[News] Day of the Heroic Guerrilla - Che's Bones

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 7 16:01:15 EDT 2011


(On the announcement of the discovery of the remains of Ernesto Che Guevara)

Oye Che!
Wake up, man!
Greet the dawn!
See the world! Finally,
they have revealed where
your smooth, potent bones are buried.
Ya no eres desaparecido no más, hombre!
The unmentionable, secret cemetery
is now known, where you have
shared the earth below the airstrip in Vallegrande
with a quintet of compañeros all these long years,
the chemicals of your cadavers enriching this spot of
America, which could not forever keep mute the place
where the bones of its children - sweet, beautiful bones,
silently unsettled - bid their time, awaiting inevitable disclosure.
Your speechless warrior remains, no longer address unknown,
prove more resilient than the vows of military silence sworn to
by the undertakers of the high command
who watched their hired gravedigger, the elusive Ticona,
excavate a mass tomb with his tractor, warily dump you in,
& flatten the mound with his bulldozer. Bien hecho!

Who will they discover with you, Che,
among these nameless combatientes sharing this
dormitory of worms & loam for decades while all
sorts of helicopters, fighter jets, hovercrafts, cargo planes,
reconnaissance vehicles, WW II training vessels landed
above you, bouncing onto the runway, screeching to a
halt, disgorging fumes, fuel, laughing pilots in their boots,
their chiefs & the troops of the anti-drug terror squads,
marching bands, porcine politicians, you name it, a constant din,
so that even in your covert internment, you could not enjoy
a moment's peace only a stone's throw from the Yuro Ravine,
where you were surrounded, pinned down & picked off October 8
28 years ago at Vado del Yeso by crack scouts on the hunt,
equipped with state of the art tracking technology &
directed on the spot by can-do special agents from
the omnipotent northern necropolis, seeking your heat &
determined to extinguish it, by any means necessary.

The rangers first shot your mule, next you, in battle.
Wounded, you returned the fire until a bullet wrecked the
barrel of your M-2 & your pistol had no magazine. The circle
tightened, discovered its quarry, then lined up your bleeding
tropas, demanding the leader be identified & all you said was,
Yo soy Che Guevara. The puffed up victors, alarmed & excited by their
catch of the day, called La Paz for further instructions,
a request conveyed to the very top, to el presidente baboso
Barrientos himself, & from him to his bosses &
from them to theirs & passing thru each way the Man
with the Plan, el gusano famoso, Felix Rodriguez (a.k.a. Ramos).
 From on high the order came all the way down the ladder, right to
Sargento Mario Teran, who upon receiving the command got drunk
on warm beer, entered the little schoolroom in La Higuera where
you were held, sitting, your wrists tied, your feet bound,
shod in sandals made of rags, your ears ringing from the shots
that had just wasted Willy & Chino. You watched him try to steady
his carbine without success, until you finally stood & addressed him,
Shoot if you have balls! Shoot!

There you are, in the celebrated grainy photo, flat & thin,
like the proverbial patient etherized on a table,
your head propped up on a stool, your empty eyes half-open,
as if you are in repose, or in contemplation, or getting
ready to read one of the books that you lugged around
in your little army's library through enervating rain,
thirsty mosquitoes & indifferent jungle. But now,
all sorts of people are pointing at you, at the holes
in your body, the body of Che Guevara,
which would be exhibited later in a hospital laundry, proof
of the victory of the State, the Armed Forces & Law & Order
over Communism & Anarchy epitomized by you, itinerant Argentine,
symbol of continental revolt, protagonist of 2nd & 3rd Vietnams
on America's spine, not so heroic-looking there at five-feet seven,
skinny & shot up, like Swiss cheese.

Instead, the peasant women came & mistook you
for Jesús Cristo, not only because of the gentle wave of
bedraggled chestnut hair that swept your shoulders, the wanton
beard on your face, the slender frame & pale skin, the aching ribs,
pounded by asthmatic explosions, but for your insurrectional good works,
legendary rectitude & deferential conduct to la gente indígena,
& because you, too, knew the Judasses who betrayed you
with the saccharine smiles of presumed comrades-in-arms &
the abrazos of supposed fraternal partidarios.

O, how the world has changed since those days,
Che! Que cambios! What would you do, see, recognize, remember?
Would you disbelieve, rub your eyes, snicker, guffaw, or simply
puff on your stub of a cigar & express no surprise
at all? Who remembers your alerta?
The temptation is great to follow
the beaten track of material incentive.
There is the danger that the forest
will not be seen for the trees.
The pipe-dream that socialism
can be achieved with the help of
dull instruments left to us by
capitalism can lead to a blind alley
& you wind up there after having
traveled a long distance with many
crossroads & it is hard to find out
just where you took the wrong turn.
Crooked roads have been followed &
when it was decided to refrain from
these roads, other roads were followed
which did not prove to be less crooked
& thus experiments reach a wall
impossible to climb.

Now, like Lazarus, you rise. Your bones, recognizable by
the missing hands
(removed to identify your trophy corpse)
& the astonishing brow of your skull
(the physical embodiment of concentrated thought)
can ascend from the sediment below the airstrip &
come home, your omniscient, impatient bones,
returned to a world which would not faze you at all
- with its debris of decrepit
monuments to nightmare Shangri-Las
(workers' paradises, evaporated by popular demand),
the spectacle of traditional marketplaces glutted by
overproduction & those of their stillborn would-be disciples
heaped with mountains of malnourished infants,
the breathtaking paroxysms of la bolsa de valores
erupting from the fragile fault lines of big capital's tectonic plates,
the revival of obsolete maladies, plagues & infections,
the Caligula smiles of the latest generation of snake-oil merchants,
vendors of national patrimony & multilingual salesmen
of old shit in new buckets, the pornographic feats of incredible
weapons systems & their collateral damage,
the wondrous, innovative acts of anti-social behavior-
none of this would shock you, or make your wiser-than-
39-year old bones shudder, or rattle your sleek skeleton
sending you hurriedly back to the subterranean clay of Vallegrande
wrapped in your Che Guevara tee-shirts, shorts, towels, earrings,
ash trays, wall calendars, etc., draped in the creamy accolades
of all those who despise you -
the eight previous occupants & the current tenant of
la casa blanca & his loyal oppositionists,
renascent supposed Bolsheviks in Moscow with their
unslaked thirst for hard currency,
aimless post-Cold War European intellectuals musing
over old, long-lost romances & bitter at failed loves,
aging baby-boomer academics searching for
meaning amidst chaos,
biographers, hagiographers, cinematographers &
other sundry shysters out for the big buck on the
upcoming happy birthday of your death,
grizzled & neophyte hack gringo
journalists with exhausted rumors at discount rates,
aspiring tourist industry moguls in your old stomping grounds,
whose fleeting flirtation with the legal tender of the enemy has
become the latest object of emulation & desire,
& last but not least, anyone,
anywhere with an ax to grind against your once &
still comandante-en-jefe
still garbed in verde olivo
still bearded
still standing &
still itching for
the good fight, preparing
your prodigal's
homecoming, hardly as final
resting place, but as reveille &

It is thus no surprise that many sweat to transform you into
something more palatable, a product easier to move, with short
shelf life. A crooner of love songs, philosopher king, chess maven,
aficionado of fine-leaf tobacco, antiquated adventurer,
heroic model for evocative photo-montages, fanatic conspirator,
last of the red-hot revolutionaries, armed existentialist,
relic of lost utopia, mirror image of themselves in their youth, &
their most recently failed project, above all, a blast from the past.
Everything but what you were, are, will always be.
Si, siempre: el Che, communist.

This world would not cause your jaw to drop an inch,
you would welcome it, dive into it, roll up the sleeves
on your firm, unyielding bones & say,
Let's get to work, comrades! There's no time to waste!
This is the fear of those who maintain the reins on
your calcified restos, of those to whom they answer,
salute, grovel, who pull their strings & push their buttons,
now fretting again, having thought the whole matter
had been, like your ragged, mortal ass, disposed of,
despite the quaint graffiti carved into the walls of the
now famous laundry
Che you are our light
The road of your struggle is our life
Thanks Che
They worry that these rambunctious bones
resist mummification, becoming a skeletal mannequin
for the latest ideological fashion, bleached, buffed & polished
for public view in el gran show, professorial confab concealing
demolition derby, global flea market of Chemanía.
No, not these bones, not Che's stainless steel bones,
that all these years later could never be vanished
by those who ordered your death in the first place &
who wish now they had dumped your flaco, red Cuban carcass
into a vat of lye & acid, a cask of radioactive waste,
a pit of mercury, a toilet full of Drano & flushed!
Leaving not a trace of the likes of
Ernesto Che Guevara,
not a follicle of hair,
a thread of uniform,
a splinter of bone,
a cell of DNA. They grate their molars,
curse how they should have vaporized you more
thoroughly than at Hiroshima,
where they left those tell-tale snap-shot
silhouettes on the mushroomed walls of
former buildings, but no,
al contrario!. You & your stoic, demanding, spectral
bones get the last laugh after all - bones reborn
in trenches too many to name, resurrected in Nicaraguan
hills, in Venezuelan jungles, Somali deserts, narrow trails in
the Vietnamese central highlands, massive positional maneuvers on
the plains of Cuito Cuanavale - bones in the bodies of your first pupils,
now generals, who discovered pieces of you in themselves & whose
own apprentices do likewise & thus linked, become the accumulated,
conclusive forensic evidence that they could not kill you,
your bones were never disappeared at all.
Now, they are ready to meet the air, anonymous no longer,
to resume where you left off, Che, unbowed before the last emperors
in their latest duds. IT'S YOU! &
your triumphant, unrepentant bones
that then
as now
always stuck
in their throats.

(On October 17, 1997, after ceremonies marking their death in combat,
the remains of Che Guevara and six comrades - from Bolivia, Simeon Cuba
and Aniceto Reinaga; from Peru, Juan Pablo Chang-Navarro; from Cuba,
Alberto Fernandez Montes de Oca, Rene Martinez Tamayo, and Orlando
Pantoja - were buried in Sanata Clara, Cuba. Initial reports indicated
the discovery of five of Guevara's co-fighters.)

- Jon Hillson

JON HILLSON is a member of the International 
Association of Machinists at Los Angeles 
International Airport, a political activist, 
journalist and widely published poet.
to Left Curve no. 23 Table of Contents

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