Every wolf’s and lion’s howl

Raises from hell a human soul

If it ever took a life, it is unaccounted for.

Stone tumbler. Giant’s breath. White death.

A growl ripped in a gurgle. Throat’s cavern

jerking air down dark eroded instruments

of granite. I’d like to tell you that voice exists

before the sound of words, and somewhere underground

in embryonic dark learns to attach itself to the drive

of creeks. Elsewhere, it’s said, men fear the lion

for its roar. Paralyzing, it possesses something

in the human ear, interlocking gadgetry of bones

fusing in a finished puzzle. Gorgon’s petrifaction.


Above the cataract, through willow branches,

faces of deer rise to the surface of vision

like half-waterlogged heads. A stag among them,

antlers craned like a basket tipping silence.

Hymnal static of it. In this slick abbey

hugged by cottonwoods they are monks

who have forsaken language, their terrible

lessons on the precedents of speech:


amnesiac as infants, Latin for unable to speak,

seasonal engine of water in its endless Babel.

Jordan Mounteer’s poems have appeared in numerous Canadian and American publications, and his work has won or been shortlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize, the Montreal International Poetry Prize, PRISM international’s Poetry Contest, and The Malahat Review’s Open Season Award. He splits his time between travelling and his home in the Slocan Valley, where he works as a freelance writer and editor.