“Builders: start shitting, we’re out of mortar.”
Excerpt from the play Harry Potter: se acabó la magia [Harry Potter: the magic ran out] by Agnieska Hernández Díaz
I have a strange relationship with airports. As soon as I set foot in one, I feel a certain urge to go running out of my country; but, at the same time, I get terribly anxious about feeling myself falling in a broken-down plane, my bladder swollen with the pain produced by gravity, until I crash into the handful of earth that darkens my vision forever; and, of course, the anxiety of returning to the crab’s cave I call the Island, just like that, with a capital “I.” Feelings that are always mixed. That’s why I’m into airports; they’re brimming with literoplasma, literary content. You arrive and all those federal eyes stick to you, scrutinizing your every move, making sure that a terrorist doesn’t emerge from the limpid musical composition in the style of Nazi Wagner; all of us play a part: the older black ladies, speaking English, head toward the sovereign nations of the impoverished Caribbean and, through their action, they do not step out of their register; the obese white man with a Confederate flag on his baseball cap dries his copious sweat with a casual wipe of his hands, flicking it like a Trumpist curse onto an Island that can withstand no more curses and, in turn, they do not step out of their register. Gaddiel is coming with me; he’s a beautiful boy with a dick like a donkey’s and an ass like a mermaid’s, tousled hair with long curls an inch or half an inch across, stunning green eyes, and the separated teeth of a reptile; he is the most beautiful of boys and I love him like the little brother I always wanted and never had. We’ve decided to travel to Havana together. This is his second time. I’m a virgin.
I remember having told someone in the nineties that I’d been to Cuba several times. I remember the context, but not the person I lied to. They were the first group of Mexicans I had ever met, during my first semester at Torre del Norte. We talked animatedly about the countries we’d visited. I had grown up in the United States, going on lots of road trips with my biological family. Besides that, all I had was the trip to Puerto Rico, which was still not firmly defined and whose expiration date was up in the air.
“Well, I’ve been to Cuba a couple times,” I said, and the Mexicans looked at me with wonder and admiration mixed in with their typical “lucky yous” and “qué padres.”
“Tell us about Cuba.”
And I throw out a couple of things I’d heard from my professors or read on the Internet. Enough for a conversation. Then I tried guacamole made by Angelita, the Mexican artist, and I went running to throw it up in the toilet. This is my issue with guacamole: they told me it was made with the mildest habaneros possible, but I felt the heat even when the spoon was centimeters away from my lips, I felt that green stuff go down and burn my throat only to finally explode in the fresh Hell that was my stomach and reemerge in the most perfect of heaves, painting a dismal picture all over the bathroom mirror. Conclusion: guacamole is a punishment inflicted by deceivers and no writer should go anywhere near it.
“It’s a form of culinary masochism,” Angelita told me as she stroked my hair.
Getting back to the airport: we finally reached the line for PAWA Dominicana, where we encountered a queue of hot men with nice asses.
“Dayum, look at that ass,” I leaned over to Gaddiel, referring to a slender boy with pert buttocks in black cargo shorts.
Nearby, we see a fat, bearded man with affectionate eyes - affectionate like the dead plastic eyes of a teddy bear. Another guy, skinny with pointed eyebrows and a contoured beard, greeted us with lively black eyes and a closed smile made of perfect teeth. Gaddiel nods back, but he’s at the end of the line. The plump young woman with spectacles and a beautiful basket of curls tells us we need the credit card with which we bought the tickets online, it’s company policy, she’s very sorry. When you buy the tickets online, the site tells you in big red letters that you’ll have to show your credit card in person. So Gaddiel calls his dad, Don Gaddiel Humberto, so he can come all the way down from Vega Baja to the airport at Carolina to meet us here, card in hand. We’re lucky Daddy was heading back from work, says Gaddiel Francisco Ruiz Rivera, almighty little brother in the faith of ponimagic.
We say goodbye to his dad with a hug and a thanks for everything, and we run toward the TSA line. The white estadounidenses with money get to pass through the express line, and they don’t even check them in the cylindrical machine that undresses you with its eyes. As soon as we get through and put our shoes back on, we make a run for gate C2. There we find the girl with the glasses and the knockout curls yet again. She wishes us a happy flight and we head down the line through the tunnel, where a TSA agent asks a young Afro Caribbean man who we heard speaking French, “What are you doing in my country?”, with the white arrogance of someone who self-identifies with an empire whose cruelty is legal. The boy jolted to a halt, and I asked, “Avez vous besoin d’un traducteur?” A Puerto Rican TSA agent snapped rudely, “Move along!” Gaddiel was still with the curly-headed girl, and I was worried they were doing the same thing to him. I looked at the boricua TSA agent with the most obvious disdain I could muster, and for an instant we understood each other. “Please proceed,” he corrected himself. So, I continue my progress toward the blue guts of the airplane, but I see that they stop Gaddiel and I stop short.
“Sir, you can’t leave the plane once you’re aboard,” one of the flight attendants tells me, skinny, regal, and precise. I sigh and continue, always looking over my shoulder with worry throbbing in my Adam’s apple. Finally, Gaddiel arrives and we sit down: 20A and 20B, respectively. After the typical safety instructions, which are equally impossible to understand in English and Spanish, the plane begins to move forward, taxiing down the runway. Gaddiel falls asleep almost immediately. He didn’t sleep at all the night before because he stayed up to finish the miniseries Juana Inés on Netflix. I look lovingly at the boy I’ve adopted into my family. I smile because his peacefulness reminds me how well I put my family together: divorcing myself from my biological relations and adopting a naturalized family of friends. I smile because his peacefulness puts me at peace and, although I’m terrified of planes, I know everything will be alright. Regardless, I whisper my traditional incantation: “Enalpria eb efas! Enalpria ezilibats!” Just in case.
Upon arriving in the Dominican Republic, we’re quickly hit by a wave of young, handsome men, all black. I should pause here. I remember that a Dominican friend once told me that in the DR they call Haitians “black,” and that, no matter how visibly black a Dominican might be, blackness does not exist in their self-conception as human beings. These hot young men, with perfect chests and asses, looked like they were chosen to work in the airport specifically for their physical beauty. Every single one fulfills and exceeds the beauty standards imposed by a racist, pure white West.
Jorge approaches us. White shirt with red stripes, tight against his slender but muscular body, and tight, navy blue trousers.
“Heading to Aruba?” he asks through his plump lips and straight teeth, white as coconut milk.
“No, we’re going to Havana,” answers Gaddiel.
Twenty minutes later, they lead us to gate A3, where we hand over our tickets and passports for inspection. Then they have us fill out our visa forms to enter Cuba, which cost $20.00.
A petite Cuban man with white skin, a nice ass, black eyes, hair, and beard, and a startled expression on his face asks for help with his mother, who’s in a wheelchair. I watch him at length, because they leave his dear mother discarded somewhere in the airport. His worried face smooths out when they give her back to him half an hour later in one of those ergonomic, futuristic wheelchairs they use in the DR, made of blue tubes twisted here and there, to which they’ve added wheels and cushions. She looks comfortable and her son gives her a hug.
While Gaddiel and I wait to board our flight, a Haitian starts playing with a little boy with a lighter complexion. They play drums on the rail on one of the glass walls. The boy’s parents smile as the boy plays the drums’ rhythm with a perfect stranger. In a standardized US context, further contaminated by Trumpism, the black Haitian would have been arrested within a moment for “child molestation” and the boy’s parents would have sued both the airport and the federal government. I’m exaggerating and generalizing, of course, but it’s refreshing to see that humanity is still breathing the further we get from the capitalist system of the United States.
When we get on the plane, we realize that one of the flight attendants brought her son to work. He behaves like a perfect little soldier throughout the hour-and-a-half flight to Havana. I remember when I was little and I behaved as well as possible so my biological mother would love me more.
We land at Aeropuerto José Marti in Havana and several things assault my senses at once: the huge lines for Immigration, then Customs, then collecting our luggage so it can be sniffed by a playful Cocker Spaniel that, contrary to what would happen in Puerto Rico, needs no leash and, of course, not finding a single clean bathroom with toilet paper or a commode to shit in. On that last point, my worst nightmare as an HIV patient is realized: the constant need to shit, because my medication helps with the virus but hurts my digestive system, all on top of not having anything to clean myself or even a place to do my business. The situation calls to mind the scene in the novel Un viejo que leía novelas de amor [An old man who read love stories] by Luis Sepúlveda in which a man goes to shit in the jungle far from his group because he doesn’t want his subalterns, who he sees as beneath him, to see him shit. The difference is that I don’t think anyone is beneath me, and this only adds to the ever-present stigma of being an HIV patient and the constant humiliation that comes with it.
In the end, I forget about the bathroom and start looking around for my friend Norge Espinosa, looking to see if I can spot him among those who wait with placards for visitors arriving in the country. Norge Espinosa is the badass of Cuban theatre. He’s almost six feet tall with white hair and big, majestic eyes that wink at your individual atoms, and his humor is self-deprecating, as if he were British. After half an hour, we find each other at Terminal 3. He’s accompanied by Pedro, a bear of a taxi driver with dark glasses makes my mouth water. I have to tell myself several times that I didn’t come to Cuba for sex tourism. Essentially, Norge is the king of Cuban mariconología and an inexhaustible resource on the history and historiography of his country. He tells us the sad story of the trade embargo, his country’s “Special Period,” and the many dangers of the parts of Havana where gay men go cruising. Norge gets in touch with a taxi driver friend of his and soon we’re on our way to his workplace at the National Council on Scenic Arts. Along the way, Norge, Gaddiel, and I exchange our first impressions of Cuba in contrast to Puerto Rico.
“Santurce is like a mini El Vedado,” argues Gaddiel.
“And Old Havana is Old San Juan times three or four,” declares Norge.
To be frank, we already know one means more than the other. Or that Cuba’s size compensates for Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States. Or something like that. I’m still not quite sure of the opinion of Puerto Ricans among Cubans who’ve never been to the island, who only know we beat Mexico in the Caribbean World Series and who like our reggaeton (they know songs by Wisin y Yandel and Don Omar off by heart). The Cubans who stop us on the street tell us that boricuas and Cubans are the same. Maybe we are. But I suspect the similarities can be reduced to a simple question of Spanish colonial architecture.
The big old cars called almendrones capture my attention: that is, the automobiles from the forties and fifties, mostly Chevrolets, that were introduced when Cuba still had a close political relationship with the United States, before the Revolution. Cubans have learned how to fix up these cars, which were already made to last forever. I also check out Russian-designed motorcycles with sidecars on the right for a second passenger, the mototaxis (or taxi-motoras) and the taxicletas (modern rickshaws imported from China and pulled by bicycle). I’m excited and I take pictures of everything; I feel like I’m not in another country but in another world. In fact, thinking about it here, Havana is Lestallum, the Caribbean city that appears in the game Final Fantasy XV, which I’ve been playing for months. Interestingly, the city serves in the game as the final bastion of light in a dystopian, decadent United Statesian world in which the sun is going out. Anyway, Norge ends up giving us an overload of negativism about Cuba, partially thanks to the intense aroma of coffee and cigarettes. At the end of his speech, I want to get on a plane back to San Juan, especially after he tells us that “Cuba is an old whore that gives you everything and then takes everything away. Don’t romanticize her.” But I don’t. I speak directly to my pulsing heart and tell him: “Calm down. Give in to the process like you always have. Let the city slap you around like you did in Guadalajara.”
The taxi leaves us in front of Norge’s workplace, and I can’t help but think about the lineup of beautiful men we saw on the way here. Almost all the heterosexual men have their hair tinted with keratin, which costs them 10 to 15 CUC every week and which, according to Norge, smells like chocolate. Gaddiel looks at me and whispers, “That’s it! No more beautiful men!” And we laugh, because in Puerto Rico, with those high maintenance hairdos and t-shirts that reach halfway down the thigh and look like nightgowns, they would be read as integral and constitutive parts of the Island’s queer fauna.
At reception, there’s a middle-aged woman sitting on a chair that’s seen better days in front of a desk that has almost completely fallen apart. She receives us with the seriousness that I already understand to be typical of Cubans, which I find difficult to tolerate. The bitter expressions of Cubans make me homesick. Norge tells her we’re with him and we’ll be in and out over the next few days.
“No problem,” answers the woman.
As we go up, I interrupt the silence with a loaded question.
“Norge, do you have a bathroom I could use?” I ask, trying to suggest that I have to shit urgently while avoiding the embarrassment of asking for toilet paper.
“Of course, walk out of the office and it’s on your left.”
When I get there, I find a toilet with no commode (where have all Havana’s commodes gone?), with no toilet paper, whose flush button doesn’t work. In the opposite corner of the bathroom there’s a tub of water, and I imagine I could shit in it, but then I’d have to take it downstairs and wash myself off in a bidet. I leave, disgusted. I feel a cold sweat coming on, and I remember a story I heard from my only male mentor, Moisés Agosto-Rosario, about his first trip to Lagos, Nigeria as a representative of the Tides Project. Mo says that when he asked if there was a toilet he could use there they told him, “Yes, the best toilet for Mr. Moisés!” and took him to a bathroom in a state of absolute decay and disrepair, with a toilet encrusted in dirt, definitely not fit for someone with HIV. When Mo told me that anecdote, he said the saddest thing about that moment was that that bathroom was the only one available in the office of the Association for People with AIDS.
I return to his office, where he introduces me to his crew: Camila, a light-skinned young woman with short, dark hair who reminds me very much of Myrtha Olivares, a Puerto Rican actress, “performer,” and journalist; as well as a tall gentleman with white hair and a very tall young woman with curly hair, whose names I don’t remember.
“Do you want to use the Internet, David?” Norge asks me.
“Sure, but please, I legally changed my name, so call me Caleb.”
I hate it when people call me David.
I get on Facebook and then Gmail to check my messages. There’s nothing important, so it doesn’t take long. Gaddiel gives him one of his books, Remedios crónicos para enfermedades caseros [Chronic remedies for homemade diseases], which plays with the premise of naturopath medical self-help books and that whole concept - once “hippie” and now “hipster” - that caught on in Calle Loíza, where he lives. I give him a copy of my book Terrarium. Both poetry books are very good, but I recognize that Gaddiel’s is far more fully realized. Gaddiel is the poet I want to be when I grow up. If only I had a little more faith in myself...
In the end, we finish our work in his office and Gaddiel leaves behind one of the suitcases we brought for the trip, which contains some things that his friend Minga, from Vega Baja, has sent along for Marlene, her Cuban Santería godmother, so Marlene can come find her later, during the week. Norge asks us to go with him to Teatro Trianón, which is putting on the play we’re watching tonight. It’s called Harry Potter: se acabó la magia [Harry Potter: the magic ran out], and it’s by a friend of his whose name I keep forgetting. We set out. On the way to Teatro Trianón, which is between Línea and Paseo, we pass by the house of Senel Paz.
“He’s a good friend of mine, but recently he’s been a bit reclusive. He got sick not long ago.”
“Who’s Senel Paz?” asks Gaddiel. It’s strange he should ask. I’m almost always the one to ask that kind of question, since I’m always somewhat absent-minded and I have the annoying habit of mixing up names, faces, and books. Gaddiel is my little literary encyclopedia, a true boy genius who’s no longer a boy but still a genius.
“He’s a Cuban writer. You remember the Antología de textos literarios [Anthology of literary texts] the López Baralt sisters used in the IUPI? The one with a guy hugging a book and a moon on the cover? He has a story in it called “No le digas que la quieres” [“Don’t tell her you love her”]. It’s about a young man who’s about to lose his virginity to a hot girl and his friends throw him a party to get him ready for it. It has to do with the Revolution and how it affected Cubans’ interpersonal relationships. If you read it, you’ll understand why Cubans don’t smile.”
And it’s true. Since we’ve arrived, no one has smiled.
Senel Paz lives in a blue and yellow building. That’s all I remember. My memory plays tricks on me. I would’ve liked to meet him. But there’s no time for that in ten days.
I’m destroyed and consumed by the sadness of El Vedado. They call it that because in time immemorial (even “the old days”) it was a neighborhood of rich, white, powerful people where black and poor people were vedado, or banned. The guards would stop you and send you back the way you came. This area, which is, as Gaddiel says, like Santurce on a larger scale, reminds you of a glorious past marked by abundant economic development - development that remained only half-finished when the Soviet Union fell and Cuba suddenly found itself alone in the world, with nowhere else to turn. Now, the buildings are crumbling and zero maintenance is the order of the day. I could mention, for example, the Library of the Casa de las Américas. The building is literally missing chunks of plaster, and you can admire the interior metal beams from the outside. When you see these buildings and their state of disrepair, it’s impossible not to wonder how they continue to stand, and what would happen if Havana was struck by an earthquake of a similar magnitude to the one that wiped out Port-au-Prince.
“It’s simple, you see,” Norge begins to explain, “Cubans live in residences provided by the State. We don’t own the places where we live, so there’s very little sense of belonging. Nobody fixes anything up because everything belongs to the State, and we’re still under the misconception that the State has to fix it. But I suppose that’s true, to an extent. The State watches out for the historical buildings and the integrity of their original design. The problem is that, since the State has no money, the maintenance and renovation projects take years.”
I’m beginning to understand Puerto Rico and our own lack of a sense of belonging. I understand, almost perfectly, why we’re like different wings of the same bird: we’re in the same boat, but at opposite ends. We’re both fucked, for different reasons, in the same way.
We arrive at Teatro Trianón, which is adorned with a brilliantly drawn red poster which shows a hand holding a magic wand about to break in two and text that reads, in calligraphy similar to what you see on the covers of J.K. Rowling’s books, “Harry Potter: se acabó la magia.”
“Right this way, make yourselves at home.”
Norge takes us toward the back right of the theatre, where we’re met by Carlos Díaz, the director of the play and of the troupe Teatro el Público. He’s a cheerful man, fat, bald, and very intellectual, whom Norge has nicknamed “the babysitter” because he works almost exclusively with young actors. When we enter his office, full of books and old props, he’s surprised to see us, eating a chocolate mantecado with fries. We also find a tall young man with a body made entirely of muscle fibers whose name I don’t recall. He was also eating. Norge greets them both with dramatic kisses on the cheek, as if to assure us that we’re safe among other queens. Carlos notices me looking at his food, and he offers me a taste.
“No, no worries,” I tell him, “I wasn’t looking at your food so much as looking past it.”
Carlos doesn’t seem to understand, and he asks Norge if I want some, as if asking if yours truly knows Spanish. So I explain myself in greater detail.
“I’m not hungry, don’t worry. Bon apetit. I’m a little distracted and my mind is wandering. Sometimes it seems like I’m looking at something, but I’m really just in my own world. That’s all.”
The response seems to convince him, and we start in on an animated, friendly conversation about theatre and work, and about the work of Agnieska Hernández, which we’ll see later tonight.
“Caleb, everybody here does drag. Men as women and women as men. That’s not an issue here.”
“Oh, cool,” is all I managed to say, and I’m sure I came across as a total idiot. Sometimes I can socialize and sometimes I can’t. I’m the first to admit how hard it is for me to code-switch from a serious register to a humorous register. Gaddiel is a master at it, and I really admire him for that. I might even envy him. His father has trained him well since he was little, with jokes full of double entendre and funny plays on words. My parents only gave me a highly repressive Jehovah’s Witness code of moral rectitude that landed me with a mind prone to fantasy that wanders much more than it thinks. Of course, Gaddiel’s way is more attractive and desireable. He is much better at connecting with people. I envy and admire him at the same time. On more than one occasion I’ve wanted to be more like him and much less like myself. But I’m such a Boy Scout, such a fucking Boy Scout, that I often think (and feel) that everyone around me must think I have a broomstick up my ass. They’re not far wrong.
“Norge, do you have a decent bathroom I could use?” I ask, emphasizing the word “decent,” to see if he’ll understand that I have to shit without having to tell him.
“Sure, man. This way.”
He takes me down a hallway that leads to the left side of the theatre and that serves as a dressing room. In the hallway are two sinks that still work despite their shattered porcelain and two toilets in stalls: both urinals, with no toilet paper. My nightmare attacks once again, but this time I’m ready to end it. With tears in my eyes, I close the cubicle door and prepare myself for humiliation. I drop my pants, hold on to the door, and kneel. Maybe if I open up my cheeks as if I were getting fucked in the ass the shit won’t touch my skin as much and, who knows?, maybe I won’t even need to wipe. But then I remember that if I don’t wipe, the shit will harden on my skin and start to burn. Then I wonder if that’s why Cubans don’t smile, if they look each other in the eyes and recognize their filthy, burning assholes and that takes away their innocence, or at least their willingness to smile. I know it would take away mine. That’s the message I receive from the tears I drink while I push and I’m greeted by all that accumulated stench, all that waste. Just then, I hear footsteps. I peek under the cubicle door and catch a glimpse of shoes that I know belong to Gaddiel and Norge. I wait a little while for them to leave, because my bowels make a lot of noise as they vacate themselves. And I’m bad at shitting in front of people. It ruins the romance between lovers and friends, because even between friends there’s some sort of fragile romance that underlies any implicit contract of friendship.
“Everything okay, my boy?” asks Norge.
“Yes,” I answer, “I’ll be out in a minute.”
He’s apparently happy with that response, and I hear Norge and Gaddiel’s footsteps as they abandon the space. Then I come out, pants down, toward the sink. I clean myself with my hands as best as I can, and then I wash my ass with water. It works. But it’s not practical in the least. Then comes the art of washing off shit with soapless hands, always rubbing in circular movements to get rid of the smell of human shamelessness. Rubbing in circles is the key. Boy Scout survival tips. Finally, I dry my tears on my shirt, splash cold water on my face, and walk out with my head held high. You do what the circumstances require. The law of logic and its brother, common sense, are higher-caliber statutes, of a higher order and hierarchy than even the laws of decorum or the State.
We say goodbye to Norge and Carlos, agreeing that we’ll be back tonight at 8:00 PM for sure. Then, Gaddiel and I set off on the long walk toward the Plaza de la Revolución, where we’ll meet Raquel and Allison. Along the way, we see a surplus of beautiful men who are so beautiful that Gaddiel says, “Basta! Stop! I can’t take it anymore!” and we burst into laughter because everything in Cuba is bigger than in Puerto Rico, not only the landmass, the Cuban macros and the Boricua micros, the cocks, the bulges, the asses, the quantities… Everything is bigger and, at this moment of such a cold and sunny afternoon (there’s a cold front passing through Havana), we’re depressed by our smallness, relegated as we are to winning the fucking Caribbean Series, which means as much to us as the shit underneath my fingernails. We trade luggage, since I’ve committed the uniquely stupid error of bringing a huge shoulder bag instead of a suitcase - not a good idea for someone with lower back problems. So I drag Gaddiel’s wheeled suitcase and he carries my bag until we arrive at the Plaza de la Revolución and, like an idiot, I promptly sit down on the ground.
“Watch it,” says a soldier, gruffly, “You can’t sit here.”
I forgot. In Cuba there are rules about everything, especially where you can properly sit. If only they applied the same sense of rectitude when it came to cleaning bathrooms or restocking toilet paper, we wouldn’t have any problems. I stand up resentfully and keep walking, dragging Gaddiel’s suitcase behind me. Suddenly, we see two seated figures who seem to be looking at us, as if they didn’t recognize us but knew us at the same time. Raquel waves with her right hand and Gaddiel speeds up his pace. We trade kisses and hugs, and Raquel introduces us to Alli, a Jewish girl from Philadelphia with a big ass, wide hips, and an easygoing smile. After exchanging the requisite “How was the trip?” and “How long have you been looking for us?” we head to the Airbnb that Alli and Raquel have rented, where we’ll be staying. It’s in an old, dilapidated building, like all buildings in this part of Havana, and we’re on the fourth floor, which we reach in a temperamental, murderous elevator that slams its door in your face if you don’t hurry out. After the elevator, on the left side, we arrive at apartment 405, the home of Ernesto and Juan, a middle-aged gay couple who, mysteriously, are the owners of both 405 and 406. Once we’re there, we leave our luggage in the living room and go to bathe.
The first thing we notice in the bathroom is the presence of toilet paper. The second is the garish pink tiles rising from floor to ceiling. The third is the bidet. We get in the shower. Gaddiel and I are that comfortable with each other, since the kid is the incestuous little brother who my partner and I adopted a couple of years ago, spurred on by Moisés, who asked me insistently to look after Gaddiel and teach him everything I know, which, of course, I have. We touch, we kiss, and Gaddiel penetrates me with his eight inches of affection until he comes inside me. I don’t come, but that’s normal for me. I suffer from delayed ejaculation. Once we’re out, we dry off but we don’t get dressed to go to the play. We’re too tired. We eat guavas that the girls bought, rice with no salt and beans with no spices. Everything tastes divine. Before we lie down, I give Raquel a copy of Terrarium; in turn, she gives me a copy of her poetry book Huequitos/Holes, which will be presented during one of the activities at the Encuentro de Jóvenes. Then, the girls go to their room to sleep and we lie down in the living room, Gaddiel on the sofa and me on the carpet, hoping that the hard, cold floor will work wonders on my lower back.
Translated by Arthur Dixon
David Caleb Acevedo (San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1980). His published works are: Bestiario en nomenclatura binomial, Empírea: Saga de la Nueva Ciudad, Terrarium, and Hustler Rave XXX: Poetry of the Eternal Survivor (poetry books, the latter with Charlie Vázquez); Las formas del diablo, Cielos negros, and ðēsôngbərd (short story books); el Oneronauta and Historias para pasar el fin del mundo (novels), Diario de una puta humilde (memoir), and the anthologies Los otros cuerpos: antología de temática gay, lésbica y queer desde Puerto Rico y su diáspora (with Luis Negrón and Moisés Agosto-Rosario) and Felina: antología para gatos (with Cindy Jiménez-Vera).
Table of Contents
- ESSAY: "Pedro Lemebel: In Memoriam" by Juan Poblete
- ESSAY: "Memento Mori: To Honor the Dead" by Fernando Blanco
- INTERVIEW: "The Punished Body: An Interview with Pedro Lemebel" by John Better
- ESSAY: "Talk to Me about Love, Mariquita linda" by John Better
- CHRONICLE: "The Waters of Zanjón" by Pedro Lemebel
- CHRONICLE: "The Million Names of María Chameleon" by Pedro Lemebel
- ESSAY: "Herman@s of Lemebel: Other Returns to Havana" by Norge Espinosa
- POETRY: "Untitled" by Caridad Atencio
- POETRY: "Nation" by Israel Domínguez
- POETRY: "Sunbaked Shell" by Leymen Pérez
- POETRY: "When Fear is Dream's Excuse" by Yanira Marimón
- POETRY: "Divided Equally" by Laura Ruiz Montes
- POETRY: "Brief Letter from Oscar Wilde to his Lover" by Alfredo Zaldívar
- POETRY: Five Poems by Carlos Pintado
- FICTION: "Dead Horse" by Raúl Flores Iriarte
- FICTION: "Nazi" by Raúl Flores Iriarte
- FICTION: "Bienvenido, Señor Kerry" by Emerio Medina
- ESSAY: "Writing in Cuba in the Twenty-first Century" by Leonardo Padura
- "Composition of Place": A Conversation between Roberto Brodsky and José Kozer by Roberto Brodsky and José Kozer
- "Searching for Ways to Sacralize Desire": An Interview with Ana Clavel by Claudia Cavallín
- An Interview of Marta Aponte Alsina by Juan Carlos López
- "The Country of Books: An Interview with Marisol Schulz" by Jorge Pérez
- Only the Road / Solo el camino: Eight Decades of Cuban Poetry by Margaret Randall
- Nuevo hotel de las nostalgias by Óscar Hahn
- The Black Flower and Other Zapotec Poems by Natalia Toledo
- Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli
- Tacos altos by Federico Jeanmaire
- Sara by Sergio Ramírez
- Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
- Muerte en el Guaire by Raquel Rivas Rojas
- No te ama by Camila Gutiérrez
- El arte de singar by Pedro Antonio Váldez