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This mystical frolic amid my sad dreams:
The moon glowing rabid deep in the night.
The children of starry day are gone—
slipping beyond blue, pausing briefly,
growing cold. Eye of rib roasting
upon a velvet star.


first published in OCHO

In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), there are two sons: the younger son, who runs away from home to an alien country, and the older son, who stays home to do his duty. The younger son dissipates himself with alcohol and sex; the older son alienates himself by working hard and dutifully fulfilling all his obligations. Both are lost. Their father grieves over both, because with neither of them does he experience the intimacy he desires.

Both lust and cold obedience can prevent us from being true children of God. Whether we are like the younger son or the older son, we have to come home to the place where we can rest in the embrace of God’s unconditional love.

“Race and racism are defining challenges not only in the United States but around the world,” said ____. “For someone to assert that race is not a problem in America is to deny the reality.”

UPDATE: I know it’s a bit early, but this qoute is from Hillary Clinton.   And as Earthpal said, Hillary is “spot on.”  🙂

Jesus says: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him … take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). He does not say: “Make a cross” or “Look for a cross.” Each of us has a cross to carry. There is no need to make one or look for one. The cross we have is hard enough for us! But are we willing to take it up, to accept it as our cross?

Maybe we can’t study, maybe we are handicapped, maybe we suffer from depression, maybe we experience conflict in our families, maybe we are victims of violence or abuse. We didn’t choose any of it, but these things are our crosses. We can ignore them, reject them, refuse them or hate them. But we can also take up these crosses and follow Jesus with them.

The society in which we live suggests in countless ways that the way to go is up. Making it to the top, entering the limelight, breaking the record – that’s what draws attention, gets us on the front page of the newspaper, and offers us the rewards of money and fame.

The way of Jesus is radically different. It is the way not of upward mobility but of downward mobility. It is going to the bottom, staying behind the sets, and choosing the last place! Why is the way of Jesus worth choosing? Because it is the way to the Kingdom, the way Jesus took, and the way that brings everlasting life.

An on-going draught left bony carp
the year everyone lived

but didn’t know why.  Men on the bridge
used dough balls for bait.

Hungry church-folk
walked on rounded rocks,

doubters pinned frowns to somber faces.

Tom broke his trot line.
In August,
when he tried to fix it from a
leaky boat, an old man called him

a “damn fool.”  Kids ate tadpoles
from a stagnant pond.

Dragon flies lingered
near its sun-burnt shore.

And “Harry the ’Bo” hummed a song
sung by gandy dancers,

and took his meal in a metal can, as usual,
on the eastern bank of Shoal Creek.


first publsihed in Rearview Quarterly

Courage is connected with taking risks. Jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorbike, coming over Niagara Falls in a barrel, walking on a tightrope between the towers of New York’s World Trade Centre, or crossing the ocean in a rowboat are called courageous acts because people risk their lives by doing these things. But none of these daredevil acts comes from the centre of our being. They all come from the desire to test our physical limits and to become famous and popular.

Spiritual courage is something completely different. It is following the deepest desires of our hearts at the risk of losing fame and popularity. It asks of us the willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.

I spent part of the morning finishing up my “work” editing poems for the July Mule. Jude Roy sent the last, but certainly not the least, of our July poems. An entire chapbook. We’ll be publishing some great poets. In addition to Jude Roy, we’ll have Sherry Chandler, Collin Kelley, Doug Ramspeck, and Jefferey Beam. And that’s just some of them. I’ll be writing more about the July issue of the Dead Mule, which will be online about July 15, but in the meantime, why not take another look at the April issue?

Of the fourteen poets we’ll be publishing, seven are men, seven are women, seven are by inviation, and seven from regular submissions. One man and one woman declined. I’m hoping they re-consider for a later issue, since the reason they gave was that they “were not southern.” As Val* says, “southern isn’t a location; it’s a state of mind.” Anyone’s southern (for Mule purposes) who chooses to be. So if you’re a writer who wants to be published, check out our submissions page. We’d love to hear from you.

The Mule is publsihed (as it has been for over ten years now) near the coast of North Carolina. It’s always been great, but we’re trying to make it even greater. And so far, a lot of good writers are helping us to do just that. I don’t work with prose submissions, but rumor has it, they’re just as strong as the poetry. I am, however, working on a poet interview for October. The Mule “work” continues.

* Valerie MacEwan is the publisher and editor of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Always has been. Always will be.

UPDATE:  July 5.  Val says, we hope to have the July Mule up by midnight July 16.

“Have courage,” we often say to one another. Courage is a spiritual virtue. The word courage comes from the Latin word cor, which means “heart. A courageous act is an act coming from the heart. A courageous word is a word arising from the heart. The heart, however, is not just the place where our emotions are located. The heart is the centre of our being, the centre of all thoughts, feelings, passions, and decisions.

When the flesh – the lived human experience – becomes word, community can develop. When we say, “Let me tell you what we saw. Come and listen to what we did. Sit down and let me explain to you what happened to us. Wait until you hear whom we met,” we call people together and make our lives into lives for others. The word brings us together and calls us into community. When the flesh becomes word, our bodies become part of a body of people.

We spoke quietly, so as not to
disturb the others, the night we
talked in his car.  The age-old

questions, complicated by sex
and race, ignored, since even
the trees saw how I loved him,

and how, in answer to prayer,
he held my lighter hand in his
hand, both larger and darker.


first published in TimBookTu