Viejo Antonio Dreams

Antonio dreams of the land which he works belonging to him, dreams that his sweat is paid with justice and truth, dreams that there is schooling to cure ignorance and medicine to scare off death, dreams that his house is lit and his table filled, dreams that his land is free and that it is because of his people governing and governing themselves, dreams that he is at peace with himself and with the world. He dreams that he must struggle to have that dream, dreams that there must be death for there to be life. Antonio dreams and wakes up… Now he knows what to do and sees his wife squatting stoke the hearth, hears his son cry, looks at the sun greeting the east, and sharpens his machete while smiling.
A wind rises and shifts everything about, he gets up and walks to meet up with others. Something has told him that his wish is the wish of many and he goes to look for them.
The viceroy dreams of his land being shaken by a terrible wind that lifts everything up, dreams of what he stole being taken from him, dreams that his house is destroyed and that the kingdom which he governed collapses. He dreams and does not sleep. The viceroy goes where the feudal lords are and they tell him that they dream the same. The viceroy does not rest, he goes off with his doctors and among all they decide that it is Indian witchcraft and among all they decide that only with blood can one be freed from that spell, and the viceroy orders to kill and imprison and builds more prisons and barracks and the dream continues to keep him awake.
In this country everyone dreams. It is now time to wake up…

Originally published on January 27th, 1994.

English translation copyright © 2014 by Henry Gales. All rights reserved.

The Story of the Others

The oldest of the old who inhabited these lands told that the greatest gods, those who birthed the world, did not all think alike.
In other words they did not have the same thought, but rather each one had their own thought and among them they respected each other and listened.
The oldest of the old say that it was like that per se, because if it had not been like that, the world never would have been born because in sheer fighting the first gods would have passed the time, because their thought that they felt was different.
The oldest of the old say that that is why the world came out with many colors and forms, as many as there were thoughts in the greatest gods, the very first ones.
Seven were the greatest gods, and seven the thoughts that each one had, and seven times seven are the forms and colors with which they dressed the world. Viejo Antonio tells me that he asked the oldest of the old what the first gods did to come to agreement and talk to each other if it is that their thoughts that they felt were so different.
The oldest old ones responded to him, Viejo Antonio tells me, that there was an assembly of the seven gods together with each one’s seven different thoughts, and that in that assembly they worked out the agreement.
Viejo Antonio says that the oldest old ones said that that assembly of the first gods, those who birthed the world, was a long time before yesteryear, that it was right in the time in which there was still no time. And they said that in that assembly each one of the first gods said their word and they all said: “My thought that I feel is different from that of the others.” And so the gods stayed quiet because they realized that, when each one said “the others,” they were talking about different “others.”
After a while in which they were silent, the first gods realized that they already had a first agreement and it was that there were “others” and that those “others” were different from the one that was. Therefore the first agreement that the very first gods had was to recognize difference and accept the existence of the other. And what solution was left for them if they were all gods per se, all first, and they had to accept each other because there was not one who was more or less than the others, but rather they were different and had to walk like that.
After that first agreement the discussion continued, because one thing is to recognize that there are other different ones and another very different thing is to respect them. Therefore they passed a good while talking and discussing how each one was different from the others, and it did not matter to them that they delayed in this discussion because there was still no time per se.
Then everyone was quiet and each one talked of their difference and each other one of the gods who listened realized that, listening and knowing the differences of the other, more and better one knows oneself in what one had of difference. So they all became very happy and got to dancing and took a long while but it did not matter to them because in that time there was still no time.
After the dance that they had the gods worked out the agreement that it is good for there to be others who are different and that we must listen to them to know ourselves.
And then after this agreement they went to sleep because they were very tired from having danced so much. They were not tired from talking because, per se, they were very good at talking these first gods, those who birthed the world, and who were just now learning to listen.
I was not aware at what time Viejo Antonio left. The sea now sleeps and of the candle stub only a small deformed wax stain remains. Above the sky begins to dilute its black in the light of tomorrow…

Originally published on January 20th, 1998.

English translation copyright © 2014 by Henry Gales. All rights reserved.

The Story of Durito

I’m going to tell you a story that happened to me the other day. It is the story of a small beetle who wears glasses and smokes a pipe. I met him one day that I was looking for my tobacco to smoke and didn’t find it. Suddenly, on one side of my hammock I saw that a bit of tobacco had fallen and that it formed a little line. I went and followed it to see where my tobacco was and find out who the hell had taken it and was spilling it. A few meters away and behind a rock I ran into a beetle sitting at a small desk, reading some papers and smoking a tiny pipe.
“Ahem, ahem,” I said so that the beetle would notice my presence, but he did not pay attention to me.
So I told him,
“Hey, that tobacco is mine.”
The beetle took off his glasses, looked at me from top to bottom, and told me very angrily,
“Please, capitán, I beg you not to interrupt me. Do you not realize that I am studying?
I was a bit surprised and was going to give him a kick, but I calmed down and sat at his side to wait for him to finish studying. After a short while he gathered his papers, put them in the desk and, nibbling at his pipe, told me,
“Well, now then. What can I do for you, capitán?
“My tobacco,” I responded.
“Your tobacco?” he told me. “Do you want me to give you a little?
I started to get pissed off, but the little beetle reached out with his foot to give me the bag of tobacco and added,
“Don’t get angry, capitán. Please understand that here one cannot get tobacco and I had to take a bit of yours.
I calmed down. I liked the beetle and told him,
“Don’t worry. Over there I have more.
“Hmm,” he answered.
“And, what is your name?” I asked him.
“Nebuchadnezzar,” he said, and continued, “but my friends call me Durito. You can call me Durito, capitán.
I thanked him for his consideration and asked him what it was that he was studying.
“I study about neoliberalism and its strategy of domination for Latin America,” he answered.
“And of what use is that to a beetle,” I asked him.
And he responded very angrily, “What do you mean of what use? I have to know how long your struggle is going to last and if you are going to win or not. In addition, a beetle must concern himself with studying the situation of the world in which he lives, do you not think so capitán?
“I don’t know,” I told him. “But for what do you want to know how long our struggle is going to last and if we are going to win or not?
“Well, nothing has been understood,” he told me putting on his glasses and lighting his pipe. After taking a puff of smoke he continued,
“To know how long us beetles are going to be making sure that you are not going to squash us with your boots.
“Ah!” I said.
“Hmm,” he said.
“And to what conclusion have you arrived in your study?” I asked him.
He took out his papers from the desk and began to leaf through them.
“Hmm… hmm,” he kept saying while he reviewed them.
After he finished doing it, he looked me in the eye and told me,
“You are going to win.”
“I already knew that,” I told him. And I added, “But how long is it going to take?
“A long time,” he told me sighing with resignation.
“I also already knew that… Do you not know exactly how long?” I asked.
“It cannot be known with precision. One must take many things into account: the objective conditions, the maturity of the subjective conditions, the correlation of forces, the crisis of imperialism, the crisis of socialism, etcetera, etcetera.”
“Hmm,” I said.
“What are you thinking about, capitán?
“About nothing,” I answered. “Well Mr. Durito, I must withdraw. It was a great pleasure to meet you. Please know that you may take all the tobacco you want whenever you like.
“Thank you, capitán. You can use  with me if you like,” he told me. [1]
“Thank you Durito. Now I am going to give the order to my compañeros that stepping on beetles is prohibited. I hope that helps.
“Thank you, capitán, your order will be of great use to us.
“However it may be, be very careful because my guys are very distracted and do not always look where they put their feet.
“That’s what I’ll do, capitán.”
“See you later.”
“See you later. Come whenever you like and we’ll chat.

“That’s what I’ll do,” I said, and I withdrew for the military quarters.

Originally published on April 10th, 1994.
English translation copyright © 2014 by Henry Gales. All rights reserved.

[1] Previously, Durito and Marcos had been using the more formal second-person singular pronoun, “Usted.” Durito switches to “tú,” while Marcos continues to use “Usted.”

The Story of the Cougar and the Mirror

The cougar first tears apart its victim, then it drinks the blood eating the heart and leaves the remains for the buzzards. Nothing can compete with the strength of the cougar. There is no animal that confronts it nor man that does not flee from it. The only thing that can defeat the cougar is a force equally brutal, bloody, and powerful. Only the cougar itself could defeat the cougar.
When we understood that only the cougar could defeat the cougar we began to think about what to do so that the cougar would confront itself. The oldest of the old in the community said that it was necessary to understand the cougar and they named a young man to go understand it.
They put the young man in the heights of a ceiba tree and at the base of it they put a bound calf. They left. The young man had to observe what the cougar did with the calf, wait for it to leave, and return to the community to tell what he had seen. That’s what he did, the cougar arrived and killed and tore up the calf, then it drank its blood eating the heart and left when the buzzards circled waiting for their turn.
The young man went to the community and told what he had seen, the oldest of the old thought a while and said: “May the death that the killer gives be its death,” and they handed the young man a mirror, some nails for ironwork, and a calf.
“Tomorrow is the night of justice,” said the old ones and they returned to their thoughts.
The young man did not understand. He went to his hut and was there for a good while looking at the set. He was there and his father arrived and asked him what had happened to him; the young man told him everything. The young man’s father remained in silence together with him and, after a while, talked. The young man smiled while he listened to his father.
The next day, when the afternoon was already turning golden and the gray of the night let itself fall over the tops of the trees, the young man left the community and went to the foot of the ceiba tree carrying the calf. When he got to the foot of the mother tree, he killed the calf and took out its heart. Then he broke the mirror in many little pieces and stuck them in the heart with the blood, then he opened the heart and put in the ironwork nails. He returned the heart to the calf’s breast and with stakes made a framework to keep it standing up, as if it were alive. The young man went up to the top of the ceiba tree and waited there. Above, while the night let itself fall from the trees to the ground, he remembered the words of his father: “The same death with which the killer will kill itself.”
The night was already complete in the time of below when the cougar arrived. The animal approached and, in one leap, attacked the calf and tore it up. When it licked the heart, the cougar doubted whether the blood was dry or not, but the broken bits of mirror wounded the cougar’s tongue and made it bleed. So the cougar thought that the blood from its mouth was that of the calf’s heart and, excited, bit the entire heart. The ironwork nails made it bleed more, but the cougar continued thinking that the blood that it had in its mouth was the calf’s. Chewing and chewing, the cougar wounded itself more and more and bleed more and chewed more and more.
The cougar was like that until it bleed to death.
The young man returned with the cougar’s claws as a necklace and showed it to the oldest of the old in the community.
They smiled to themselves and told him: “The claws are not what you should keep as a victory trophy, but the mirror.”

Originally published on July 17th, 1998.

English translation copyright © 2014 by Henry Gales. All rights reserved.

The Story of the Noise and the Silence

“There was a time in the times in which time was not kept track of. In that time the greatest gods, those who birthed the world, were walking as the first gods walk per se, that is dancing. In that time there was a great deal of noise, everywhere voices and screams were heard. A great deal of noise and nothing was understood. And it is that the noise which existed was not for understanding anything, but rather was noise for not understanding anything. The first gods first believed that the noise was music and dance, and quickly took their partners and began to dance like this,” and Viejo Antonio gets up and tries a dance step that consists of balancing himself on one foot first and then on the other. “But it turns out that the noise was not music nor was it dance, but was noise, and it was not possible to dance and be happy. And so the greatest gods stopped to listen with attention to know what that noise which was heard meant, but nothing could be understood at all, because, well, the noise was noise.
And since the noise could not be danced to, well then the first gods, those who birthed the world, could no longer walk because the first gods walked dancing, and so they stopped and without walking were very sad because very walkers were these gods, the greatest, the first ones.
And some of the gods tried to walk, that is dance with that noise, but it was not possible and they lost the step and the path and ran into one another and fell and tripped over trees and rocks and these gods hurt themselves very much,” Viejo Antonio stops to relight the cigarette which the rain and the noise had put out. After the fire comes the smoke, after the smoke comes the word:
“Then the gods searched for a silence to orient themselves again, but they did not find silence anywhere, to know where the silence had gone and with good reason because much was the noise that there was. And the greatest gods became desperate because they did not find the silence to find the path, and so they came to agreement in an assembly of gods and fought a great deal for the assembly that they made because much was the racket that there was, and finally they agreed that each one would search for a silence to find the path and they became contented from the agreement that they made but it was not very noticeable because there was a great deal of noise. And then each god began to search for a silence to find and they began to search to the side and nothing, and above and nothing, and below and nothing, and since there no longer was anywhere to search for a silence well they began to search inside of themselves and they began to look inside, and there they searched for a silence and there they found it, and there they found themselves and there they found again their path the greatest gods, those who birthed the world, the first ones.”
Viejo Antonio became silent, the rain as well. The silence lasted briefly, the crickets quickly arrived to finish breaking the last bits of that February night ten years ago.
The mountain was already awakening when Viejo Antonio said goodbye with a “I already came.” I remained smoking some little pieces of silence which the pre-dawn forgot in the mountains of the Mexican southeast.

English translation copyright © 2014 by Henry Gales. All rights reserved.

Always and Never versus Sometimes

Once upon a time, there were two times. One was called One time and the other was called Another time.
One and Another time formed the Sometimes family, which lived and ate from time to time. The great dominant empires were Always and Never which, as is evident, loathed the Sometimes family. Neither Always nor Never tolerated the existence of the Sometimeses. Always could not allow One time to live in its kingdom because then Always stopped being so because if there now is one time then there is no longer always. Never also could not allow Another time to appear another time in its kingdom because Never cannot live with one time even less if that time is Another time. But One time and Another time went on bothering Always and Never time and time again. And that’s how it was until Always always left them in peace and Never never again bothered them. And One time and Another time went on playing time and time again.
“¿Qué me ves?” Una vez would ask, and Otra vez would answer: “¿Pues qué no ves?”
And like that they pass the time happily from time to time, you now see. And they always were One and Another time and never stopped being Sometimeses. The end.
Moral 1: Sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish between one time and another time.
Moral 2: One must never say always (all right, sometimes one must).
Moral 3: The “alwayses” and the “nevers” are imposed by those from above, but below appear “the bothersome” time and time again which, sometimes, is another way of saying “the different,” or from time to time, “the rebellious.”
Moral 4: I will never again write a story like this, and I always do what I say (all right, sometimes I don’t).


Originally published on September 12th, 1998.

English translation copyright © 2014 by Henry Gales. All rights reserved.

The Story of the Look

Look Capitán, there was a time, a long time ago, in which nobody looked.
It is not that the men and women who walked these lands did not have eyes.
They did per se, but they did not look. The greatest gods, those who birthed the world, the very first ones, had per se birthed many things without making exactly clear for what or why or whichever the reason or job that each thing should do or try to do. Because in that each thing had its why, well yes, because the gods that birthed the world, the very first ones, were per se the greatest and they did know well for what and why each thing, well they were gods.
But it turns out that these first gods did not worry very much about what they did, they did everything as a party, as a game, as a dance. Per se, the oldest of the old tell that, when the first gods got together, surely there had to be their marimba, because surely at the end of their assemblies came the song and the dance. Moreover, they say that if the marimba was not at hand, well there just was no more assembly and there were the gods, just rubbing their bellies, telling jokes, and playing pranks on each other.
Well, the point is that the first gods, the greatest ones, birthed the world, but they did not make clear the for what or the why of each thing. And one of these things was the eyes.
And did the first gods say that the eyes were for looking? Nope.
And so there the first men and women went about who walked around here, with tumbles, giving each other blows and falls, running into each other and grabbing things that they did not want and letting go of things that they did want. Just like many people do now per se, who take what they do not want and does them harm, and let go of what they need and makes them better, who go around tripping over each other and running into one another.
In other words the first men and women did have their eyes, well yes, but they did not look. And many and varied were the types of eyes that the very first men and women had. There were eyes in all colors and in all sizes, there were eyes in different forms. There were round eyes, fish eyes, oval, small, big, medium-sized, black, blue, yellow, green, brown, red, and white eyes. Yes, many eyes, two in each first man and woman, but none which looked.
And everything would have continued like this until our days if not because one time something happened. It turns out that the first gods, those who birthed the world, the greatest ones, were doing their dance because, well, it was August, month of memory and of tomorrow, when some men and women who were not looking ended up where the gods were in their party there they just ran into the gods and some ended up against the marimba and knocked it over, and then the party became total mayhem and the music stopped and the singing stopped and well the dance also was halted and a huge mess was made, and the first gods from one place to another trying to see why the party had stopped, and the men and women who did not look were continuing to trip over and run into each other and the gods. And like this they spent a good amount of time, among crashes, falls, insults, and curses.
Then finally after a while since the greatest gods realized that all the disorder had been made when those men and women arrived. And so they got them together and talked to them and asked them if perhaps they were not looking where they were walking. And so the very first men and women were not looking because they did not look per se, but they asked what “looking” was. And so the gods who birthed the world realized that they had not made it clear to them what eyes were for, that is what was their reason for being, the why and the for what of the eyes. And then the greatest gods explained to the first men and women what looking was, and they taught them to look.
Like this these men and women learned that it is possible to look at the other, know that it is and that it is there and that it is other and like this not run into it, nor hit it, nor pass over it, nor trip over it.
They knew also that it is possible to look inside of the other and see what their heart feels.
Because the heart does not always speak with words that the lips birth.
Many times the heart speaks with the skin, with the look, or with steps it speaks.
They also learned to look at those who look looking at themselves, who are those who look for themselves in the looks of others.
And they knew to look at the others who look at them look.
And the first men and women learned all the looks. And the most important one that they learned is the look that looks at itself and knows itself and knows about itself, the look that looks at itself looking and looking at itself, that looks at paths and looks at tomorrows which have still not been born, paths still to be traveled and mornings to be given birth to.
And since they learned this, the gods who birthed the world gave these men and women, who had arrived tripping, crashing into, and falling over everything, the task of teaching the rest of the men and women how to look and what looking is for. And then the various peoples learned to look and look at themselves.
And not everyone learned because the world had already begun to go and men and women already went about everywhere, tripping, falling over, and running into each other. But some did learn and these ones who learned to look are the so-called men and women of corn, the true ones.
Viejo Antonio remained in silence. I looked at him look at me look at him and turned my view looking at whichever corner of that pre-dawn morning.

Originally published on August 11th, 1999.
Click here to read the full translation of the communiqué in which it was published.
English translation copyright © 2014 by Henry Gales. All rights reserved.