voices from the cascadia bioregion

requiem for a steller’s jay

by sean arthur joyce

— If I can’t fly, just let me die.

It didn’t matter how often I begged him,
Please. Let me take you
To the animal shelter.
They can fix a wing like that.

Every time, he stomped away,
kicking aside leaves, keeping his distance.
Don’t try to save me.
If I can’t fly, just let me die.

I found him next morning,
already stiff. Marvelled that such
blue could exist, apart from the sky.
Daubing of black on wings and head
a reminder of cousin Crow.
I buried him with full honours,
spirit bent low as I would
for any life. A solitary life
with the right to say, Enough.
If I can’t fly, just let me die.

Two years later. I’m spading the garden,
when obscured among the tall weeds I see
the cross I made you, held together
with elastic bands that once held broccoli.

I pause, consider the sacredness
of this spot, remove my hat.
I can only hope your limping,
shattered spirit is riding
a mischievous mistral
that soars on summery
to no end.

Prepared to safely rebury you,
lay back down the cracked lattice
of your wingbones, I’m shocked
to find no trace—not even the silenced
arc of your beak. Only a soil-fisted knot
of roots, a few stones biting my shovel.
And words, careening through the vast
blindness of time—

If I can’t fly, just let me die.


    coyotes on the edge of town

    by sean arthur joyce


    — New Denver, BC, March, 2014

    Crisp March night
    under half-moon sky.
    Coyotes on the edge of town
    throating the song of the forest—
    fluted, wild as an icy crag,
    flawless ease
    of ancient lore,
    all the dogs silent.

    What shivers
    is the sub-zero night.
    Moon-carved shoulder
    of Goat Mountain
    an eerie resonator.
    Cobalt blue of winter sky
    brilliant—stark against fir
    steeped in black.
    One thing is sure
    amongst so much doubt—
    a voice
    calling out mastery
    from the dark


      statement of place: spring 2015 season

      This issue of Cascadia Review showcases poets reading at this year’s Cascadia Poetry Festival, which will be held April 30 through May 3 in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

      Cascadia is defined as the watersheds of the rivers that flow into the Pacific Ocean through North America’s temperate rainforest zone. The bioregion extends along the coastline from northern California to southern Alaska and inland as far as the Continental Divide. Cascadia includes all or part of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia, and Alaska, along with fragments of Nevada, Wyoming, and Yukon.

      The Cascadia Poetry Festival is an international event that seeks to bioregionally animate and culturally construct Cascadia by gathering writers, artists, scientists, and activists to collaborate, discover, and foster deeper connection between all inhabitants and the place itself. The festival features academic, democratic, and performance components, late-night readings, a small-press fair, and several workshops. Founded by SPLAB, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization, the festival was first held in 2012.

      Cascadia Review recognizes the need for ongoing curation of creative work produced by poets and artists within the Cascadia bioregion. In this role, the publication hopes to demonstrate—through that poetry and art—the bioregion’s evolving consciousness, its varied identities and sub-identities, and its singular overriding essence. We are pleased to present this partnership in the special Spring 2015 Season.