October, 2002

Poetry

Water In My Eyes

Sprout Illustration


There is a poem here,
In the sweat,
That drips down my forehead,
Rolls into my eyes,
Clouds my vision.

Being in Havana, guest of El Presidente,
Does that too.

I am at the Food Fair,
Where the leader supremo
Gives out autographed cigars,
Pours our wine, ladles our soup,
Requests a small favor.

Could we ask our Congress to allow a few loans?
Keep the charade going, just a little longer?

We are Americans;
Love to make new friends,
To do new business, find new buyers, show our wares.
But it serves, here, to avert my eyes
Why are we here? Why is this show necessary?

Most years at PMA
I see an old family friend.
Ibrhim from Trinidad,
Who bought my carrots, my apples, my grapes.
He has a son in the States, and if he wants to visit,
Or buy, he brings his family and comes to the big fair.

Every taxi driver in Havana,
Has an hermano or an hijo or sobrino
In Miami, or Tampa
Or New Jersey.
But they can’t come to buy . . . or to visit.

In this sweat-drenched hall,
Where the only comfortable building
Houses the livestock,
The sweat rolling into my eye
Serves to obscure.

But it is a free man’s obligation
To try and see clearly,

To not be complicit,
To remember,
I am standing in a prison.

And that those
Who walk these floors,
Are all inmates,
Or guards.
But they are all in the prison.

It is a crazy place, few stores,
Few restaurants, except hidden in homes.

The taxi driver is the King,
Because he knows
The secret spots.
But he can’t own his car,
Only the State can.

Except the old cars,
From the 1950’s.
I rode in a Studebaker and a Desoto
Taken care of so preciously;
Happy Days are here again.

And one day they will be.
We will all dance at Club Tropicana
And the Playa will call to us.
The Havana Hilton
Will open its doors.

But we must keep the water
From our eyes.

by Jim Prevor