Re-reading the Códices

The Mixtec Códices, indigenous screen-fold books written on deer hide, 
are Pre-Columbian pictographs that record the history of the Mixtec peoples. 
There are no words: only brightly coloured scenes 
containing information about rituals, gods, heroes, and ceremonies. 
Only a few very precious documents 
(Zouche-Nuttall, Vindobonensis, Borgia etc) survived the ravages of time
 and the continued purges of the Spanish Inquisition. 
This prose-poem, self-explanatory for the main part, 
verbalizes typical symbols from the códices. 
Clearly, such symbols, as the poems suggest, are ambiguous 
and open to radically different interpretations.

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“Two breasts: one green, one yellow, symbolic of the hill where the church stands; the church itself bi-colored, strong stone walls, a spire. A large red heart symbolic of the love we bear for you, our masters. Two feet walking the path of enlightenment you opened before us; two hands pointing the way. The feet below the heart; the hands above the heart, like wings; and the heart becomes the body of the new place you have built for us. And in the heart is our sacred symbol: the Earthquake, a sign of leadership and power used only by those of Royal Stature and the Noblest Blood. Attached to the heart is the Numeral One which means Lord of the Earthquake; for you are Number One in our Hearts. Attached to the heart is a speech scroll showing felicitous words of praise; below it is the sacred earthworm, and beneath that the serpent head of wisdom and the flint knife promising strength through sacrifice.

But be wary: for our symbols are double-edged!

The colors of the hill are divided, as the hill is divided, showing strife and division. The church is on top of the hill, for the symbol has conquered the people, and the people are starving, subject, and destroyed. The feet are pointing in opposite directions, for the people are stalled. They have no forward movement, nor will of their own. For they are conquered by the sword and not by love. And the hands are pointing in opposite directions; for the right hand knows not what the left hand is doing. And the hands are reversed showing anguish and distress. The sign of the heart is the sign of the disembodied heart, torn from the heaving chest of the vanquished and thrown to the dogs. The sign of the earthquake is also the sign of movement. And that movement is a bowel movement. And one movement in the middle of the sacrificed heart is the victor excreting on the vanquished and treating them with scorn and contempt. The scroll protrudes from the nether part and says that the victors are speaking words of excrement, that verbal diarrhea issues from their lips. And the serpent has no feathers; it cannot fly. It is as a snake treacherous and bitter, crawling on the ground. The head of the serpent is two tongued and tells of treachery and of deceit. The flint is attached to a heart; it speaks of the heart that is as hard as flint, knowing no mercy.

And at the end that heart will receive no mercy in its turn.”


Dreams are important in Oaxacan mythology.

Do we create them ourselves?

Or do they come to us as celestial messages?

Can they exist without us?

Or do we form a symbiotic relationship.,
each dependent on the other?


Eight Deer or Tiger Claw / Ocho Venado or Garra de Tigre is a Mixtec Hero; 

his name is composed of two parts: 

(1) day name (ie the name of the day on which he was born) Eight Deer and 

(2) nickname Tiger Claw. 

His symbol in the códices is a small circle with a comma like a tiger claw.

Nuttall is the twentieth century editor of the Zouche Nuttall Codex 

in which Eight Deer’s history of conquest is recounted.

Nine Wind / Nueve Viento is another Mixtec Hero 

and the founding father of the race, according to some códices.


Once I stole the nose from a sacred statue;
today I watch it cross the square attached to a face.
Eight Deer walks past with a fanfare of conches:
you can tell him by his donut with its little tail.

A shadow moves as zopilote wings his way across the square.
I caught him once on a midnight bus;
he begged me to fold his wings and let him sleep forever.

A gringa called Nuttall sells tins of watery soap.
Her children fill my days with enchantments:
bubbles born from a magic ring.

Eight Deer, eight years old, sets out on his conquests.
Nine Wind births his people from a flint,
or was it the magic tree in Apoala?

The voices in my head slip slowly into silence.
Sometimes I think they have no need of me,
these dreams that come at midnight,
and knock at my window.




I had a little doggy and my doggy loved me,
I fed my little doggy on cookies and tea.
My little doggy had a very sweet tooth
and when he needed feeding he went woof, woof, woof.

One day my little doggy fell down and died.
Something had broken in his inside.
I wanted another doggy but my wife said “No!
I’m not cleaning up the floor when he wants to go.”


I Googled an e-dog and found one on E-bay.
E-dogs are nice and clean, that’s what they say.
They make you smile and take away your frown
and they’ll sit and guard the car when you go to town.

Now I’ve got an e-dog and he’s very, very nice.
I wind him up each day and recharge him twice.
My wife loves my e-dog and she also loves me
because my e-dog needs no feeding and he doesn’t go pee.



Twisty turns everything upside down,
Twerky steals your smile and makes you frown.


Twisty makes you doubt both self and friends,
Twerky’s malevolence never ends.

Twisty turns good into evil deeds,
Twerky bites every hand that feeds.

Watch Twerky twist, see Twisty dance:
he didn’t pick on you just by chance.

Twisty-Twerky slithers through your head,
climbs into your clothes, and freezes you in bed.

Now you doubt the sun and you doubt the rain.
You’ll never trust another person again.