They came ashore on the scythe of Cuba
On the small headed side of the island,
The rattled, saber-shaped isle of Batista,
To launch the new Marxist revolution
But got ambushed by Batista’s trigger men
Who then retired to the decadent capital.
Che Guevara, slightly wounded, still
Managed to lead a rag-tag of the rebels
Away from the debacle into the heights.
For 9 days they lived on grass or raw corn,
Then macheted their destined way higher
Into the jungled Sierra Maestra mountains.
From those wild sides, these red rebels
Launched sniping skirmishes inland,
Down the coast, and toward rich Havana.
In one savage raid beneath a bony tree,
Che, the doctor, shot a short, swarthy Cuban,
(And later calmly noted in his journal
How the steel bullet had entered left
Of the man’s brown eye), but quickly
Che, the victor, reached down to pull off
The dying soldier’s glistening watch.
But the timepiece caught on the man’s wrist bone,
And frowning, Che tugged forcefully on it.
“Yank, it off, boy,” whispered the Cuban
As he grimaced in excruciating pain
And bled deep into the earth’s blackness.
But ticking to the final judgment,
The revolting, revolving black hands
Of the coveted watch ‘wouldn’t’ let go.
First published in Lucid Rhythms
Brief Bio:Daniel Wilcox's wandering lines have appeared in many magazines including The Danforth Review, Camel Saloon, Word Riot, Unlikely Stories, and Counterexample Poetics. Before that he journeyed through Nebraska, Cal State University Long Beach (Creative Writing), Montana, Pennsylvania, Europe, Palestine/Israel...worked in a mental institution instead of Nam, missioned on a reservation, and taught students literature for years. He now lives with his wife on the central coast of California where he ages but doesn’t petrify.