Juan Francisco Pulido would have been 30 years old last November 14th. I’ve learned his story from Cousin Frank, who has come to visit. He brings me a draft that he had been preparing for some time and that he decided to complete with the verses from JPF that make up the title and the foreword. Coincidentally with a previous post, the theme of suicide occurs. We have decided, despite the paradox, not to publish the details of the life and work of Juan Francisco, in hopes that it will motivate the reader to search on his own and discover, without mediators or influences, what parts he decides to keep for himself.
To Hell with Life
By Cousin Frank
…I am free, but I am sleepy.
Juan Francisco Pulido, poet, émigré and suicide
(Cienfuegos 1978-Minnesota 2001)
Turn off the light? It’s an energy saver bulb above the mirror in the bathroom that shines brightly, although with having to twist it to turn it on, it won’t last long, but it doesn’t matter, better to leave it alone, it’s not going to use much electricity and there’s money left. This one in the bedroom I am leaving off, I’m already used to the darkness. These last three days I’ve had my eyes covered because of this fucking conjunctivitis; first it was the lungs, then the dust from the wallboard and now this blindness that’s turned me into a shit inside and out. The doors are already closed tight because I asked her and she always does it without being told, it’s that, at this point, I wouldn’t like it if thieves beat me. Let them take some of whatever’s going to be left, though they will take something when they come searching for the first thing they will want at headquarters: “You didn’t find anything in writing? Keep looking!” a letter, a note, a small piece of paper is the first thing they need to find to give themselves an explanation, if there is one, because everything has to have one, but I’m not going to be the one who will give it to them, let them look for it and let them be fucked like me, when it was my turn then. I’m sure they’ll take the little black date book but it only contains names, addresses and a few rhymes. They’ll also look for them, but those I’m going to leave around, both quite close, although maybe that won’t make them happy and they will keep on looking “Search carefully because this place must be full of weapons!” as if this fucking house was a pirates’ lair. That’s what I must look like with this scarf on my head, me, who never liked pirates. I prefer cowboys, with high boots and a hat which I don’t have because I’ve had boots but I’ve been trying to find the hat for some time, one that looks cow-boyish, but no one brings or sends one to me to wear on the day the Yankees get here. On this block no one knows what they’ll have to do that day, I am the only one who has a plan, I am going to go out like a cowboy and attack the shopping center, but I’m going to just grab the food and take everything that will fit in my gunnysack and when I get back to the block I’ll hand out to everybody the sausages and ham, the cheeses and chocolates with the little olives. I’m going to share everything except the milk because that’s for us although my old man brings it home for me, of course he’s lucky because he doesn’t hide and they almost never stop him, I know he uses my name when they have stopped him “This milk is for the Colonel!” and my old man is a piece of work, but I am a bigger piece of work. That’s why when he wanted to increase one peso per liter, I told him no way, “And my name? How much is my name worth?” It depends, my old man named me after a very rich guy of that era but the thing about names is unfair because you don’t get to choose your own and sometimes you don’t even get to choose what you want to be, like me, who wanted to be a pilot but you couldn’t, you had to be a guerrilla, a soldier, always a fighter, ready to go where they ordered you, to Escambray, to National Liberation, or Angola. Derailing a train and making explosives with a condensed milk can, pulling the trigger like in Escambray because in Angola I didn’t have to do it. There, I only had to advise the FAPL as to which of the prisoners had participated in the assault on the testicles and later witness the firing squad. Those were the orders from headquarters. There, in the Escambray, I did pull it (the trigger), so much that I still wake up when I finish releasing it and all the shots have already come out, then the names come back with their last names, their aliases. I don’t succeed at forgetting anything, to die must be easier than to pull the trigger and go on living with so many memories, and then to watch it on television, saying it never happened: “How can it not have happened, if I was there and remember everything?” it would be best to write a book that goes something like, “The stories of the Macorina,” the little black doll that we gave them to hold in their companions’ presence: “is this the tough guy that commands you ?” and the prisoner, putting the little black girl doll to sleep singing a song to her. There are some left around who remember, like me, but I don’t like to write, I prefer to make up stories and then tell them or watch them on the television set, like the documentary they showed today about the fat guy with the cap. Lots of blood, lots of shooting, lots of dead young men with their dreams ruined. Like hers, asleep but no longer dreaming, only aching for him, for me, for herself and no longer wanting to even leave me alone, although sometimes she says I am unbearable. I know how she feels and she won’t leave me so I won’t do something crazy. That’s the first thing they say, “He went crazy!” now, when I’m the sanest. It’s hot, but I won’t turn on the air conditioner. I leave the room shut. It’s better I use the little one because they will come looking for the big one, tracing it by its license, but this one has people backing it up who are crazy about it. It’s true that it’s comfortable on the ankle and light in your hand but don’t even think about giving it away. I wanted to sell it to a friend recently and he didn’t buy it from me but it showed up with the load he is carrying. Now that she is sound asleep will she feel nothing? I will indeed feel it again for the last time, though I would just like to know one thing: who will turn out the lights?