el toro

el toro*
feburary, 2014

With acknowledgements to flamencoexport.com for use of this image

the el toro
coffee lounge
run by a bull
of a man behind
the counter
never occurred
to me even once
how right the
name a poster
of a bull-fight
inside the heavy
door meat pies
and chowmein
a bull
of a man who
talked and laughed
with an impatient
nod of the head
a son of migrants
brought up tough
in the canterbury cold
first of his people’s
kids to pull on a
first-fifteen* jersey
went back to
the old country
for a village bride
ran that business
till age ran up
the debts on his
body, packed it
in & just put out
to pasture was
felled by sickness
i visited once
that land he never
made it back to
again burnt incense
at a bustling shrine
in a fall of sunlight
in his honour
the painted wood
shouldering sweeps
of gable
those people of
slipping off shoes
on the granite step
to kneel were
his honour.

*spanish for ‘the bull’

*top school or local area rugby team

Copyright©2016 Peter Le Baige.  All Rights Reserved

The music for the reading is the Cantonese piece “Childhood Sweethearts” (青梅竹马, Qing Mei Zhu Ma), performed by the Taiwanese musicians Chen Yun-tung (陳運通, 1924-2013) and Wang Shun-nun (王順能). The recording was made using overdubbing, with Wang playing yangqin and Chen playing all the other instruments, since his old colleagues from the Taiwan countryside were unavailable to play on this recording, which was probably made in Taipei.

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