If stones could speak

The asteroids would say

In their squeaky voices

“Look out!”

The moon would drawl

John Wayne style as it sauntered along.

Mountains would bellow like bears,

Hills hiccup.

The buttes, crags and mesas would echo

Words of comfort to the canyons

While the pebbles in the valleys below

Would grumble harumph harumph harumph.

And the earth would shriek



But stones cannot speak.

So the asteroids glide by soundlessly

In complicated fields of gravity

While the moon directs the tides

With the audacity of Moses’ silent staff. 

The mountains suck the snows

Into manifold rivulets that water

The shining City upon the hill

Without even the capacity to burp.

What say you buttes, crags and mesas?

Cat got your tongue?

Or is it the beast,

It’s hour come round at last,

Man grub, grit and drub dung.


In that cavern, that deep cave

Whose hand pushes the wild pig?

What Shakespeare or Scheherazade

Gives voice to stone?

Who drew the petroglyph

On the escarpment

At Guilá Naquitz?

If stones could speak

Would they not say

In the beginning was star dust,

And the star dust was made stone

Left alone to glisten?

Hypocrite reader—my twin—my brother





The painting at Leang Tedongnge in Sulawesi, Indonesia made at least 45,500 years ago provides earliest evidence of human settlement.



Petroglyph near cave where oldest cultivated corn was found in Oaxaca, Mexico, photo courtesy of Rene Cabrera, Las Bugambilias Tours

As we approach Yagul, Luis points out a cliff face with a huge pictograph painted in white over a red background, an abstract design; and above it a giant stick figure, a man. It looks remarkably fresh, almost new—who would guess it was a thousand years old? I wonder what the image means: Was it an icon, a religious symbol of some kind? A warning to evil spirits, or invaders, to keep away? A giant road sign, perhaps, to orient travelers on their way to Yagul? Or a pure, for-the-love-of-it pictographic doodle, a prehistoric piece of graffiti?   Oliver Sachs, Oaxaca Journal

Archaeologists have found nearly 100 caves and rock shelters in the Central Valley of Oaxaca near the ancient cities of Yagul and Mitla. They contain evidence of pre-historic human habitation. Many contain paintings and other rock forms of graphic representation. Several of their contents include ceramics and stone tools. The Guilá Naquitz cave has some of the best evidence for the domestication of corn and squash which dates back more than 10,000 years. Human occupation of the caves dates back to 8000 BCE.