The tall scaffolds trembled like the palm trees nearby, barren except for bearing humans. In all their ideological shirts, demonstrators climbed the scaffolds, they spoke to the dim of skies though their megaphones, above the sea-crests of noise in which the temperature of Argentinian autumn rose with hatred and twilit limbs. Liter-bottles of cheap beer circulated and rattled on the pavements. Bellies bellowed with courage and pain in many of the youngest of them, supporting all that rage that had amassed, not to marvel at visiting emperors or the mirage of helicopters. The knowledge that hatred is part of the cycle of loving, inextricable: this also circulated. It is the knowledge of a cyclical system that Saint Aquinas spent years of his life trying to chart and fit into diagrams, but the study of it took him, accelerating the gravity of life that strikes fissures deeper than common graves in red land.
More lasting than the beer, invulnerable to drought, and to summer rains, that knowledge of hatred’s inextricable and non-contradictory relation to loving has a longer sound than the iron-shod gallop of police horses. The Matungo horses neigh salival at old scarved ladies, who neigh back. The old women wear sunglasses and signs, some wear the Star of David and some wear saints. Others wear the names given to children, anarchist names taken from the virtuous pagans, the heroes who went to Limboa according to maps and studies, names like Hector, Homero, Aquiles, Aurora, Aníbal, Sol-Libertad. The names of pagan saints were given to children who whistled a warrior-tune in a time of cowards, and those children were made into Desaparecidos, who in the words of generals are ‘’people who are neither dead nor in Life.’’ Some old women simply wear turquoises that are not sought by Death’s private army of pickpockets. The good go un-cremated, and no one may rip off the turquoises from the still-shouting necks full of medications and the parched rivets from refusing to drink the Lethe’s water of forgiveness. (In Argentina, the Lethe goes by an entirely different name, a name in the Mapundungun, the language of the Mapouche. Only the killers of the Mapouche drank the water and bottled it and made it holy after the deed.)
If a microfilm of any of this remained, like in the spy-movies of previous eras, the footage would have been mistaken for a lost half-Buñuel, shot through with moons by day, strange montages. The roll of microfilm would be immediately apprehended, destroyed as occurs in the films, by both the enemies and the defenders of memory, as film weakens memory and allows retrospect to be reedited and manipulated, montaged, just as the body of Jesus was montaged upon a tall cactus in the shape of a crown. The obsidian film-tape is a long black eel that covers the eyes of people so as to not see certain dimensions.
But had had such a film-roll been found in the archives, it would have shown the following:
EXT/DAY-TWILIGHT/ MAY PLAZA OF BUENOS AIRES ARGENTINA
A boy with front teeth missing is chasing a ball, his blue shorts shimmer as he kicks it between the two towering scaffolds covered in speaker-amps that resemble thudding, big organs pulled out of a desiccated body, impaled for all to see. The leather ball, with tape and sutures from where it was fixed, first soars then stays up at a point in the sky. It is sustained by the volume and the ripples in the air from political speeches of one speaker after another; who will never sound like Evita la contemplative et activa (her title in Latin, not Spanish or in the Lunfard language) and who will never sound like Juan Domingo.
JD who spoke as if an immense curling battery and concave megaphone was hooked under the stage-ramps, blasting wind and voice of an Orator through a hole in the stage, enough to shake rebel angels down from clouds into the Ezeiza prison. The voice of an Orator on electric wind swept into the aluminium metal hollows of the Peron as he spoke to the crowds. There were tall 70-foot street lamps for the giants from England and Scotland that the city-planners and the owners of the buildings hoped to attract, with their flowery creation that required many harbours, many fields and ships of exported oxen, yak, and cow meats. The giants from England and Scotland never came treading over, thigh-deep in Atlantic as had been expected.
And in the time of Peron, the wind-contraption from a void under the stage blasted and thudded the electro-magnetic force through his mouth, lips at once smiling and roaring between jolly reddish cheeks, between Eva Duarte’s eyes and an anarchist’s gun.
Young electrician boys looked down on the stage and the plaza, suspended by their harnesses to the bulb boxes of the towering new lanterns, their legs folded like spiders in the act of cultivating, of producing culture—
Culture, which is in its most primary form a spider-web.
The football is launched by the little boy at the May Plaza on St Memory Day. The Memory is for what happened only sixteen years after the death and mummification of Peron.
50 years after the death of Peron (40 years after the plummeting of the military dictatorship who took up where his widow left off in plucking the rebel angels) the ball sticks there, up in the azure sky. The ball seems to revolve like a small planet. It remains in the air under the wing of a bird who is sure of not being seen, and the big ball, like Christ, won’t come down. The boy, a little big boy, cries.
Rubber bullets zing with a shrieking falsetto. Bullets these days are no longer dipped in holy water and with wax crucifixes drawn on their bottoms by police who want to defy the Masonic conspiracy or who want to shoot wolf-men or Jews.
This scientific-empirical-legal Techno-police state has done away with the old wives’ tales about Masons and Jacob, José, Job and werewolves. Today’s bullets are dipped in molten rubber, not holy water. But the shake down is the same, stick-on.
And those bastards, who revere nothing, wearing rubbers to not get sick from the people they stab, are shot from different perches of the police-complex: there is military police, gendarmerie, reserve-half-military police, government squadrons of para-police, and a rich multifarious scattering of other species of goon.
They shoot and pump their rubber-booted humanitarian bullets into the ball of leather and rubber and into something else, something supernatural.
Policemen and police-women bitch and complain, with voices stinking of liver and coffee and mate guarano-herb, and noses wiped with the seat of pants of the uniforms higher up in the hierarchy. These police wear a hat with pimpernel-pride, never bothering to ask themselves in the mirror - why?
Why is a police cap in the very obvious shape of a horse-saddle? At best it is a pony-saddle, at the very worst, a donkey-saddle.
They cannot knock it, they cannot get it down from there, the saddle on their perpetual-frown heads, shaded blue-green. They’d rather not see the connection, and wear it like golden rings.
More importantly they cannot knock it, they cannot strike it down from there: the ball in the air, the kid’s miracle.
It is like a little moon of mockery, that kid’s football, kicked into a dimensional warp. Now it has begun to pulsate and bother the fuzz, the police task-force, like an ulcer. There, in the bright patriotic celeste of heaven, a wart. It is more offensive than the soiled national flags on top of many rooftops which have not seen a laundry-mat inside in years, and the flags have grown sooty, more insulting, infinitely more so, than discarded dog-poo at the graves and plaques of martyrs, of paladins who were murdered by the dutiful police 40 years ago before this exact point in the Day of Memoranda-Anaconda.
The ball, satellite of all their misery and all their unanswered primary school love notes: it stands there, like a proud condor. It does not even orbit, in the bright day. The janitors of Death, and the fly-swatters of men, are enraged. For this here ball it is like a round insult to Science itself, stuck on the brow of lit blue-white heaven and mocking the natural order of Rule and Duties Due.
Rule is by the strongest, as whimpering execution is of the weak: that they have learned in police academy the movie series, dubbed in Spanish but with the exact same dialogue translated by experts (they learned these highest secrets not in I VIII or XII, taught volumes collecting mildew deep underground where no one reads about the crimes by the most accomplished.)
Soon the guards of this great prison will run out of rubber-coated bullets, and the Amazon jungle will run out of rubber saplings…Then the Warden will stamp the Approval for New plastic and metal and rubber garbage-coated bullets, Teflon bullets or other buttons of Progress, and mandatory plastic surgery for officers who were listed as wanted for heinous crimes and needed to be stripped of medals a long while back in court-time.
Police complain they “can’t get the fucking ball down,” they need those long poles from Polo to whack it down to earth, the Puto ball.
The boy wiggles his butt in the crosshairs of their guns, not intending to do so. They toy with the idea. They have tried their earliest firing-squad games on roosters, then on burglars on the outer edges of town. How they wish they could cut down a planet above them, so that nothing may be over or above them. Behind the planet, they would pile up a lot of executed worthless delinquent boys, behind its curving round wall of crushing gravity and its long and deep cape of lunar shadow in which all disappears. The shadow of the valley of death possesses a playfulness of lunar legality and levity for standards of the cosmos-police of Latin America.
The sweat of autumn varnishes the grey street without cars trespassing. Drums of many sizes clamor as if under their own power. Drums at Argentinian rallies are not Occidental: they are of Argentinian military bands, its old desert death-rush marches, its racing songs of battle fire-brands.
The Argentinian army knows, as anyone knows where they got those rudders, those oars, that murderer’s doomsday drum-beat. Well they copped it from the Tehuelche warrior Indians they killed.
(The surname Desimone sounds like Decimate, but not to worry. My stains are other: for the first Desimone arrived to Argentina from a mountain village, Long after the Desert campaigns that decimated much of the Indian nations, Mapuche and Ona and Guaranee and Afkalu.)
History Lesson where it was least expected: Argentinian military men learned the war-drum music of the Indians, printed the sheet music on skin… And, in the 20th century, as they do in the Anno Dominoe 21st, they incinerated manuscripts as if those archives were the sinless libraries discovered by Hernan Cortez, their vain hero, who should have been no more than an Inca royals’ rodeo clown.
Then they killed their enemies in the battle of the desert, to prove the formula of the United States and its very powerful gauchos, and to England and its refined, Ceylon-slurping Giants. With all that blood they sought to prove that Argentina was willing to modernize. They sought to mow down and maul the Madonna and the desert flora. They sought to launch a stock-market IPO, Initial Public Offering. They hoped to lure foreign investors, and conducted a campaign to wipe out the Tehuelche way of life, a way of Progress, uprooting the archaic, in order to show the Japanese willingness to modernize with the help of the American investors. But they too kept their drums and the doom-sound, along with the loot that piled, towering to the near clouds’ pillars.
Indians were riding the gwanako, the ostrich-like bird-steed. Indians were riding in on the horses, equines robbed from the bearded sleeping robbers of the land. The tall Tehuelche took pale Spanish girls too, and returned them pregnant with a creole in them… but that Fortunato practice began only after they had bred their own horses and shed certain vows.
All of this is related to a problem: that of how many Indian men, especially the ones up North in Argentina, cannot seem to grow a beard like Jesus wore, like Joseph and St John the Baptist wore. The Egyptians in the Bible are notoriously sleek and smooth. Best not be like them, for they do not inherit even their own earth… at least, not according to the priests and monks who speak some Mapundundgun and Guaranee and who explain the bible.
Indian women are almost always warmer in their flesh than a stone when a hand-palm touches it in red desert field: so why define the mistis, as Quichua-speakers and Calchaqee named their invaders, only by their skin-colors? Why not by their odours—they wear more clothes in summer, and therefore bathe less, after all, boiling in the metal second skin and Europa-silk (which is actually Mongol-silk). The invading men are more bloody-bearded, the women colder unto touch until they get undone in their infinite buttons. The man with blood in his beard, has his beard in his mouth, at seeing how his women prefer the native shadow-eating warriors who laugh at death and at crosses, but not at the stones. Madame Bovary had an Argentine ancestress, returned from the colony of creole seed and sodomy, it is a proven fact.
A scarred man has a soul in his skin and unwed women avoid him, the law says he can be killed without repercussion.
The drums have a soul in their moaning canvas. The drums are the sound of the omen, a knife slates the smooth granite of petrified ear drums of the deaf citizens who rather not hear—those who rather be turned to mechanically-propelled hydrated stone, by the gaze of Isabel Peron, Isabel Martinez.
Indians used to mash maize with smoothed, round granite. Doom music fell on the plazoleta, the May Plaza, of the month of massacred labourers asking for their vacation beach holidays.
Beer circulated like a yellow phantom-snake, beer drills through membrane, pushing back the dreams. Beer enters the blood of crowds, making them boorish.
Today is the day of Memory, the feast-day. Memory’s feast must punch against the Oblivion-scam-salesman who sits in the managerial Pink Throne in the Pink House. Casa Rosada, Pink House, sounds like the name of a cathouse, like the ones in Pigalle Paris, for instance, par exemple.
*Prostitutes are among the founding pillars of the Argentine Sovereignty, Independence of the Nation so fought-for: Rio de la Plata prostitutes not wanting to sell to invaders from Britain and soldiers of the Hapsburgs. The girls of Santa Fe were chained and shot, crucified on pillars carved of the alfalfa tree-stumps. The winged cabaret girls of this nation, of the chaste and the promiscuous seers who read the fates in stockings. Thus Argentina exists thanks to the bravura and misericord of its Meretrix who never burned their blond wigs out of shame, only to make firewood for the oxen-meat to feed the nation, the city, the soldiers, and last of all, themselves. The wheat of their blonde wigs went to become the wheat of the beer that kept the soldiers, the city, and themselves warm in the Argentine winter that burrows into the bones and past the fat of flesh in June and in July. During a visit in the 1970s, even V.S Naipaul, despite his aversion to Argentina and its many cemeteries and amusement-districts he visited during a journalistic mission of reconnaissance, despite his English punctuality, even Naipaul had to admit to this startling presence, a bright oasis in the deserts of Argentine history.*
The scaffolds were tall, and trembled like mourner-cypresses. They shook with medicine shows resounding from the party speaker-sets. Resonant and mighty were the denunciations of president Ermac who won by a fluke and thanks to his flunkies.
The tragedy, the drama of this Nation: rich in elements and yet destitute, with no blue-eyed gypsy fascist St George in Astiz to stem the tragedy: the Drama.
They, the people of the Port who throng here, are also rigid and distant like the Europeans but they don’t know it, their throats and bosoms are warm from shouting and from the hot food and the stimulus-herb they drink in the mornings. They are cold as a Parisian, as Piedmontese, despite the passion and the dramatic histories, at best sung in the deep chant of the Blood Copla by the singers from the North who clang metal boxes of sharp tinsel that scrapes in the ear as a vibration and becomes light, lux that illumines the source of all pain.
Because of the historical events mentioned above, and because of reasons related (for all that is Satanic is also real and is interrelated) I am still alone and will never have the fair illusion returned or wept back to me in an unbroken state. Crying alone does not irrigate a field of wheat or flowers back into harvest. But crying en masse, perhaps....
Alone amongst the throngs of my people who are not my people, for I am an islander, I am locked out of the transcripts of time, the sheet–music of the tango-piano that spices up their crypt, which stands on an island named Isla Maciel, under perpetual cleaning rain.
I fall, a Luciferan note extracted, blanked out of their symphonies. The woman loved in the Song of Songs is black, my flesh is blanked out.
How do I explain being born in the Caribbean with an Argentine passport on the last day of the last year of the dictatorship? An explanation is long overdue to the wrinkled faces and to the eyes of the three-year-olds who already learned how to say dirty words in dialect with perfect timing.
I can explain everything, without fear rushing my syllables off the Plata river-current.
I am a character, a Prima Donna without paparazzi tailing me. I fell from all the flamboyant opera balconies of De la Barca synfoniettas, fell down to tropics, the Hammock of the Earth in the sun’s Ocean meridian (I like synfoniettas with divine dialogues of Calderon de la Barca, who is as blessed as Baruch and Barakat and want nothing to do with the miserable Don Calderon). I tried going to Israel. Israel turned to a prayer, that which Israel ever was.
No I will never belong, no story of a land or a people. No national flora like those depicted on the white-and-grey mantles of Rio de la Plata customs, hooding the frail shoulders of May Plaza mothers, the grandmothers of the balcony blossoms who weep upon the cracked mausoleums and mortar monuments named after murdered children by the roadsides. Where passing consumers throw their plastic cups and straw-emptied juice-packets at the small monuments to the murdered youths, I weep for them and I pick up a stick to remove the canine feaces of pet fox-terriers whose owners brought their pets to sully the graves of heroes. I notice where the lonely impotent old readers of the entertainment newspapers tread to walk their toy-dogs, there on San Juan, on Entre Rios anvenues, in Cabildo, in Abasto, in Almagro and other districts sung in old songs. They walk their special bred, brainless toy dogs who have been evolved backwards to their mammal rodent forefathers, with less resemblance to wolves than the lupine and bloodthirsty middle class owners bear. There, between the storefronts, their rag newspapers rolled under their arms, they flick geriatric wrists trembling with bitterness and medication to look upon the faces of gold-painted watches. What’s the use? The faces of watches are always the same, like the faces of those gone mad they have only one single expression in their repertoire. Look out. Look out!
Shop-owners are more rugged than dog-owners. The shop-owners fire lazy Paraguayan girls and sweep their own doorways, pushing the dust out, feeding the dust to the rubbished tiny monuments to a murdered generation of Argentina.
My only nation is dust and dust is in the hearts and mouths of all people sooner or later!
The grandmothers by the fountains: they who weep most. As they stray from the fountains, they cry less and they raise painted fingers, Aurora-colored nails, like baby blades trying to puncture the vast silvery blue lung of the sky of the Argentinian bi-colour flag. The world is a cemetery. Words flatter the cemetery too often.
Their hands make ravioli and their mouths talk to the shadows and confines, to photographs almost as withered as them....
Only a love for the impossible can allow one to grow so withered in calm. I want to die, grievous, before I am as withered. My children already flowered and declared themselves orphans in the newspapers! I read their articles of reprieve towards me when I hit my 17, the age ripe for Disappearance, for Dis-apparition. I am of Limboa and a Limboan, born with an Argentinian passport far to the North of the border with Bolivia, up in the tropical equator, the only equalizer that out-shoulders, out-muscles, out-horses Death, easy.
Disappearance is like God, or the Devil appearing, Theophany in the Greek. Atheophany: the appearance of the disappearing-act of God, with an Italian slick magician’s hat tossed in the sky and hit with a cane.
I don’t know how to say a burning bush in Hebrew, though it is my mother ima-mater-tongue and the third official language of Buenos Aires, after Italian and Lunfardo. Lunfard, the language of the criminal dream god, in which the word for ‘eat’ is Morphi.