Break Your Bull

Art by Maria Zolotukhina

Been reading some Bukowski lately. Read “Brave Bull” out loud to others at recent networking events and poetry slams as well. Is it age that brings concepts to his mind that spear me? If not wisdom, then what more?

Anyway, I had a lot of fun working with others to gain insights on the poems.

Here’s an image of the poem, or proof of my claims, if that is what you so require😉:

My viewpoint from the poem is entirely pessimistic. The ending lines, “and I clasped my hands deep within my pockets, seized darkness, and moved on,” made me believe Bukowski was seeing the same dead-ends that I cringed from on a more than daily basis. This feeling was compounded in my feeling lost, being a mixed latino male with no set “culture” to subsume myself within. I want to be a scholar, I will be a scholar. In this way I must learn think for myself, or from only my viewpoint, I think. Something like being alone amongst other’s who want to belong in the same way as me. Inevitably, my satisfaction for something more in my latino experience never seemed to come.

However, I was given the viewpoint by one of the poetry slam participants after sharing my despondent thoughts. Paraphrasing what he said, the meaning was “Bukowski gave us the choice. We can sulk in the darkness, or focus on moving on. The “Focus” of the language in entirely up to the reader. Ask yourself Paul, what you choose.”

I choose to move on. Here is an intro to “Breaking of the Bull.”

Breaking of the Bull

Sappy blue pre-dawn resting on leafless grey birchwoods, rolling and converging like a winter blanket with the forests descending in the distance. The clouds were a match to Vene’s mood and too beautiful to bear.

Four days passed since Amabelle last became the Vene’s Princess of Amber. In all this time, the scent of her hair hadn’t deigned to leave from the crease of his neck, her lips still placed phantom kisses to draw breath from his lungs as he watched for her from his niche in the tree’s branches. Vene leaned into his creaking Pila, feeling the meat of his cheek meld to the intricate handle she’d carved for him along with her mother. 

Back to the trunk, he fingered charcoal onto poorly-crafted, homemade papyrus with a heavy dopple of malaise. 

‘Amabelle, the radiant, tittering, spinning me, glee-stricken. We trip headlong into lotuses. Amabelle, the virtuous, who’s lips’d be unable to lie save her promises they’d never see one another again. Amabelle, welcoming and appreciative, riding a bull, hand prim in the grip of another’s; both broken. Amabelle, leaves me. Answer my flowers, the sweets I’ve stolen for you, pages of poetry pilfered, returned to you in hope to see my rise, a respected poet and an honest man.’

 “Vene you are an honest man,” My princess covered her embarrassment with cupped hand, sparing a boy’s destroyed pride from her blossoming smile. “But this world is not one of honest men.” He watched her eyes, cringing as they hung and flit longingly to Espand’s, riding his red furred bull not 30 yards away, broken. She skipped over to him.

The Bull’s head was bowed in fear, or something closer to boredom as the pale Colonel made it strut for a crowd of lout’s baking in the hot clay street. Their skin, now a shade of brown closer to hot orange than it was to soil, was a match to the clay which they laid their backs upon directly, lacking in any clothing besides scant loincloths. They put their hands out in supplication to the Colonel  even as they seemed to have nothing better to do with their time. 

Espand kept everyone’s attentions by throwing precious shells into the crowd. Vene had predicted correctly then that the night would be roughty, now that the louts had money for mead.

Espand was tailed and matched alongside two other men; both Striders on bulls of their own. The larger of the rider’s rode a blue beast laden with dust like a broom, the other was grey-black, mounted by a man with full tortoise armor and a back the shape of a “C”; Vene knew they were all broken. 

Keeled over the knee of a giant, supinated, back stretched to stand erect, strutting, stamping, clopping, prancing.

The chirped claps of their hooves smarted the earth, churning it in cloves. To Vene, they sounded eerily of Maracas or the other oiled wood instruments used by the Striders during their raids and rituals. 

A dim remembrance existed of such a celebration, having taken place during the eve of his thirteenth year. The full moon’s roundness permeated every un-lanterned awning then, easing the shadows’ bindings.

Amabelle’s toes were first to attempt to scoot away, at that time, too. Even during their last real moments, he’d found it hard to trust her.

“You’re so honest. Too much so, poor Vene.”

“This is a world of women, children, and breakers. As time has told, a woman like me can do little with an honest man.” She spoke but didn’t meet his eyes as she helplessly bit her lip. Vene guessed her gaze was colliding with the Colonel’s amber jeweled one. Then she flitted, for the first time of many from his hands; like an unrequited sparrow. 

It’s been four days since Vene questioned last if he’d go now to participate in the Breaking of the Bull.

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