El espíritu del Che/Che’s Ghost

ernesto-che-guevara-1928-1967-exhaling-everett

El espíritu del Che se sienta en el salón
con una deshilachada boina en su regazo.
Un rifle automático se arrima contra su silla
lo acompaña una enfundada pistola de cacha de marfil
y una descolorida mochila verde repleta de municiones.
Un grueso cigarro apretado
entre sus brillantes dientes blancos
sobresale de su abundante barba de héroe;
El humo lentamente cae como espirales sobre su cara.
Pero sus ojos permanecen enfocados, sin pestañear y claros.

El espíritu del Che se siente a gusto.
Se asemeja a un hombre
que ha bajado de las montañas
para descubrir que la vida en el valle no es del todo mala
cuando se quita las enlodadas botas
y descansa sus agotados pies en la mesa de centro.
Las comisuras de su generosa boca se arquean hacia arriba.
Y la punta de su cigarro brilla rosada ante los rayos crepusculares
que se filtran por las cortinas de las ventanas.
Contiene sus bocanadas produciendo espeso humo fragante
que oscurece su rostro tostado por el sol.
Pero no se forman cenizas, ni caen al cuelo,
y el vaso de ron añejo que sostiene en sus manos
aunque constantemente toca sus labios
nunca se extingue.

El espíritu del Che ya casi no nos visita.
El viaje es largo y duro.
Y no es tan joven como solía ser.
Aún un espíritu debe de lidiar con el paso del tiempo
y el reconocimiento que las cosas
están constantemente cambiando,
y con la realidad cruel que la vida tiene una manera
de seguir sin los muertos
o a pesar de ellos.

El espíritu del Che se sienta en el salón,
con un silencio más elocuente
que el parloteo de oradores de salón
que llegan con o sin invitación.
Me podría sentar y eternamente escuchar su silencio.
Pero nunca se queda mucho tiempo.
Lo necesitan en las montañas.
La Revolución aún se tiene que ganar.
Y aún un espíritu tiene obligaciones que cumplir.

*************************************************************

Che’s Ghost is sitting in the parlor,
His tattered black beret in his lap.
An automatic rifle rests against his chair
Accompanied by a holstered pistol with an ivory grip
And a faded green knapsack stuffed with ammunition.
A thick brown cheroot clenched
Between sparkling white teeth
Protrudes from the verdant growth of his hero’s beard;
The smoke spirals slowly into his face
But his eyes remain focused and unblinking and clear.

Che’s ghost is comfortable.
He resembles a man
Who has come down from the mountains
To discover that life in the valleys isn’t so bad after all.
When he removes his mud caked boots
And rests his tired feet on the coffee table
The corners of his generous mouth turn upwards
And the tip of his cigar glows pink in the crepuscular rays
That drift though the window curtains.
He puffs contentedly, producing thick fragrant clouds
That obscure his sunburned face.
But no ashes form or fall to the floor,
And the glass of dark rum in his hand,
Though often raised to his lips,
Never needs refilling.

Che’s ghost seldom comes anycome.
The journey is long and hard
And he isn’t as young as he used to be.
Even a ghost must contend with the passage of time
And the bitter realization that things
Are constantly changing.
And the cruel fact that life has a way
Of going on without the dead,
Or in spite of them.

Che’s ghost is sitting in the parlor,
His silence more eloquent
Than the chatter of armchair orators
Who drop in uninvited and unwelcomed.
I could sit and listen to his silence forever,
But he never visits long.
He is needed in the mountains,
The revolution has yet to be won,
And even a ghost has his duty.

Copyright 1992, John Chenault

Spanish Translation: Manuel Medina, 2013

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4 thoughts on “El espíritu del Che/Che’s Ghost

  1. Dear John,

    Nice to hear from through your blog. Hope you and your wife are doing well. I enjoyed our dinner at Queen of Sheba. Hope to see you both in Panama soon.

    Thanks for passing this on. Che was a hero of my time. I was and still am fascinated to read about his life in any and all formats. One of the highlights of my trip to Cuba was the exhibit on his life and activities..

    Regards, Toni Schooler Sent from AOL Mobile Mail

    • Dear Toni,

      It’s great to hear from you too. I hope your summer is going well. I still think about the great time we had with you, Paul, and our homies at the Queen of Sheba. I look forward to having a similar get together in Panama in the near future.

      We just returned from Cuba about a week ago. We had a great time seeing friends and hanging out. Although I wrote “Che’s Ghost” over 20 years ago, I decided while in Cuba to have it translated and to post it to Ourstorian upon my return. I also plan to write about this recent trip and post a few photos soon. Stay tuned.

      It appears we might be going back to Havana for the Jazz Festival in December. If that trip happens, we will probably leave Havana after the festival and head to Panama for the holidays. I’ll let you know as soon as I can sort things out. In the meantime, let’s stay in touch.

      Regards,

      John C.

  2. I’m glad you posted this. 1992? I just saw it. I always liked your poetry. Still have one of your earlier books. Say hi to Gwen. I’m going to keep a hard copy of the poem. Be well and safe. Lana

    • Lana,

      It’s is great to hear from you. I hope you are doing well.

      The poem “Che’s Ghost” is taken from a collection of my poetry that was published in 1992. I had often thought about having it translated, but during a trip to Cuba last month I asked a colleague if he would take it on. He did a great job with it and another poem I’ve written about Augusto Pinochet that I plan to post in the near future. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I will contact you via email to get your address so I can send you a copy of the book. Let’s stay in touch.

      Regards,

      John C.

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