Fidel

Fidel the handsome

Charismatic

Cuban

Dictator

Died

Today

I thought he died

Years ago

Funny when

People you thought were dead

Die

Some people say good things about

Fidel

He freed the

Peasants

Educated the Cuban people

Gave them cradle

To grave

Healthcare

Others say he was just another of your

Run of the mill hell-bent for leather

Despots

Jailing

Torturing

Murdering folks

Who made fun of his beard and

Called him a lot of phony

Baloney

I know some people say good things

About me even while

Others claim I’m a real

Horse’s ass

But hey it’s nice to be considered

Either way

Indifference and

Anonymity are such a

Drag

I received news of Fidel’s death

On my iPhone

While sitting in the pediatrician’s waiting room

With my eldest daughter

Who was feeling less than fabulous—

She loves to feel fabulous

All the time

Anything less

Than fabulous

Dissolves quickly into crisis—

And so we sat at the doc’s

With tummy ache

Headache

Maybe a little heartache

And quite possibly a didn’t study for my

French test

So don’t really want to go to school

Ache

Fidel Castro died

I tell her

Who

She asks

The Cuban revolutionary

Compatriot of Che

Avowed Marxist

Committed to making all humans

100% equal

Can you imagine such tripe

Never heard of him

She says

Lot of Cubans probably

Wish

They’d never heard of him

I say

Elizabeth

Calls the nurse

A pretty Hispanic girl

Standing in the doorway

In her blue scrubs

In we go

To the exam room with the Cat in the Hat

Motif the

Cool laidback

Doc

With the eastern European accent and the

Classic handlebar mustache the

Doc my wife likes best of the

Four docs in the practice maybe

She dreams of

Bedding him while he

Whispers in her ear in

Hungarian or

Albanian or

Whatever Slovak

Language he speaks hey I dream

Too

Handlebar

Does the exam

Throat

Nose

Ears

Chest

While asking how we’re feeling today

Not so great

I say

Ok

Elizabeth

Says

She’s always telling

Mom and me she doesn’t

Feel good

Not like she used to feel

When she was a

Kid

Nothing of course but

Anxiety

As she moves

Slowly

Exhaustedly

Reluctantly

From

Kidhood to

Adulthood

No easy chore

Anymore

Being a twelve year old

They know too much

Understand too little

All that relentless crapola

Unfiltered

On their electronic devices

I’m glad I didn’t have to be bombarded with all that

Horse

Shit

Well

Says the Doc stroking his

Handle

Bar

Throat’s clear

Nose clear

Chest sounds clear

No temperature cheer

I give her the all clear

Can she go to school

I ask

He looks at Elizabeth

Looks at me

Give another stroke to that luxurious

Handlebar

And says it’s a beautiful

Autumn day

Sun shine

Warm air

A father and his daughter

Now it’s just my professional opinion

But I think Elizabeth

Would be better off

Having a long walk

And an even longer talk

Over a long lunch

In a fancy restaurant

With her dad today

Instead of sitting in some stuffy old school room

Learning next to

Nothing about

Geography and

Chemistry

Daydreaming

That’ll all still be there tomorrow

Elizabeth smiles big and

My old paternal heart

Goes pitter patter

On the way out I say to the doc

I’m not even sure why

Fidel died today

Fidel died

He asks

I nod

He pauses

Reflects

Then says

I lived in Cuba

(Coo-ba not

Q-ba)

After I got out of medical university

In Sofia

I did a residency in

Havana

On a pediatric unit

Castro used to visit

Walk the wards

Stop and squeeze the shoulders of the sick

Children

Bend down

Take their little hands in his giant

Hand the size of a

Catcher’s mitt

And tell them

His dark eyes as big as moons

La vida es una lucha

Life is a struggle

If you want to survive

You must fight

You must fight

Fidel would tell them with all your

Heart and all your

Life

Until the moment of

Death

Civilization (Becoming a Man Part 1)

In the summer of 72

By some chance

My parents

Put me on a plane

To Germany

I’d been reading

Hemingway

The Short Stories

Alpine Idyll

A clean well lighted place

Cat in the rain

I landed in

Frankfurt

My brother was not there

To greet me

But I had his address

So I hailed a cab

And felt like a man

For maybe the first time in my

Life

I was fifteen

My brother

Eleven years older

He the oldest

Me the youngest

Asked me how old I was

Eighteen I told him

There were six of us

Six brothers

He barely knew I existed

But here I stood

He asked me

What do you want to do

Where do you want to go

Switzerland

By train

I told him

He bought me a Eurail pass and

Off I went

No smarter than a golden retriever

But not afraid

To ask questions or

Sound stupid or

Risk it all

Everywhere I went

I smiled

Doors

Swung open the

World exploded the

Swiss sky

Snowcapped mountains

Lakes the color of heaven

A beautiful young waitress’s

Gap toothed smile

When I asked in bad German for

Eier und wurst

My brother was in Germany

Serving in the US Army

Serving as a medic in a US Army

Hospital

On the psych ward

Filled with US soldiers

All freaked out from

Alcohol and

Drugs and

Death and

Wars

Fought over

Oil and

Religion

My brother had not wanted to serve in the

Army

He was a CO

Conscientious objector

But still they had drafted him and

Made him watch over the

Kooks and crazies the

Drunks and

Drug addicts the broken

Ones with wounds of the

Body and

Head

He took me to a

German brothel

When I got back from my Swiss

Eye opening

Sojourn and

Paid for me to take another step

Toward

Manhood

I still remember that skinny fraulein

Legs as long as the

Eiffel Tower

Long straight bleach blond hair

Crooked teeth

No older than

Me

But wiser

I guess

More worldly

She had me serviced

Practically before I had

My knickers around

My ankles

My brother laughed

And laughed at the

Brevity of my

Entanglement

And bought me my first

Beer

We ate fat

Bratwurst and

Salty sauerkraut

At an outdoor café on

Berger Strasse

And he asked

How old are you

Really

In the morning we took the train to

Munich

To the summer

Olympics

We watched pole vaulters and

Sprinters and

Shot putters and

Divers and

Swimmers

We met up with some of my

Brother’s army

Buddies and drank

Tall steins of

Golden pilsner and

Talked about how men and

Countries should settle their differences

Through debate and

Arm wrestling and other

Athletics competitions

Rather than through idiotic wars

Like

Vietnam

War

My brother opined

Marijuana cigarette between his

Thumb and

Index finger

Smoke billowing from his nose and

Mouth is so

Fucking

Uncivilized the

Attack

Happened the next day when the

Black September

Terrorists from

Palestine

Took a bunch of

Israeli

Weightlifters

Wrestlers and

Fencers

Hostage because

Jews thought

Mohammed was a

Rug

Salesman so

Black

September

Massacred eleven

Jews who had come to the

Homeland of the

Holocaust to

Weightlift and

Wrestle and

Fence in the name of

Peace and

Brotherhood

Civilization

Bared