The Mule

His modus operandi was to take the trolley
downtown from James, buds in his ears, shades,
a trench coat rain or shine, and sheet music
for songs by Porter, Gershwin, and Schubert.
When I once called him maestro, he protested
loudly, his arms waving up and down so vivace
his mack fluttered like a tailcoat at the podium.
On the last trip I saw him he was too decrepit
to use the stairs, and gestured for the lift
with a much more measured use of his hand, lento.
Months later I was told by another passenger
how he’d been busted for muling oxycodone
out of Harborview, in a disguise hiding
the means by which an old man lived for music.


  1. Jonathan Potter says

    I like the musical terms and the “much more measured use of his hand”. The ending has an opaque mysteriousness about it, especially compared to the vividness of the rest of it, which I also like; although the abstractness of “by which an old man lived for music” falls a little flat for me. Maybe that’s as it should be, but maybe some stronger image there could serve.

    Do you have more passengers to write about? Could be a great series.

  2. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    Some get a kick from cocaine….

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    I’ll see what I can do. I promised Deirdre I’d try to post more often than once every six months … perhaps the next time we next meet, she’ll ask me to stop …

  4. Jonathan Webb says

    Very Carveresque and a good poem in its own right. Thanks.

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