Description: el encierro is Spanish for "the enclosing"
San Fermin is the Patron Saint of Pamplona
¡tres amigos a la muerte! is three friends to the death!
this is for Vancrown and Storm of Bliss who will never let me run alone
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT FOR BULLFIGHTING! It is not even about bullfighting. I could never, would never harm anything that is not threatening me. This is no more about bullfighting than skydiving is about flying a plane. And that is all I can say. You decide the rest of it...
el encierro -------------------------------------------
the first rocket launches
we talk of The Sun Also Rises,
how we are tracing the footsteps of history “you ready to do this?” “are we ever ready for our destiny?”
“we'll die talking about it if we don't go now”
we vow not to let each other fall
the second rocket burns
through the waking July sky
we try to keep foot to cobblestone
as a tide of red and white rushes
around the bend on Estafeta
hysteria best describes the look in the eyes
of this mass of immortality
screams and laughter mingle in the air
the smell of alcohol and sweat
is offset by the resolute breathing
of beasts that seem to understand
what their fate holds for them
the pounding of heavy hooves on rock
thrusts my heart into my throat
“come on, pick it up!”
“I can FEEL them coming!”
“so move your ass!”
“I'm gonna fall on my fucking face!”
“then quit looking over your shoulder!”
as we approach the Callejón
I swear I see the ghost of Hemingway
running alongside of me, a drink in hand
shouting “let San Fermin guide you!”
behind us the crowd has scattered
splitting a wide expanse
in the narrow road
the herd is stomping in unison
stirring up ghosts of 800 years
as we steer away from their path
“we made it!”
we embrace and dance in delight
but for an instant — “where's Alia?”
we turn to find her in the center of the ring
"you ready to die?"
"I'll let you know when I get there"
the third rocket signals
the end of our journey
we can feel
on our heels
as the ground
as if choreographed
we each grab hold of an outstretched hand
and turn to face our fate:
I feel extremely familiar with this poem... first, I just recently read The Sun Also Rises and I recognized the celebration with fireworks and everything in your poem. I'm also Colombian, so I can also familiarize with the entire ritual. I love how you included spanish words, it definitely adds to the emotion and the nature of the party. :) nice! -margui
Oh, I see how you are. Just pull back a few weeks and it's "then there were three" Just kidding, of course. Well, the definitive volume was Death in the Afternoon, not The Sun also Rises, but we'll let that slide as DITA prolly wouldn't be recognized as quickly by the casual reader. I was just out pulling my own immitation of Ernest, cigar and drink. buenos noches, Dave
I have very limited time to read/respond, but I have to agree with the comment I read a few days ago on your summer's piece, that you are "so [censored] talented", so I wanted to dig and see for myself... oh yeah, oh yeah! You are, you are! lol
This was divine... and not JUST because one of my goals in life is to go to Spain and run with the bulls one year... it was excellent because of the pace, and the tense energy running thru it, and in the end, 3 friends facing the threat of death, hand-in-hand... and it's one of those few pieces, where you sense JOY... this wild exhuberance that makes you feel fragile-yet- immortal, because it is just so alive itself. Yeah, babbling here, my hands are shaking from loading too much sand.
As for your journal, too funny. What part are you in? ("Wet" is the answer for smartasses, by the way.)
To my great enjoyment, most of your poems seem to work on several levels and have been demanding of me to brew on them and re-read them ..
I was actually kind of confused at the disclaimer of 'not endorsing bullfighting' .. I guess the literal aspect of the poem has caused some sort of debate or controversy around the issue. .. After reading a couple of the comments though i see why you would put that up.
You would think that the Hemingway referrences would make it fairly clear why the running of the bulls was chosen as a framework for what you are saying. It struck me as really fitting ... Giving the notion of the old expatriats in association with the sun also rises.
The use of rockets works nicely to pull the reader (me) away from that specific Paris - pamplona idea and gives a less time specific presentation of the expatriate rebels who are trying to find back to some sort of value in life.. trying to find some sort of life in rejection of the war mongers ways.
I think your poem, and the controversy of bull fighting along with it, presents a good idea of the confusion , trauma .. and honor that is interconnected with the search for hemingways arcadia. A world were the notion of 'animal cruelty' and political correctness and self limitations are contended in strong bonds of intimate friendships .. true bonds that are worth dying for ...rather than shackles that are jabbed into ones spine for the good of the nation ..
don't know if this has anything to do with what you were thinking or intending .. but it's how i read it anyways .. and it was a wicked read indeed ..
Fantastic! No bull! I've never been to Spain, such is my shallow life, but I felt like I was there reading this. I stole Hemmingway's drink, I needed it more than he did. ( We'll settle later). But, this is not about Spain, or Hemmingway, or bull-running. This, is about three poets out-running their fears, whatever they are. Claiming to band together to face them, the weight of the terror is lessened.
My favorite lines:
"hysteria best describes the look in the eyes of this mass of immortality"
The lines I would change:
"The pounding of heavy hooves (on rock) (thrusts) drives my heart into my throat."
We already know they're running on cobblestones. "thrusts" is just hard to say, and "pounding" calls for "drives".
Just loved the whole concept here, of poets running in fear, of those fears portrayed as bulls, which are fearsome beasts. I also like that you've left the ending open. The lifelong proclamation, "i Tres Amigos a la Muerte!", does not certify death, only a willingness to face it together, the ending is left to the reader. I say they overcome their fears, accept the challenge, and side step all the bull, to go on to achive great things. i Viva! Tres amigos!
I don't think this piece is so much about running with the bulls as it is about friends. The knowledge that one can face any obstacle in life, even death, as long as you have your friends by your side. People we love give us courage and with that courage we feel as if we can accomplish anything.
You have wriiten a very vivid piece. The reader can feel the excitement and the danger, and almost smell the sweat. It get the heart pumping. This was excellent, and I hope my interpretation of it wasn't off too much.
yeah hey...was shakin -ok enough chitter chatter--this is interesting and I feel a couple of different things here--first I have to agree with Hanuman (shocking) that I don't think these animals deserve this but hey who am I to stop a tradition in their culteure for years so [censored] it! but the whole story you told put me there --as if I was the guy next to you running..the part where you said stop looking over your shoulder---I myself said I am not (in my head)--weird /funny---I don't really understand the muerte thing---I know that means death but the connection between it and 3 amigos I'm not sure
the herd is stomping in unison stirring up ghosts of 800 years as we steer away from their path “we made it!”
[I also like this] swear I see the ghost of Hemmingway running alongside "of"me, a drink in hand shouting “let San Fermin guide you!”[ [this made me feel it man ---like ebeneezer and The Babe] ask me later! anyway--I'm not sure if ya need the "OF" me but hey whatever--this is very creative and that's what it is all about---good work! eh-hem stll haven't seen ya over on the page---- lamemansterms
I saw a couple of things that might help, so I'm posting a second comment!
what their fate holds for them
Fate's sharpening a sword
<or something similar to personalize Fate as a menacing destiny with little hope>.
And then, very minor here, but
thrusts my heart into my throat
thrusts A heart into my throat
Don't ask me why, but this change seemed to add something, to my mind. Transforms the heart into an almost unknown thing, and unexpected thing, with this simple shift, adds a little depth, if you follow me.
as we approach the Callejón I swear I see the ghost of Hemmingway running alongside of me, a drink in hand shouting “let San Fermin guide you!” behind us the crowd has scattered splitting a wide expanse in the narrow road the herd is stomping in unison stirring up ghosts of 800 years as we steer out of their path
Great strophe, bro. Love the bit about Hemmingway!
And finally, this
together we will find our fate!
together, is how we'll meet this fate!
Back to back to back, the three faces and three hearts of the Japanese tradition, guardians covering the full arc and protecting all sides, that's how I see it, and you already know the last line, maybe somehow this will generate an idea for that, to punctuate the poem better <because reading it again, that last line reads a little too trite for such a moving piece, IMHO>.
Again, bro. Great write, and I stand by my favorites addition!
PS Great pic, and umm . . . way to take the BULL by the HORNS!
Metaphor or not, you've definitely taken us to Pamplona and we've run with you. I've never understood the whole concept of running with the bulls, but I do understand that it would be frightening and exhilerating at the same time. That's enough understanding to make your metaphor work, although if your life is truly as tumultous as the streets of Pamplona, I fear a bit for your sanity. LOL
Ahyaaa, D, man, honestly, this was great. Love the analogy of likening 3 desperate poets running for their lives, with the bullies in hot pursuit!
But more than that, you captured an essence of the culture and took me somewhere I've never been before, and you accomplished that with style and excitement. This is a rare poem!
I'd almost like to see you end with something like "looks like it's just us and them" or "looks like we're on our own" but I know what you were aiming for, and it's a playful kind of ending and maybe think about it and do what you feel is best.
I'm almost having a difficult time believing this poem because it's somewhat of a departure for you in style, though not so much in form as in voice, and then again, you seem to do well with cultures beyond our ken.
I just realized I said about nothing useful. Well, it's early and I'm still waking up, hehe.
Ah David, I can appreciate what a fine description this is of the feelings of you and the other runners, but my sympathy must lie with the bull. The poor creatures must be incredibly stressed by this ordeal and I personally feel that this event should be banned on grounds of cruelty to animals. No, I won't join you a la muerte because your death at the horns of the bull is highly unlikely. I might join mes amigos los toros to their much more inevitable muerte.
No! I wish not to join you! lol, This is a good piece. I see myself right there. Only one thing, not for the running of the bulls.lol I like the way you described the surroundings (including Fernando). I bet your little heart was pumping five times it's normal rate. This was great! Now I want to go to Spain...take care wanda
Well, up until now I'd never been to the running of the bulls. I thought you did a fantastic job of catching the atmosphere with beautiful detail. You have the big landmarks like hemingway and then the very small ones also...the cobblestones etc. I liked the way you showed the emotions and excitement of the group of people so that we got close enough a moment that was larger than life. A pretty basic summation of a wonderfully crafted piece. Well done that man!
what a motley crew you three make, eh? running with the bulls... and i could just see Alia entering the ring with all her strength and courage. this seems to be about facing our demons with close friends by our side.. or it could be about just facing the world with gusto and claiming every excitement, everything that can take your breath away.. living in the moment and sharing that beauty and excitement with people you care deeply about. that's my story, and i'm sticking to it! i see you had to write a disclaimer about the bull-fighting.. some people don't get metaphor i suppose.. but i think you did a wonderful job. this comes to life on the page and breathes and speaks excitement. thanks for the jolt! @ Cat
I think you've had enough compliments, but they were all well deserved. The style is fresh and vibrant. The energy is tangible and pulsating. The perspective on life in general, which is what I felt you were really describing, was both shocking and real. Isn't the business of really living fraught with such perils in any event, and isn't it worth facing just to know that you have truly gone the full distance you were capable of? Bravo! A unique and excellent write indeed.
Whoa, David, I cracked up over this. The ending hits just like a punch line to me. Three Amigos indeed! But to send Alia to fight the bull, that is brilliant, of course, I don't doubt her ability!
I like how you've woven Hemingway into this encounter as a ghost of sorts, I wrote a piece on Rachmaninov where he came to dinner, so I like the classic feel of this idea, very clever. And I must commend you on the style for the three amigos, or perhaps menage a' tete? Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the action and adventure! much love, Nan
Before I even read this, I thought of Hemingway, only to then find him peeking out from between your words...
Then I read it again, and thought of Remarque's Three Comrades - and you know, I still am thinking of that book, because the underlying messages parallel each other, and I love that book, and I really like the way you've carried this piece forth...
The only niggle I have (and this is purely my personal niggle which I am going to share and you should ignore) is that seeing as the running with/from/in front of/alongside/etc the bull is a metaphore, I am a little unsure about your mentioning of destiny.
Yes, your journey is your destiny, and you are incredibly lucky to find that you will never walk alone (which is a fabulous frank sinatra song, by the way.. but thats really irrelevant) - but running with the bull isnt destiny, its a choice.....
And even though I see the magic of the looking what may come face on, hand in hand with those who stand beside you, and straying away from the crowds, and not letting yourself be stampeded by a mass, a mob driven by fear and adrenalin, and finding beauty where others see ugliness, or despair, or even nothingness -
I still have this niggling thing about the bull/choice/destiny thing.
Why is this is your destiny? Why has life placed you in these heavy, rich, humid surroundings in Spanish tradition?
Ah, but maybe you three were travellers, and found yourselves in this situation - and dealt with it differently from the rest.
Yes I like that....
See, now I have meaninglessly rambled, and basically had a debate with myself in this comment box, which is probably useless to you - but is more or less priceless to me, for a piece that has posed a question, and allowed me debate and find an answer (not necessarily one implied, but one I am satisfied with) is a rare thing, and a beautiful thing, just as this piece is.
My question for you is have you been to Spain before? just curious. I think you captured the spirit there and the running of the bulls is indeed a spectacle of intriuge. as for the note about bullfighting in your description, I have actually witnessed one durring my stay in Spain. And it was the most disgusting yet beautiful experience of my life. The killing and how its done as a spectacle was the disgusting, but the way the Spaniards come together for the event was beautiful, my fellow audience members whom I had never seen before started sharing the food and wine with my friends and I there was big sence of comradery. Anywho I felt you captured the emotion and the imagery needed for a piece of this nature, My real interest to be honest was the last line. The three dead friends? I really dont see its connection with the rest of the piece, unless of course your speaking of spirits who return to run, and do not go to rest because of this love for the run, or possibly there is something else tied to the event that prevents them from moving on. Maybe Im just reading into to it far to much...-John