Streets, hard asphalt flows out in streams,
Concrete tablets retain the metallic rivers of traffic.
Swarms of classic 50’s automobiles dart by,
Like hummingbirds navigating through palm trees and street lights.
Throngs of people halt cars and motorcycles,
Trying to traverse stand still lanes.
Soccer balls skim across the boiling, bubbling, blacktop,
As bare, blistered feet chase black and white leather,
Makeshift baseballs crack through the air,
Laughing kids run to,
The first car, second shoe, third telephone pole,
Finally reaching home,
Smacking their calloused feet against the worn, weathered, tattered remnants of a tire.
Aging men perched on their stoops with tables out,
Slapping dominoes down faster than they can drain glasses of rum.
This isn’t Harlem, but there are still a lot of sweet brown girls,
Deep brown hips sway side to side.
Women let their long, black hair tumble down,
Older ladies only puffing cigars stuffed in their mouths.
Sweat and determination fueled by sugar cane laced coffee,
At the end of the day they all come home to una familia cariñosa,
Crowding around the TV at night to watch baseball,
The sound of boxing in the air overtakes the silence,
Falling asleep in the tight, cramped living room after an exhausting day.
The next begins with bongos and guitars,
Broken strings humming in the background,
Bright and colorful maracas shaking, swirling, rattling,
Along with conga beats,
Tourists taking pictures in front of murals and statues,
Dedications to the immortal souls of Jose Marti and Che Guevara.
Now, crowds packed down La Enramada,
So many narrow streets, but those visitors have never felt more liberated.
Brisk breezes cool them as the wind waltzes over the Sierra Maestra,
The sun begins to creep up above the coconut trees,
Then down again as shadows leap across the tobacco fields.
Days may pass, but sand doesn’t move in the hourglass,
So Spanish fortresses stand across from symbols of revolution,
Old beige cathedrals facing white Marxist edifices,
Irony like that is only found in El Parque Cespedes.
Stalks of sugar cane rise towards the sky to touch wispy white clouds,
Piercing their cotton-fluffed bases and unleashing a cool rain upon Santiago,
Droplets pit-pattering on leaky tin roofs so people laugh at their soggy luck,
No fireplaces to warm up, instead hearths are found in their smiles and pride…
No ordinary city and no ordinary people,
Santiago de Cuba, My hometown forever…