CAPELLA DOS OSSOS
(Chapel of Bones, Evora )
They drew blood from the bull’s body, stretching him,
broken, over golden sand: a playground for the gods.
His one horn, splintered, plowed into the arena,
his other horn pointed skywards: a finger of wrath.
Cannibal red and carnival yellow, his blood and urine
spilled for the drunken pleasure for which we had paid.
We had also paid for bands and martial music; a Mexican
wave swept rhythmically over the bullring to enliven us.
Later that day we gave warm coins to the tour guide.
She counted the whites of our astonished eyes and divided
the total by two as we stepped from the air-conditioned bus.
The chapel’s slaughterhouse stench overcame us.
Bone after human bone thrust out from the ossuary walls:
a generation of tarnished hands held out to greet us.
This poem is a golden oldie, published way back when, not only in the last century, but in the last millennium, courtesy of the Nashwaak Review. Sometimes, it’s fun to explore that past and see where it led us. This is from my Milton Acorn, almost about to rhyme, Jackpine Sonnet mode. The poem does have 14 lines.