Los Lamentos

Text : Malpede

If crossing paths, I could un-cross them.

If Seeing you, I could let you go.

If I had never held you.

If I had never seen you in the candle light,

If I hadn't lay in the field of your strength, I wouldn't want you.

If I hadn't looked at you

If you hadn't reached out to me across time, across distance,


generacion tras generacion

hasta yo te traje a mi cuarto.

if I hadn't brought you to my room

if we hadn't crossed cultures

If we had remained silent,

If we hadn't cried from joy,

If our spirits hadn't danced off the walls and ceiling,

If we hadn' t trembled in the eternity of a moment.

then I wouldn't have had a problem letting you go.


Mi vida es buena. Me vida es buena. Hay nada pedirme. Nada pedir. Nada pedir disculpas.

My life is beautiful. It's beautiful. I have everything, lack nothing. Need nothing.


Si no hubiera llegado a ser un amigo de Fons, no tendria esta problema.

Si no hubiera ido con el, no he provocado hacerlo.

Si yo had been alone, (si he estado alli solo), I would have talked with augustin y Zenon, the ciudadanos de Arrizzola. (habria hablado con los ciudadanos de Arrizzola, si ).

I would have looked at the figuritas.

We would have talked about them.

I would have delighted in having had the conversation.

I would have asked them if selling antiquities was illegal, and I did.

I would have agreed with them when they said, "These are our things, our ancestors' our land. Not the anthropologists' from Mexico City. Not the museums'. Not the government's. The government of Salinas y Salinas de Gotari. The government of Zedillo and Clinton. El gobierno que ahora termina la subsidia de tortillas. El gobierno de impuestos regressivos. The government that doesn't forgive debts at 60 per cent interest. They claim our things. They take our things and they send their limpia archeologists for our things and now we are sucio, we are dirty. They claim our ancestors while making us invisible. They make this a tourist destination. [They} Keep us poor. Keep us colorful. It is [Part of] the grand plan for tourism. Colorful indigenas, foreign owned hotels and restaurants, State owned airplanes and archeological zones. Higher prices for arroz, frijoles, tortillas to pay for government debt. They send their limpia archeologists for our things and now we are sucio. So we offer you these small figures. Compra estos. No hay copias. Son Originales.

I would have asked them where they got them. Los habria preguntado a donde los obtuvo? And I did. Y yo hice. "Not just this mountaintop, but surrounding hills and valleys were part of the city of Monte Alban. There were temples on all the hills. Here, they flattened this, the highest mountaintop and made it a plaza and site of the temples, alters and palaces of the most powerful priests, rulers and warriors. And now just this is "Monte Alban". But, the city tuvo mas de cientos mil inhabitantes. One-hundred thousand people lived in the valleys and on the sides of the hills.. Los inhabitantes antiguos de Monte Alban. The valleys you see, our pueblo, the fields we farm, this is where they lived, they farmed. When we turn over the fields we find these things, they are everywhere.

If I hadn't read in the paper, -page one- of Noticias, "most people in the pueblos respect the zona archeologica" "it's only a small group"" 'and we know who they are" "We know who they are." "They plunder the tombs. And we know who they are."

And if I hadn't lived on the lower east side, and if I hadn't worked on skid row, and if i hadn't talked with drug dealers, and if they hadn't told me that they can't get work and if they hadn't told me that every thing had been taken from them, and if I didn't have eyes, and if they hadn't told me that they had to survive, and if they hadn't told me that those who had taken everything from them, were the same ones who now called them criminals, sent their police to put them in jail, to shoot them in the street. And if I hadn't heard it all before, and if i hadn't known it to be true, and if i hadn't known it to explain not everything but nothing, then I would have bought antiquities from them just to support them.

I would have, (as I did: with the money dropped in the can, en frente el edificio del gobiernador al zocalo, the money dropped in the can of the campasinos camped out in front of the governor's office at the zocalo demanding (and having no way to "demand"), demanding to know of their disaparecidos: husbands, fathers teachers from the puebleo of Lochilco. "Por favor, abaco de contribuir dinero a su causa. Por favor, me dice mas de su situacion?' And when I asked, as best I could, to know more about their struggle, the woman turned away from me and disappeared under the arches of the governor's building. No entienda Espanol. Not just my espanol--any espanol. She disappeared because she spoke only zapotec or mixtec. Dropping small amounts of meaningless money- diez pasos- a dollar a day, or every third day dropping meaningless money through a slot in a can in support of a hopeless cause. "We demand that you tell us where and why you dis-appeared our husbands etc,. You say you didn't do it, so then you can tell us why you did it. You say you know nothing of it, then you can tell us everything that you know. Because you say you know nothing you can tell us why you did it. Who gave the orders. Who carried them out." And until you do that we are going to continue sitting on the pavement in front of your office, selling our plastic baskets, doing our laundry, eating, shitting, sleeping, being ignored by the tourists, being ignored by the Oaxaquenos and being ignored by you.

And if I hadn't gone with Fons to the ruins, and if he hadn't gotten so excited, and if he hadn't wanted to borrow my money, and if had seen [many] other jade jaguars [in my life] or had held them in my palm, and if we hadn't been in many catholic churches with so many (but not all) icons with vacant stares, and if it weren't so clear when walking down the church aisles, which statues had been given the breath of life and which had been fashioned by [religious fanatics], true believers, who imparted not one iota of religious understanding, in the form of feeling, to their creations, and if this small male figure wasn't so profoundly wrought and if it hadn't been full of passion, fear, contentment, sorrow, and most of all confidence, I would have walked away.

And if my friend hadn't whispered in my ear (and he did)," these are worth 500 or a thousand in Denver", if he hadn't whispered in my ear, it wouldn't have made any difference. But it did.

If it weren't for your implausible, irresistible dynamism , I would have walked away. Dynamism and power, as if you were about to rise from your cross-legged sitting position to land a block to the mid-section of an approaching adversary. You didn't make visible the invisible moment of intent. You show me the instant before the first instant of movement. You have the low gravity of a tai-chi master. Even, as you are about to spring your energy extends firmly to the ground beneath. Because of your balance, you show [have] choice. I can see it in your face as you comprehend the entirety of your situation, like an athelete with his "game face" on,--ie, serious, stern, concentrated--yet, careful not to reveal the specificity of his concerns. Your focus is balanced to include: a panaramic view of surroundings, a specific awareness of the position of your immediate foe, as well as an internal awareness of your bodily-state.

If Fonso weren't going to buy you, and if Fonso weren't going to have everything and me nothing, and if I didn't speak immediately, I would have never thrust $80 dollars into the seller's hands. "Ochenta por esto, ochenta. solo esto. Bueno."



Mi vida es buena. Me vida es buena. Hay nada pidirme. Nada pidir.



And now that I've had you (hace dos meses), and now that I'm leaving and now that it's illegal, and now that I'm anxious and now that I imagine being stopped and questioned, and now that i imagine " I had no idea that it was an antiquity. I bought it from a guy at the zocalo. I had no idea that it was anything but a copy. I had no idea that it was original. I had no idea there was such a problem. " {And now that i imagine saying these things, i know these are not things I want to say. These are not experiences I want to have ,minutes or hours that I want to pass or come to pass. }

And now that for months I've thought and used brain power without any resolution, without being able to think my way around the problem, without finding release. And if it were time to go to the airport (and it is). It is time to go to the airport. And for me the only real moral issues associated with it is: am I making myself miserable and for what? Is my hand in the flame and can I feel it? And I am making myself miserable and I am. And it's really for nothing. And even if there is no real risk (and there's not much), I'm making my self miserable and I can't get around it. And if I were "caught"-- as if, anyone cares-- still in the totally remote possibility of such a thing happening I would feel like a jerk, which is to say I would berate myseslf, I wouldn't (for a long while) be able to forgive myself, which is to say I would say " Si only I hadn't been so greedy, if only i hadn't tried to carry that little figure, I wouldn't be in all this trouble. how could I be so stupid? And for what? And for what? For nothing. Do I need to have every enxpensive beautiful thing that reminds me of the continuity of spirit in the world?

Do I? Do I live that way? No. I am a candle I am a candle I am a candle. If I had just bought a guitar (and I did), I wouldn't be in this trouble. The guitar is external but i carry it with me. If I didn't play the guitar, I wouldn't have bought a guitar. Si no toque guitarra, no habia comprado la guitarra. Tengo uno estucho de guitarra, pero yo soy uno estucho por mi alma. Si no pueda pasaer el tiempo, no commite el crimen. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Si only, I could do that standing on my head. i can't even do it sitting down.

And when I bought it, I didn't know if it was real (and I still don't). And if it wasn't real, I shouldn't have paid so much for it. But what does it matter because real or not it's really powerful . and if its not real then I don't have to worry about it's being real. And if it's not real, I'm off the hook. And if it isn't real I'm only a chump, a sucker, a schnook. I'm only a tourist, I've only been conned and I've only been

chumped. And Augustin needed the money anyway and it was worth the price of conversation and it was worth the two hour guided tour of Monte Alban. But, if he was a con artist, he wouldn't have stayed with us, he wouldn't have showed us all the things he knew about Monte Alban, he would have just taken the money and run-- unless he liked being the expert or could now afford to be generous.

And when I got home, I showed it to Luis, (Luis y Rosa me caseteras muy amable teinen en su patio a display of small antiquities). and when I showed it to Luis , when prompted by Fons, right after I bought it, Luis me dijo, "Es muy viejo.' Guardate, guardate bien." And if I take good care of it , if I guardate bien, at the time I thought he was saying be careful of it, because it was illegal to have it. But he was saying take good care of it, because he thought it was old and had worth.

And if I gave to Luis and Rosa, for the patio, en la manana, before I went to the airport, the problem would fly away and I would feel better immediately. [I knew that I would feel better immediately. I knew that the problem would fly away. I'll let go of it and not look back. ] [And] all along, from the time that I bought it, I knew that leaving the figure behind was one sure way out of the dilemma. But , searched and search, brooded and brooded, wrestled and turned my mind over looking for another [and not wanting to accept this harmonious resolution to the problem.] And so, this harmonious resolution was itself a source of torment until it was accepted [chosen], until it was a done deal, until it was real, until it was the way it was. I'll let go of it and not look back. No tendria lamentos, nada.

In the morning I gave it to Luis and Rosa, who were surprised and happy. [Luis drove me to the airport [and I flew away]. ]


Ojala que cada dia pueda decir: mi vida es limpia.

mi vida es limpia.

mi vida es limpia


mi vida es limpia

gracias gracias

gracias a Dios. (thank heaven!)

Which I've always mis- understood as (and will continue to understand as) "gracias adios"

"thank you and goodbye" "goodbye" as in good riddence".

NOTE: the only thing missing-- is mention of millenial connection as artists-- that I

connected with the artist who made the little mn across centuries. ***

***yes, and this is connected to the figures in th churches-- those that conveyed something / had life vs those that were vacant and inert. This recognition of "life springs eternal" is tha artist's way fo knowing and can be elabated on.