for Oscar Garcia Rivera, the artist

“What are revolutionary and non-revolutionary writers’ and artists’ rights? Under the revolution: everything; against the revolution, none.”
—Fidel Castro, 1961

Cuba Cuba
proletariat paradise lost isle
of morning melon and mamey slices
afternoon hot cafecitas
evening peppery cigars, where
mamacitas of all shades stroll along
all day long / long time ago:
Oscar’s hand slashed
by Castro’s men
so he could paint no more—

watch pre-seatbelt cars vroom vroom
through Old Havana’s crowded roads.
see the people hard at work,
smiling. there’s work for everyone in Cuba.
a person who won’t work is no person.
abuelo wanted to be a good padre and husband,
became a person detained to cut cane, like many
of-age men who wanted out.
slapped with four years in the fields
as his family flew away—

you simply must walk along the Malecón
lit by creamy sunset,
where the people gather and laugh,
where dilapidated Central Havana buildings
glow like tribute candles for Yemayá.
every Cuban loves art and poetry
and revolution.
escape all woes on the esplanade
in chats with the expert chatters.
ask what’s happened to Cubans
who say too much too loud.

slice open a mango. squeeze the juice
along my collar bone and drink. taste
Alberro, taste Diezmero, taste Cojímar Bay trout,
fresh ropa vieja, Celia’s azucary sweat,
then spit it out.
love this land / shut your mouth.

KYLE LOPEZ is a poet from Montclair, New Jersey who lives in New York City. He graduated from the College of William & Mary in 2017, where he won the Goronwy Owen Poetry Prize. He is a TuCuba fellow with the CubaOne Foundation and a current student of New York University’s MFA program in poetry, where he is also a Goldwater Fellow. Kyle is Poetry Editor of EFNIKS, a media space for queer and trans people of color. His poems are published or forthcoming in The Florida Review, The Boiler, Argot Magazine, Capital Pride DC, and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter @kylelop3z.