Saturday, April 1, 2017

Mike Zone writes

Rigid Clarification

Gnarled tree
attempt to hug the Aztec sun
encased figures
glass and steel - sealed
pay no mind - sip coffee
stuck in screens - trivial talk
a sign informs me
“cascara is the fruit of the coffee cherry”
a blonde fidgets in her chair
short skirt - bare thighs
eyes wandering toward the painted sun
on this pitch black night
informs me the desire
 of that cherry pie
vodka cranberry on the side
I get up and leave
in a safe but uncomfortable haze

The Four Suns (Center of the Aztec Calendar)


  1. The Aztec Calendar (the Sun Stone, the Stone of the Five Eras) is an elaborate representation of the sun, probably carved between 1502 and 1521. It is 358 cm (11.75 ft) in diameter and 98 cm (3.22 ft) thick and weighs about 24 tons. Shortly after the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlan, the monolithic sculpture was buried in the Zócalo (the Ciudad de Mexico's main square). When José Damián Ortiz de Castro was expanding the Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielos in 1790 he rediscovered the stone and mounted it on an exterior wall of the cathedral, where it remained until 1885. Today it is housed in the Museo Nacional de Antropología National. Inside the glyph for Ōllin ("movement"), the name of the current era, is the face of the solar deity, Tonatiuh, who was invoked by the names of "the shining one," "the beautiful child," "the eagle that soars." He holds a human heart in each of his eagle talons, and his tongue is represented by a stone sacrificial knife (Tecpatl). In the morning, as Tonatiuh rose into the sky, he was called Cuauhtlehuanitl, "the eagle who ascends," and in the evening, Cuauhtemoc, "the eagle who fell," the name of the last Aztec ruler (tlatoani) (r. 1520-1521). The date "4 Earthquake," the day on which the present sun is to be destroyed by earthquakes, is sculpted around him; on that day, the planets (the tzitzimime, or tzontemoc, "those who fell head first") will be transformed into jaguars to devour mankind. The dates on which the former suns perished are in the rectangles of the sign "earthquake."

  2. The top right square represents Ōcēlotl (4 Jaguar, represented by the head of the god Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl), the day on which the first era ended due to the appearance of monsters that devoured all of humanity; it had lasted 676 years. The top left square shows Nahui Ehēcatl' (4 Wind, also represented by Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl), the date on which hurricane winds destroyed the earth and humans were turned into monkeys, after 364 years. The bottom left square shows Nahui Quiyahuitl' (4 Rain, the head of Tlaloc), when the world was destroyed by a rain of fire which transformed humanity into turkeys; this era lasted 312 years. The bottom right square represents Nahui Atl' (4 Water, represented by a jar of water from which emerges the bust of the goddess Chalchiuhtlicue), when the world was flooded and all the humans were turned into fish 676 years after its beginning. A ring surrounding these figures contains other representations of the signs of the days 1 Flint (Tecpatl), 1 Rain (Atl), and 7 Monkey (Ozomahtli). Beginning at the top with the head of the alligator Cipacili, the ring closes with the sign for the flower, Xochitl. Then follow the bands with drawings of the solar rays and and a glyph for Xiuhuitzolli ("pointed turquoise thing"), the tlatoani's turquoise diadem which represented the tail of Xiuhcoatl, the fire serpent who embodied the dry season and was the spirit form (nahual) of the sun Xiuhpiltontli ("the turquoise child/serpent"). Tonatiuh was guided across the sky by Xiuhcoatl and was used by him as a weapon against his underworld enemies, Metzli (the moon) and the stars, who must be defeated every day to keep mankind alive and prevent the gods of darkness from destroying the sun. Among the most important astral deities were Mixcoatl, "the cloud serpent" (the Milky Way) and Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, "the lord of the house of dawn." All the stars were grouped in two squadrons, the Centzon Mimixcoa ("the unnumbered ones from the North") and the Centzon Huitzndhuac ("the unnumbered ones from the South"), who battled the sun every day. Huitzilopochtli, the blue sky of the day, was an incarnation of the sun; as his mother Coatlicue, the maternal Earth deity, was sweeping the temple, some hummingbird feathers fell into her chest, causing Huitzilopochtli to spring from her womb in full war armor to defend her against his his sister Coyolxauhqui ("Face painted with Bells") as she led her brothers the Centzon Huitznahua against Coatlicue. He pierced her chest with a Xiuhcoatl, cut off her limbs, and put her head into the sky, where it became the moon, so that Coatlicue would be comforted seeing her eldest daughter in the sky every night. (The astral gods appeared in the codices with their bodies painted with white chalk, striped in red, just as the Aztecs painted the prisoners of war who were to be sacrificed. Their hearts were cut out, their bodies cast from the temple and then decapitated and dismembered at the bottom of the stairs.) The two outer bands of the Aztec Calendar are the two fire serpents (xiuhcoatls) who bear the sun through the sky; between their fangs appear the faces of the deities who use these serpents as disguises.


  3. Dark red coffee cherry tea is made from the pulped skins of dried berries (or "cherries") of the coffee plant that are collected after the seeds (coffee beans) have been removed; the skins are then dried in the sun. It is also known as cáscara (Spanish for husk, bark, or shell). The term is derived from the Latin "quassare" (to tremor; to cause to tremor by repeated strikes) via the Vulgar Latin "quassicare" (to strike repeatedly) plus "ico" (indicating frequent or repetitive action) and was first applied to bark and peels from the manner of their removal. (Cáscara is also a style of Cuban drumming, a 2-bar pattern played in 4/4 with the right hand on the side of the timbale or on a drumset.) In 1879 Friedrich August Flückiger wrote, "The hardships of bark-collecting in the primeval forests of South America are of the severest kind, and undergone only by the half-civilized Indians and people of mixed race, in the pay of speculators or companies located in the towns. Those who are engaged in the business, especially the collectors themselves, are called Cascarilleros or Cascadores." The beverage may also be mixed with sticks of cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg. Coffee farmers in Yemen and Ethiopia were drying and brewing the cherries even before they brewed the coffee beans; in Ethiopia the drink is called "hashara" and in Yemen "qishr; " in Bolivia, where it is made of sun-dried and lightly toasted coffee cherries, it is called "sultana." It is also called "the poor man's coffee" and "the coffee of the Army." The tea should not be confused with cascara sagrada, the dried tree bark from the California buckthorn tree (Rhamnus purshiana), which is a powerful laxative.


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