Stories / Art

Rain Dragon

By Jon Raymond; Bloomsbury (2012) $16

Review by Casey Bush

Rain dragon book coverAmy wants to get back to the land while Damon is willing to follow Amy to the ends of the Earth.  So they pack the car, abandon Los Angeles, move to Oregon and find employment on a yogurt farm. Amy becomes a bee keeper while Damon gets involved in marketing both falling under the spell of Rain Dragon owner, Peter Hawk, part Ken Kesey, part Zig Zigler, who aids the couple in their personal  and professional transformations.

Jon Raymond’s second novel is told from Damon’s detached point of view as though his world is passing by the lens of a camera. The story is divided into four unequal seasons and portrays a common modern quest, abandoning the city for the country. Rain Dragon depicts the dilemma of individuals trying to maintain their sense of identity while becoming a cog in the wheels of business and slowly morphs into a morality tale as agricultural products march to an inevitable market. The story turns upon Hawk’s interest in selling his management methods rather than yogurt. Raymond’s naturalist prose takes on an ironic sensibility as the Rain Dragon staff try their hand at increasing the productivity of a paper mill. Read more »

The Flood Again

Fall 2014 - Winter 2015; Bard Deluxe Award Winner

by Laura Christina Dunn

A person’s sudden intake of air is
like the sound of cars passing through water
along a gray roadway.

I have shorn my hair off with water.
As the sun sets a thousand miles away,
strands cling tight to the scalp.
I dab my body dry from the shower.

White walls glare light
upon the pocked mirror. The radio confesses
what is lost somewhere

west, home where four people died, and the water
gripped the town around the neck.
The flood again.

Why do they speak of home as if it is not
here? This river is shut up in ice.
Out front, the traffic continues.

But the radio admits that along the Pacific
the valleys are deepening into lakes.
The river will reach the Cascades at daybreak

fattening itself on the tar of the highways,
the angle of rooftops— there is no need for the cars anymore
the traffic has reached its end.

And I remember the spring of 1990—
I was a child watching the city become
an island. Out behind the golf course

where the highway leads away from
town, trees were waste deep in the river.
Crawl to the deepest edge of a city—

the river waits to make its name your home.
To know the restlessness now of an islander,
the eyes wondering where the highway leads

only after all exits are blocked. In lost basements
and drowned tree roots, I found
the urge to pass through water—

Or the time spent waiting tables in Portland’s winter,
the continuous twilight. I stood to take an order
as the water rushed in through the emergency exits.

The street flowed with water instead
of cars. The street I named the river Hoyt
as the chef dug in the gutter for trash and fall’s last leaves.

And I held a broom to sway the water,
to convince it that it does not belong
in the lamplight. Inside the restaurant,

the people continued to eat.
The hiss of water passed
beneath their tables.

On the hills here now, the yellow grass
pokes through the snow as it melts. A scarred hill face
remembers itself before the weather.

A thousand miles from the flood,
it’s two in the morning.
Lock the door.

On the tile of the bathroom
I listen to the cars pass,
too quiet to be this night.

The Quiet Held the Crocuses (Winner: 2012-13 Doug Fir Fiction Award)

Portland, Oregon; Winter 2013-14

by David M. Armstrong  |  illustrations by Jeff Versoi

Illustration by Jeff Versoi

She emerged from the car and rounded the old house to look across the yard, the ground rampant with weeds. Beyond it a swath of brilliant green cut a kind of fairy path through the woods, and near the trailhead lay an ancient plow and a skeletal tractor, their paint faded to a sun-sapped rose that still clung to the iron of the wheel wells. Patrick made a sound from inside the house as if trying to draw her attention. He’d been moody most of the afternoon, flipping unwanted french fries out of the car as they drove, until he’d eaten so little he begged her to stop again, then got picky with a chicken sandwich and fell asleep. In Patrick’s defense, the trip had been unexpected. She hadn’t intended to take him from Dale’s driveway. That much had just happened. But in her own defense, her actions were planless as osmosis, a current of biological imperatives sliding beneath her and buoying her weight: a mother needs her son.

She turned back to the house. Most of the windows had been broken.

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Praying for Rain: THE BEAR DELUXE MAGAZINE 35 WINTER 2103 – 2014 24 The future of water is doused with uncertainty

Southwest United States, Winter 2013-14

by Joel Preston Smith

The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars……
—from Psalm 29, King James Version

Water graphics by Chris BellIn the Chapel of the Living Waters this sun-blistered summer in the little village of Magdalena, New Mexico, the anxious parishioners set a five-gallon jug of bottled water up by the altar, prostrated themselves and prayed each to his own image of the creator, Please, Lord, send us a little rain.

Matt Middleton, a Web designer and videographer who helped organize the ceremony, said: “I’m sure there were a few skeptics, and a few rubberneckers, but it was nice. It was like we were saying, ‘Your will be done,’ and at the same time, ‘We could really use a little help.’”

An Episcopalian priest dipped a cedar branch in the ceremonial jug and, with the cool, clear water, baptized the bowed heads of 70 or so believers of different faiths present for the nondenominational service.

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NYC to PDX: An Interview with David Bragdon

New York City and Portland, Oregon; Winter 2013-14

by Tom Webb


Most Portlanders remember David Bragdon as the president of Metro, Portland’s regional government, from 2003 to 2010. New Yorkers, on the other hand, recall their native son as Mayor Bloomberg’s choice in 2010 to serve as director of long-term planning and sustainability for New York City. Indeed, Bragdon has had his feet planted firmly in both the Big Apple and the Rose City. He once drove a cab in Portland, before working in shipping for Nike and as marketing manager for the Port of Portland. Today, he bike shares his way across Manhattan and is the new executive director for Transit Center Inc., a nonprofit promoting the use of public transit. Prior to Transit Center Inc., Bragdon was involved in the revitalization of Jamaica Bay, a 10,000-acre parkland running from Queens to Brooklyn.

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