WITH NO PROTECTION FOR EYES





















CLOUDLESS

Last day of winter, spring sun
on mountain. Count the days
before snowmelt reveals
what’s been going on

below. Alone at High Camp,
remembering poets who
travelled without leaving
themselves, Tao

appears, a weathered branch—
standing in for the cairn.
Things might have been smoother
had the man ironed some wax on skis.

Jim Bodeen
20 March 2019

MOUNTAIN TEMPLE JUBILEE





MOUNTAIN TEMPLE JUBILEE

            for my teacher D. K.

Just after 5 am, old teachers in my head. I pour first fresh cup, after half-cup of left over coffee from yesterday, which I like very much, room temperature settled brew, having learned to drink coffee this way from a styro-foam cup in El Salvador while staying at Obispo Gómez' in that room off to the side of his house.

Flush with books
fresh ones, more
than I can handle
I've got to get myself
under control

I open the new Cold Mountain, complete Hanshan translation by  Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt. I have carried Red Pine's Cold Mountain since it was first published as The Collected Poems of Cold Mountain by Copper Canyon Press in 1983. Studying Chinese Literature at the University of Washington on a NEH grant during the same period where I was helped by companions with ideograms and cultural understanding in opening Red Pine's Cold Mountain along with his notes for each poem. Friendship with friend and poet--B--over 40 years brings his depth and understanding of Cold Mountain as close as any experience with literature I have had. B is one of my teachers. I name him here, for the company.

Yesterday I visited the one who saw me back from the war in Southeast Asia. Who saw me as a new husband. Who welcomed me January, 1969, from the year that we'd just been through, 1968. 

*

..crowded it's in a square inch

That is poetry in Red Pine's Cold Mountain #162 beginning, Preciously heavenly something / standing off by itself..., giving me the three words that opens the way, poetry, poem, poet.

whoever doesn't trust it
meets without accord

Red Pine's note for his translation reads, The Chinese call their heart of heart the square inch.

*

I open Tanahashi and Levitt's Cold Mountain, Hanshan and Cold Mountain named in their title. Their square inch won't replace Red Pine's for me, fine as it is, begins, Honor your own nature--/ alone, it has no companion. [Red Pine's #162 is #274 in their text.] How will I distinguish Hanshan's translators now? Maybe it doesn't matter. T&L: During the years when your hair is black, in motion or stillness, give yourself completely.

The impulse is to write letters, practice reclaimed. I became side-lined for a few years by email, remember when you had to type in the long address twice to accomplish it, to even begin? Email, a great thing for hustlers, getting things off your chest with misspellings. I've gone back to letters. Fewer and fewer friends left, my old teacher, still here. Fewer friends to write to these days. They write letters. I get mail.

*
Sitting in my teacher's study yesterday, 50 years to the day when we read Wise Blood, Invisible Man, finishing that first course of study, he read Wordsworth to me. He was my Romantics teacher. He taught me Blake, Wordsworth, Keats, Coleridge, Hazlitt, Clair. Yesterday he read Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, in its entirety, pausing at times for a digression, pausing to make a point, sometimes just pausing, as if to better seat the words. A reading with our heads close to gather, two elderly men in a room seated on two chairs, that included the voice that would occasionally whisper. He read and we talked for three hours.


*

I'm on my way up the mountain. It's snowing at White Pass, still early. Nearly a foot of new snow in the last 24 hours. I've stopped twice already to make notes from yesterday. Pulling off the road to be sure that certain things won't be lost or left behind.

*

Back on the Highway,
Beloved 12 West
anytime you're on 12
you're going places

he knew he'd been
on a mountain yesterday
where to take that time
but to High Camp
his mountain
in the small lodge
carved from the Goat Rocks.

Music in his little car.
Maybe the spirits would use him today.
Maybe.
He had a late start,
making tacos, flan,
eggs from free range hens
with healthy diets
who eat fresh produce
culled from grocery stores.

He would take the custard
to his daughter's family tonight.
Tremors have returned.
She has M.S.
Steroid infusions over weekend
takes out her energy
before giving it back.
Her body in a sweat marathon.
Teacher home sick from school.

His little car on Highway 12.
It's own zendo.
Preparation for High Camp,
pure meditaion on snow.
He carries images from unpublished
Wordsworth--
joy of pure principle of love--
found in the appendix of a biography.

His wife understood.
Nature restores.
So does snow and he would go into it.
The surprise of High Camp
at 6000 feet, back country.
He would have to ski to get there.
He knew these trees from backpacking.

When this was part of the Goat Rocks Wilderness,
he had hiked here with friends
climbing up through McCall Basin,
or the back road out of Packwood.
Hogback Mountain, Shoe Lake.
He had brought his wife here,
his children when they were kids,
walking the ridge between two watersheds
with each step. He had been here alone.
Climbing Old Snowy,
highest point on Crest Trail
in Washington State. East side
now part of a ski resort.
He had learned to find backcountry
in here mostly in bounds.
How they created High Camp
without fucking it up
he still didn't know.
He called it his office.
Varnished knotty pine table
by the window, 2d floor,
alone in the loft
looking at Mount Rainier.

He came here with his notebook.
He came to see what he carried.
He wanted to find out what it was.
He would have to ski to get here.

*

Yesterday, seated beside his teacher, listening to the familiar voice, his teacher, too had surprises. The subversive profession. The map of Albuquerque spread out on the dining room table when he arrived. His childhood before them on the map, his fingers following the roads where he grew up. Then, his notes written in red ink, classic penmanship, flashing ideas on poems written 60 years ago. Memories over 75 years. The Cascade of it all. A favorite ski run on his mountain, Cascade, familiar to his grandchildren who he skied with, had been renamed Tyler's Run in memory of his sister's son. He had done this with the Ski Patrol. It was not located on any map. The child is the father of the man. He had those notes from yesterday, and his teacher had not shied from pictures he took with his IPhone. He would open these notes with time. His teacher had told a story of a paper he wrote on Blake's Everlasting Gospel for the poet Tomlinson. Do you still have that paper? he had asked. It's out there somewhere, his teacher said. Dig it out, and when you find it I'll come up again and we'll read it.

*



All winter he had been reading the Chinese poets at High Camp. Mostly through the translations of David Hinton, whose first anthology, Mountain Home, is the one that had changed his life. He also brought Gary Snyder, Burton Watson, Stephen Mitchell, but it was mostly David Hinton these days. And here he was at High Camp with Wordsworth. Surprised by joy, Wordsworth wrote. C.S. Lewis picking it up for the title in his autobiography. A story here that broke  his heart. A story that broke him open. Great gift of the open heart.

*

DAY 24 ON THE MOUNTAIN

He didn't come today to ski
He came for the snow and the cold.
Trees too. He knew these trees.
He called them his.
He came for High Camp

but he had to ski to get here.
He had brought his powder skis
ones his son had found for him.
And he found fresh snow in trees.
Nobody here. Midweek.
He rose and floated
lifted by technology.

Next week he would change mountains
He would be with his son in the Sierras.
The big resort people flew in for.
His son would have tickets
and not much money.
It was ok. They would ski.
He would stand at 11,000 feet.
His son.
The son would take him.

Three years ago, now in his 70s, new again, on new skis, these skis would take off from a mogel landing him 30 feet on the other side of a running creek. He couldn't ski like this at 40, as a young man. He sits at table with notebook and orange. He opens his Modern Library edition of Wordsworth to The Excursion and loosens buckles on his boots. His handwriting is not his teacher's handwriting. His notes, not his teacher's notes. The Wordsworth biography includes a single entry for the Appendix, thought to be a possible conclusion to a draft of The Excursion.

Kindred love in fellow creatures
that was what he was looking for
what if he found it?
.................
He'll find the good he seeks
.........
A chain of good will links us to our kind.

These among the lines that spoke to him that morning, before crossing back 50 years in time to meet with his teacher. He had packed them and forgotten to take them. He looks at lines he'd written in his notebook, wakened by what he finds in the poem--Nature, surface dappled with shadows that lay in spots...face turned toward the sun then setting...mind turned inward...sweet sounds feeding the soul...pure discourse...many are the Poets that are sown By Nature...faculty divine..favoured Beings...

And this:

But in the mountains did he feel his faith.

*

Back on skis
sun peaks out of clouds,
then hides. Snow flurries
and changing light all afternoon.
Wordsworth as Lao Tzu.
The ocean the firmament of heavens
should not be a barren picture on the mind.
Only the skis under his boots touch snow
tip and tail built like wings and stabilizers.
Tuck the legs after taking off.

Ducking under ropes
he skis over sastrugi
he photographed last week,
Wind-scoured snow sculpture
softened by sun,
                        retraces tracks
through powder broken by others
bumping along until
he reaches pristine again
where he's slowed
by all that remains chaste.

Stand, and stay, he tells himself.
This is the remainder you came for.



Here he is no longer what he was. From here he abandons sorrow's consciousness. Incarnate and Complicit, invisible and sleeping. Powder dried and weathered, helped by speed. He covers snow-ground at speeds whipping his cheeks, jacket collar flapping. Horizontal Doug Fir branches that can rip his clothes, snow-hidden bottom ones leaving above-ground threats that will catch him at knees and throw him into basins of snow where he has no business being near. He will hear his heart beat fast, sustaining a pace he swore he would not get close to. Here he is--


Closing the mountain at dusk
snow falling
as the vesper's prayer

So quiet in here

Snow falling in trees
Skis shushing over snow
All this music

still    still

Lost late light

Snow change

Sweeping the mountain
Sweeping the mountain within


Jim Bodeen
11-15 March 2019
High Camp




Children Feeding Birds on Skis

"What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child, and the feeble mentality of the average adult." Freud


MOUNTAIN PRACTICE WITH DHEEZUS AND SAMMIE

Sunshine and dry powder
disconnects us early. After
missing each other, I head
for High Camp, knowing
you will find me. I pull
my notebook from
backpack and wait.
Bashō stops at Yamadera,
charged spot—he backtracked
seven miles at Obanazawa,
sits on rocks surrounded
by old pines and Oaks.
Over coffee on pine table
I remember the breakfast
you two fixed this morning,
gourmet toast, raspberry jam,
yogurt and juice. Waiting
for you, a lift operator enters,  
tells me you checked in
they know where to go,
what to do. I hang my pack
on a hook by the map
and get back on skis.
You’ve already called
ski patrol, put out
the call to find Grandpa.
You find my pack
on the hook, borrow a phone
and make your call to me.
When I return
the two of you have lunch
almost ready. Sammie’s
under the microwave
re-setting the fuse
heating pizza. Tiny
cups of honey at table
for each of us. After
lunch we head out
for snow
that’s deep and dry,
snow that lifts and carries.

Jim Bodeen
13 March 2019




BASHŌ and JESUS



















WHAT WOULD BASHŌ SAY

or Jesus.
I was 22, studying

literature, pre-conscious,
wearing a United States

Army uniform, buck sergeant
at the 85th Evacuation Hospital,

Qui Nhon, Vietnam,
21 January 1968, when

I flew to Mt. Zao
to ski on R&R

took the train North
to Yamagata prefecture

where Bashō wrote
cicadas penetrating stones

worshipping at Yamadera,
me an hour away,

man-child born
9 August 1945

skiing. soaked
in hot springs--

before returning
to Tan San Nhut

30 January 1968,
country in flames,

that close,
I am that close.

Jim Bodeen
11 March 2019



Counting Snowflakes




















TEN AND TWENTY

            for R.S.

All numbers mystical
until they reach the beyond
and make no sense.
A book on
poetry of numbers
years ago when I was somebody
else, before I
was me serious,
beautiful book
placing the poet
one with the poets
and I ruled it out
because I thought
at the time
while it was true
I wasn’t balanced
it didn’t get to the 10 or 20
in my wallet
I still thought money was money

Jim Bodeen
March 2019

The Given Word


Storypath/Cuentocamino

Every day I write the word
in my notebook, not knowing

how it brought me
to the butterscotch chair

Jim Bodeen
8 March 2019


MOUNTAIN PRACTICE


















HIGH CAMP AFTER LIGHT COLLECTING

            How will you use up 30,000 days?
                        Dharma pod cast

Walking up to the woman
Cashier,  I say, paying for coffee,
Maybe someone down the road a ways
will play Purple Haze? Maybe,
she says, savvy. Enchiladas
and Hanshan at High Camp,
Bosque Pear, instant coffee in mug
from Calgary, Alberta, Canada

calling mosquitoes Alberta's
official bird. The mountain
of tombs is the island of immortals
Hanshan says, sitting with me.
We smile and Hanshan
in the imagined ink portrait,
bows as I depart. I ski
under the rope where I peek

into McCall Basin and Goat Rocks.
I come upon two men on skis
and we surprise each other
breaking silence as skis squeak
on dry powder snow. Welcome,
they say. Hogback and snow-
chaste meadow below.
A solitary's zendo, McCall

Basin. We exchange wonders,
mountain stories. He wants to hike
the Crest Trail through Washington.
I'm 48, he says, still able. It's my son's
birthday, I say, he's 48 today.
I put him on skis when he was three.
My oldest skiing partner. A mountain
practitioner in geological time.

Jim Bodeen
High Camp Lodge/Goat Rocks Wilderness
27 February 2019--6 March 2019