Ay Ay Ayeres

Digging around in the photo files that I transferred from my old computer to my Google drive, I discovered this golden oldie composed of my words and Clare’s images. What a revelation: I had completely forgotten that this group of work existed. I’ll dig them out ne by one and post them from time to time. Ayer is the Spanish for yesterday, hier in French. The title “Ay! Ay! Ayeres!” with its multiple plays All our yesterdays and its reference to the old song “Ay, ay, ay, canta no llores” draws together a series of memories, some in the past and some in the future. ‘How can we have a memory in the future?’ you ask. By recognizing a present moment, or one that lies just ahead in a future that ill become soon enough a present, as one that has already occurred in the past, thus confirming the circularity of our lives and the idea that all time is time present, one of T. S. Eliot’s recurring themes.

Ocho Venado: Eight Deer is a central figure (war leader) in the Zouche-Nuttal, a pre-Columbian Mixtec Codex. He is the war leader in the Conquests recorded in the codex (circa 1050-1100).
Quesadillas: Oaxacan tortillas filled with cheese and flores de Calabaza, gourd flowers.
Reyes Magos: the three wise men or kings who visited the Christ Child on January 6, the traditional Spanish Christmas.
Murcielago: the bat and a symbol of death in Oaxacan mythology.
Nueve Viento: Nine Wind descends from heaven to separate the sky from earth and its waters. Nine Wind at Tule meeting with Cortes is mythical not historical, though the meeting of Cortes with the Mixtec chiefs (caciques) did happen.
Apoala: The Mixtec nation was born form a cave (sometimes a tree) in Apoala, Oaxaca.
Spinning the wheels in the snow: a reference to Jean Chretien and one of his famous images.

The piece is written in a surrealist style that mixes historical fact with creative writing. The distant past is recalled (1050-1100), then the middle past (1525-1530), and finally the present appears. This mixing of time and place (Mexico and Canada) is also related to the surrealist movement. Surrealism creates a dream world in which images float and change shape within a time-space conundrum where dream is more real than reality and creates its own new meanings that are individual to each reader.

Any comments on this rediscovered piece will be warmly welcomed.

Sun & Moon

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Sun and Moon was published on Amazon and Kindle today. This is the second (revised) edition of Sun and Moon, the first edition having been published in 2000. Although this is the second edition, I have returned to and revised the original manuscript. It is clearer, stronger, and better than the first edition. Here is the description of the book as it appears on Amazon and Kindle.

“They tore down our walls,” Mono whispered, “stone by stone. A new church they built on the land they stole from us.” These opening lines begin the verbal adventure of Sun and Moon. Written in Oaxaca, Mexico, between 1995 and 1999, the poems tell some of the tales  of the voiceless, of the conquered, of the displaced, of the survivors, of the people who eat and sleep in the streets of Oaxaca, spinning their myths and legends and recalling their oral histories and memories. Sun and Moon traces the relationships between two civilizations, the indigenous and the conquerors, from the first contacts between Europeans and the people of the Oaxaca Valley up to the modern day interactions between locals and tourists. In these pages, some of the ancient ceremonies and beliefs, as described by indigenous people, are brought back to life in vivid images and colorful metaphors, so sharp, they can be grasped between the fingers and examined by the light of the sun by day and the moon by night. The multiple voices in the poems are those of human beings who, like the author, himself an émigré, find themselves in exile, lost, abandoned, and displaced. As the final character cries out in the final poem: “You do not worship at our sacred places … you don’t know even know the meaning of my name.”

Monologue: Sun & Moon



 Mono means Monkey in Spanish. Monkey is one of the day names in the Mixtec calendar. 
Monologue, then, is Monkey, talking, perhaps to himself.

“They broke our walls,” Mono whispered, “stone by stone.
A new church they built, on the land they stole from us.
Red was its roof from a thunderstorm of blood.
The white bones of their lightning scattered us like hail.

They ripped out our tongues and commanded us to sing.
Carved mouths were ours, stuffed with grass.
Stone music forced its way through our broken teeth.

Few live now who can read the melodies of our silence.
We wait for some sage to measure our dance steps:
treading carefully, we walk on tiptoe.

A + cross  these stepping stones of time.”


Note: I am working on Sun and Moon. It will be ready for publication on Amazon and Kindle some time this week. Monkey Temple, Though Lovers Be Lost, Bistro, and Empress of Ireland are now available for review or purchase on Amazon and Kindle.

Re-reading the Codices Flash Fiction


Re-reading the Códices
Bistro 22

             The Mixtec Códices, indigenous screenfold 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 priests. 
The following text, 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.

           “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.”