in the yard. My Cherokee grandmother, Mama Red, was too sweet for that, and she’s the only saint I know. A Southern woman is the strongest spirit, so don’t go kicking her like the dog you hate or a half-dead mule—cause fool, you just won’t.

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Denise K. James: Four poems

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I grew up in Florence, South Carolina and now reside in Charleston. The coast is where I feel most at home, inhaling the scent of the marsh and making post-beach sandwiches with homegrown tomatoes.

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William Wright Harris: Four Ekphrastik Poems

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born in Memphis and live in Knoxville; where I attend the University of Tennessee. Some of the more interesting things I have eaten are deer jerky, barbecued alligator, and squirrel-meat omelet.

.

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Mary Alice MacDonald: Four Poems

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I grew up in central North Carolina, just a few hours away from beaches or mountains. A considerable portion of my childhood summer days were spent in the Ozarks in Arkansas climbing the Mimosa tree in Uncle Berlie’s yard and eating biscuits and chocolate gravy for breakfast. I swam in spring-fed creeks, rode horses to church, and slept through (hellfire & brimstone) sermons. Another large portion of my childhood was spent sweating in tent revivals and church meetings in Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, and generally everywhere south of Ohio and east of Texas. I’m the preacher’s daughter. I know where yonder is and how much is in a mess of mustard greens, and Kentucky has provided me with a lifelong allegiance to bourbon and poetry.

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Joycelyn Renette: Four Poems

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Knock-kneed and barefoot, eating fresh pecans on Mama D porch; the South was always about surviving; staying above that which can easily bring you down. Walking the same Mason-Dixie line with those still engrossed in America’s fabric; blood, slave stained fabric dripping with racial relevance. From the cattle and horse fields of Texas to the citrus trees of Florida groves, the South was always about surviving; keeping firm faith amongst a storm. Double consciousness becomes the very entity that keeps a collard green, chittlins, cornbread eating child’s mind intact; acknowledging that I am in a world that will never fully accept me for my color is seen first. No matter my age, regardless the decade, the words, “nigger girl!” have still been yelled out of a school bus window at me. Much has changed in the South, yet under the surface much is at a progressive standstill.

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Kevin Ridgeway:Three Poems

Monday, October 1st, 2012

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 has 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.

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Lizzie Krieg: Two Poems

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

As a child, I lived in Fairfield, Ohio. During the summer, my mom and dad would take me to Cincinnati to get ice cream at Graeter’s and we’d hang out on the riverfront. I’d eat my ice cream, always chocolate chip, and look out over the Ohio, and marvel that not only was I looking into another state, but at the subtle distinction that separated the Midwest, where I was, from the South. Even then, at six, I saw something wild about that land over the river, and wondered why Kentucky should seem so much freer than where I was, less than a mile away.

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Malinda Fillingim: Two Poems

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and raised in South Carolina, and now I’m living in the Tar-Heel State.

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Carol Lynn Grellas: Two Poems

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

My favorite movie is Gone with the Wind. I’ve saved the drapes from every home I’ve ever owned hoping I might salvage a gown or two that even Scarlett would be proud to wear.

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Allie Coker-Schwimmer: Caught Between Two Worlds

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I realize that the phrase “Bless Your Heart” is both an insult and a mildly compassionate remark.

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Michael Dwayne Smith: Blues for a Day

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

First off, cookin’ … I mean Grandmama’s fried chicken, roadside shack boudin sausage made with crawfish, and speaking of crawfish, I mean crawfish étouffée and oyster po-boys and blackened catfish for lunch, with ice cold Turbodog poured all over it– and don’t forget the fried dill pickles, please. Second, blood … I wasn’t born in the South (yes, I admit, southern California), but my family runs through Missouri and Texas, by way of Tennessee. And third, brotherhood … one of my best friends is from Mississippi, and it’s because of him I get to spend time eating, drinking, and photographing in Jackson and Vicksburg and New Orleans. It’s just something that walks with you all your days, whether you like it or not, whether you want to feel blues or bluegrass or Irish or cajun in your blood, or no. I’m hungry.

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Joanna S. Lee: incongruent

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Of closer bloodline to Robert E. than to Bruce, I grew up learning battle names: Manassas, not Bull Run; Sharpsburg, not Antietam. And though I was raised nigh the border (Winchester—three battles of its own), I call Richmond, and the banks of the James River, home.

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Carol Bond: Swamp Witch

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

My favorite southern saying is “happy as a one-eyed cat in a barrel of fishheads.”

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Paul Owen: Railroad Tracks

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I am a college professor in the Asheville, NC area and have lived here for the last eleven years. I assume that qualifies me as living in the South.

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Tracei R. Willis: When You Tell My Story

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I consider myself to be a Southerner with Northern tendencies, an illegitimate daughter of the South if you will. I was born in Ohio to parents who were born and bred in Alabama. They felt their southern roots wilting when I was five years old, so they uprooted their flower child from sidewalks, snow, and front stoops, and transplanted me in red clay of Alabama, the Magnolia trees of Mississippi, and right up on my Big Mama’s front porch. Whenever my Northern idiosyncrasies began to surface, my parents would send to one of my grandmothers for some Southern reconditioning. It was in the kitchens of Nellie Willis and Annie Jones that I learned some vital Southern lessons: 1. In the South there are canisters on kitchen counters that contain sugar, flour, corn meal and grits– store brand sugar is acceptable, but anything other than Martha White Self-Rising flour, Sunflower corn meal, and Jim Dandy grits, and you’ll have a sure-fire riot on your hands. 2. There are as many ways to cook grits as there are women who cook grits, just smile and rave about not ever having had a finer bowl of grits and you’ll be okay. 3. Every kitchen counter has two blue cans of Crisco, one that actually has Crisco in it, and the other to hold bacon drippings. (Don’t ask questions, just eat.) 4. Sweet tea comes two ways down here, cold and sweet. You can make it on the stove top, you can make on the back porch, you can add lemon, mint, peaches or berries– just don’t make it from a jar of instant powder mix, and don’t make it with sugar substitute– if you ask for unsweetened tea down here, you’re libel to end up with a cold glass of ice water. 5. The best seasoning for greens, peas, beans, squash, and corn? Meat. Preferably smoked meat. Preferably the neck, hock, or tail of a turkey, hog, or ox. Running short on meat? (That’s what that can of bacon drippings is for.) I am a Southerner, by way of Ohio, transplanted in Mississippi, with kudzu-like attachments to Alabama.

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Cody Badaracca: Sludge

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Although hailing from North Routt County, Colorado, Cody Badaracca spent 5 1/2 years of his recent young adult life living in Nashville, Tennessee, where he developed an affectionate spot for Tennessee, grits, Coon Hounds, and irregular word contractions. If he should die in the Volunteer State, Cody requests that his body be allowed to be overgrown by kudzu somewhere in the Cherokee National Forest.

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Lacey Jean Frye – The Last Marlboro Man

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Alas, I dwell in the midwest, but my namesake’s buried in Alabama. Crimson Tide. I think about the South, and I want the South to think about me.

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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.

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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 […]

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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.

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No More Blues by Ferdinand Hunter

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

My Southern Legitimacy Statement is both brief and simple; I was born and raised in Georgia, and I always referred to my 5 ft tall paternal grandmother as Big Mama,

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Herself Alone by John Riley

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement

In August there was always the river. On dog days, school beckoning, the joy of uninterrupted time between the morning and evening chores long absorbed by a sun that had flattened your expectations of what summer would bring, I seemed to always find myself at the river. Some people are drawn to fire, others to water, moving water that is, even if the movement is nearly imperceptible, and in my South the summer heat warned me away from fire. It was the river inching through the thick woods that lured me to come, preferably alone, to come and clear away a spot to sit among the dead leaves and rocks and branches, to come and immerse myself in the stream of thoughts and dreams and ambitions that, yet unbruised by the world, raced inside the visitor sitting above the patient river.

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The Pontiac and the Dodge by susan robbins

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

southern legitimacy statement: I am legitimately Southern, though I have moved across the road from the 1820 farm house where I grew up in rural Virginia. That house had seventeen rooms, seven of which were falling away, so we let them. A big snapping turtle lived under the sagging porch. Down the road from us was a house Thomas Jefferson had designed for his poor cousins who moved out of our house when that miniature Monticello was ready.

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Ruby by NL Snowden

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Yea! A mule story! Southern Legitimacy Statement I was bred, born and raised in Demopolis, Alabama. I’ve always lived in the South, and I’m about as stereotypical as anyone can be. My sister has two of the columns that were in the Georgia Confederate Hospital in her house. Our great, great granddaddy Snowden recuperated in that hospital. I grew up with a black maid who I thought was mama, and the white lady in the house I wondered why she spent the night with us every night. As I’ve aged I discovered that eating cheese grits every morning for breakfast will make you fat—twenty-five pounds fatter to be exact. I once owned a Jersey milk cow and made my own butter, sour cream, buttermilk, cream cheese and drank a gallon of fresh milk with one third of it sweet cream floating on the surface. Anastasia raised me three calves in all and we milked her daily until she dried up for her next calf. The years I owned the cow, I was er, plump to say the least. I really do have a daughter who Pony Clubbed a mule. And I eat turnip greens from Cracker Barrel every day of my life.

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Crab Promise by Kerri Dieffenwierth

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

southern legitimacy statement: I’m a native Floridian who likes to honk at cows and eat collard greens with vinegar. I’ve seen a swaybacked horse suck watermelon and I’ve seen a nasty canal gator eat the family pet. I don’t mind summer, as long as there’s ice in my sweet tea and a box fan near my bed. I eat grits for breakfast with real butter. I live near the Gulf of Mexico and never tire of the smell of a salty breeze. I do not fear Hurricanes like I should, although I do fear skin cancer.

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White Trash by Gary Powell

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

SLS-I come from Ozark hillbillies in Arkansas and Missouri. They could sing a tune, shoot a squirrel, pick cotton, and tell a good one. I grew up in the north, but live in North Carolina. I favor collards over spinach and know how to cook fat back. I reckon that makes me southern enough.

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Peaches by Wanda Stephens

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

My Southernhoodness may be snatched, and I apologize to the collards aficionados, but I did not like collards during my childhood. Maybe I was adopted, born up in Yankeedom perhaps in…Saginaw, Michigan. Saginaw popped into my head because of Lefty Frizzel’s song.

When I became twenty-one, I decided I should try collards again and began scarfing them down by the bowlful. A favorite hangout became Bubba’s Barbeque Buffet where I found all the collards and fatback I could eat. Now, I can say, honestly, I love collards. Though I got off to a slow start, I put “Dixie” in the CD player and take up a fork.

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Ode to Parents in “The” Fall by Theresa Lacey

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement
Both my parents hail from the South. When they married, my mother’s family called it a “mixed” marriage because she was from Alabama, and he was a Texan. Almost a different country, as far as they were concerned. I was born in the middle of a blizzard in Fairbanks, Alaska, the daughter of a father who was in the Army Air Corps. Alaska was then just a territory, but by virtue of my parents being southerners, and military people, I was born a Southerner. A misplaced Southerner, but a bona fide one. When my grandfather died on his farm in Alabama, we moved to the farm to help grandmother, who wanted to keep to her farming ways. It was there I learned how to make grits, how to hitch up a mule, how to pick cotton and dig potatoes. I was never very good at milking the cows, so my morning chore was gathering the eggs–and I was afraid of the pecking hens, but too afraid of my father’s wrath, NOT to do this. We had an outhouse until my father built a real, in-house bathroom, and my momma got to have the first flushing rights. I learned from an uncle how to find the stars, from an aunt how to make perfect sweet tea, from my grandmother how to “put up” canned fruits and vegetables, and from my momma how to use plants and trees for medicine. My great-uncle offered to teach us kids how to make homemade wine, but this never happened. And from my father and brother, I learned how to play chess, hunt and fish. I guess that all makes me Southern, and I feel real pity for people who don’t understand anything I’ve written here.

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Morning by Thomas McGauley

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Raised by mudfish on the St. Johns River near Welaka, Florida.

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The Patriarch by Carla Cummins

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

SOUTHERN LEGITIMACY STATEMENT:

My family arrived in the Isle of Wight, Virginia, in the early 1600s and decided they were here to stay. Fortunes being what they were, it wasn’t long after before they headed down to Carolina and set up camp on the Black River, where they’ve pretty much been ever since.

I grew up drinking tea from mason jars and sitting on porches, catching lightning bugs and dropping my r’s. I can recite all the books of the Bible and sing all the verses to “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.” My first kiss was to a boy with a pickup truck and Cherokee blood in his veins, who smelled of Drakkar Noir and tobacco.

I keep bacon grease in a coffee can under my kitchen sink, fry my cornbread, and ensure my luck by eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day.

I may now live in Australia, but the South is the home I always carry with me.

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“An Old Man The Night Before His Death” by Colby Swift

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

In the southern summers, my childhood friend/neighbor and I kept ourselves busy. If we weren’t following our mutts up the backroads to the corner grocer for a ham sandwich and Mountain Dew, we were in the woods behind our houses, stalking down squirrels with our Model 10 Daisies. On one such day we happened across a copperhead snake coiled up in the underbrush. My friend retrieved his father who, equipped with a hoe, followed us to the snake’s bed and beheaded the thing. He dumped the body in a tin trash can behind the house for fear that the dogs would eat the remains, and me and my friend spent the rest of that day daring each other to open the trash can’s lid and look in at the headless carcass. As I recall, neither of us was brave enough to do it.

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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.

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Alan Reynolds: Four Poems

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was born and grew up in Asheville and later lived in the south of New England before moving on to the south of England and the south of Amsterdam, none of which are The South, but many of my poems about The South because I still think about and dream in Southern. I dream about The South, especially the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. And about cleaning dirt off windshields and rust off exhaust pipes with the RC Cola left over after drinking half of it to keep away carsickness after gobbling all the moon pies.

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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.

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Charlotte Hamrick: Three Poems

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

The summer I was fifteen I was sitting on the pier at the local swimming hole waiting for friends when I was approached by an older boy. He asked where I lived and when I replied, “Down the road a piece.” he asked, “Is that near yonder?” I knew immediately he wasn’t from the south.

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Robert Cory: Three Poems

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I confess to the following: a) learned to eat (and like) grits, biscuits and ham gravy at a little cafe on the town square in Fayetteville, AR. b) one of my favorite all time authors – Barry Hannah, whose characters are The South, to wit: “We invented gin and tonic.” c) I still use the term “Y’all”; d) I talked to a man in Daytona, FL. in the early 70’s who claimed he could limp on both legs; e) in the poem “Just Past Midnight” I was the only Yankee on board.

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Matt Byars: Three Poems

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve lived in the South my entire life thus far with the exception of a foolish year I spent in Seattle. There was a girl involved. I figure twenty-nine years in West Texas and six years in Atlanta will more than atone for my youthful indiscretion with the non-South.

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Jonathan Patterson: Two Prose Poems and Two Haiku

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Born and raised in a small town in Western Kentucky. A progeny of a long line of southern men who know nothing but carpentry and southern disposition; hence, some might say, I am a southerner. I currently live in Illinois, but, for better or for worse, Kentucky never leaves me.

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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.”

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Jeanetta Calhoun Mish: Two Poems

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

All my folks on my momma’s side that I know of came to Oklahoma from South Carolina and Kentucky, on the Southern route. I grow collard greens, sweet potatoes, and okra in my vegetable garden (or did, before I moved to the mountains of New Mexico. Does anybody know of you can grow okra in the mountains?). I used to try to hide my accent but have decided it’s an asset. My husband likes to tell the story of when we were in a Powdrell’s, a barbeque restaurant in Albuquerque, and the owner, a man from East Texas, came all the way acrost the room to tell me how much he loved to hear me git excited about finding “sweet-tea” on the menu. And anyway, Oklahoma (especially eastern and southern Oklahoma, where I’m from) is a Southern state where the eighth college of the Seven Sisters of the South was founded, where barbeque is a sacrament (served dry, sauce on the side), and where I learned to eat granny’s homemade chow chow with beans. The story of Sarah Venable Little as told in my poem, my great-great-great is true so far as I know it; the baby she’s carrying is my great-great grandpa. The diary section is purely imaginary.

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Ry Frazier: Two Poems

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I lived in Savannah, GA for some odd years. I’m awfully fond of the way it feels when I say the word “Tupelo”. The last girl I kissed was from Florida.

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George Nixon: Two Poems

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I was raised in and around Edenton, NC, mostly working on farms. I learned about enduring August heat, working with mules, and how to get to the end of the next row of peanuts by singing and creating diversions in my head. All that served me well in later life. I learned the 3 R”s and ended up in Richmond, VA. where I have been a counselor for the last 30+ years

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Philip C. Kolin: “Farewell Big Easy: A Post-Katrina Eulogy”

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I am married to one of the most beautiful Southern belles from Mobile.

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C. B. Anderson: “Some Dark Hollow”

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I’ve wanted to live in the South since my college days, in the late 60’s. In part, this was due to a desire to find a climate nearly ideal: higher elevations in lower latitudes, such as southern Appalachia or perhaps the Ozarks. Later, I nursed a wistful wish to dwell where people encountered on the street were more likely to say “good morning” than to avert their eyes.

Although I have never lived in the South for any great length of time, I have seen the dogwood blooming along I-40 in Tennessee, camped out in the Great Smoky Mountains one early spring not too far from Asheville, NC, helped a friend erect a greenhouse in Melfa VA, eaten some awesome pork-laden collard greens near Pine Mountain GA, and watched the sun set over the bay in Biloxi MS. I could go on.

The South is the epicenter of bluegrass music, and that fact alone might have been enough to clinch it for me.

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A. C. Lambert: “Poem to that great big Boss in the sky”

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I kissed a girl once in a fellowship hall. And no I’m not telling you who it was—she still goes to church there.

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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.

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JD DeHart: “Coffee Cans”

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

I am a resident of Tennessee and grew up in West Virginia. My poems come from life in the South.

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Mark Windham: “Different Flowers”

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Southern Legitimacy Statement:

Born in Mississippi before living in Kentucky, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida (in the South, but not Southern) and settling in Georgia.

It is not ‘hot’ until above 95, nor humid below 95%. Anything less is ‘muggy’ at best.

Catfish is only meant to be cooked by frying in cornmeal. Blackened is acceptable if a fryer is not available and you have kin from New Orleans to tell you how.

Sweet potatoes are a vegetable.

Cornbread does not contain flour, only cornmeal, and it is best served for breakfast Monday morning extra crispy with butter and sorghum.

Most parts of every meal can be cooked in a cast iron skillet, possibly the same one. Sometimes at the same time.

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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 […]

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The Front Porch by Tracei Willis

Thursday, June 14th, 2012