This article- written by Luis Felipe Rojas Rosabal- was published on the digital newspaper “Diario de Cuba” on August 23rd, 2012.
Every so often I cleanse my soul and body. Better said: I cleanse the area around my body, because I can’t cleanse my soul any more. I organize the room where I write in a bit, I read, I drink something, and I sleep.
Recently, I started to pile up the books which I will definitely not re-read, or which I won’t read at all because after I bought them I discovered that I didn’t like them or because I am partially anti-conceptual, anti-theoretical. There are essays which I can’t read past the first few pages, ever. I am a chaotic being who can play at others essays but not my own. That, I hope, is a fortune…for possible readers.
I was re-reading and throwing some out when I found myself with no other option than to give some to others. I cleaned the shelf and my memory, and then I received a message from #OLPL: “Where do you cross Linea and 19th? In which Havana-Valkyrie crossing?”
I was stupefied. The linguistic branches of #OLPL tend to be mangroves within themselves, so I asked him again and he told me that he was quoting one of my verses. I jumped from a jump, I woke up with my eyes open, I rose up, and I nearly fell down.
The Book of the Dead
A Havana-esque and urban guy, a laboratory and library street rat, was quoting me at around 11 PM when CUBACEL opened the doors to the slaves and allowed them to use their phones for 10 cents per message; but I didn’t call. Instead, I turned to the book ‘Songs of Bad Living‘. It’s a ball of paper, which the Loynaz Editions (operating out of Pinar del Rio) gave me as a prize for my insolence of believing myself to be a poet and launching myself in a competition, which has already left four dead, including myself.
On the cover, there appear three people as the jury. One is the poet Alberto Acosta Perez, who suddenly died a few months ago; and the other two are Holguin native George Riveron (who crossed the oceans of the Antilles, stepped on Mexican soil, and got lost in that other Havana which never becomes smaller, that Miami which everyone wants to touch with the sole of their shoes). George is the other deceased in the official lists, because until the day he comes back tame and begging for forgiveness, he won’t stop being a deserter. For the bandit-hunters of the MINREX, he is a disgraceful being who betrayed their trust in a letter, a permission of freedom for some weeks.
The other deceased person on the official lists is Jorge Luis Arcos — recidivist, dissident, sketched, and sheltered in his Argentine den. Arcos, without a crossbow and some good ammunition, will not return to Havana. His punishment is double for having left and augmenting the editors council of the disappeared magazine “Encounter of Cuban Culture“.
A few years ago, publishing anything on “Encounter” was a sacrilege, according to the Ministry Council. The Central Committee would “pull your ears for it” and so too would the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, with a committee in every block against those who publish, read and traffic the magazine. Arcos, after the official insults of the ‘La Jiribilla‘, managed to make it out of the public light unharmed. Of course, him by one side and his head by the other.
Stirring up editorial trash
The question, in verses, of #OLPL has to do with Havana cartography, because Linea and 19th Street never cross each other without the legs of a woman, a Valkyrie, at least in El Vedado, and it’s true. I didn’t write those quarrels looking at Havana to cross the streets or the inactive traffic lights of the 90′s, that century of horror.
The poem “Lessons of Terror” has a fragment which reads: “…I don’t want anyone to take me by the arms/ pushing my back against that wall which is Saturday night/ where I don’t know which woman to kiss/ if the Valkyrie of Linea and 19th, or the black girl with the money/ one awakes like that, asking how many ways of betraying for the money we stole as children…”
But what #OLPL has is “Obverse of the Beloved Beast“, from April Editions, 2004 (and which appeared in 2006), and later disappeared during the middle of that year due to an official decree (without decreeing). The Havana cartography which #OLPL demands are due to the fact that those streets never cross each other, just like those of us, the dead of that book, will not cross: Alberto Acosta, Jorge L. Arcos, George Riveron, and me, a deceased person according to the official media, by decree of colonels which, at that time, commanded and prowled through the Cuban Book Institute and the Ministry of Culture: Abel Prieto, Iroel Sanchez and Fernando Leon Jacomino.
They will see, or not see, how I have passed from dead by official standards to being officially published due to a decree which no one has signed but which has made it possible for “Obverse…” to be distributed even in the lost bookstores of Eastern Cuban towns. They, who for decades made irreversible scars with their scalpels and cotter pins on books, records and theatrical plays, now spread a shadow which they will have to share with us, the ignoble dead who cross each other in a Havana, a Cuba, a street which goes beyond the consonance of being or not being on Linea and 19th.
Translated by Raul G.