by Edgardo Alvarado-Vazquez…….
Fidel’s Beard on the day of his death
(for Doña Olga, Don Fernando, su esposo y su hija Lourdes,
the first people that taught me about Cuba and Fidel Castro)
Today it finally snowed in La Habana
as the flairs of your beard fell to the ground
one white irresolute hair at a time.
In Miami, the pots and spoons
come out, reminiscences of other protests
in a lethargic and weary Latin America.
In La Habana, nothing changes
a memento of an ongoing disease
kept in place by octogenarians.
In Miami, kids wrapped in Cuban flags,
who have no knowledge of Cuba,
maybe distant recollections of dead grandparents,
dance on crowded avenues as cars honk by.
In La Habana, a black cortège is readied
by mourners forced to cry
by a dead regime holed-up in crumbled streets
populated by jineteros and jineteras
boasting hunger and desire.
And the irreverent strands of your beard
fall near the bones of your indignant index finger
pointed at the tired imperialistas who never came
for the imagined Armageddon of your eight hour speeches,
and your faded olive green fatigues morphed
into the sea foam green of the Malecón crested waves.
In La Habana it will be another tiresome day guarded
by the block resistance committees spying
on people who have long ago forgot them.
In Miami, the celebrations will subside,
the pots and spoons will return to the kitchen’s drawers
when everybody, still inebriated with joy, proceeds back to work.
Another new year will come,
unlike the one in 1959
and the old salute to the new year
“el año que viene en La Habana,”
will ring again from the cemetery plots
covered by the impertinent strands of your beard
growing like coconut palm trees in the mountains
of Sierra Madre, hidden like you from your mind.
The conga lines in Miami,
in front of the Café Versailles,
in front of La Carreta restaurant
along Calle Ocho
are Dance Macabres, tarantellas,
celebrations of a death foretold by
the grime in your worn-out boots
on the necks of so many skeletons
scattered along the straits
between Mariel, La Habana, Key West and Miami
The kids draped in the Cuban flags are crying,
maybe for La Habana immersed in the misery of daily life
maybe for a Miami entangled in ideological dribble.
And the strands of your beard
are planted in the minds of a drifting Cuban Diáspora
that still doesn’t know when it’s time to come home.
Edgardo was born and raised in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. In 1985 he moved to Chicago, IL to work on his graduate degree. He started writing poetry in high school. “The Key West Writers Guild and the Poetry Guild are my soul’s houses. In their midst, I play with words and hone my craft.”
Edgardo enjoys the company of his fellow writers and his chosen family. He is currently working on his second fiction book and his first book of poetry.