Virgin Mule

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)
More Poems by Andrei Codrescu