Sunday, March 23, 2008


After one hour, two shared taxi rides,
Maybe walking four or five kilometers,
Asking directions from seventeen people,
I finally heard the metallic music,
The tin voice of the local word jockey,
And the shouting from a wild crowd.
I’d found the Adu Domba at Babakan Siliwangi.
The ram-butting fights.
There was no fee to enter the arena,
And nobody harassing me because my eyes were round,
Or my skin was golden.
There were just hordes of people,
Men, women and plenty of dirty little children,
Watching the rams charge and head-butt each other.
I snapped pictures and made little movies,
And bought a pack of cigarettes.
An old man in a straw cowboy hat,
Wearing big, brown plastic framed glasses
With lenses half an inch thick,
He looked over and saw me and smiled,
And patted the empty spot next to him
on the wooden bench.
I sat down and he smiled and said, “Adu domba!”
And made his hands into fists and pounded them together.
“yes,” I said, nodding. “adu domba.”
Two by two, the rams were brought out,
wrestled around by barefooted Indonesian rodeo men,
And made to charge one another.
And charge they did!
Bang! Crack! Wham!
Horns smashing against horns,
Making the sickest and purest sounds.
Drums were pounded and whiny music blasted,
And I sat there, taking it all in:
The rams, the rodeo men,
the little boy jumping up and down on a metal bleacher,
Angering a nest of bees.
Bird-sized insects,
buzzing into holes in the wooden posts
which held up the rusty metal roofs.
The crowds cheering at a good match,
Standing up and roaring with glee,
The vendors stomping around,
Hawking food and toys and cigarettes.
The young man frying up eggs and brain
Over a small coal fire.
And above it all,
Above all the madness of animals and man,
The butterflies,
which floated breathlessly in the cool, damp air.

No comments: