Convalescence by Alan Steele

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’m from a small town just outside Cowtown (Fort Worth to those who don’t know better), with white gravel roads that claimed my front teeth one time and the skin off my knees and hands a few more times. I’m from a place that meant running around with no shirt or shoes from May to September, trips to Mott’s 5 and 10, and visits to grandma down around Houston to work the fields, each her famous drop cookies, and help her cook pie or cobbler or wild grape jelly. Dad was a cop and mom stayed home, and I’m still close by, though the town has changed and the light in town has a few new friends and a new toll road for competition. The fire department closest is still volunteer and football will always be king on Friday night.

Rite of Passage by Michelle Ivy Davis

Southern Legitimacy Statement: As someone who has almost always lived in the South (Southern Maryland, Southern India, Southern Florida and Southern California) I have these wonderful memories:

Our yard filled with lightening bugs, their twinkle lighting up the night. My sister and I caught them in jar, had my mother poke holes in the lid, and took them to our room to watch until we fell asleep. The next morning the magic was gone and they were just bugs. We let them go, only to repeat the process again that night.

I remember the twang and then bang of the screen door as we went in and out of the house a hundred times on summer days.

I always wrote thank you notes and still do. There’s something satisfying about a pretty little card and words of gratitude.

I remember when standing in front of a fan really did cool you off, even though the air coming from it was as hot as that the room. It was the humidity evaporating off my skin, y’all. And we opened the windows in the morning, only to close them and pull the curtains later to hold the “cooler” air in and keep the hot afternoon sun out.

Pulling off a honeysuckle blossom and sucking out the honey was heaven.

And the calming beauty of Spanish moss swaying in live oak trees? Only in the South.

Falling Down Jack by Tom Sheehan

Southern Legitimacy Statement: My work has appeared before in DMSL and I have vacationed and read in NC, and worked in Bristol, Tennessee.

Dale Ain’t Dead and Elvis Ain’t Either by G. C. Smith

Here by special request, back from The Dead, April 2005: Southern Legitimacy Statement: I’m for sure Southern cause I chill out on Budweiser while propped up in front of the boob tube watching NASCAR racing. I wrote a novel about murder in the world of Nextel Cup racing. The title is WHITE LIGHTNING. If that don’t make me Southern, nothing will…

New writing on

Yup siree, go to The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, the real deal and find some awfully delicious new…

Dilly Lee by Gaylynne Robinson

Maybe it’s a Texas thing, but whether I’m listening to guitar pickers under the big oak tree at Lukenbach on a Saturday afternoon, or cruising the aisles looking for bargains at Fredericksburg Market Days or watching fish jump in Oso Bay down in Corus Christi, or swimming at the dam in Hunt, Texas belongs to me, and I belong to it.

This is my kind of south. Now I once had a friend from Tennessee who disputed the “south-ness” of Texas. I will attest to its southwesterness, being just a couple of miles down the road from George Strait’s horse barn, but it’s south all right.

But Texas is “southern” in its love for land and its history.

In my south, you can trust a cowboy.

You can serve your company beans and jalapeño cornbread on your best China.

Saturday night’s for wearing your broken in boots to listen to Willie and dance at Floore’s Country Store.

In my south, people aren’t too busy to talk about nothing. You get the friendly finger wave driving down any country road and you can call up the corner grocery and ask if they have any fresh tamales.

In my south, we sit outside on the porch at Halloween and watch out for our neighbors’ kids.

In my south Texas sky, you can still see the ripe orange moon sitting pretty in a nest of stars.

We might laugh at ourselves during a watermelon seed spitting contest or a sandbelt tool race, but we love our flag and our earth and our “southern” way of life.
Gaylynne Robinson

Trash by Markus Jones

Fixing cattle fences after tree falls and winter winds makes a mess of everything just so I get chance at Joe’s fried mountain oysters isn’t the only reason to live in the southern Appalachians, but it’s a damn good one.
Markus Egeler Jones is professor of English and Creative Writing at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Danny Says–a vignette by AS Coomer

I’m a native Kentuckian currently riding out a purgatorial existence in the arctic Midwestern abyss. I catch glimpses of the bluegrass sometimes, when the sun is exceptionally blinding and making a rare appearance. I can still feel the cool Nolin River on my feet when I slip out of my snow-soaked boots. When I sink the shovel into the mounds of winter-refuse I can still–sometimes–imagine I’m actually just raking the burning leaves of my parents’ backyard trees.

Rose by Shari Barnett

It is a quiet portrait of a Southern marriage during the influenza epidemic in the early 20th century. It is nearly the exact opposite of another story I had published in Brevity about meeting Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas in 1983 while dressed as a life size Pac Man.
Breadth, right?

What Happened to My Brother by Daniel Leach

Dan Leach’s short fiction has been published in various literary journals and magazines, including The Greensboro Review, Deep South Magazine, and The New Madrid Review. A native of South Carolina, he graduated from Clemson University in 2008, and taught high-school in Charleston until 2014 when he relocated to Nebraska. Floods and Fires, his debut short-story collection, will be published by University of North Georgia Press in 2016

Bill Prince: The Boy, The Buck Rabbit and the Beagles

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I am an eighth generation direct descendant of a 1740 immigrant who came to America as an indentured servant to the Trustees of the colony of Georgia. I was born in Valdosta, GA and have lived in either Georgia or South Carolina all my life. Reared and educated in South Carolina, I have been residing back in my native Georgia for over 50 years now. I am legitimately southern in my origin and life and lifestyle.

Travis Kiger: Return Flight

Southern Legitimacy Statement: Because read beans and rice on Mondays. Because gumbo with the leftovers every other day. Because fishing isn’t…

James K. Williamson: The Night I Saw Dwayne

We ask questions in Darlington County, S.C. and those questions are to make sure we’re not related, me and you. Porch nights in Oxford but only a few minutes over Barry Hannah’s grave. It’s hotter than hell and far. Mortician and poodle meet ups in Birmingham. Delirius drives from Little Rock to Asheville, you name it. I’m looking for a sawdust floor in New York City and someone to buy me a drink. I have carpal tunnel so you might have to lift the glass. Hey, I’m just glad to be here.

Restoration Dead Mule 2.0

We’re working to restore font perfection. It’s hard to find the right current. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Pancho and…

Godfrey Daniel: The Makeover


I have a cat named Georgia.

If that doesn’t work for you (e.g., too flippant, even though factually correct) how about … SLS: I shave and dress up to watch SEC football on Saturdays. On Sundays, I dress down to watch the NFL, stubble and all.

Four Poems on Place by Ray McManus

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.

Cleaning the Bathroom

Well, the toilet backed-up and tons of fonts and text fubarrs came flooding all over the Dead Mule today. I’ve…

Jennifer Green “Keeping a Dead Mule Down”

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

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

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

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