Janet Joyner : Six Poems

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?

**

Read More

Jim “Jazzbo” Chandler: Five Poems

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.

**

Read More

Ronald Moran: Four Poems

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.

**

Read More

Wendy Taylor Carlisle: Four Poems

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.

**

Read More

Joe Mills: Four Poems

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?”

**

Read More

Stan Absher: Four Poems

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.

**

Read More

Alina Coryell: Four Poems

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.

**

Read More

Norbert Krapf: Four Poems

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.

**

Read More

Anne Robertson: Four poems

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.

**

Read More

Peg Bresnahan: Four poems

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.

**

Read More

Harold Whit Williams: Four poems

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.

**

Read More