Poetry and The Revolution: Cuban poems from the 1960s

Wilfredo Lam (1902- 1982): Untitled (1957)_pastel on heavy paper and canvas

Wilfredo Lam (1902- 1982): Untitled (1957)_pastel on heavy paper and canvas


We have chosen the poems featured below from the anthology Cuban Poetry: 1959 to 1966.

The anthology was published by The Book Institute, Havana, in 1967.

The book’s prologue (Foreward) and biographical sketches were written by Heberto Padilla and Luis Suardíaz.

Editorial supervision for the book was through Claudia Beck and Sylvia Carranza.

. . .

Excerpt from the Foreward:

This is not an anthology of all contemporary Cuban poetry. It takes in only the period from 1959 to 1966; and only the poems of authors of several generations who have had at least one book published in those years.

We have selected the years beginning with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, because during this period an extraordinary change has taken place in the life and work of our poets. It is easily discernible that the poetry written in these last seven years sharply breaks away from the poetics which to a large extent dominated our literature. A new universe of expression has dawned, a new truth, a new life.

We have been guided in our selection by the Revolution’s impact on our poets, and by the unique characteristics that make them outstanding in our language. It is an impact that delves into everyday reality, analyzing it and reflecting it in all its dimensions. Whenever possible, we have preferred a criterion of historic evaluation rather than an aesthetic one. Each poet is represented by those poems that we have considered to be more characteristic of his works, of his themes; but we have chosen with special care those that express the problems set forth by History. This does not mean that this selection of poetry is solely social or militant; reading it will prove just the opposite. It is simply the poetic testimonial of men of different ages and different literary backgrounds that carry out their work and are participants in one of the most intense and moving periods of our entire history.

. . .

Cuban Poetry: 1959 to 1966 focused on the verse of poets born between 1894 (Manuel Navarro Luna) and 1944 (Nancy Morejón – one of only two female poets – the other being Belkis Cuza Malé – included in the selection).

. . .

Translations from Spanish into English of the poems which follow were done in 1966 and 1967 by:

Claudia Beck, Rogelio Llopis, Sylvia Carranza, Stasia Stolkowska, and R. Frank Hardy.

. . .

Alcides Iznaga

(born 1914, Cienfuegos, Las Villas)



Time stands still in the school patio

amid fenced-in almond and cedar trees,

under a sky fraught with heavy rain,

between old and stately walls,

burning blindly,

non-committal and innocuous,

immutable, independent,

unattached to the trees,

to the fences and walls,

to the sky and the vertical air,

so free from corrosion

and so intense

that it fills to the brim the patio and the sky.

. . .



I remember you as the river we have lost and kept;

because we are impotent.

Now these birds are chirping.

Now the wind escapes.

Now the doves are flying

and I am sitting by the Hudson.


Some passers-by hurry along

and I ask myself whether their rush will get them anywhere.

I feel downcast,

and you have died so hastily and unexpectedly.


I see people dragging along the leash

lap dogs, mean looking and toy-like,

or listening to their toy-like, jabbering transistor radios,

completely unaware of Riverside’s charms at this time of day,

and I am touched by the way the wind seems to spur them on.


I cast a look on Time

and before losing what I lose

and giving what I give,

I know the reverse.

But we are impotent;

we are not the returning wind;

we are doves,

birds that chirp for a while

and are heard no more.

. . .



I see the afternoon take shape before me silently

but I have withdrawn to my airless room.

The afternoon has not diminished its brightness;

it brings out the green in the trees,

the marble-like whiteness in children’s cheeks,

the contrasting colours of nearby buildings;

but all this will last out an instant,

because the trees, the children and buildings

are one with the tremulous afternoon in my heart.


I pass my finger through its hair,

and touch a flower visibly withering

like the flower which yesterday bloomed everlastingly

and has now become minutes of ashes.

. . .



Very few Sundays did we have for us,

very few nights, too.

Behind the table we would seek refuge in ourselves:

joking, roughhousing,

and the pointless strolls on the Prado.

Why did we then waste away

those times so beautiful and ours?


I was somewhat hesitant toward you,

timorous – as I’ve always been –

instead of letting you seduce me.

Now all of me is in you, within you

– attentive to your every throb, even the least perceptible;

to your eyes that always dream;

to your eyes somewhat sad;

to your eyes so deep.

. . .

Day’s Story (A Variation)

(for Isabel Castellanos)


The day throws off its shell,

it rises and starts on its way

distributing winds, surge of waves, tenderness;

distributing songs and tearing down bastions

belonging to the absurd stage of our history;

slowly, it has to make a stop;

it transpires and smiles

and begins shaking hands with its friends;

and all begins to change,

and the taxi’s fare rejects the back seat

and sits in front with the driver;

and they both talk amiably

as though they were old friends;

on all this the day looks on quite pleased.


Some basilisks,

some executioners,

some businessmen,

some generals

try to block the successful day,

but it just slips away from them

like water through disabled fingers;

and only when its mission is fulfilled

does it make its voluntary exit,

colouring our thoughts with its irrevocable accomplishments.

. . .

Eliseo Diego

(born 1920, Havana)

Only This


Poetry is nothing more

Than conversation in the shadows

Cast by an ancient stove

When all have gone,

And beyond the door

Murmur the impenetrable woods.


A poem is only a few words

One has loved,

And whose order time has changed,

So that now

Only a suggestion,

An inexpressible hope,



Poetry is nothing more

Than happiness, a conversation

In the shadows

After everything else has gone

And there is only silence.

. . .

Jesús Orta Ruiz (Indio Naborí)

(born 1923, Guanabacoa)

Exposure and a Way


The new roof was not to have

Fifteen gutters deflecting rain.

The roof had to be only rain.


The moon did not appear;

Hidden were the stars.


But even so,

That night was a clear night.


We saw that men who differ

Go opposing ways,

And we struck out on ours.

A revolutionary soldier caught on camera by chance as he was struck by the bullet that killed him_Tirso Martinez_Cuba, 1958

A revolutionary soldier caught on camera by chance as he was struck by the bullet that killed him_Tirso Martinez_Cuba, 1958

Roberto Branly

(born 1930, Havana)

Reminiscence: January ’61


The Year of Education has hardly begun

and already we are hustling off to the trenches.


It was like the strategy of golf;

the manoeuvre followed by the tin-horn heroes,

by Wall Street’s golf strategy.


Hardly had we time

to whiff at the gunpowder from our rifles

and already the salt spray from the sea

and the gusts of winds announcing rain

were upon us;

we were like sentinels, with our eyes glued to the night.


We rested our mouths on the butts of our rifles

and bit into them during our sleepless wait;

we had a drawn-out taste of military life,

under the light of the stars,

amid the dew-covered, knee-high grass.

. . .

Antón Arrufat

(born 1935, Santiago de Cuba)

Tempo I


I look at your face

Before our fingers begin the work of love.

Love is a futile crime,

Much like death herself,

Because we always die too late.

I must stagger under

The cruelty of that presence

And that punishment

Beneath the sun.

(Snow never comes to console us in the tropics.)

. . .

Domingo Alfonso

(born 1936, Jovellanos, Matanzas)

People like Me


People like me

daily walk the streets,

drink coffee, breathe,

admire the Sputniks.


People like me

with a nose, with eyes,

with marital troubles,

who take a bus,

and one fine day

sleep underground,

unnoticed by all.

. . .

Crossing the River


The oxen and the horses wade through the waters of the river.

A yellowish, foam-capped streak of water rhythmically laps the river banks.

The horsemen goad the herd, make nervous use of their spurs.

The sweaty beasts are water-drenched.

Blood begins to stain the water.

A little girl is heard crying.

We do not know why.

. . .

Señor Julio Osorio


Señor Julio Osorio remembers every day the good old times

when not a year passed without his travelling to New York.

Those were the times my father was out of work,

and my sister Rita was the victim of old Doctor Beato’s offspring,

while my mother sewed pants on a Singer

for private tailors with a meagre clientele.


Now I work, my sister is about to graduate from High School,

and little do we care whether Señor Osorio

makes his yearly trip to New York or not.

. . .

A Love-Affair at Forty


Carlos never had a wife.

Luisa never had a beau.

Carlos longed to marry.

So did Luisa.

Luisa was thirty-five,

Carlos almost fifty.


Carlos and Luisa were united in wedlock.


Luisa was not in love with Carlos;

but had no use for spinsterhood.

Carlos was not in love with Luisa;

but was in need of a wife.

. . .

Poems of the Ordinary Man


I am the ordinary man;

during certain hours, like millions,

I go up and down elevators,

then I have lunch like everyone,

talk with students

(I carry no cross on my shoulders);

day in and day out I meet up with many people,

people who are bored, people who sing;

next to them my insignificant figure passes;

the soldier suffers, the stenographer stoops.

I sing simply of the things felt by

the ordinary man.

. . .

As Hard as Myself


As hard as myself

is that small man,

my constant companion;

inflexible, strong;

he weighs, he analyzes;

he judges every single thing.


But now and again

he lets me down;

he cuts a flower.

Dausell Valdés Piñeiro_born 1967_Cuban painter: "They are dreams still" (Son los sueños todavía)_acrylic on fabric

Dausell Valdés Piñeiro_born 1967_Cuban painter: “They are dreams still” (Son los sueños todavía)_acrylic on fabric

Luis Suardíaz

(born 1936, Camagüey)

When They Invented God


When they invented God,

Words hadn’t gotten very far;

The alphabet was still unborn.

This was at the beginning.


When they turned out the first books,

They stuffed them with metaphysics

(not even very well thought out)

And the bludgeon of the supernatural


It is a thankless task –

Launching forays against the outworn creeds

Of men long dead –

An ineffectual tactic.

Let’s put the angels in their place,

Consigning celestial vapours to oblivion,

And the fine biblical precepts

To the crucible of class struggle.


We materialists feel sorry for

That host of believers graduated from Oxford,

And stockbrokers who invent a hundred swindles

– and meanwhile go about their rituals,

Pressing their suit with heaven.


When they invented God,

Things were different.

Now we have to put our house in order.

In the beginning there was matter.

It was later on there came

All this mix-up about the heavens and the earth.

. . .



How much love

In a cup of coffee shared.


In hands

Fused in a single melody.


In the dusk

Opening and closing before the eyes of lovers.

. . .

The Seed


They told us,

“This is beauty.”

So that we

Might not see her for ourselves

Or create her for ourselves.


So now it is hard to say,

“This is beauty.”

And we refrain,

Since we would make a fatal mistake.

. . .

Armando Alvarez Bravo

(born 1938, Havana)

Concerning a Snapshot


Quite so, it is myself among them

In the snapshot,

And then it comes back again:

A peculiar mania we have:

The zealous hoarding of Time’s faces.


Still, I do not remember

Exactly, I have forgotten

That day, the light

Of that morning,

What we were talking about,

Who we were,

The wherefore of that picture.


Time has passed – thousands of years.

Days linked to one another in a chain.


Past is the time of facile reference.

And I learn suddenly

How terrible, how simple, how beautiful and important

Were the words, the names,

I got from books, from movies,

from the letters of that friend,


Passing hungry days in an ancient European city,

Invited me

To share his pride of exile.


Thousands of years have passed.

I am no longer this double,

Looking out at me, so alive,

Frozen forever on a landscape

Where some, perhaps, move about

Through comfortable force of habit,

Unconscious of erosion’s transformations.


Something has happened between us,

Making us different, separating us.

Our times are incongruent.

Wilfredo Lam (1902- 1982): La Barrière, or: The Barrier or The Obstacle or The Gate_oil on canvas_painted in 1964

Wilfredo Lam (1902- 1982): La Barrière, or: The Barrier or The Obstacle or The Gate_oil on canvas_painted in 1964

A Bit of Metaphysics


There we find ourselves again,

At home, sitting in the livingroom,

As though none of it had ever happened.

Outside, the over-reaching trees

Dig themselves into the night.

The silence – almost perfect.

Suddenly the rain begins,

As when one of us told the first lie.

. . .

David Fernández

(born 1940, Havana)

A Song of Peace


[ Associated Press: Redwood City, California, November 17th:

Only four days after reading a letter from their son in which he told them that his luck was running out, Mr. and Mrs. Silvio Carnevale received a telegram telling them of his death in Vietnam.

“I feel sick; sickened by what I’ve done and by what has happened to my friends,” said the letter. “I feel as if I were a hundred years old…My luck is running out. Please do whatever you can for me…Dad, I don’t want to die. Please get me out of here.” ]




Perhaps some time or other,

under rosy California orange trees,

stolen by your grandfather from our grandfathers,

you dreamed you might become

President of your nation,

or, perhaps, only an honest citizen.

Possibly the simpler dream only

spurred on your great-grandfather,

and when he fled from distant Italy,

and here founded family, homestead and new hopes

in North America, the new and promised land.




(I am only imagining,

only leafing through your possible history,

making up a future

you will never have,

since the promised land

has appointed you a grave

far away, very far

from your orange groves.)




Also, perhaps,

you never even knew

about this corner of the world,

known as Vietnam

where daily you are dying,

daily you feel how lost

your interrupted childhood,

where you lose all sense of logic,

where you wield a rifle,

(I know why but you do not),

no longer now in play.

Here arraigned against you

are the shadows and the trees,

the wind, the roads, the stones,

the very smoke from your campfire,

and the silence of the mountains,

none of them yours – nor to be.

And the drinking water, heat and rain.

And, of course, the bullets ––

the things you took there turned against you.




Perhaps you never thought

it could happen.

This is not a dream;

this is breaking something in you,

blotting out the orange groves

of your grandfather,

which are so far away.

Perhaps you would like to be there now,

sitting in the shade with your friends,

in the shelter of a song of peace,

because you are already fed up with the whole thing.

You never knew why

they cut off that song of peace in the middle.

Yet here you are, following after

others like yourself,

who came to destroy

the homes, the families, the budding hopes of this people

– this people named Vietnam.

You probably never heard of it

until that dark day when they sent you,

together with your buddies,

without a word to tell you why,

over to this land where now,

undone by the very arms you brought along,

you are dying, dying;

daily, hopelessly, endlessly dying.

. . .

Guillermo Rodríguez Rivera

(born 1943, Santiago de Cuba)

Working Hours


And now that things have settled anew

And can move toward their likely destiny

The grieving image will take another form.


That voice

Will not be heard again.

The presumably right way of doing things then

Will not be mentioned again.


One will pick himself up from that handful of dust,

From that terror of darkened stairways,

From the rains that made him shudder in the afternoon;

And will utter the word made flesh just now.

And will find that it suffices.

. . .



You will use words from stories you have read,

You will talk of seafoam, roses,

All in vain.

For you will understand that

This story is different

And cannot be written that way.

. . .

Víctor Casaus (born 1944, Havana)

We Are



We are.


We are

Above the yellow

Words of the cables

In this shining island

Which was built the day before yesterday.


We are,

Even with our eyes red from the dew,

With the fist and the shortcoming

And the mistake and the man who doesn’t know –

And the man who knows but has made a mistake.


We are underneath the weak

Smiles of the bland and defeated

Butterflies. We are forever in

This small zone we live in.


(To be,

simply to be,

is – in this place and in this latitude –

a by-no-means trifling victory.)

Cover of a "notebook" (cuaderno) of poems by Nancy Morejón_published in 1964

Cover of a “notebook” (cuaderno) of poems by Nancy Morejón_published in 1964

Nancy Morejón (born 1944, Havana)

A Disillusionment for Rubén Darío


“A white peacock passes by.” / “Un pavo real blanco pasa.” : R.D.


If a peacock should pass by me

I would imagine your watching over

its figure, its legs, its noisy tread,

its presumed oppressed walk,

its long neck.


But there is another peacock that doesn’t pass by now.

A very modern peacock that amazes

the straight-haired poet in his suit weatherbeaten by the saltspray of the ocean.


But there is yet another peacock

not yours,

which I destroy in the yard of my imaginary house,

whose neck I wring – almost with sorrow,


whom I believe to be as blue as the bluest heavens.

. . .

Miguel Barnet (born 1940, Havana)



Ché, you know everything,

Each nook and cranny of the Sierra,

Asthma over the cold grass,

The speaker’s rostrum,

Night tides,

And even how

Fruit grows, how oxen are yoked.


I would not give you

Pen in place of pistol,

But it is you who are the poet.

. . .



You and I are separated by

A heap of contradictions

Which come together,

Galvanizing all my being.

Sweat starts from my brow,

Now I am building you.

. . .

Barnet’s poems in the original Spanish:

. . .



Che, tú lo sabes todo,

los recovecos de la Sierra

el asma sobre la yerba fría

la tribuna

el oleaje en la noche

ya hasta de qué se hacen

los frutos y las yuntas.


No es que yo quiera darte

pluma por pistola

pero el poeta eres tú.

. . .



Entre tú y yo

hay un montón de contradicciones

que se juntan

para hacer de mí el sobresaltado

que se humedece la frente

y te edifica.


. . . . .

Manuel Villanueva Martínez / Miguel Barnet / Belkis Cuza Malé: poemas

Head of a cat_with whiskers_black and white silhouette photographManuel Villanueva Martínez (nace 1939)

El gato del pozo


Al repote pote pote…..

Los poetas de mi Patria

ya firmaron la sentencia,

un gato cayó en un pozo,

quieren sangre, quieren hiel.


Al repote pote pan…..

Los artistas de mi Patria,

los cantantes y pintores

tienen arena en los ojos,

tienen miedo, tienen sal.


Y la gallinita ciega…..

también se cayó en el pozo,

en un pozo con Fidel.


Todos firmaron, señor,

firmaron en blanco y negro,

en un pozo muy profundo,

firmaron entre barrotes

la muerte y el paredón.


Los artistas de mi Patria

van a contar una historia

con el lago de los cisnes,

quieren cárcel al final.


Pero y las tripas del gato…..

las tripas se hicieron pan

al repote pote pote

todos vamos a llorar.

. . .

Miguel Barnet (nace 1940)

Con pies de gato


El viento ha quemado mi pelo,

el viento frío, arrasador.

Con pies de gato camino en lo oscuro.

Cautelosamente, como una fiera prevenida,

me acerco a tu corazón;

el olfato y la noche son mi brújala.

Como no sabes que existo te expones

al deseamparo y al susto.

Después de todo eres más frágil

que el estambre

y no sabes huir.

Entre tú y yo se cierne sólo la lluvia

que espejea tus brazos.

No puedes verme porque voy cubierto de árboles.

La noche, pródiga de mis sueños, me juega de nuevo

una mala pasada.

Feroz, bebo de tu desnudez hasta que mis labios

se sequen o se olviden.

Ojalá que una flecha te atraviese el corazón

para rehacerte a mi imagen, para resucitarte.

No culpo a la noche de tu aparición

sino a sus duendes.

. . .

Belkis Cuza Malé (nace 1942)

Crítica a la razón impura


Abre la puerta de su casa y entra

como un desconocido,

como si penetrara en el mundo

por la puerta de atrás.

En las paredes navega el barco

que grabó su hija,

la cuenta de la lavandería

cuelga del palo mayor.

Sus vecinos han decidido casarse hoy

y pedirle por un rato los muebles.

Entra en su casa y comienza a escribir,

necesita arreglar el mundo de algún modo,

crear un hombre para ella,

una niñera para su hija

y un poco de vida para los gatos que no tiene.

Ella empieza a escribir,

como si estuviera delante de un jurado,

saca sus heroínas de papel,

porque ella es una muchacha que vive sola,

que duerme sola,

que baila sola.


Ella es la muchacha

que ustedes necesitan destruir

para sentirse más firmes.


. . . . .

Poemas hechos en el exilio: Luis Mario, Alberto Laucirica, Eyda T. Machín

foto escala de grises_de una mano_© jakota de_ galleryhip dot com

Luis Mario (nace 1935)



Si mis aguas se enturbian, sólo ella

percibe transparencias en mis aguas.


Soy su pez volador, su flor de espliego,

su perenne latido de esperanza;


un soldado de plomo, al que se aferran

sus bélicas tareas cotidianas.


Soy el cachorro de sus inquietudes,

la mascota que es dueña de su casa;


su techo en el fragor de la tormenta,

objetivo final de su atalaya.


Soy el árbol sin frutos de su carne,

su tronco, sus raíces y sus ramas;


su comunión en sábados de iglesia,

su domingo perpetuo en la semana.


Soy su equilibrio, su bastón, su reto,

su espuria imperfección idealizada;


su terca persistencia en la andadura,

el pedazo gemelo de su alma.


Y lo dije una vez, y lo repito:

esta mujer me ama.

. . .

Alberto Laucirica (nace 1936)

Ya nada me es extraño


La vida, en su vaivén inexorable,

ha marcado con piedras el camino

que has de seguir, de forma inevitable,

como mando, sublime, de tu sino.


El mundo, con su loco desatino,

no ha de llorar el mal de tu congoja,

podrá herirte la daga del destino

sin hallar una mano que te acoja.


Y en esa soledad, se nos antoja,

que somos como aquel triste payaso;

que mira como el árbol…su fracaso.


Presiento que ya estoy en el ocaso,

llevando en mis espaldas la experiencia

que el tiempo, lentamente, paso a paso,

con dolor ha grabado en mi conciencia.


El rostro de la vida es apariencia;

no existe una verdad insoslayable.

Yo conozco del mundo su indolencia,

y he visto a un inocente…ser culpable.


Viví entre gente que con gesto amable,

te trata con el rostro del engaño,

cuando piensan que tú eres negociable

si logras ocupar un alto escaño.


En el mundo, ya nada me es extraño,

pues he visto al más puro ser insano,

y he sentido en el alma todo el daño

que inflige la ambición del ser humano.


¿Qué más puedo decir? Todo es en vano,

como es vana, en la guerra, la victoria,

todo el que muere llevará en la mano

el libro ensangrentado…de la historia.

. . .

Eyda T. Machín (nace 1945)

Las Manos


En el misterio de unas manos sabias

se hundieron mis manos peregrinas

descubriendo en su calor humano

el murmullo de brisas cantarinas.


Manos sinuosas que caminan lentas

por los parajes de las grutas mías,

manos preciosas que penetran quedas

en lo profundo de mi piel dormida.


Manos de artista que crean universos

de mil colores y de fantasía,

manos que tejen ilusiones nuevas

con la rueca sutil de una caricia.


Manos hacedoras de milagros,

manos capaces de dar vida,

manos que traen envuelto en sangre

el grito primario a la luz del día.


Manos largas como el sueño

y el dolor de la partida,

manos fuertes como el trueno

en la espesura dormida.


Manos que tejen cadenas

para engarzar sinfonías,

manos que vuelan distantes

tras la cima callada de una tristeza-niña.


Manos blancas, manos recias,

manos quietas y dormidas,

manos dulces como el néctar

y amargas como la ira.


Manos sensuales que estrujan mi cuerpo,

haciéndolo vibrar como una lira.

Manos de dedos largos y ondulantes

que extraen las gotas de mi piel vacía.

. . .

Foto: © Jakota.de

. . . . .

Herminia D. Ibaceta: “Recuento” y “Todo el mundo calla”

Detrás del Museo La Periquera en Holguín_Cuba_mayo de 2016

Herminia D. Ibaceta (nace 1933)



A solas está el hombre,

perdida la mirada en el sendero,

hablándole a su yo, frente a la vida,

en ventanas del tiempo.

Alejó la riente primavera

su carroza de múltiples destellos,

llevándose la luz de los trigales,

los aromas, los trinos y los sueños.

Las copas de los árboles vistieron

en ropaje otoñal tintes inciertos,

las ansias imprecisas se encontraron

del triste pensador en el recuento.

Revoló la hojarasca sorprendida,

rostros marchitos al compás del viento…

efímeros colores y vivencias

por las desiertas rutas del regreso.

Los árboles desnudos se quedaron

al implacable tránsito del cierzo

mirando como el hombre en la ventana

descender albos lirios del invierno,

cubrir la tierra que encendió verano

en ardoroso y germinante fuego;

blanquear las sienes que en pasadas horas

pobló la juventud de los cabellos.

La esperanza marchó…

para él no existirá otra primavera

sólo aquellas que emprendan confundidos

eterna comunión, su yo y la tierra.

. . .

Todo el mundo calla


Todo el mundo escucha, todo el mundo sabe,

todo el mundo acepta, todo el mundo calla,

y yo me consumo, ceniza en la brasa,

cada vez más isla, cada vez más triste, cada vez más alba.

El tiempo me cruza sordo,

y se me escapa en dedos salobres y sangre en resaca.

El astro se aculta,

rebeldes los sueños se apartan

dejándome seca la flor en la entraña.

Todo el mundo sabe, todo el mundo calla…

El odio retoña,

los yugos entallan silencios al labio, distancias al alma.

Mi suelo agoniza,

en rudos embates se quiebran mis alas

y siento crecerme la desesperanza

cada vez más honda, cada vez más cruda, cada vez más larga.

Todo el mundo sabe, todo el mundo calla…

Giran en redondo las tierras hermanas,

para defenderme, ni una voz se alza,

se han quedado mudas todas las gargantas.

Trienta y tres inviernos…

y no queda espacio para la ignorancia.

Todo el mundo escucha, todo el mundo sabe,

todo el mundo acepta, todo el mundo calla.

Y yo sigo ardiendo, ceniza en la fragua,

cada vez más sola, cada vez más lejos,

cada vez más Patria.

. . . . .

Marta Padilla: tres poemas por un poeta del exilio

Un delfín de revoque adornado un pabellón sobre la costa Holguín de Cuba_Playa Esmeralda_mayo de 2016Marta Padilla (1928-2004)

Llamadlo a secas, Hombre


Acorralado ha sido,

Mutilado en sus vísperas

En su niñez de ayer transfigurado

– Llamadlo a secas, hombre.

Su infancia era mi infancia

Sus tataguas y gatas en el techo,

De la angustía

Eran también las nuestras

– Llamadlo a secas, hombre.

¿Quién nos tomó de pronto la palabra

Conque andaba la sangre entre nativos?

¿Quién la saqueó de frutas y veleros

Y objetos desiguales de la vida?

¿Quién la violó

A la vista del cielo,

Frente al testigo oscuro y sorprendido?

Ay, ¿quién,

Quién lo llama a secas, hombre?

. . .



Casi a la hora de abrigar la casa

hay vocablos noctámbulos

seduciendo una vida que responde

a las tácticas nómadas del fuego.


(pasa el vivir, nombrándola)


cubana, antigua, marginal, poeta,

criatura sin otra criatura.

¿y qué?

. . .

El hijo que falta

(para Alex)


Viene a verme. Nos vemos.

Recorre la distancia inexistente

y espera en el umbral,

quieto, inquietante.


Forma creada, llega,

en su intocable realidad,

imaginada margen que lo aprende.


Me llama y me responde.


Da un paso más y paso a su espesura.

Ya damos con la esencia impenetrable,

restauramos el eco transitado

para poner en órbita la ausencia.


La cercanía es hoy un cielo abierto

poco nos queda por hacer del tiempo.


La esperanza y la nada nos subrayan.

. . . . .

Fayad Jamís: “At times” and “For this freedom” / “A veces” y “Por esta libertad”

Fayad Jamis: Poema gráfico_1971

Fayad Jamis: Poema gráfico_1971

Fayad Jamís (1930-1988)

A veces


A veces,

en el silencio del pasillo, algo salta,

rompe alguien algún viejo nombre.

La mosca enloquecida cruza zumbando, ardiendo,

lejos de la telaraña luminosa.

Esto es así, tan solo, pero tan lleno de sorpresas.

Caserón de fantasmas sin hijos, en que el polvo

hace nuevas ventanas, nuevos muebles y danzas.

No, tú no lo conoces, tú no me has visto mucho las pupilas

y por eso te llenas de lágrimas.


mi casa no se fuga; está lejos siempre.

Por estas escaleras se sube hasta lo negro.

Uno no se cansa de subirlas y jadeando se duerme

sin saber ni los días, ni la fiebre, ni el ruido inmenso

de la ciudad que hierve al fondo.

A veces,

en el silencio del pasillo, alguien nace de pronto,

alguien que toca en la puerta sin número y que llama.

No, tú no has estado aquí jamás. No, tú no vengas.

Mi palabra es abrir, pero es que casi siempre

ando de viaje.

. . .

Fayad Jamís (1930-1988)

At times


At times,

in the silence of the corridor,

something leaps up,

someone breaks apart an old name.

The ‘loco’ fly, made mad, buzzes by,

far from the gleaming spiderweb.

Being all alone this is how it is – yet so full of surprises.

A big giant house, a house of ghosts and no kids,

where the dust makes novel windows – furniture – dances.

You don’t really know it here, no.

And you haven’t truly seen the pupils of my eyes;

and so you well up with tears.

Listen to me:

my house doesn’t break away, it’s always been distant.

Via these stairs one can climb down into the dark;

one never tires of the stairs; one falls asleep, panting,

not knowing what day it is – or which fever – nor

what that immense noise is of the city,

seething there in the background.

At times,

in the silence of the corridor,

someone is suddenly born,

a someone who knocks on a numberless door,

a someone who’s calling.

You have never been here, no;

you do not take revenge.

My words are an “opening”,

but almost always

I’m off travelling somewhere.

Fayad Jamís_dibujo con tintaFayad Jamís_un dibujo con tinta

Por esta libertad


Por esta libertad de canción bajo la lluvia

habrá que darlo todo.

Por esta libertad de estar estrechamente atados

a la firme y dulce entraña del pueblo

habrá que darlo todo.

Por esta libertad de girasol abierto

en el alba de fábricas encendidas

y escuelas iluminadas,

y de tierra que cruje y niño que despierta,

habrá que darlo todo.


No hay alternativa sino la libertad.

No hay más camino que la libertad.

No hay otra patria que la libertad.

No habrá más poema sin la violenta música de la libertad.


Por esta libertad que es el terror

de los que siempre la violaron

en nombre de fastuosas miserias.

Por esta libertad que es la noche de los opresores

y el alba definitiva de todo el pueblo ya invencible.

Por esta libertad que alumbra las pupilas hundidas,

los pies descalzos,

los techos agujereados,

y los ojos de los niños que

deambulaban en el polvo.


Por esta libertad que es el imperio de la juventud.

Por esta libertad

bella como la vida,

habrá que darlo todo

si fuere necesario;

hasta la sombra

y nunca será suficiente.

. . .

For this freedom


For this freedom of songs in the rain

one must give one’s all.

For this freedom of being intimately bound up with

the strong yet gentle essence of the People

one must give one’s all.

For this freedom of the sunflower a-bloom

in the dawn of factories going full tilt

and schools all lit up;

of the earth a-crackle and the child awakening

one must give one’s all.


There’s no alternative but freedom,

no other road, no other homeland,

no more poems ––

without the violent music of freedom.


For this freedom

that is the terror of those who always violated freedom

in the name of lavish squalor.

For this freedom

that is night for the oppressors

and the definitive dawn for all the now-invincible People.

For this freedom

that lights up caved-in eyes,

barefoot, shoe-less feet,

rooves full of holes,

and the eyes of the children

who were roaming in the dust…


For this freedom

that is the empire of youth.

For this freedom:

beautiful as life!

If necessary one must give one’s all

even our own shadow

and it will never suffice.

. . . . .

Poemas de un desterrado: Raúl García-Huerta

Teléfono público_Public telephones_Holguín_Cuba_mayo de 2016

Raúl García-Huerta (nace 1929)

No puedo…No quiero


No puedo olvidar, no puedo

la tierra donde he nacido,

la brisa que me ha mecido

cuando sentí el primer miedo.

Yo canturreaba muy quedo

canciones que me aprendía

desde el alba al mediodía

de mi abuela y de mi madre

mientras slbaba mi padre

una triste letanía.


Frágiles alas de un ave

provocaban un suspiro

oyéndose un son guajiro

al repicar de la clave.

Una melodía suave,

en el momento oportuno,

la volvía en son montuno,

sin que diestros bailarines

desde los cuatro confines

perdieran compás alguno.


Yo quiero sus huracanes,

picada de su mosquito

y un manjuarí dormidito

con mordidas de caimanes.

Entre hojas de guayacanes,

si me retuerce la pena,

cristales veo en su arena

rajando el mar en su playa

y en el puerto una talaya

con el nombre de Carena.


No quiero volver, no quiero

porque ella no es ya la misma.

No huele igual su marisma

ni moja igual su aguacero.

Volver a verla no espero

como era al despedirme.

Si vuelvo, tendré que irme

herido por su recuerdo

y la nostalgia que muerdo.

¡Mejor…prefiero morirme!

. . .

Raúl García-Huerta (born 1929)

I cannot…& I don’t want to


I cannot forget – I cannot

the land where I was born,

and the breeze that rocked me

when I first felt fear.

From dawn through the day

I’d hum gentle songs I learned

from my grandmother & mother,

and my father

he’d whistle his own sad refrain.


The fragile wings of a bird

invite a sigh, if one is

listening to the music of our countryside*

in its afro-cuban rhythm*.

A pleasant melody

at the opportune moment

becomes the mountain-music sound*

without which even skilled dancers

from the four corners

might lose the beat!


I want Cuba’s hurricanes;

to be bitten by her mosquitoes

and a drowsy needle-nosed gar-fish;

and the caiman alligator!

Apply leaves of the guayacan tree

if I’m twisting in pain!

Crystals I see in her sands,

when I’m slicing through the sea by her beaches;

and in the port there’s a watchtower

with the name Carena.


I don’t want to return – don’t want to

because she’s not the same Cuba now.

Her marshes won’t smell as they did

and her downpours won’t feel as before.

I hope not to return, not to see her

as when we bid farewell.

If I should go back…yet I’ll

have to go away wounded by her memory

and a longing which gnaws at me.

Better that I––

I prefer to––


. . .

son guajiro = the music of our [Cuban] countryside*

la clave = afro-cuban rhythm*

son montuno = the [Cuban] mountain-music sound*

. . .

Un siglo después


¡Qué ganas tengo que cien años vuelen

para esfumar todo recuerdo mío

abandonado a orillas de este río

con su caudal de penas que me duelen!


Donde olvidé que los jacintos huelen

y el cauce supe medir hondo y frío.

En sus riberas amansó mi brío

como los años dominarlo suelen.


Yo necesito generar olvido,

garantizarme con la paz, futuro,

borrar mi rastro por haber vivido.


Este camino ha sido largo y duro.

Para aliviarme el corazón herido

quisiera un siglo de silencio oscuro.

. . .

A century afterwards…


How I feel like a hundred years might fly

before all my recollections could fade

abandoned at the banks of this river

with a wealth of sorrow

that torments me!


Here where the water hyacinths are fragrant

and the riverbed’s depth and coolness I knew the measure of.

On these banks I soothed my spirit,

and with the passing years went on to master it.


I need to generate oblivion

guaranteeing for myself some peace, and a future –

by the erasure of my face (for having been worldly).


This road’s been long and hard.

To ease my wounded heart

would require a century in darkness and silence…

. . . . .

Antonio Acosta: “Mi poesía es la pura esencia de mi vida” / “My poetry is the pure essence of my life”

Crepúsculo en la Playa Esmeralda_Cuba_mayo de 2016

Antonio Acosta (nace 1929)

Mi Poesía


Mi poesía

es la pura esencia de mi vida;

raíz y simiente de mi infancia.

Es el clamor que busca una salida,

la gardenia que cuida su fragancia.


Mi poesía

es puerto donde carenan naves rotas,

es refugio de paz y de añoranza,

donde alzan su vuelo las gaviotas

buscando un nuevo grito de esperanza.


Mi poesía

lleva en cada verso su decoro;

no obedece a colores ni linaje,

no valora al hombre por su oro,

ni por su posición ni por su traje.


Yo quisiera

con mi vocablo endurecer el brazo,

pero jamás encallecer el corazón.

Unir en un binomio, en fuerte lazo,

la justicia humana y la razón.

. . .

Antonio Acosta (born 1929)

My Poetry


My poetry is

the pure essence of my life,

root and seed of my childhood.

It’s the cry that seeks a way out,

a gardenia safeguarding her fragrance.


My poetry is

a port where broken vessels sway,

a refuge of nostalgia and peace

where seagulls rise in flight

to call out with fresh hope.


My poetry

carries in each verse a decorum all its own,

adhering to neither colour nor lineage,

and esteeming a man not for his position,

nor for his garments or gold.


I would wish with my words

to strengthen the arms

but never harden the heart;

and that they join together,

in a solid-bond coupling,

both human justice and reason.

. . .



Soledad, amiga confidente;

¡cómo siento a tu lado

la armonía de todo el universo!

Hablemos de mis sueños, amiga soledad.

––De gaviotas errantes,

de mariposas tristes,

de las huellas del tiempo

en las rocas del valle,

dibujando poemas

por sus cauces de olvido––

––Soledad, mi canto es el grito

que lo grita el alma

pidiéndole al viento su viril demanda;

diciéndole al viento su dolor isleño,

su dolor de sangre,

su canción de alba.

Y mi lágrima tibia en ajenas orillas

se abochorna y se pierde

en las aguas nocturnas

de corrientes ignotas.

. . .



Solitude: friend in whom I confide

––how I feel the harmony of the whole universe

when I’m by your side!

Let’s talk about my dreams,


of itinerant seagulls,

wistful butterflies,

the foot-tracks of time

and the rocks of the valley

portraying poems from the riverbed of oblivion.


my song is the shout that the soul cries,

demanding of the wind a virile claim

and telling the islander’s sorrow,

a blood pain – a song of the soul.

And my lukewarm tears upon foreign shores

are overwhelmed – lose themselves –

in the nocturnal flow of unknown currents.

. . .



Me duelen los recuerdos de este lado,

lejanos de mi entorno y de mi mente;

dolores lacerantes del pasado,

pretéritos recuerdos sin presente.


Y en este interno dilema con mi hado

ya nada me parece tan urgente;

pues el tiempo me tiene así marcado

y no quiero dejar nada pendiente.


Por eso mis vivencias llevan alas

y van dejando amor en las escalas

de la trivial cruzada de la vida.


Y en terapia de arpegio en sinfonía,

la añoranza de Cuba me convida

a volver a mi tierra en poesía.

. . .




from this side,

they hurt me,

far from my surroundings / my mind;

excruciating pain from the past,

past-tense memories without a present.


And in this interior dilemma with my destiny

already there’s nothing that seems to me so pressing;

but Time has me marked, almost,

and I want nothing left unresolved.


So that’s why my experience bears wings

and such lessons leave love hanging on the ladder of

life’s trivial crusade!


And in a therapy of arpeggio & symphony,


–– a longing for Cuba ––

invites me

to return to my country

(if only in poetry.)

. . . . .

Fina García Marruz: “El momento que más amo” / “The moment I most love”

Cartel de la pelicula Luces de la Ciudad_1931

Fina García Marruz (nace 1923)

El momento que más amo

(Escena final de la película “Luces de la ciudad”)


El momento que más amo

es la escena final en que te quedas

sonriendo, sin rencor,

ante la dicha, inalcanzable.


El momento que más amo

es cuando dices a lo joven ciega

“Ya puedes ver?” y ella descubre

en el tacto de tu mano al mendigo,

al caballero, a su benefactor desconocido.


De pronto, es como si te quisieras

ir, pero, al cabo, no te vas,

y ella te pide como perdón

con los ojos, y tú le devuelves


la mirada, aceptándote en tu real

miseria, los dos retirándose y quedándose

a la vez, cristalinamente mirándose

en una breve, interminable, doble piedad,


ese increíble dúo de amor,

esa pena de no amar que tú

– el infeliz – tan delicadamente

sonriendo, consuelas.

. . .

Fina García Marruz (born 1923)

The moment I most love

(Final scene from the film “City Lights”)


The moment I most love

is the final scene in which,

without any hard feelings,

you are left smiling

before a happiness that’s out of reach.


That moment I like best

is when you say to the young blind girl:

“Can you see now?”

And she finds in the touch of your hand

– the hand of the beggar and the gentleman –

her mystery benefactor.


And all of a sudden,

it’s as if you wanted to go,

and then you don’t;

she’s asking your pardon – with her eyes –

and you return the look,


accepting in yourself your very real misery,

the two of you withdrawing from one another

yet staying, all the same,

in a brief, endless commiseration


– that incredible love duo,

that pain of not loving that you

– unhappy you –

give consolation with,

delicately smiling.

. . .

Amelia del Castillo: poemas: “Casi yo”, “De pie”, “Mi corazón”, “Invierno”

Amelia del Castillo (nace 1923)

Casi yo


Estoy casi de vuelta.

Sin bagaje. Náufrago de la noche.

Casi abierta.

A mi lado se acuesta – como un perro –

la sombra del desvelo de mí misma.

¡Cómo me llama el tiempo que no ha sido!

A él voy como al regreso,

como a la mar el río.

Y se rompen estrellas sobre la noche blanca

como se rompe en llanto una sonrisa.


Estoy casi de vuelta

aunque no me haya ido.

. . .

De pie


Si estoy de pie

es porque me levanto,

porque me empino

más allá de mi asombro y mi estatura,

porque no aliento cicatrices

ni fantasmas, ni pasado.


Si estoy de pie

es porque sigo andando,

porque me llama el viento

y me llaman la luz y los relámpagos.


Porque cantan los pájaros


y los niños sueñan


porque no preciso razones

ni respuestas.


Porque tomo mi cruz sin intercambios.

. . .

Mi corazón


tiene latido de lobezno,

el tuyo, sangre de paloma.

Si me habitas

tu sangre dulce me sosiega,

si me faltas

montes, selvas y riscos se me trenzan

y se trenzan el miedo y el rugido

y me crezco de pronto por la fiera.


Tu corazón,

tu amanecido corazón de ave

– Ícaro deslumbrado –

en qué azul,

¿en qué vuelo sin mí lastimará sus alas?

Y el mío,

mi corazón acerbo sin tu alivio,

¿en qué rincón de sombras, en qué huída

desgarrará mi entraña y tu paloma?

. . .



Desarropado tu hálito vital

¿quién te acoge, quién acaricia

tu desnudez de piedra?



Hay que buscarle abrigo

a la intemperie,

un hueco al desamparo, un plato

al hambre.

Hay que buscarle sitio a la resaca,

a los huesos, los fósiles,

las algas.



Hay que inventar un puerto,

un pedazo de azul

para el naufragio.


. . . . .