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.

15 thoughts on “Capella dos Ossos

  1. You did have quite a day… a morbid day out I am quite envious. Francis Bacon loved bullfights but he loved all bloodsports, I suppose it was his proclivities and the fact that he came from Anglo-Irish hunting and horses set. Interesting. I like the almost rhyming.

    Liked by 2 people

    • When I was first studying in Spain, late teens, early twenties, I saw many bullfights. The town I was in was a tourist centre (rather than a bullfight centre) and I saw all the top toreros over the three summers I was there. There was so much to learn. So much to understand. Attending the plaza de toros with people who really knew their bulls and their bull-fighting was an eye-opening cultural experience. At 15, I entered the bull ring in a small Basque town and ran the novillos (baby bulls) with the other boys. It would have been cowardice not to. At 19, I was amazed by the skills of the fighters, especially the rejoneadores, fighting from horse-back. At 40, I refused to go to the bullfights. Now my opinion of them has changed totally and I think they should be banned. How one’s views can change over a lifetime.

      Liked by 2 people

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