La Habana Vieja

2 July 2002

Sitting on the balcony

           of apartamiento seis in Old Havana,

The sweaty night freshened by a breath of oily air

           and the screech of brakes from Terminal de Trenes,

I watch the stately unseen drift of the planet Venus

           across the sky in splendid isolation

                    above the passion and the heat.

She slowly sinks to the horizon,

            the fixed stars behind,

                      a faint canopy amongst the inky black.

Momentarily a television antenna

           obliterates that eye of beauty,

                      among the forest of antennas

On the tops of buildings three stories up

           and crowded in the noisy city streets of La Habana Vieja.

Oh shining jewel of light!

           You sink to the horizon of tangled edifices,

   leaving the inky blackness and the perspiring electric lights behind.

Venus has disappeared!

           And with you a tiny jewel of hope among the tangle of antennas.

  • Below – a skein of words and images drawn from the unseen night       
  •               into a million apartamientos – the sounds of Cubavision

Radiating from a thousand doors and windows

           open in the heat crowded night,

                     into myriad sparks of mental light

                                 faint as the stars in the darkened sky behind,

Into a million cravings for dinero, for sex, for love, for dance, for fantasy world USA,

           celoso, invidioso, carino, amor

                      Socialismo o Muerte!

Oh shining single star of light!

           or rather, noble planet on your independent course

                      among the pale estrellas,

You are to me the hombre nuevo of the heavens,

           you are the new humanity of deepened consciousness

                      splendid in your independent isolation

                                above our world.

To gaze upon your stately drift

           oh single eye of brightness and serenity,

                      our beacon, drawing us apart to deep awareness:

Awakening in us the universal vision,

           the embracing compassion of human transformation,

                      beyond the tangle of antennas, the electric wires,

The passionate apartamientos, the dance, the dreams,

           Your beacon arises forever again each night,

And for us each night,

           you sink unseen into the dark horizon,

                      the trackless tangle of antennas and emotions.

Un hombre viejo,

           drunk in the night,

                      ejaculates a string of Spanish curses.

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