Gran Frijolada

-- for Idelfonso Ramos on the anniversary of his death

Here we are
My brother

It’s time it’s that time again
For the gran frijolada
The yearly mess of beans
I cook up Cuban-style
In your honor

The beans are soaking
My secret ingredient is ready

Here we are

You are on the other side
Getting done whatever it is
That gets done
On the lush island that is death
On the isle of memory and grateful forgetting

Always 90 miles
Always an inch away

There you are
Still making the documentary of your life

And me
The gringo whose life you saved
With a couch and an abrazo

I’ve still got one foot
Planted and dancing in the dirt of time

The other
Where else?
In my mouth
That won’t stop singing

Here we are

A celebration that must always be improvised  
Motivito to welcome some minute arrived from afar
From thin air you pull
An armful of icy beers
Like rabbits from a magician’s hat

Son de la Loma
Blasting from the cassette player
Heard all down the street
The neighbors dancing too

Heard by lovers
As far off
As the malecón

I can hear it again now
Trio Matamoros

Who wouldn’t dance in your presence?

Your shadow dancing
With a permanent
Smile and hard-on

Stars and cancer everywhere

Here we are

Here we are
Dumbstruck and far flung
Shipwrecked and rescued

Sheer luck everywhere
Full of beans and magic

                        -- New York, 31 December 2013