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A Flower Song

In xōchitl in cuīcatl [the flower the song]: the Aztec definition of Poetry.

By Rob AngeliPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 5 min read
Top Story - May 2024
Quetzalcoatl, the serpent and the bird, whose dual nature is earthly and heavenly.

Apparently the Aztecs, Toltecs, Chichimecs and other Mexica were crazy about poetry. Despite the book-burning, slaughter, and epidemics that characterized the early stages of the Spanish conquest of the empires of Mexico, some hundreds of poems from the height of their tradition come down to us in Classical Nahuatl, preserved by Nahua and Spanish scholars of the 16th century. One of the most famous poets, Nezahualcoyotl, was a sage-king who opposed the cult of human sacrifice associated with Tezcatlipoca, God of the Smoking Mirror, and favored Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent. Flowers and feathers were the favorite offering of the Plumed Serpent. Moreover, flowers and feathers are a metaphor for poetry. Individual words, scattered petals, the down of tropical birds. The temples of blood sacrifice could be transformed into temples of flower and song. A sublimated offering to the Heart of Earth and the Heart of Sky encapsulated in the Classical Nahuatl kenning for poetry: in xōchitl in cuīcatl, meaning, "the flower and the song."

The following poem is part of a longer work, and is in a state of flux, so take the waters as they flow:

PostClassical StoneAge


jeweled blues;

greens of grass cloak

the roseate violet which outlines

the curved tailspray

of the quetzal in flight.

Streamers! let

there be bloom,


the boughs–



So [in xōchitl in cuīcatl]

The quetzal bird in flight

FLOWERMAGE, come beat my drum!

totoco totoco tico totoco totoco

Heart of Earth/


\Heart of Sky

form in pair the Eye of the Storm;

sheathed in song like

maize is sheathed in husks, the

troops of the tribes spy a hoop

[not only the Mexica].

Oh well–

dead or alive,

it is the same

Dance. Coming to You

Live from the House of the Sun. [in xōchitl in cuīcatl]

Rhythmed: tico titico titico tico

Something framed there, blocky

arrangements of space color coded

bordered and bannered

in a Classical Calendar,

if only as an excuse

for jade and gold to shine. Mirror mirror

Is there any meaning in any of it? the product of agave juices and laughter of lunar rabbits magnify the branch of a flowering tree in springtime. Seen reversed in the polished stone eye.

Trippy stone-age looking glass mystifies:

an artifact found thousands of times.

Obsidian ignition seeds the flame:

Still the ant will not wish to be incinerated

Under the magnifying-glass.

A way of starting fires,

And a tool for divination.

This is a perfectly polished stone,

Imperfectly circular on purpose,





Aztec mirror, made of polished obsidian. Used for divination and starting fires.

[through the looking-glass]

To see the image of the Plumed Serpent–

Centralized in a vast maze of stairways–

With the convex of the Smoking Mirror.

The world is painted in flowers, not blood:

A bud opens its heart in song–


Under open cluster of constellation,

Harmonic, flowers, nursed on gore offered

To the fields of the sun, narco-floral

Flutter-by on intoxicating wavelengths.

We are clothed/

\we are bathed

/We are drowned

In the flow of stanzas\

butterflies in

paradise or mere

decorticated animals

reduced to pulp?

–decked in flowers

–a series of glyphs trickles–

superimposed over

the moonwhite

convex of a defleshed skull,

[or is it fruit?]

Mictlanticuhlti and Quetzalcoatl, Gods of Death and Life

Here, in this place where everything is shorn of flesh, stripped of meat. Here, in the ribcage of the singer, a beating heart, which thrills

to the curve of fabulous

boas of quetzal plumage

fluffing the heavens. Its flight

And coloration is miniaturized in

A hummingbird’s pursuit of nectar.

Tiny bill inserted into the bell of flowers, dual natured, slithering, belly to the ground, the veining of the low and earthly tracing, dressed in feathers, as if angelic, its tongue is

A series of scrolls, now

tapering, resulting in the

point of a bone needle, or

needle of agave:

fit to pierce the tongue

or tip of the penis

for a bloodletting

blotted on paper–

flintknife in single

blade tapers to two






objectified as a burnt-offering.

Decked in blossoms–ohuaye!

Nezahualcoyotl, "Hungry Coyote" ruler of Texcoco and considered one of the finest Nahua poets of flower-songs.

What realms do we excavate

In the harvesting of this pollen?

They are all petals,

Smoke rising to the nostrils

Of psychotic deities.

Feathered slither

Leathered wither

LEAF foil, royal


Ohuaye! Dressed in flowers

which set the Jaguar

and the Eagle

to dancing– they vomit a vision

sucrose pollination

honeyed by eons

of labor,


by countless hands

and countless

vocal chords:

a sacred calendar

of glyphs, honeycombed.

We see cruel forms reversed

Into a progress of the year, marked

By superstitious seers, mathematically


Unstoppable onward. Lord of

Wind stirs aroma of cacao and

Chiles, reddened with legendary blood-

Letting [thorn in my tongue]

Chocolate, emulsified,

bitter cacao with blood, hot,

achiote reddens to the tone

of the clay pot. Cold Froth.

A painted Mayan cacao cup, showing cacao drinkers.

Lord of Wind swirls

Even into recesses and places

Deep below

Where kids with their last tears

Greet the axolotl in his cenote,

Watery grotto of eternal childhood. But what about our endless offerings of shrimp tamales? we thought You liked them best.

(there the rainbow serpent slithers)

thru tobacco bloom

and cornflowers


like a silhouette, in the Eye

of the Storm, Heart of the Sky,

Heart of the Earth–

Songs tell of the World-Tree,

boughs all burdened

With birds.

The mouth of the root is reptilian; like a needlepoint

It orders the realms,

With brachial structures

Rooted deep down.

Jadeform faces

Uncover deathmask chronology, over-

Crowded with lost ancestors

Reborn as butterflies

Or hummingbirds

There in the House of

The Sun. Where some-

Thing like waterfalls

splash in rainbow


Like a

jeweled vapor.

The Jaguar

and the


Are set



The Killer/


Roaring with Thunder

He has spread his wealth of eaglefeathers far and wide while the invisible heart of the jade-bright hummingbird beats faster than can be imagined.

In Aztec lore, fallen warriors and sacrificial victims enjoy bliss as hummingbirds when they return.

What hums? the wing

Or the heartbeat?

A star-cluster blooms,

Ciphered in animal faces,

Blooms into a flowertree,

Cactus-branch where an eagle

Has perched, ready to consume

The rattlesnake:

Great Tree

Prolific in flowers

Prolific in thorns–

Please shade the Flowermage,

who strikes the kettle with a

titoco titoco titocoti

And who explains the hieroglyphic books

Filled with calabash skullfruit,

Drinking-gourd, praised

By the lunatic rabbits who assemble,

Telling tales of virgin births

(The Sun, an excuse to shine)


It is a flower.

A fleeting moment, only fallen petals. Or

Maybe a hummingbird feeder

Of popcorn buds and cacao blossoms;

in fragrance fallen,

drifted on trail of gentle breezes

LIFE GIVER–which bird complains about his call, his feathers?


Movement is the prism of airflow, a

Waterfall, plume, petal, scale or skin

on sacred wings…

FLAYED: divided into days and dusted with jadefeather pollen spiked by sunflow like watery crystal that progresses untainted in the mire and sacrificial blood that sustains its orbit. That is why

we welcome dead heroes from the House of

the Sun, jadeswift hummingbird


wending his winged hum

away among waters

and flowers as waterfall wind, solar-electic;

all just to have a honey suckle at the

flower’s Heart

Newly opened/

Beating like dawn. Ayyo!

Set out honey for the hummers

[dead heroes from the house

of the sun]

Heart of the Flower/

Eye of Flint//:

World in a black stone mirror; was bleeding

Forth a libation of song

Into the sun’s bonfire.

in xōchitl in cuīcatl

Hope you have enjoyed. I haven't been able to participate for a while, due to work, home, and other laborious projects we creators put upon ourselves for our own good or detriment. But I have missed it. I hope to be able to get on a couple times a week for fun and games. May your life be filled with chocolate and chiles! May you see the image in the Smoking Mirror, and the hummingbird that graces the feeder or the blossom. The flower, the song.

-Rob Angeli



surreal poetryinspirationalart

About the Creator

Rob Angeli

sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt

There are tears of things, and mortal objects touch the mind.

-Virgil Aeneid I.462

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Comments (17)

  • Anna 30 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story! :)

  • Maria about a month ago


  • Ricardo de Moura Pereiraabout a month ago

    Very good

  • Vicki Lawana Trusselli about a month ago

    I love this! Congratulations on your top story ?

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

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  • Ameer Bibiabout a month ago

    Creative story with beautiful images, connecting life and nature. congratulations on the top story.

  • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

    Damn o damn, what a way to make your return! Well done on an epic Top Story and epic piece in its own right! Hope you're well, Rob!

  • Katherine D. Grahamabout a month ago

    wonderful compilation of verbal images... missed you...and your poetic song.. tida tida tidika ta... the pictures are great... work/life balance is tricky

  • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Alexander McEvoyabout a month ago

    Ahh the king has returned! How have you been, Rob? Hope everything in your part of the world has been going your way :) This poem was so good I think it evades my skills in verse to fully comprehend it! I'll have to come back a few times I think to just bask in the skill on display!

  • Andrei Z.about a month ago

    Rob is back! I'm glad! Hope you are doing well:) I've not much knowledge about Aztec culture, but I see how you've interwoven so many things here; not all of them I could follow, but this poem feels grand. And it makes me sad I don't have much time to explore this ancient world and its meanings.

  • C. Rommial Butlerabout a month ago

    Well-wrought! Good to see your work pop up again! Hope you've been well!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Mmmm, blood and chocolate, my two favourite things! Loved your poem so much! I was so excited to see your name in my notifications. You were missing for so long. How have you been doing Rob?

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    This covers so many things of that culture, it is truly unique and fabulous, with a lyrical bent to it.

  • Gerard DiLeoabout a month ago

    Simply magnificent. I really enjoyed this.

  • Sonia Heidi Unruhabout a month ago

    An astounding achievement! One of my favorite lines -- "sheathed in song like / maize is sheathed in husks" .... the words of your poem like a sheath for the cultural artifacts you tribute. In places this has a sing-song, almost jazz feel -- if Kerouac were Aztecan. Loved this.

Rob AngeliWritten by Rob Angeli

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