(Copyright 2002 Al Aronowitz)


(Photo by Betsy Kirschbaum)
(Copyright - 1998 Jeffrey H. Weinberg)

[Parts of THE CONQUERORS were originally published in  various literary journals. THE CONQUERORS was published in its entirety in 1968 by WATER ROW PRESS, PO Box 438, Sudbury, MA 01776. These first three sections of  THE CONQUERORS appear here with the permission of Jeffrey Weinberg, publisher of WATER ROW PRESS and literary executor of the poet's estate.

These are Ray's freely associated thoughts of life on the lam in Mexico with his wife, Bonnie, and their infant daughter Rachel after he jumped bail. A fugitive from New Jersey's justice system, Ray offers a fascinating mental travelogue that makes you feel as though you're right there with him! He not only examines the towns, the landscape, the topography and the people but he also  demonstrates a knowledge of Mexican history and the history of Mayan culture. For example, he puts himself into the head of a Mayan king observing the brutal destruction of that culture by the Spanish Conquerors---who give this work its title. ]


the road to Villeapampa...

started on schedule
reserved w/flight 402,
Washington to Houston to
Brownsville " across
to Matamoros  

research the schism
there, at the north-west terminus,
(the first definitive limit
being Geography),
the extreme
upper swing of the conquest
& sheer annihilation of the Maya
& the clans of Montezuma
throughout all Mexico...  

we embarked on the PATH
to New York from port of Hoboken.  

spent a month in history museums
& libraries, planetariums & weird,
artifact Wax-Works...  
obscure ancient maritime organizations,
soothsayers, liars, iconographers-quarters,
full of musty replicas,

    gathering legends
& rumors & tales of the long siege,
lain a thousand miles
up the length of the Cordillera
over Sierra Madres in the south &
flush UP the eastern flank
in the oriente phasing the wild
Michoc?n-Olmecs out with the rest
in that on-fell-swoop
the entire Mayan Federation & then
com up to the cowering Aztec

into the little teenage whores of bordertowns,
with business being managed by corrupt mothers,
papa in jail ... only Theresa tingles in Boystown,
like a wounded & simple indian,  
                                           recuerdo la luna,
back in time,
               400 years,

we marched thru Tamaullipas
right down in to Vera Cruz &
bypassed the seat of Montezuma,
went, instead,
                    to the outskirts
where Spanish
                                   took its first

(pollution of the land & sea & air
very quickly following)  

& so we raised in protest
                                  our banners...

like some insane ministers
with blood-buckets, their feet
in sneakers some Phi Beta Kappa,
cool in his key, wore,
spilling shrapnel & gore,
destroying credit cars & birthday wishes of
hundreds of years ago...
old gas-rationing coupons from 1942.
                                          on fire,
                                          in FBI cabinets
                                          & the Zapotecan...
caught in the funnel of the wild
winds of change...
                                     the hot & sultry
air swooped down
                                       on all the grain,
turned yellow in the gardens
                                        on the lake
(all Xochimilco-flower-rafts now)
the winds of change
                 moved up
                 across the isthmus...  

we too, considered Monte Alban,
Las Ventas & Yagul,
                            passed on up ourselves
thru all the temples & villages into
Tlaxcala & up the volcanoes to the very end
in Teotihuacan, valley of Mexico,
stopping en route
               many days,
               here -- many there!
encountering the buried shards of tribes &
outposts of a slew of civilizations destroyed,
              nations of people,
              with Gods of varying attraction
              & artists & statesmen & priests &

                          much like older
traditions & customs & beliefs of a hundred
             before them
                        likewise, gone!  

Malinche shone!
the full moon!
0, Holy Thursday!
Villa Rica de Vera Cruz,
beyond the causeway...
THEY crossed over onto the mainland and
& began their campaign upward, north,
to Montezuma...
                     drums up jungle passage
                        reaching, marching, clawing from
                        Tehuantepec / shimmering,

                        with all the grain turned yellow in
                        the gardens on the lake...
                        the winds of change blew ...  ##

* * *

El Golfo De Pabrion

too unreal / as tho, unsure of
             its direction "
             'the river at Salina
             Crux -- we almost
just dont see & never crossed.  

the indians leer: it's true
the white-man has exerted his cast
system this far south 23 or 24
degrees N. hundreds of years ago, delving  

                well below Cancer!
                the black-belt border of the north
                -- upwards / the Sierra Madre of the south!
                Land of The Maya / Land of Tiahuanaco...

we slept a few nights in town,
a few on the moonlit beach w/fires &
sand-fleas & peculiar hocus-pocus those
mushrooms of Oaxaca hang on yr head...
                         sold the radio
                         & split down
                         towards Yucatan!
hundreds of billions of microcosmic-bodies
blinking above -- from outside Tehuantepec,
the road across the Isthmus, heavens / lit,
from a rickety-slow truck "
"we smoked marijuana from the tailgate
thinking of Jack & maybe a little bit of
now, we left the salty cross / walking:
up / into the heights, where
sidewalks hadnt caved
beneath the shift of port-sands "?
Salina Cruz /

past important
port where all importances left: only
one Mexican Navy Cutter in the
docking parts / which is the whole navy "
               "a shanty-town surrounding it --  

a few abandoned lifeboats -- one sunken worship  

intermittently being scraped...
                          we rose
above it & hailed a cop & rode
suggestively into
hot & tired.  ##

* * *

  The King of Texcoco..

             San Angel-Guadalupe,
Christian mummies, clad in
only catatonic gazes, looking at the past-
"half millennium -- wrappings decayed
& blanched old mouldy bones only...

I stand surveying Mitla,
Cuidad de las Casas, Xocbimilcho &
we took the first road on our left,
pointed ourselfs to the gulf
& fled thru the falling valleys into
the tropic & lowland plains,
where the jaguar retches & Panfillo
Navarez got his copper-sheathed ass
nipped at, after the crocs & moccasined
Zapotecan active cannibals, who
tip their stings & darts w/curare,
found cause for concern with the
  obsidian barbarians the
  whole conquistadores were...  

Texcoco avails herself of our participation.
i experience a wave of post-induced vertigo
& bland my jellied marrow in the crucible
who is King,
& become Him...

... long look down that ancient hiway,
Totonac runners
                 bearing messages of
ill fortune, up from Mocombo,
the scorpions
               scurry away, tho
their armor is impenetrable
tail tumescent & frightened at the rusty clatter
the insurgents all resound in
the hot breath of their dazzling mounts
& lavish feathers,
& hammered leather,
describing disturbances...

when they first come
image of some relic, some Holy relic,
their ship...
we didnt know contained these animals,
the same as they, in cloth of brazen metals,
tintinnabular anachronisms
wracking the jungle,
lacing it with silver mesh,
them all carrying arquebuses,
muskets, long & cross-bow, wicks & tamps &
powders that precipitate anger as strong
as our volcanic deities,
our tribal politics
ascribe up to Huiztapochili

                     angry gods when they first came,
rattling halberds, wielding one-ball pistols,
dangling from jeweled bandelieros
                        keen cutlasses &
cast iron cannon behind them,
these graven images,
these guarantors of murder,
of death & destruction, of
devastation on the hundred nations
up from Mayapan -- on the gulf..
in the waters of their
                          Spanish Main,
                          in Florida...

they gather unknown vestiges
about their steaming own carcasses,
all florid of face,
contemplating calumny fraught w/fetors
their missionary-violation exudes,

raw-meat & ravage
in their onslaught,
on their countenances,
at the edge of their tempered steel,
in the swords own voice,
under their burning fever,
deep down thru their skin,
enveloping & encompassing their
god-mad hearts,
               beating with a scowling breath,
quaffing whatever demon elixir they carry in little
stomachs of goats,
                                       bringing god-knows

promise of conquest...
they have quetzals
in their platinum raiments,
eye of the peacock flashing in the sun's rays
back up thru the forest,
& deeply reverberating the indigenous
jungles with word that

He has come.
                He is one now amongst them...
Quetzalcoatl, coming...
in a stable...

as such
            was Cortez thought...

but the priests & learned devotees knew.
it was warned in the documents the
astrologers dictated ... they knew...
it was prophesied with shaking ground, with
quakes & eruptions & floods
that damaged the sacred icons & stones,
breaking the stations en route to the temples...
the ministers, they all knew

& even Montezuma
may have suspected...

the consorts of the court
saw this event sweeping over them
to be an invitation to power...
more power
than they had ever known
under the old Totems
the Quechua posted up to them
2 centurys ago
                     ... they knew,
& they conspired,
down with the old &
up with the new...

they thought they knew,
only, little did they know.
... & i stand long on this ridge,
looking down on Malinche,
coming up,
neither relenting the impassable foliage,
nor falling succumb tot he heat of those kilns
they wear...
                 i stand...
                              i wait...

my magicians & brujas,
my hungry & hapless warriors
waiting, likewise...
on my command,
my word,
        that they resist,
        what they all believe
        to be

the arrival
        of the Gods.  

or i could default mine own honor
& thereby enrage my children
to blind & violent vengeance...

long stand i here,
indecisive, unsure
of either case...

suppose it is, indeed, the Gods

they seem such evil deities,
wielding machetes & cursing their brethren
some such place they call Spain...
& if they're not the evil deities?
what stranger manner of men then?
who employ these devices, these chevrons
of decadence,
                    they decline into beasts,
coming up the moimtains,
demanding up our sacrifices,
our beautiful girls,
our virgins,
our mothers,
our brothers & sisters & friends
on a splice...
these disturbing vibrations
beneath my feet...

i stand here, long...
indecisive & afraid
i know not what to do,
     King of all this
   paradise below called
                               Texcoco...  ##



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