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Maggie (Strongsville) Adult  | Zihao (Beachwood) Gr.4-8  | Theresa (Akron) Adult  

Red bull rising,
Power flows,
The universe expands.

Maggie K, Strongsville (Adult) 

Red Bull

I watched the flame-red bull cross the river, chasing after a purple bird. There were flowers and vines in the background. I almost regretted the fact that I had to capture this bull and return it to my family’s ranch, where it was going to be raised, only to probably be killed in the matador show. It was just so beautiful and majestic. I couldn’t see how modern society likes stuff like matador shows.

My name is Antonio Alvarez. I work for Alvarez Ranch. We provide all of the bulls to the matador show. We capture wild bulls and raise them on a steady diet of pure hate, train them to hate humans, and then sell them to the matador show. It’s cruel. But it’s what you have to do to survive in Peru, at least for us. My brother Luis doesn’t share my viewpoint.

He rode up on his horse and lassoed the bull. But a weird thing happened. Like it was on fire, the bull burned through the rope. Luis was totally freaked out. He thought that the bull actually was on fire and ran home to tell Papi. When he got back, Luis was holding a fire extinguisher and pulling Papi toward our location. Papi held a bucket of water. Then I noticed something about the bull. There was a branding mark; an “A” with a flaming circle around it. It was the sacred Abahi Flaming Bull, or the Toro en llamas.

“Luis! Don’t do anything to that bull! It is the Toro en llamas! DON’T DO IT!”

They didn’t listen. Luis sprayed the foam onto the bull. The bull got angry. Its flaming spirit rose up in the air and turned into a giant, bull-shaped ball of flame. Papi, Luis, and I shielded our eyes from the brightness. The spirit spoke to us.

“I am the Toro en llamas. You have angered me. Prepare to meet your fate.”

As the bull contemplated, we watched as the trees and the flowers singed to oblivion. The bull seemed brighter than the sun.

Papi tried to strike a deal. “Please, oh Toro en llamas. Please forgive us. We were only trying to help our family business.”

The bull thought some more. Finally, he spoke. “Alright; I will give you unlimited bulls to send to the matador show through this bull machine. You may stop when you like.”

“Thank you, Toro en llamas. Thank you.”

There was a dull thump coming from the general direction of our ranch, and we sprinted there. Next to the stable was a giant chrome machine that was producing bulls by a minute.

“Well, it looks like the matadors will be pleased,” said Luis.

Zihao Q, Beachwood (Grades 4-8)  


The end has nothing to do with horsemen
colored in red, white, black, or death,
nothing about a scroll of broken seals,
or a lamb of seven horns and seven eyes.

The end
will be a dance of red buffalo in the west,
their crimson horns and hide setting
like a blood sun cradled on a mountain.
Their hooves will cut circles
of burnt prairie grass,
cut streams from rock
with the same force of Moses’ goatherd staff.
They will flatten the dust into a rocky shield,
breastplate of Sister Earth
when she seeks battle against spears and arrows.

The angels will march at her side,
commanded by St. Michael,
—no damp-browed, gold-baubled cherub—
but a light-fiend general of justice.
He leads with a doomsday prepper's
flack jacket fetish,
armed and armored,
a battle axe tucked under one wing,
an AK-47 under another,
RPG launcher under yet another,
and seven rows of titanium teeth,
seven eyes squinting
through camo green grease paint.
Fierce and even more fearsome,

the angelmonster platoons will charge
against steel-and-brass shined men.
These men will be spotted in robes and satin stoles,
rolling in doses of holy water
and concealing warheads in each of their fingertips.
They build armada explosions and
sail in gold-fortressed cruisers;
they stuff litigation mattresses with
the odd and bloodied hand or foot, with
infants who could only pay for formula
by absorbing a stigmata of bullet holes.

You will hear the women singing
"O Holy Night, O Silent Night,
O Divine Night of the Unrepentant Curses,"
in the same key as the purple phoenix flying overhead.
You will hear the bird's cry, the penitent scream,
the violent-soft fanning
of the raptor's long-tailed plumage.
Flowers will fall
in place of tears and laments
from the mouth of every woman,
salt and bread and leaves will fall
from the mouth of every man.
You will hear the sacred howl
underpin the sirens of mundane filth.

Do not stand in storms with outstretched arms,
waiting for thunder and horses and shofar trumpets.
Listen for the bird.
Listen for the stampede of red hooves.
Listen for the kindle and catch of love
in the bottommost chamber
of your hope.

Theresa, Akron (Adult)