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Kyle Carrero Lopez

Greater- and Lesser-known Cuban Folklores


Just east of Havana, Hemingway the discoverer
staked claim to Finca Vigía: eggshell, fifteen acre


Spanish-colonial stuffed with libros and dead
animales, prime for ogling his city below


Imagine he and Martha, wife number three,
then he and number four, Mary, humping


with all those deer and antelope heads
poker faced tall on pale walls, wide eyes fixed out


the door to the back veranda,
party streamer bougainvillea vines


clinging to the façade


When slaves debarked in Cuba
the Spanish deduced some of their men


were warriors of spirit
who might harness the Orichá in battle


against Christ,
slaughtered them all first


and spared the women in tactical mercy,
deeming them weak,


expecting subservience, suspecting nothing




He preferred to go by Papa
or papá, over Ernest


Finca Vigía means Lookout Farm
Papa was always looking out at something


Once, Ava Gardner, friend and live-action
Lady Brett, swam solo in his square pool


with nothing on, siren starlet enjoying herself

while Papa spied from second-floor windows

He’s said to have told his staff

never to empty the water afterwards

Today it remains, dust-dry, in faded blue paint



Suspecting nothing, they let the women be
as the faith lay tucked in their hair


Years later: enter Aurora Lamar
Ceremonial name Obá Tolá,


“La China del Ten Cent,” Madam of the Barrio Ataré
Santería— Ifá in Christian drag—grew legs


from within houses like hers
where payment plans earned hundreds


the key initiation supplies
so they could enshrine their homes


then induct more themselves
The faith, woman-borne


crawled across the island
till Orichá and Christs cohabitated all over,


predator and prey, cockroach and iguana,
one used to moving in secret


and craftier for it




Hemingway said he never wrote drunk
but if he had: perhaps, on occasion,


drunk Ernie slunk
up the steps to the ivory watchtower


next to the main house mid-sundown
after hours of upright writing,


maybe even whipping it out to water his lawn,
the city of Havana,


with that genius piss

as bamboos, palms, and banyans below—

hosts of all the squirming

live things—

sway patiently, groaning

Kyle Lopez.jpg


Kyle Carrero Lopez is a Black poet of Cuban-American heritage. He lives in Brooklyn, reads poetry submissions for Homology Lit, and is a founding member of LEGACY: A Black Queer Production Collective. His newest poems are published or forthcoming in The NationFrontier PoetryPOETRY, Hobart and Great River Review. He received an MFA in Poetry from NYU, where he was a Goldwater Fellow. 

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