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Brandon Meeks

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These Women

It was after one of those big family get-togethers when I heard Grandaddy say it. We menfolk had made our way into the living room after helping clear the dining room table of dirty dishes. Dad gathered up the Dixie cups on which we had inscribed our names with a Sharpie marker. The “fine china,” Grandmother called it. My uncle…
Brandon Meeks
May 12, 2024
Blog

The Farm

The first time I saw the inside of a prison was in 1999; I was 16. I hadn’t knocked over a fruit stand or been caught stealing hubcaps, I was just an unsuspecting teenager playing piano for a Louisiana gospel group. One Wednesday evening in October, my pastor and leader of the band gathered us up after prayer meeting and…
Brandon Meeks
April 18, 2024
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Good Stock

As soon as I walked through the door I could smell it. The thick, pungent aroma of collard greens and smoked ham hock cooked low and slow for hours. Simple fare, born of necessity, but it remains one of my favorite meals. And despite the humble nature of the ingredients, it is nothing short of delicious. It’s Sunday afternoon. That…
Brandon Meeks
March 22, 2024
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How to Roast a Possum

There are few kinds of critters that roam the countryside where I live that I haven’t eaten at least once. Deer, squirrels, armadillos, raccoons, wild hogs and the like. I haven’t always liked them, but sometimes it was all we had. In the late 80’s, my folks lost their jobs at the mill due to a strike and if we…
Brandon Meeks
March 1, 2024
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Will Southern Literature Survive?

A few weeks ago, a man in our town was hospitalized because he was beaten upside the head with a horseshoe by his ex-wife. As I understand it, she showed up to her ex-husband’s family reunion as the “Plus One” of his second cousin. The incident occurred when the assailant found out that her ex, who hadn’t paid child support…
Brandon Meeks
February 1, 2024
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Deep South, High Art

Growing up in rural southern Arkansas, I believed that art was as foreign to our people as a goose egg is to the North Pole. My part of the Arkansas Delta was nothing but cotton fields and pine trees that stretched so far one could be forgiven for thinking there was nothing at all on the other side, that the…
Brandon Meeks
January 12, 2024
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Dear Santa

When I came home from the grocery store yesterday I found an envelope taped to my front door. It was blank but sealed. I assumed it was a bill left by my landlord, so I laid it on the coffee table and went to work cooking supper. But about the time the beans came to a simmer curiosity got the…
Brandon Meeks
December 25, 2023
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Potluck

I believe that the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be a potluck. The Saints will come from afar, bearing covered dishes, and reclining at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But there will be no tofu, for it will have its part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. The course of my life can be charted…
Brandon Meeks
November 22, 2023
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The Peanut Gallery

I never want another dog. As I made the 30 mile trek home from the veterinarian’s office with the stiff body of my 14 year old cur dog, Katie, beside me, I remember muttering those words through hot tears. “They’re a damned inconvenience is what they are,” I argued to myself. Making an oral list of reasons in case I…
Brandon Meeks
November 9, 2023
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Coffee, Waffles, and Gunsmoke

This morning I struck up a conversation with an old man over breakfast at the local Huddle House. He was sitting by himself drinking a cup of coffee. He wasn’t looking for company but I had ordered a big omelet and that’s the sort of thing worth making conversation over. “Look at the size of that thing,” I said. “It’s…
Brandon Meeks
October 19, 2023
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The Ride

In 1989, Papaw bought a brand new Ford pickup, white with a blue stripe. This was a gift to himself for surviving life for eighty years I suppose. That truck was the first new vehicle he had ever owned, his first ride being a two-horsepower convertible wagon with a split-rail oak seat. After leaving Murphy’s Ford dealership, his first stop…
Brandon Meeks
October 5, 2023
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Barber Wanted: Dead or Alive

“Did your barber die?” This is what my Grandmother said to me last week during Sunday dinner. Being one of those dear old things who thinks it undignified to be openly critical, she always comes sidling up to criticism through the back door. So between spooning mashed potatoes onto my plate and ladling brown gravy over them, she commenced telling…
Brandon Meeks
September 20, 2023
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The Dog Days

It was 104 in the shade yesterday–at dusk. Even in the twilight I could see the wrinkled air above the asphalt on the road, trembling echoes still hot to the touch. I sat bare chested on the front  porch in a pool of saltwater my body had just made out of pork chops and potatoes. The evening sun, now only…
Brandon Meeks
September 7, 2023
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Where I Come From

I’m a prodigal son of sons of a mill town. When Dr. Gresham slapped my pink behind, my first ragged breath was filled with sawdust, cotton-lint, and the deep musky smell of the Georgia-Pacific paper company. Everybody I knew growing up planted row crops or cotton or picked and ginned it; cut timber or turned it into toilet tissue; or…
Brandon Meeks
August 28, 2023
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Turner’s Diner, Tire, and Lube

It’s 7:43. Merle is on the radio making empty promises. “Someday when things are good I’m going to leave you,” he sings. But we know better. I am sitting in a corner booth, surrounded by the rising tufts of Marlboros, and still trying to wake up good. Coffee stouter than napalm is dripping, slow and thick, into a pot purchased…
Brandon Meeks
August 2, 2023
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Cooking Lessons

Grandmother has always been the best cook in the room. From the time she was 10 years old, even if all she had to work with was a neckbone and some wild greens growing along the fence row, she has put braggable food on a plate. The baby of the clan, she started by helping her mamma feed their large,…
Brandon Meeks
July 14, 2023
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Roscoe

The little hill behind my grandparent’s house is a piece of sacred earth to me. My grandmother planted a dogwood tree there when I was just a sapling myself. And beneath its blossoms I have planted three flying squirrels, a basset hound, and a kindly old cur dog. To rest in the shade until the Day dawns. I know how…
Brandon Meeks
June 21, 2023
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Effie Lou

She was old all my life; 76 when I was born, 87 when I first met her. When she spoke, it sounded like a swarm of bees hovering over a thick patch of clover. She was blind and feeble and had to be led around by the arm. But there was rarely a Sunday that went by for a hundred…
Brandon Meeks
May 24, 2023
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Alabama Weekend

In the summer of 2009, I was hired by a studio out of Mobile, AL to play piano on a couple country albums for these two brothers, Micky and Dickie as I recall. Though the booking was originally only supposed to be for one day, it ended up taking three due to those fella’s odd dietary habits. Apparently they were…
Brandon Meeks
April 25, 2023
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Pleasant Acres

Weddings and funerals are two events that seem impervious to meticulous planning. They almost never go off without a hitch, and yet the end result still obtains. Usually. This morning I woke up thinking about the time I almost got lynched at the Pleasant Acres Funeral Home. Caleb was a young man in our congregation who’d had a pretty rough…
Brandon Meeks
March 27, 2023
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Friday Lights Out

I still remember my first fight. Though raised in a God-fearing home that took the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth seriously, my folks were convinced of the “two cheeks” rule. That is, after having been smitten on the one, the Christian may oblige an assailant to double up on the second, but after that it’s our turn to commence smiting…
Brandon Meeks
March 9, 2023
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The Gift

On the day of Her Late Majesty’s Funeral, I rose a great while before daylight in order to tune in to the broadcast. Since I still had half an hour or so before the service started, I decided to go ahead and say morning prayer. After looking all over the house for my prayer book, I remembered that I had…
Brandon Meeks
February 17, 2023
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Boy Meets Girl

I grew up in a family that couldn’t seem to sire any offspring that wasn’t a manchild. So apart from the matrons of the clan, we boys had little exposure to the strange ways of womenfolk. As it stood, I knew next to nothing about reading moods. Or even that moods were the sort of thing that needed interpretation. This…
Brandon Meeks
January 4, 2023
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The Bootlegger

When I talk about where and how I grew up, folks, even a bit older than me, assume that not only am I from another state, they imagine I must be from another century. Case in point. My home county is dry. I don’t mean that we get little rain, I mean that we have no legal alcohol. This is…
Brandon Meeks
November 17, 2022
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Good Directions

The fella that runs the local feed store is a Cajun from Ville Platte, Louisiana. He moved up here to Arkansas because the woman he met in the personal ads said she could abide thickets and pine trees but would not tolerate bayous or raising a coonass baby. I stopped by the store yesterday because I needed some laying pellets…
Brandon Meeks
October 11, 2022
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The Rainmakers

Uncle Dude and Aunt Lura lived across the field beside us when I was growing up. They were both born between the two World Wars and lived through the Depression. Dude was born at the foot of Mount Saint Helens, Lura was born in the same room where she died in the Arkansas Delta. They had lots of odd superstitions…
Brandon Meeks
October 4, 2022
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Second Hand Memories

Memory is the thing with which we forget. I tend to believe that Memory lives in those deep crevices in the soft pink tissue of the brain; in the darkness of the crooked rows that look to have been dug by a plow mule with the blind staggers. A man can be going along, thinking a thought, and Memory will…
Brandon Meeks
July 28, 2022
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A Bushel of Poke Salad and a Gallon and a Half of Coal Oil

Uncle Jim didn’t care much for Lyin’ Ed and nobody really knew why. Some speculated that it had to do with the fact that both had been sweet on Aunt Ginny decades earlier. Others reckoned that it stemmed from a schoolyard rivalry that had followed them into adulthood and now into old age. Aunt Ginny once gave voice to the…
Brandon Meeks
July 14, 2022
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Mother Jones

Some people won’t believe in something they haven’t seen, others refuse to believe in something precisely because they have. When it came to the question of religious egalitarianism, I reckon my people were firmly in the latter category. Even as a boy I knew that there were as many kinds of religions in our small Southern town as there were…
Brandon Meeks
June 23, 2022
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The Intruder

I suppose that most men would like to think that they could shoot someone to defend life and limb. But I expect that many wonder if they actually could pull the trigger if it came down to it. This was certainly true of me. It is almost a truism that every house in the South contains more guns than people.…
Brandon Meeks
June 8, 2022
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The Neighbor

Robert Frost tells us that “good fences make good neighbors.” I suppose there is some truth to that. But I met the best neighbor I ever had the night his fence row burned to the ground. At the time, I was living in Forrest County, Mississippi. Pastoring a country country church that was the product of three earlier splits. Of…
Brandon Meeks
May 25, 2022
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The Fox Hunt

I’ve heard tell that fox hunting is the sport of kings. Be that as it may, in the hills of Arkansas it is largely the purview of fools and knaves. There are no aristocrats. No gaudy outfits. No prized horses. In fact, there are usually no horses at all. Perhaps stranger still, no guns. Unless someone totes a side arm…
Brandon Meeks
May 11, 2022
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The Legend of the Dogwood

My grandmother is the closest thing to a saint I have ever known. She is good and kind. She gives herself away until she is all but spent. She has always worked hard and loved harder. She prays and goes to church. And I’ve only known her to cuss when it thunders. But like many of the medieval saints, her…
Brandon Meeks
April 27, 2022
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Dirt

When I was a boy I was convinced that when God decided to make the world He started with Arkansas. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers were merely nicknames for the Ouachita and the Mighty Mississippi that hemmed in our corner of the Delta. And the first man, Adam, likely lived somewhere between West Memphis and the Louisiana line. After all,…
Brandon Meeks
April 14, 2022
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The Beer Thief

The little town of Canton, just off of I-20 in east Texas, is home to the world’s largest flea market. Thousands of booths and vendors have been selling their wares in that 400 acre field for about a century now. A man with a few dollars in his pocket can find stuff he never needed and never knew he wanted…
Brandon Meeks
March 30, 2022
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The Silent Killer

I started playing the piano when I was 11. My family wasn’t musical and didn’t own a piano. So every afternoon when the bus dropped me off from school I would walk the mile from my house to my grandmother’s house. She had an old upright with so many missing bits of ivory that it looked like a snaggle-toothed kid…
Brandon Meeks
March 16, 2022
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The Hog Killin’

A dozen years ago or so, I was pastoring a small country church in the smallest county in the state of Mississippi. After church, one of the deacons said, “We’ve got a big dinner set on. You wanna come eat? Gonna be good.” “Sure,” says I. His name was Gabe. He was chairmen of the deacon board, pater familias to…
Brandon Meeks
February 28, 2022