Santiago de Cuba

They are hunting a sniper on CNN.
Breaking news is a tarot card
signed “I am God.” The firearms expert
talks in millimeters, and flashy graphics
number victims and map the shootings.
The reward is millions. Phone lines jam
with tips and lies, truth and hoax.
Police psychologists
think about dreams, and two men sleep

in a secondhand car.

Outside the room, it is Cuba.
The Caribbean glitters on the breeze,
old men sing and dance in the square,
and salsa is an ease of hips and feet,
bass and step. A young boy sways
like a note is played, music is air
and Castro watches: young on the walls
but old on screen – no freeze-frame death
like a T-shirt Che, just a nation paused

for the dollars of the West.

The hotel has air-con and cable TV.
It was new in the 70s, and rock stars
lounged by the pool and smoked cigars,
laughed with the Mafia. The sundown
glowed in cocktail ice and bottles of rum,
and missiles came and champagne flowed.
Now the pool is closed for repair, the girls
in bikinis somewhere else.
Less glamorous tourists drink at the bar,

buy cigars for friends that smoke.

I turn off the TV, tune to a channel
from the overwhelmed world.
You turn down the air-con and strip.
Naked on the bed, lined by the sun
that falls through the blinds, you breathe
as measured and deep as a diver at sea.
I move and kiss you, submerged too,
because nothing matters now, an Arcadia
of sheets and skin, sperm and sweat,
the rhythm of sex for a stamp of being.



Santiago de Cuba was first published in Stand magazine.