Six hundred kilos
of muscle and bone
shake the ground.
The huge head moves
left, right, up, down.
Spittle runs from the muzzle
and a sound like the hissing
of a steam train

shoots towards the lone human figure.

The torero flings back his head,
putting the peacock to shame
with his dance stance.
– Hey, hey…hey, toro!
His eyes hold death
and his heart holds pride.

The bull moves its mass
only to be cheated

in the game played
by the small killer and his helpers.
The picador cuts the tendon

that carries the weight

of the powerful head.

The banderilleros distress
with their colourful stings.
The torero plays tricks
with the red cloth
while the crowd


When the butchering’s done
the mighty bull at last gives in
to the monstrous wounding
and accepts an inevitable death
dictated by the rules of a game
written in blood
centuries ago.
It’s a warm and pleasant afternoon
in Madrid’s bullring.