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Communications & External Affairs

Jordan Scott

Jordan Scott This poetic trace was used in:
Poem 21: Response
Poem 28: We
Poem 38: "Child soldier"
Poem 39: A tongue listens to a war

from, Bella Coola

Our not our lives too short for that full utterance, Bella Coola
less place
than pronounce


Fog lisps into tonsil; Bella Coola suctions to a Tarpon roll with the O of tide. Coola scaffolds larynx. Brace a megaphone to the outside of your throat. Sound: Grizzly rumble. Amp your mandible. Sound: bruxism. In the mouth, bramble harmonizes with glottal percussion, drenched coola in tadpole gelatin, each alien orb jengas, a honeycomb grill for the syllable ascent. Mouth frond, spore sutsuts. The orchestra is estuary hum, is gut belch, and the roar memory of spring landslides. In tongue slumber, each swollen tangos T’s stomp Broca until blackberry mush. The larynx itself drools redness as spawn.

Bella Coola ugh ughs a history described as pace. As looking out into a distance. The word pull. A river trickery. Where the body walks a pronoun:

He said the river was in rot. That at this time of the year we must go upriver to bathe, traipse past the slaughter and cool. He said that the fires up-north push the Grizzlies down into this valley. So, he said that on our morning walks we must pause in our conversation and hum each syllable so that they taste the fresh syrup cicada buzz that prowls each of our words. This will keep them away. They are freighted of full sentences.

He said that on some days, you can see them rolling down ice fields ablaze, plush and fluorescent meteors bursts in sky. And that this year, one did not distinguish in the alpine snowfields, and ran through town like a burning planet that had lost its orbit. He said that on that day he sat with his wife in his kitchen. The kitchen was warm and smelled of eggs and coffee. The kitchen was in his house at the end of the street. This was the only street in Bella Coola. The weather bent the asphalt into strange contortions. Hunks of pavement stretched ballet until the road clumped a paused recital of flush appendages. He said that on this day, from this kitchen, he sat looking out his screen door and onto the street. He said that on this day, from this kitchen, he saw a fiery orb waltz through the hive of rectangles that stacked his screen door. He said that this particular Grizzly was unaware of the inferno that engulfed his spine and thick belly. That this Grizzly meandered down the buckled street, carefully manoeuvring through the heap of asphalt poses, and dipping his nostrils into cans of regurgitated meals. “It sometimes works like that” he said, “when an animal of that size and power does not recognize its own death. The bones are too strong, the flesh too thick, it’s all bramble and salmon that make up his guts. Whales are the same, imagining pebbles as krill and sky as the sea. When they beach, they flap and mouth the air for food and tide.”

Eventually, before his coffee was gone, he said this Grizzly began to slow his pace and soon squatted down to rest. It was then that fire consumed his will, leaving only a black stain. The dancers had a mark. The street a text. A swath of calligraphy. The tip of pen inked and pulled through flesh like spoons through molasses. He said that these stains could be seen all across town, and that sometimes children sketched with chalk over the singe, tracing their hands or pictures of ships where paws and bellies hung. And that the adults would walk around the ink, some prints so large that they wandered miles from home, only to end up at the edge of the sea, the tide moving in and the valley full smudge.


Bella Coola clings to palatal tired of full utterance. Black bears spread across the porch like slow moving vowels. Moan bella, the coola grips glottal, sloth towards the lips.

We bathe before the journal entry.

The fishermen watch. Neoprene marionettes rip into Chinook like violinists. Jingle jangle hamstrings over the corduroy rivets of August’s carcasses. We puppet awkward atop stones, see our skin rumble soft in the shallow drench of their pupils. Corneal cluster when the belly opens up. Cluster my torso and your breasts. The erode and oval lines they make in flesh, sop-up and torrent delicate innards, spawn red, as eggs goop and rumble a sunset ochre. We pucker against the hiss of these splayed gullets. Thirst waltz under elm and hunt for clean pools to wash your hair while cicada operatics drench bark in syrup lyrics, the pattern lines our throats as glacial crush in tender crust. I want to read to you about ice; how my mouth moves against frazil, about the reservoir that plumes on my tongue, and then of the text crawl from tongue to tongue, the carrion lounge of our slow chew. I want to read to you about ice; about melt, and ink as cool water in the drip drop glossary of bella coola.


We bathe before the journal entry

before unpacking the truck and setting up camp. In the coolness of cabin, each window frames a syntax of bramble heating methodically under this morning’s sun. Dreamt in tundra. On each cuspid, inukshooks as gymnasts, the low whine of their stressed abdominals flex dust as the evening bruxism climaxed. Dreamt my tongue as fat cattle. Their hoof and blubber lisp napping in each one of my sounds. On the drive north, the Chilcotin burst into flames. Cows hustled onto asphalt drenched in char. Their flanks smeared with the melt of burning orchards. Each follicle bloomed a peach and grape hue, a Technicolor smear webbed in crude. You saw them running through the hills, their stain and giant eyes visible through the smoke. My tongue caught up with them in the sprint before melt. These fat bodies were hulls now, hammocked in a mid-Pacific tint, the mai-tai rock of slack tide before the full order of next desire.