Surviving Pamplona
by Mark A. Murphy

Late in the night corrals, the venerable creatures
are driven mad
with cattle prods to inflame
them before the afternoon's gallant race
where thousands of young men
will earn their stripes in the Running of the Bulls.
Exhausted and bewildered -
the artless bovines will gallop their half mile
from the top of Cuesta de Santo Domingo
through the ancient cobbled streets,
across city hall to the Plaza de Torus de Pamplona
where the curious spectators await
the arrival of the beasts,
with the bullfighters and the matador de toros (killer of bulls)
adorned in his golden suit of lights.
What shall we call this heir of El Corobés,
locked in glorious battle with the blundering ox -
already exsanguinating
as our athlete thrusts his deadly 'estoqu'
into that monstrous neck?
Shall we cry out ole or bravo at this unmistakable artistry,
or castigate ourselves
daily for not taking up arms against it?

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