The nose gave you away, that charming smile
which demonstrated your mind ran fifteen blocks
ahead of your audience. The joke’s the thing:
your timing Swiss clockwork and perfect.
My father listened to you all his years in exile,
and when I inherited all those numbered LPs,
I’d listen to them late at night when I thought
I’d forget how to laugh in Spanish. Hay que refrescar!
Clearly a life-long philosophy for everyone here
in those dark and empty corners we call El Asilo.
Life is too short, right? And too full of shit.
Te cagas en la mierda! Me cago, nos cagamos
of laughter, in laughter, that vessel that kept hair
on your face. Your infamous broom mustache,
those picaro eyes, Alvarez. You killed us time
and again with your humor. Laughter’s the salve,
you did not have to say it. You lived it.
I listened to your GUANTANAMERA renditions
every day on the radio, now silent and static.
Guedes, you rascal, you’ve been taken from us.
The sky everywhere is crisp and the air crackles
as fast as your punchlines fill these Miami streets.
Prince of Making Sense, King of Displacement . . .
Let the rains cleanse this city, Sigues refrescando!
Guillermo Álvarez Guedes (June 8, 1927 – July 30, 2013) was a legendary Cuban comedian, actor, writer and businessman. In 1960, he was forced into exile, first to New York and Puerto Rico before settling in Florida. Guedes died on July 30, 2013, at his home in Miami.
Virgil Suárez is Professor of English, Creative Writing at Florida State University, and
the author of The Soviet Circus Comes To Havana & Other Stories.