Gargoyle 10
cover image by Borislav O. Milutinovich
publication date 9/20/1978

The Real Mule

Joe Gainer

The real mule, the mule
which has always been there,
won’t hide politely for you
anymore. Even when you are alone
he is with you.
You hear him clopping
behind you on the streets
at night, coming into your
house chewing hay beside
Your ear while you watch t.v.
He is in your bedroom
when you try to sleep
sniffing at your shoes
and up and down
your spine.
When you go to brush
your teeth in the morning
he is grinning beside your
face in the mirror.
He is with you, always.
You want to take a shower,
he is already there, singing
and knocking his hooves
against the tiles.
You open the door to the
closet, and he is
wearing white lipstick
puckering his lips
to kiss you. When
you go to breakfast,
he is sitting in your seat,
legs crossed, wearing
your shirt and tie,
reading your newspaper.
You get in your car,
he is there, his big ears
protruding from under your
favorite hat. He won’t leave
you alone. He follows
you and tells you jokes,
smokes foul cigars and
breathes foul breath down
your neck. Don’t
try to lose him
in the street; he can’t be lost.
Don’t tell your neighbors
he’s just an overgrown dog;
he’ll tell them the truth.
Don’t be embarrassed when
he comes to your
Thanksgiving dinner wearing
a woman’s bathing suit;
he isn’t embarrassed.
I’m speaking of the real mule;
the mule which has always
been there, the mule
which has always stumbled
behind you in everything
you’ve done. He is,
at last, not hiding.
He has, at last,
taken his rightful place.