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In a short series of seven poems, Gloria Monaghan reveals hidden truths about Manolete, thought by some to be the greatest Spanish bullfighter of all time.


Weight 4 oz

Read excerpts

The tip of your sword glitters in the sun
your white teeth catch the light
the gold buttons of your coat spin

into your body, barely pressing against the sweating side of the bull,
small swords stick out of his sides like an indication
your dance with him, a spectacle

you push your body into the black bull
the swords pin him and decorate his massive strength
your arms bent behind you like a dancing woman. The lull

of the afternoon settles into the dust
flies hover over the sweat of the bull and the sweat on your brow
your bright red muleta flies over his body like a flower of lust.

Your hands are smeared with the blood of the bull.
It is your second kill today. The stands scream with terror and glee.
Dust flies and settles on your black shoes. The black bull

is dying. It is four o’clock.
You don’t look at the crowd.
You give them nothing of your face, nothing to mock,

only your body as you swing and unfurl
your cape, moving slowly beyond fear in and out of the path of the bull
without ever changing position, your arms as graceful as a girl’s

You love the black bull and your dance is death
you know he will have you
eventually. But now you move with grace and stealth

the gold buttons gleam, the red muleta flutters
sweat draws down your back onto your backside
an old woman proceeds to her window and closes the shutters.

About the Author

Gloria Monaghan is a Professor of Humanities at Wentworth Institute in Boston. She has published three books of poetry, Flawed (Finishing Line Press, 2011, nominated for the Massachusetts Book Award), The Garden (Flutter Press 2015), and False Spring(Adelaide Press, March, 2019). Her forth book Hydrangea (Kelsay Press) is forthcoming in 2020. Her poems have appeared in Alexandria Quarterly, 2River, Adelaide, Aurorean, Chiron, Nixes Mate, First Literary Review East, among others. In 2018 her poem, “Into Grace” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and won the 2018 Literary Award Contest at Adelaide Press.

Copyright © 2020 Gloria Monaghan

Cover design by d’Entremont

ISBN 978-1-949279-29-0

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.


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