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“With the most trying weekend of his oft-turbulent NASCAR career over, Kyle Busch got some answers about his future Monday.”  read more


Facing One’s Weakness
—for Kyle Busch

Yesterday the mother in me
wanted to kiss your young cheek
to remove your pain—

though I know you deserve to
pay the price for your own mistake
and learn the lesson you need.

Have you learned it?   And was it
strength or sadness I saw in you,
as you sat atop the #18 pit box?

Maybe it was both.  I’m certain it was
sobriety.  Everyone watching you on
camera knew what it means to “lose it,”
but not everyone wants to forgive.

Behind you stood the strength of God
in a man who shielded you from un-
answerable questions: the ones reporters

stupidly ask before NASCAR has fully
spoken & you are ready to consider your
answers.  I know that growing to maturity

involves facing how weak we really are.
Joe Gibbs knows this, too.  He knows,
often we learn life’s lessons in pain,

but not everyone’s pain is televised
from Texas Motor Speedway—
where sunglasses probably served you
as more than a shield from the sun.


Please keep Kyle Busch in your thoughts and prayers.

Poems from twelve poets, including two chapbooks and a NASCAR poem, have been added to The Dead Mule.

Rusty Wallace fans will want to read “NASCAR Poet” by Norvin Dickerson.

The NASCAR world is always full of speculation, and things are no different  since Rick Hendrick signed Kasey Kahne.   Mark Martin says he’ll drive another year?  Will he drive for Hendrick?  What, oh what, will Kasey do next year?  Everyone knows Jimmie and Jeffy aren’t going anywhere.

But no one has stated the obvious:  Junior is going to drive the 3 car for Richard Childress. He’s going to drive it in the One-Step-Down race on July 2 at Daytona to honor his famous father. And in time, Richard Childress will announce that he’s going to drive the Number 3 Cup car next year.   There’s room for you, Kasey Kahne.   You mark my words.

You heard it first at Windows Toward the World.

NASCAR got it right when they parked Carl Edwards for the rest of the race at Atlanta and when they put him on probation for three races, following the retaliatory incident between him and Brad Kezelowski. Carl Edwards was wrong in purposely hitting Kezelowski’s car, even though he did not mean for it to go airborne.

NASCAR was also right in that Edwards did not need to be suspended, but what they did is what I feared all along: Edwards, who got the final hit, would pay the penalty for the intense “rivalry” (read; bump and shove) that has taken place over a number of races beginning last season.

But NASCAR got it wrong with respect to Kezelowski. By punishing only Edwards, NASCAR makes it appear that Kezelowski was innocent. This is hardly the case. Of course, he wasn’t called to the Trailer when Edwards was; he was being checked in the Infield Care Center. But it is time to “talk” to him, too.

Now I know, “rubbin’s racin,” but I also know some drivers hit the wall and other cars more often than others. I know drivers “race other drivers like they race them.” I know Kezelowski is no innocent by-stander in this incident. Kezelowski has hit plenty of drivers in addition to Edwards, and he has hit Edwards numerous times. And so does NASCAR.

Edwards retaliated, but he retaliated to past incidents not in a void. He had had enough. Should Edwards have hit Kezelowski? No. Did he have reason to get even? Yes. This “rivalry” was on-going and involves two guilty drivers. So come on NASCAR, let’s be fair. Put Kezelowski on probation for three races, too. One man shouldn’t take the punishment two men deserve. Only punishing the one who struck last is unfair.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Being half-right means you are wrong.


UPDATE: March 14

Kezelowski thinks he is right. See more.

Who is in charge? NASCAR or the punk?

Or, about the first ever reading for The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and then some

We (that’s Bill and I) left home about seven on Saturday morning to head to Little Washington for the Dead Mule Reading. Realizing we’d left a bit early, we stopped in Rocky Mount and ran by the depot, where it’s now “a bad thing” to photograph trains.  (Go figure.)  Being the seasoned rail fans that we are, we headed for neutral ground across the street, and what came by but an ugly Amtrak—not even the North Carolina engines.  Ah, well.  Bill took pictures anyway.  We did a quick drive by of spots that were accessible in the past but not so much now, and, after a quick lunch, left town and drove on to Washington.

Arriving in Washington too early to check in to the motel, we ran by the RiverWalk Gallery where Carolyn Sleeper and her husband were on duty.  We’d just missed Val, but noted that things were in order for the night’s reading.  We grabbed a burger and went on to Val and Rob’s house, where the men (both computer “geeks”) started up a lively discussion.  Leaving there, we checked into our motel.  The motel will get its own paragraph a bit later on, but for now let’s just say, “no stars for the Days Inn in Washington” and no link included.   I changed clothes and we headed to the gallery.

At the gallery, we met and heard wonderful readings.  Val read first and introduced the next reader.  Well, she tried to introduce her.    It soon became evident that Carter Monroe was “in change,” which was fine with Val.  Most of the readers— Robin Dare, Marty Silverthorne, Joseph Lisowski, and me—were not only Mules but Rank Strangers, too.  Carter had published books by us at some point or other.  And it turns out that Joe and his wife Lynda have a son who’s a talented poem, too.  The Dead Mule hopes to publish the younger Joseph soon, as well as anyone at the reading who hasn’t been in the Mule.  We then walked down the street to a “On Main Street” where the conversation was lively and witty.

A few of us gathered at Valerie and Rob MacEwan’s for dessert (cake, ice cream and sugared local blueberries) and more conversation and to light the ceremonial candle in honor of Pris Campbell’s birthday.  I read Pris’s poem “Colorless Rooms” (nominated for a Prize December 2008), and Carter chose not to lead the singing of “Happy Birthday.”  Imagine that.  LOL   Pris wanted to be with us and sent the message, “The MULE is my heart.” That made Val and I feel good.  As Val told me later, so many writers have had their first publication in the Mule.  Everyone knows that, all good time must come to an end, so we left and went back to the motel.

About the Motel:  Toilet=two flushes per offering.  Internet=ain’t working.  Trash=on the carpeted outdoor walkway to the room.  Staff= you don’t want to know.  Rating=No stars.  And we ain’t comin’ back.  LOL It’s the little things that helped us decide to pay for two nights (a “done deal”) and stay one. The television worked, we watched the race, Kyle won, which pleased me but not Bill.  We slept late and headed to Val’s house, stopping by the waterfront for a few photos.

Change of plans.  Val wasn’t going with us to the beach, because she wasn’t picking up Phoebe Kate Foster, whose husband had taken ill.   It was a bummer not meeting Phoebe Kate.  But it will happen.  Phoebe Kate is a Mule editor I want to meet.  We’ve alreadyconnected on blogs and e-mail; I already love Phoebe.  There are rumore about Raleigh some time in the future.  Even thought Val wasn’t going, she was kind enough to write out some directions so we could proceed.  Then, beachward we go.

In New Bern, we saw the rusty tracks where trains once did lots of street running, but not often now, if at all.  (We had an internet photo from 2006, so we’re not talking ancient history here.)  And in Morehead City we located the short line railroad that serves the port .  Then on to Atlantic Beach and Fort Macon State Park where we ran in to Vicki Temple, a former student of mine at Carolina Christian Day School (back in the day) and who now live just outside Atlanta, and her family.  Can’t get away with anything these days.  LOL

The beach.  Oh, the beach.

My toes were so happy to meet salt water.  Bill and I walked on the sand and let the waves kiss our feet, as we collected sea shells.  Nothing spectacular, but this was fun at God’s creative best.  Nothing says, “you are a speck” like an ocean.  The ebb washes arrogance away.  We spend about two hours watching boats and loving the Atlantic.  Then onward toward home.  We made only two stops, on for dinner and one for Frosties, before we pulled into “home, sweet home” just before midnight.  Rosie was so glad to see us and got her nightly “meow” just a bit late.  (Rosie’s “meow” is a treat.  We call it her “meow” because she calls it her “meow.”  Cats are like that.)  We are glad to be home.

Now on to the Dead Mule Reading in Hickory. Tuesday, August 4, 2009 – 6 pm – Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse Hickory, NC

Trisha Hart, Jessie Carty, Terri Kirby Erickson, Felicia Mitchell, Scott Owens, Tim Peeler, and me.  More to come


from Car and Driver

Hat tip:  Terry

The Spring* NASCAR** race***
at Bristol,**** and this year,*****
tickets****** were******* available. Tempting,********
but we********* decided not to go.**********
Remember*********** Kurt Busch************
snow-angeling************on the finish line,**************
checkered flag*************** in hand,****************
that year*****************more than thunder******************
entered Thunder Valley.*******************

* March 20 is the first day of Spring this year

** National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (for more see Wikipedia)

***  A test of motor and driver to see who goes the fastest, endures the longest, and, ultimately, finishes before the others do.

****  Bristol lies on the Tennessee/ Virginia border.   The racetrack is in TN.

***** 2009

****** for definition see

******* It is now too close to the beginning of the race to purchase tickets.

********We’d like to see a race at Bristol.

********* Bill and I

*********** Good decision, two days after the end of winter, present temperature 46, high expected 59, haven’t checked the pollen count

*********** or think back

************ 2004 Champion (Winston Cup)

*************  see picture above

************** This is the physical line where the race ends.  First car here wins.

***************  The winner of the race takes the “checkered flag.”  You will see the flag in Kurt’s hand.

**************** For “What constitutes a hand?” see Wikipedia.

*****************  2006

******************  playful snow flurries

*******************  a nickname for the racetrack at Bristol, not to be confused with the “Valley of the  Jolly- HOHOHO – Green Giant.”  🙂


And now a message* from the aforementioned:

* just like NASCAR  🙂 I only wish they were my sponsor.**

**a company that paid money to me.

Jimmie Johnson won at the Brickyard in the most boring NASCAR race of the century. 42 other drivers and 250,000-plus fans in the stands and countless viewers in the television audience lost due to a lack of testing and Goodyear’s ridiculous tires.

Drivers and crew chiefs and NASCAR officials did “the best they could” this afternoon. But why oh why didn’t Goodyear know they needed a different tire? Hasn’t this race with the “new car” been scheduled for over a year? Isn’t what used to be “the car of tomorrow” is the car of today? I know 10% never get the word, but Goodyear?

I do hope Goodyear officials were summoned to the NASCAR trailer for a big yelling at by NASCAR after the race. A 400 mile tire test at race prices (plus vacation days and nights in a motel and expensive meals away from home) is enough to justify fans throwing cans onto the track. I’m glad they waited until the end of the race, because drivers were clearly not at fault.

Now it’s up to NASCAR to make a move. Put Goodyear on probation until the end of the year. And if they can’t do better than this, fire them and get a tire maker who can do the job. Maybe this isn’t a good year for Goodyear. Or maybe Tony Stewart is right, Goodyear just stinks.

Pre-race show—we see the King.
Six o’clock and engines roar.
“Green, green, green, green.”
Six thirty, seven o’clock, eight.

Finally the sun sets—yellow,
orange, purple sky, definitely
red behind the lighted stands
at Chicagoland. Hot dogs,

wrappers loose, on the track,
on the grill, overheat, cars too
tight, cars too loose, fans scream—
having fun, time flies. Yellow flag

and crew chiefs yell, “stay out, stay out,”
or “pit now,” “spring rubber in,”
“spring rubber out,” “adjust track bar,”
“four tires,” or “just take two,”

“gas and go,” gain time in the pits,
or lose. Nine o’clock, almost ten, . . .
eleven. Then cars spin, cars pass,
go high, go low, fans cheer, fans

boo. Kyle Busch last night, victory
under the lights—checkered flag,
stuck in the mud, sweat and grin.
Sponsors and an interview.

NOTE: Kyle Busch won night races at Chicagoland both Friday and Saturday night.

March 2023