Song of Che Chango

Che Chango – 17th Annual Cuban Music Festival, Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA, May 2010.  Video snippets of performance before a crowd of more than 3,000 people. Scroll down to view still images of the sculpture at the center of the performance piece and to read the text of the entire spoken word poem.

A La Memoria de Los Fusilados, Mixed Media Sculpture, 96"x48"x36" © 2010 by Lili Bernard, Available for purchase

A La Memoria de Los Fusilados, Mixed Media Sculpture, 96″x48″x36″ © 2010 by Lili Bernard, Available for purchase

Visual and Performing Arts High School #9, Los Angeles, CA, April 2011, Che Chango by Lili Bernard

Visual and Performing Arts High School #9, Los Angeles, CA, April 2011, Che Chango by Lili Bernard


© 2009 by Lili Bernard

(Performed in the spoken word in front of a related large oil painting and memorial sculpture by Lili Bernard – ends in performance art. 

Ache, Orisha.

Acere, hijo de Obatalá
¿Que bolá,
turista Fidelista,
wannabe Cubanista?

Am I too sexy
for your shirt,
too sexy for
your shirt?

What is it?

Is it everybody
looking for a hero?
Or is it just
that photo?
Or your
Or the idea?
Or your moto

Is it the way
you suck
on your cigar?

Or is it how
they laid you out
like Christ on the Cross?
Like the cross on your cap?

Or is it an x?
Like the mark on the forehead
of the son of the man
who said to his fam,
 “You think I give a dam
the bitch is knocked up?
Go kill the rich ho, mofo!”

Oh, it’s a star,

It’s red
on your head
on the black
on the band
on your arm
that my tia sewed on
for you and your guerilleros
who then bombed her farm.
That’s how her daughter lost her arm.

So are the means
justified by the ends?

What ends?

Split ends.

Pura pasa.


No entres aqui
con tu sexy
veintinueve nalgas
cargando doctora’o.

You know where you can take
your broken educated hooker ass.

Al mejor hospital
donde no está
que los rats
outnumber nurses
and cockroaches dance
on dank,
dark walls,
cuz there ain’t
no power
for hours.

An’ there ain’t no IV,
cuz there ain’t no water
to wash your
festered funk
from the bunk.

An’ you bettah,
you bettah bring
your own sheets,
my bro,
cuz ain’t nuthin
 ‘tween you
and where the one
before you
belched his bile
on his bones
on your bed.
Now when you slip in your Jacuzzi
and bust open your knee
in the hotel or the motel
that won’t allow me,
you can take your tourist ass
to where they’ll make a fine cast
to where they won’t let me in
on accounta my skin.

Aparteidito incognito.

Somewhere over the Roy G. Biv
skies are gray.
Cops don’t say,
“You gay?”
Hey —
They say they saw you
down the way with José

Naw man —
Who you callin’ man, bro’ man?
I mean, Don —
Eres maricon?
Naw, man.
You know that stuff
I don’t condone

Are you gay?
No, way!
No soy gay!
No soy gay!
No soy gay!
Slap! Slap! Slap!
Soy gay!
Soy gay! Soy gay! Soy gay!

Bettah not be,
cuz you won’t be free
to express your masculinity
the way it wants to be

An’ you bettah,
you bettah
build your own raft.
Don’t divert the ferry boat,
cuz the NAACP won’t
do shit
to try an’ block your black ass
from being blasted,
backside to the wall.
“El Paredón!”
Don’t, don’t, don’t, 
don’t divert the boat,
cuz you’ll be made an example
on the third coming dawn
that there ain’t no pardon
por un Pardo en el Paredón.
Don’t, don’t, don’t
don’t divert the boat.
Make a float
for the moat
between you and me.
But don’t get busted
tryin’a flee,
cuz they’ll blast your butt
into the sea.

So parate derecho, Don,
en tu Paredon, don, don
don, don, don . . . don . . . don . . .

(Che Chango picks up a spray paint can, rattles it and lifts it up to Che Guevara’s face on the canvas.)

Don’t do it, man.

You talkin’a me?

Yeah, man,
who ever the hell you are.

“Who ever the hell I am?”

Do you know
who you talkin’ to, bro?

(Rapping to the beat of Ochosi on Afro-Cuban drums)

Great-grandson of a Siboney,
that’s what I can say.

Descendant of a native
who escaped the wrath

without his hands
cuz he didn’t bring enough gold back

for Ferdinand, Isabelle,
Chris Columbus and crew

who raped his mama,
burnt her body,
bashed her baby’s head

chased his daddy to the ledge
where he jumped from the edge

to the ribbon in the sky
where tears are wiped from their eyes

through the halo of twelve stars
into la Virgen’s arms,

the waiting one in yellow,
wailing by the moon.

Con Caridad, Cachita, ache Ochun.

Con JesuCristo
by her nose,
Los Tres Juanitos
at her toes.

Con los Ancestros,
los esclavos
y los Fusilados.
Yeah he flew with tocororos
Over the valley,
with Hatuey and los Tainos
Crying, “¡Yumurí!”

Do you really wanna see
what you can’t see in me?

Grandson of a Mambi,
that’s what I be.

I got the blood of a warrior,
Yoruba, a chief.

Chango, Elegua, Ogun y Ochosi
Con Céspedes, Gómez, Maceo, Martí.

¡Con el machete en la mano,
en la manigua luchando.
los Mambises contra España
en la selva peleando!

My Abuelito Mambí,
they called him Che for José,
gave his machete to my daddy
and my daddy to me.

I have his weapon
which was blessed
At La Virgen’s shrine
in the Sierra Maestra
and now it’s mine.

It’s the same one
Abuelito raised up to the sun
before he hacked their heads in half,
¡Al degüello! . . . he cried in wrath.

Buffalo Soldiers end the story,
but they didn’t get glory.
Is it glorious to kill?
What if  the blood was never spilt?

Would the Spaniards have surrendered
if so many weren’t murdered?

Would the pact of peace
be signed beneath
the Ceiba Tree?

Things are not so black and white
As you see in your sight.

I’m the son of a barbudo
soy yo.

My daddy fought Batista
the Fascista
Oreo Bro.

In the hills, in the heat
at Cachita’s feet,

in the jungle where his daddy
turned the Spaniards to meat.

Yeah my dad fought for democracy
from sea to sea,

to give his motherland
a chance for once
at liberty.

He fought with Castro
and Guevara
til they won the war.

They all had rosaries
around their necks.
That’s what they wore.

But then they spat on God,
closed all the churches,
temples too.

They said you couldn’t be a Christian
or a Muslim or Jew.

And then they made them pledge allegiance
to the teachings of Marx,

But my daddy wasn’t down
with Lenin, Stalin, and Mao.

Soy un hijo
de barbudo
que se alzó
con Fidel

al que después
por no seguirlo
a el.

Yeah, they killed my daddy
underneath a Ceiba Tree.

And the one who pulled the trigger
is on your shirt, G!

Ceiba roots run deep.
Her trunk is strong and steep,
branches reaching high,
a lullaby from the sky.

Sings la Mama of Orunla
and of impish Elegua,
“Sleep tight my babe
Don’t misbehave
Son of Obatalá.

Go back to Bolivia.
Be beatified.
“Santo Ernesto
de la Higuera”
You can kiss
my backside.

You God hatin’,
pregnant mama killin’,
child executin’,
dead Argentinian.
Face plastered every place
by your bearded bro
who let you perish like a pig
and now plays you like a pawn
till the dawn
for his political propaganda!

You ain’t nuthin’ . . .
but a wannabe rebali!

Revelate your mind, Acere.

Last Words?

(drum roll)



(Gunshots are heard. Che Chango reenacts his dad’s execution.)

(Silence. Lying on the ground )

¡Che, llamaron la Jara!

(Stands up)

Me cago en la mierda!

Someone called the cops!
Gotta stop.
Been movin’ to slow.
Gotta go!
Will you help me write the name
of someone you do not know?

(Drum beat of Ochosi resumes, while Che Chango collects pens)

Christmas Eve in ’61,
three years post-revolution,
she spat into their faces
at her execution

Ten rifles made their sound
and Juana Diaz hit the ground.
They blast her belly open,
six month pregnant, gagged and bound.

Will you help me?
Will you help me write her name?
On the wall?

(Hands pen and a piece of paper with Juana Diaz’s name on it to audience member and encourages him or her write the name on “bathroom” wall of the memorial urinal.)

And this one was a child,
seventeen and oh so mild.
The trial ended ‘fore it started
cuz the boy he was retarded.

His mama sobbed and pled
for her boy Rigo Hernandez
who was accused of building bombs,
though they knew he did know harm.

Will someone help?
Will you help me
write his name
on the wall?

(Hands pen and a piece of paper with Rigo Hernandez’s name on it to audience member and encourages him or her write the name on “bathroom” wall of the urinal memorial)

And more were killed en la mañana
at the wall en la Cabaña,
ordered by el comandante
Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

So many killed,
So many zeros.
And to you he his a hero?

¡Che la Jara, la Jara, llegaron la Jara!

(Che Chango puts the spray paint cans in his hung backpack which is hung over the urinal. He grabs his backpack, revealing an “unmarked” urinal)


(Pulls out a stencil of “Che” Guevara’s face and a spray paint can from his back pack and tries to spray paint the face of “Che” onto the urinal. The spray paint can is empty.  He tries another can, and another; all are empty. Stops. He pulls his machete from out of the backpack and deliberately cuts his arm with the machete. He dips his middle finger into the blood on his arm and uses it as war paint to mark his face. Hastily he smears the blood on his arm with his hand, props the stencil on the urinal and with his blood dresses the urinal with the face of “Che” Guevara. Che Chango walks of stage)