On the ridge of the Sawtooths
a rumble shook the rocks and Johnny
wondered if it would rain, but I knew
it was more than thunder. It was
the growling of the mountains
and the mountains were hungry. Sure
enough the peaks ripped the sky’s belly
open that night and the mountains feast
on manna and, unlike God, give to the creeks
and streams that trickle down the sides
like capillaries which make up the rivers
and the rivers offer it to the deer
and bears and cougars that drink and feed
off each other and what is left is saved
as snow buried in crevices like bones
for when the sun dries out the skin
that is the trees and flowers and grass
that is fuel for fire. At the end
of the hike, descending from the mountains,
I spill my water over the rocks and ask
Johnny if he has any left and he says
no but his canteen is full, and I keep
my thirst and anger inside as we pass
the houses with decks and boats
and reach the parking lot filled
with RVs and I see a spigot by bathrooms
with distorted mirrors and Johnny runs ahead
of me and pouts his hot water on the dry
grass, fills his canteen with cold mountain
water that bleeds out past the resorts and churches
we call our country, and I ask the mountains
Must we keep everything to ourselves?


Ponderosa leaning
like a crooked tooth
over the cabin, beetles
in its cavities. I
make a stand
and cut my face
notch six feet above
ground. Even here my sadness
eats me from the inside.

The more people
around the quieter
I am, alone I am
a wolf howling
at the moon. It wants
to do with me, each night
it slowly fades away.

Golden eagle takes the wind
for a ride, snake dangling
in its talons, squirming
to be free,
only to dig itself deeper.

Bear paw in the nest
of a pack rat: bones
of the mighty scattered
by rodents.

It calms me to grease
my boots, fingers caressing
every fold and crease, tracing
a map to a place
I have never been.

I ask the river, would you
rather be leather
on my feet, or food
in my belly? It babbles
in an alien language
only known to the fish
I reel in, the taste
of worm hooked
through its lips.

Sun beams on my face
whose hands
are around my throat.


For you
                to see
the mountains
                I fell

a forest,
                bring pines
to their knees,
                drag sap

to be burned,
                pull nests

from embraces
                of nooks,
mothers screeching

chicks crackling
                in my furnace
and none
                is unintentional.

I do this
                for you. I fell
                so you wouldn’t

see how
                violently live


Rattling of teeth cracks the night
into morning, not alarm clocks,
and the embers in the stove
have fallen asleep. Time is trapped
underneath the frost. Where I
come from if you die in the winter
the villagers hack at the dirt
with shovels just to put you back
where you belong. It took three
days to dig my grandmother’s
grave. Here, they place your body
in a microwave, set the timer
to ash, and the worms cannot
resurrect you.

Have you ever laid your ear
against frozen ground? I hear
my grandparents’ laughter urging
summer along. You hear the buzz
of electricity and your bones
never want to get back up. I hope
your soul burns brighter
than your heart.


In the Midwest the famers
turn the land over like worms
and they say the East
is scratched out against
a lottery sky. If you look west
you see fires pluck birds
from clouds, bones buried
in ash, my boots white
from kicking through them.
If I could be born not of this place,
I would be born outside of God. 


Daniel Iacob was born in Romania in 1988, one year before the Communist regime was overthrown. He moved to America at the age of ten. Daniel earned his MFA at University of Idaho and has worked as a trail builder in the southern Rockies, firefighter in the Northwest, and an arborist. He currently resides in a yurt by the Lostine River, in Oregon.