The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature

John Lane – Three Poems



For Nikky

Sweet flesh from reef refuge,
Tail a fork fried crispy in lard,
Careful with fork and fingers
To cleave the superstructure
Of fluid movement and white
Flesh, perfect formations pencil
Thick, aboriginal flavors,
Island fruit, fins, sharp barbs.
I take a bite of Johnnycake
But grease-fixed eyes cant
Quell my old bone fear,
That fish camp terror returned
In this sweet dangerous flavor.


Don’t lose your chewing gum in the chicken house.
Don’t trust your bladder if it’s big as a basketball.
Don’t store your biscuit in your pocket.
Don’t eat a Hershey bar if it smells like a Baby Ruth.



Neil Armstrongs fake moon walk
Took place in a film studio, according
To Lola Parker, expert worm harvester
At the Rice Bait Ranch on Asheville Highway.
We were harvesting red wrigglers
With huge bent forks, a summer job
In a ragged row of summer jobs,
This harvesting memorys wet loam.
Lola didnt believe we could go there
And said so. Everybody laughed but me.
She described the fake set-up on TV,
All easier than the magic of physics
It would take to place a man that far out.
She squatted over the beds of wigglers
And pulled tangled tribes of worms
From the fertile ground nourished
With cow manure slopped form barrels.
The black & white TV with foil
On its antlers showed Neil stepping out
On the lunar soil. Or at least they said so.
A small step, then the bouncing walk
Like Charley Chaplin, all contrived.
Im thinking of Lolas lack of interest
In a TV stunt nearly 40 years later.
She kept to her job through the drama
Of somebody elses history, her ample
Legs spread on the stool, the steady rhythm
Of the fork. I aint nobodys fool. She shook
A clutch of fishing worms in a paper cup.