Tuesday, July 2, 2013

La Habana, en versos libres: II. Dias Dos

Soon after the late night cabaret,
sooner than sleep, a mere dream,
sooner than rest can hold
the slumbering heart,
morning arrives.

Few people realize
there is a bird
that makes a sound
very like maracas,
but there it is,
in the second floor courtyard
of the Hotel Plaza,
making sure all sleepers awake.

Some of us stagger upstairs,
where breakfast and sun can greet us,
but not coffee.

Then we run
down the very same streets
as yesterday,
to a small restaurant;
we are here to learn
a truer nature of song:
song is
rhythm is
dance is
música folklórica
is one,
divine act
--this is, of course,
a revelation.

rushing to find lunch,
with all the people
rushing to find lunch;
rushing to find water
with all the people
rushing to find water
--these take much of the day;
I prefer the agua sin gas,
por favor

A smaller walking tour,
to find reliable shops
and cadecas
takes longer than expected,
but we should all know better
--we are on Habana time.

Rushing into rehearsal,
we reinhabit
our soul journey songs.

The Spirit of Possibility
flies through one open portal
and out another,
a blessing on our efforts;
She is a songbird, of course,
and all the windows of Cuba
are open to Her.

The compositor de la música
has come to hear us
as we sing his music;
he is very formal,
but he did accept
our dinner invitation.

A shower of watery joy
bursts upon the terrace
and on all the city,
when the practice is done,
but we must run again,
to dress for evening
and catch the tour bus
that will take us
to meet our evening plans.

Under gathering storm clouds,
and rumbling thunder
immediately overhead,
the tour bus swallowed us up,
just as the rain begins again.

To Casa del Amistad
we go, for more,
but no mere music,
greeted as we are by
Orquesta Enrique Jorrin,
the legacy left by
the inventor of the cha cha cha.

A storm ensues,
perhaps a sign
that Changó
has joined the party.

Dinner, chicken or fish,
attracts a few stray cats,
who become beneficiaries
of a surreptitious largesse.

The ubiquitous mojitos,
followed by agua con gas,
Cocacola and bottles of Havana Club,
mix as you will.

We sang and danced
under storming skies,
we ate and drank;
the best parties
are those where
the stray cats are fed and
the servers also dance
to the magic of the music.

The storm passed,
the sunset was glorious,
and so was our evening,
our exchange of joy
in celebration
of musical meetings,
however fleeting.

© 2013 by Elisabeth T. Eliassen

La Habana, en versos libres: I. Dias Uno

Sharing gum on the plane,
preparing for sweetness,
drinking Fanta in the sky.

Applause erupts
as the wheels touch down;
“Thank-you for flying Sky King”,
Welcome to Habana.

The Chinese made tram,
carrying us from tarmac to terminal,
is new and smooth,
the Aeropuerto Nacional
is old and worn.

One guard only
scans the luggage
and shrink-wrapped goods,
but two guards
mind the spaniels on duty;
maybe petting is not allowed,
although they seem friendly.

At the Hotel Plaza,
mojitos await at the counter,
but the rooms are not ready
until after four o’clock.

A walking tour ensues
over La Habana vieja,
footsteps treading over footsteps
in this place bursting with sound
and with color
in the fluid heat.

Opulence interrupted,
this city has been alive;
though the faces and facades are worn,
vital blood and sugar still flow,
likewise the rum,
sold through open window shops.

The staccato of the tongues
and car horns
is like the beat of ageless drums;
this old town is kept new
by the child
beating on the drum
for our pleasure,
corazón of our corazón.

Lunch at Hotel Inglettera
incurs petty robbery loss,
while the salsa plays
and the Buccanero flows;
opportunities overflow
even in the most crowded room.

Transports from other ages
race all over town;
the racket and the fumes,
with the heat and humidity,
they roll over one,
as they settle on each edifice
and make their mark.

More to see,
more to do,
more to say,
but first to sing,
in this place
of unending song.

© 2013 by Elisabeth T. Eliassen