While the West Kootenay’s black bears spent the fall harvesting salmon, insects and your neighbour’s garbage, the writers and editors for the Black Bear Review have been hard at work gathering literary and artistic sustenance to get you through the winter. This issue will lead you through cardboard doors to a forest of burning paper dolls, it’ll dump you in the river, gasping for breath, and it’ll serenade you with the golden sounds of a dead man’s trumpet. Winter Paws: Vol. 2, Issue 1, is a veritable feast of varied delicacies that we hope you will savour from your respective dens.
I lost control of my words They were in their order when I left the house but I left the cage unlocked and they got out They shredded the sofa cushions and made for themselves a nest on the floor They seemed so happy there that I nearly forgot to replace them on the page
Under a darkening sky troubles lift as matter lights. I stand stripped, overwhelmed with insignificance Which strangely holds a dangerous power: careless frivolity tending toward self-destruction. But if nothing matters, then surely, in a substantive universe, everything must. And curiously, under that same sky, nihilistic thoughts reverse. And, what responsibility if each action matters; the infinitesimal yielding the biggest bang. So, it is to this infinity, I’ll play my shining best, watchful of each step amid the all and the nothing.
trees painting skies walking under the dimming light looking for relief that we can’t find as our faces darken beneath the pines splintered footsteps lost in the dark a trail of wonders that leaves no mark as feet grow weary and the trees grow sparse the trail trails off like a lonely spark paper dolls glide in the forest as forest fires seek to destroy us set by the very ones we love unaware as they burn us up paper dolls alight from within outside we appear un- singed chasing the whispers that fan the flames searching for the love that won’t be claimed skies outlining the clouds a beautiful chaos to backdrop the sound of forest fires being put out the clouds feed on smoky doubts lost hearts calling in the dark on trails that still leave no mark as convincing fires drive them apart paper-thin echoes give away where we are paper dolls glide through the forest as forest fires seek to destroy us set by the very ones we love unaware as …
I’ve felt the sparrow panic in my chest against my sternum – a random flutter, beating its wings. Sometimes, flitting beside my throat quavering, making me feel faint. The doctor says my heart’s missing, forgetting beats, tripping, then catching up but, I know it’s really a sparrow stuck there, trapped terrified, like the one you freed between two panes reaching in with cupped hands, at the cabin, before the day you slipped and the spring freshet took you.
She first sees the bird as shadow against shimmer, black against shifting colour, stretching its wings. It makes her think of Liszt in his topcoat and tails, arms raised before the cymbal crash.
It watches her, and in the pinprick light of its avian eye she recognizes transition. She saw the same in Frédéric’s when they said goodbye—“and take that disgusting cigar with you, Aurore,” he had said, to hide emotion—as the skeletal hand that had entranced the world reached feebly for the water glass, or possibly the grave. The cold Paris night was kissed with colour as she stepped outside, a new story dancing at the edges of her mind.
In the mid-1980s, after my second year of law school, I was working as a Summer Associate in a law firm, hoping to be offered permanent employment after graduation. As a perk, they took us by luxury bus from San Francisco to the American River for an afternoon of inner tubing, bonding and beer. Instructions were limited: “When you get to the rapids, make sure you go down feet first.” No life vests were provided.