Reflections of a Poet Elder

[Note: Prof. Harry Targ began his talk on US-Cuba Relations at the June 27th, 2015 Program with this poem]

Friday, March 14, 2008

I am Cuban, and I still fix typewriters for the revolution

I am a simple country person.

I remember the bohios
and the gusanos crawling from the soil
into my older sister’s bare feet
and through her body to her heart and liver
where they devoured her life
and left her on the bed staring with wide blank eyes
toward the ceiling
as she died.

I remember the yuca root we ate three times a day,
the toilet on the ground among the palms
behind the bohio,
I remember how
I almost died of diarrhea when I was six
and how Lucia and Rufino the little ones did die.
I remember no electricity – ever.

I remember the sugar zafra
and how my father slept 3 hours a night
to work those few months each year
and earned $90 – for the whole zafra.

I remember the fidelistas
in the mountains, the Sierra Maestra
and I heard of Fidel at bars in the village,
how everyone hoped he and his fighters
would change things
the way they said they would
when there was no more Batista.

I remember that day at the beginning of 1959
when their columns entered Habana from
Matanzas and Santa Clara,
and the war was over,
and how the people were wild,
except the owners


I remember the Agrarian Reform,
the Urban Reform,
the literacy program –
I learned how to read much better.
I remember the sabotage in the cane fields,
the blowing up of the Belgian ship “Le Coubre”
in our harbor by the CIA,
at least that’s what they said –
all the mysterious explosions in those days.

And then there was Playa Girón.
I remember the school in Holguin
where I began to learn – everything.

And now – it is 30 years later.
I am older and the Yanqui strangles us
because we do not want to be owned by them.
We need everything, it is hard.
I had potatoes and bread for the last 5 meals.
My shoes need to be fixed and I can afford it
but the shoemaker has nothing.
I get a pension and it is enough – just barely.
But we need so much.
Since I am good at fixing things,
for years I fixed lamps and electric tools and

Now I am old, much older.
But I am still useful.
I am still a revolutionary.
I fix typewriters for the revolution.

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