Daniel H. Dugas

Selected by Guest Poetry Editor Seth Michelson

Followed by Bio and Q&A

The Mountain (Dance of Shadows)


At first, the sight of the mountain is enigmatic, like the monolith in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It surprises us in its immensity, its completeness. Slowly, the landform becomes a marker on the horizon, a signal in the plain, helping us find our way. The mountain helps us situate ourselves in relation to the universe; we understand the mountain and ourselves spatially. Little by little, we get closer to it and one day we are walking in its foothills. Everything beautiful. Life shoots out from all directions passing through us like a warm wind. We are carried toward the slopes and the cliffs, quickly climbing to the top. After seeing what the world looks like from that perspective we understand where we are, what we are. And then, it’s time to rearrange the world, to move the mountain. We get our shovels. We scoop the whole thing further down the road, so to speak, transforming each shadow along the way. Our territory and our condition are reshaped at once. In the dust storm of visions, the mountain becomes wild again. We learn to tame it one more time, we learn its place and ours in the shifting universe. The renewed immensity of the rock makes the climb daunting. For the first time, it seems an impossible task to accomplish. Even the sight of the mountain is too difficult to bear. We are exhausted, dwarfed, lying down in the grass, looking up, breathless. We remove ourselves from its edge, one foot at a time. A stroll in the foothills suffices until even that becomes too consuming. To look at it from a house, from inside a room is all we can do. We have no more energy to give the mountain and the mountain is reluctant to invite us, probably detecting our weakness. We realize that the center of the world has transformed itself into the threshold of all worlds. The mountain disappears before our eyes. There is no trace of nervousness or willingness.

Daniel H. Dugas (b. Montreal, Quebec) is a poet, videographer and musician who has participated in solo and group exhibitions as well as festivals and literary events internationally. His ninth book of poetry: L’esprit du temps / The Spirit of the Time was published in December 2015 through Éditions Prise de parole, Ontario, Canada.


“The Mountain (dance of shadows)” was not written for any particular mountain, but a walk around Uluṟu in Australia was the key inspiration.


With what fictional character would you most love to spend the day?

Bouvard et Pécuchet by Flaubert – the two characters. There would be no dull moments.

What is your favorite day of the week?

Wednesday. It can be swayed either way, to the beginning or the end of the week. It is a day of ambiguity and possibilities.

Which movie have you seen over and over again? What keeps you coming back?

Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky. What keeps me coming back? The zone.