Virgin Mule

By Andrei Codrescu b. 1946 Andrei Codrescu
The conversations of the French
Quarter mules in their stables
after a full day of pulling
tourists and voters over cobble-
stones is not espresso witty
and in their dark no TVs feed
them news of the ends of mules
elsewhere in the Middle East
and West. In our stables the ends
of others are a fact of atmosphere.
The yoyos on the mystery island
nextdoor are revving familiar tools
in backyard now gripped by failure
first of electricity than of
a meaner something that’ll grow
into nothing we’ll know in the A.M.
Once they were visitors like us
then they grew mulish in their
bubbles and pulled whatever
was put around their necks in-
cluding a banner that said, About
What Kills Us We Know Little.
On certain nights after a good
internal fight we hear the voice-
less others through the glass
fearfully sweet’n’soft like dough.
Oh let the monsters in. Help us
rise above our not seeing them,
may they let us into their eyes
as well. Banish the blindness
of these cobblestones, clop, clop.
But! Pffsst! Our notes are in-
complete. Loving you was
never on the agenda. Better
to sing as roughly as the stones.
On Memorial Day we had one
thousand hotdogs & counting.
Didn’t visit a single graveyard.
We the Grant Wood folks scan
the sky for incoming missiles:
blips ourselves we understand
timing and touring in America.
The gilded dads in the portraits
sought the idealized continuity
now moving before us democratically
in showers of pixels and dots.
I’ll go with the distracted mariner,
my lover, and we’ll be in the world.
It will be late by then and dark.
We lyric virgin mules keep our
book of hours in a dream apart,
having stranded a billion turistas.
But we could not break the chummy hand.
Ready to brave the snow without a hat,
severe weather notwithstanding,
we merely nod and understand.

Andrei Codrescu, "Virgin Mule" from Belligerence. Copyright © 1991 by Andrei Codrescu.  Reprinted by permission of Coffee House Press.

Source: Belligerence (Coffee House Press, 1991)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Andrei Codrescu b. 1946

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Nature, Animals, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Popular Culture

 Andrei  Codrescu


Born Andrei Perlmutter in Transylvania soon after the Holocaust, poet, novelist, and essayist Andrei Codrescu moved to Detroit in 1966 and eventually settled in New Orleans. In his earliest poetry workshops he was encouraged to change his name. He first took the surname Steiu, and then adopted Codrescu.
Codrescu’s poetry explores themes of identity, exile, and transformation with bold irreverence. He is the author of dozens . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Animals, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.