Ivan Alechine: Muxa Uxi, a Poem from the Huichol Sierra, with Notes by the Author

Translation from French by Wendy Parramore

Ivan Alechine: Shadow of the Shaman Dionisio in Muxa Uxi.
Ivan Alechine: Shadow of the Shaman Dionisio in Muxa Uxi.

I am the man and the dog Nahuatl

the pine needles fall

without thunder

like fine lightning


blow the cinders

the great raw theatre

of the oak’s bark

re-appear the black and the white


I salute you Germaine

I salute you Gabrielle

I salute you Paula

I salute you Michèle of all mothers mother

from the logosnow to the logosand

on the sand of Muxa Uxi


Muxa Uxi 80 years ago

Muxa Uxi 800 years ago

Muxa Uxi 8000 years ago


I the watchman A gitur

in the O of the white circle

with a hit of E

from Urawe the hunter


I followed the path

I wrote in the snow

I drew in the sand

against and to the flow

with the lines and with the walls of earth

with bucketfuls of whitewash splashed

howling mute slap-dash

from my sponge – suitcase

from my hand to my eye

from Pierre to Christian

from Jean to Charles

and from Asger to Scylla


I saw

I see the path

winding its way

through the oaks and pines

I saw it

I see it begin at the barbershop in Dublin

It’s there


in front of my eyes

as I sit on my chair

leaning my back against the dried mud wall

unmoving I keep on walking

my foot on the high plain

the least movement a word


on the ground of a bark

I read the signs of renewal

I read once more the bark of the platonic incense

on the trunk of the ravine

I read the shadow and the shadow’s movement

the ravine’s coal color movement

a fire a washed fire a lava


the woman dressed like a wood-path fairy

wearing her serpent skin

between the oaks and pine

she leads a grey donkey to which she’s tied Camilla and Xo

her two young children

the woman dressed like a fairy has vanished from the path

leaving me silence and wine

crystal clearly I see the earthen path

under the crystal clear sky

grain after grain

the exposure to light is perfect

an exceptional print


this picture

this path

between the white figures and the midget trees

where all holds

where I said I photographed the falling sky

the infinitely small against the infinite

the water and the shadow of the branches

the branch-gills of the trees upswept by the wind


what I see

the figures of trees and wolves

--- a tree --- a figure ---

--- a second tree --- a second figure ---

--- dust of the ground --- dust of the sun

my heart in secret palpitates

waiting to be reborn

waiting to disappear

a word each December sky

crystal clear December

of my days and my cheeks afire


those I belong to have vanished





washed figures


with full words

of the figures of the shadows

taking on colors

shadows growing roots

now white

now black becoming alive

etched stars

bridges of saliva

on the moving sky of the fixed stars

steel cranes with star like hooks

lying on my back

my feet among the plastic shards

pine needles raining from the inverted sky

crystal snowflakes of a miniature Montmartre plastic dome in hand

the two sides of the sky now one

what I see here I see elsewhere


the path where the woman fairy vanished

pulling behind her the grey donkey carrying her children

blindly I see serpentine

among the figures and the trees

lying low the wolves of Muxa Uxi


piston of sigh

the sun lights the spark to the gas fumes of sleep

the dream in the staircase of the dream

one night pushed me in the back

like the neighing of a horse rolling its back in the dust

tinkles the rock hit by a finger of lightning

imagine ô Shakespeare a summer night from June to June next

silk and satin linen

perfume silver hand-bells

floating under my feet with cushions of velvet

beneath the red and green Hazeltrees

children run after wild strawberries

Urawe branch of my arms


on the theatre’s stage or in a novel

when the novel is yet a prose poem

this lovely disposition of things

the curtain is up at last

the beautiful intention

smoke is dispersed at last

on the refinement at the vortex’s edge

red and green

skin open and shut

we live off interferences

star’s short

bark’s medium

underground’s long


temaïku akurri (“do not despair young man”)


(arrival of Yukaïma

Yukaïma niece of Xaureme

accompanied by Tutunyïeli

grandaughter of Xaureme ---

6th of December --- end of the poem)


Mexico 2011




For the Huichol Indians, the place called Muxa Uxi , a vast chalky clearing, is the place where wolves lay low “disguised as sheep”. It is situated in the state of Jalisco, right at the heart of the Western Sierra Madre, close to the San Andrès ceremonial centre.  Urawé means wolf.


As concerns the Huichol Indians and their culture, they are distant cousins of the vanished Aztecs and closely related to the Pueblo Indians. The referential studies are those led by Carl Lumholtz, 1851 – 1922, Konrad Preuss, 1869 – 1938, as well as those led by Robert Mowry Zingg, 1900 – 1957. Recently, Fernando Benitez, 1912 – 2000, Phil C. Weigand, 1937 – 2011, and Peter Furst, have accomplished an impressive body of work.


Logosnow and Logosand are neologisms created by the poet Christian Dotremont, 1925-1979, founder, in the late 1940s, of CoBrA, the artistic movement.


I the watchman A gitur, an allusion to Igitur, the well known poem by Stéphane Mallarmé.


[FURTHER NOTE BY THE EDITOR. A writer & photographer of singular accomplishment Ivan Alechine has spent much of the last twenty years in close association with the Huichol Indians of the Sierra Madre Occidental in western central Mexico.  More recently he has focused on one particular community of Huichols closed off to all investigation, whether ethnographic or photographic, since that led, in 1934, by American anthropologist Robert M. Zingg.  His first photographic album, Poca Luz, “on the theme of a Mexico having gone astray, a cold and industrial Mexico,” appeared in 2010.  Of an earlier work of his, Les Voleurs de pauvres (The Robbers of the Poor), Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote: “An ethnographic novel in which literature allows one to accede to an authentic reality and to its more complete understanding. The book offers a very forceful depiction of the present condition of many indigenous peoples.”  So too for his work in the present. (J.R.)]