#86 Worship with tears, folded hands

American cans
Club members swallow weak selves
Swilling labeled beers

Jim Bodeen
14 December 2018


always surprises
her eye

to see




to the gate
of no gate

they’re tied
one way

on one side
on the fence

Japanese Gardens!
I failed

and for that reason alone

a scout

he surprising ways

Jim Bodeen
12 December 2018

CRADLE SONG from the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, BC Canada



Karen disappears again.
Something from another place
has called her. When I find her
maybe I will find
what she has found. This happens
when Karen wanders
partially lost—
I am learning to trust it.

Here she is in a cradle
by herself, listening
to singing from a cradle room.

Cradle of Language
the quiet sign says.

This is Karen
in the cradle by herself
listening to mothers sing
to their children, listening
to children sing
to their mothers
wrapped in song-love
                        Karen never heard
her mother sing to her. Karen,
mother and daughter. She had
a mother, but it wasn’t her mother—
that mother was taken from her.
These mothers sharing cradle songs
with Karen, with children,
are her sisters,
and they are the sisters of song.

Cradled as we are—
museum-cradled as it were,
receiving what has been taken away,
when I find Karen
I find the song others have lost
finding the song in Karen,
song in others, and she brings me
to song and to others gathered singing.
They are all here and they aren’t.
The mothers she listens to
mother her, as do the singing children
who are also her mother and sisters.

When I sit with them here
pulling a telephone from my pocket
they are singing to all of us.
We listen over and over
the singing mothers and daughters
singing to all of us.

Jim Bodeen
Royal Canadian Museum
Victoria, B.C.
Yakima, Washington
28 November--11 December 2018

MARGINALIZED / Los Otros Marginados

#79 If not my portion

Priests knew of poets
They just didn't matter--they
had been taken out

Jim Bodeen
9 December 2018

Jubilee at the Japanese Garden

Shishi Odoshi / Rocking Fountain

In Our Long Life Together
It Is A Short Time


In our long life together
it is a short time.
There are benches
in the garden, but there are no benches
by the rocking fountain,
Shishi Odoshi, but if you follow
the path around and above,
you can find a place to sit
and still hear the bamboo
hit the stone after it empties.

Shishi Odoshi at one time
scared away deer and wild boar.
That would give lovers a chance
to sit without fear. Bamboo
fills and empties every 12 seconds.
In my poem I’m trying to explore
time with my beloved. I’ve been
reading the love poem of Rabindranath Tagore
everyday, Gitanjali. Perhaps
you have heard of it. I was given
a very old copy from a man
from Bengal, his childhood book.

In our long life together a short time.
Words catch me by surprise.

What are your thoughts, Karen,
on water fountains? Rabindranath
would call you, Beloved,
using formal words, Thy and Thou.

What is a fountain for? And who?
These lines. What does it say?
Bells, fog. I want to hear, but I’m not
asking you to say a thing. Not really.
I’m sorry you’re here before they light the trees.
You wanted to see the lights
and I want to be here now, alone.
For me this is perfect, just us.
There are no busses here. No people.
We will have two hours to ourselves.

What experiences we bring.
They won’t all surface now from water.
But the pictures of our lives
will keep arriving.
Will this music help us to see,
or help us to remember?
What must happen for marriage to thrive?
Will song offerings be enough? Or needed?

You are the sounds of water song.
Your quietness is a sewn quilt .
Quietness of Karen.
Filling every 12 seconds.
Our long life together not very long at all.

Did marriage scare you, Karen?

Don’t be cowed by the fountain.

The jarring of the bamboo on stone.
Is this my voice entering your world?
How does the lover enter? And the old man?
How can a man enter the room as a song?
If this sound would scare a deer, what about the beloved?

What about all this quiet?
How does one sit in time?
Does it intimidate, cow, or scare the husband?
What does the man want from the woman?

Tell me about the time you were hypnotized.
Do you enjoy these steps, this path?
So many questions remain.
Is sitting an achievement?
Do you have hopes for yourself?

Harmony doesn’t mean sameness.
You created that landscape for me in marriage.
A stone cairn bringing us home.
You are beauty surrounding the beauty
you brought into my life. Here
with nothing to do. Or say,
if I could be quiet. Time is short.
This repeating fountain is a temporary machine.
Your love bests time testing mine.                       
Look around. I’m staying put.
I’ll be right here until the bus leaves.

Jim Bodeen 
7 December 2018

Threads of Thinning Faith


My brother, who has taken to filling his days
running errands, stops with three grandchildren
to play me one gospel song that helps
him sleep. He closes his eyes
singing to his departed wife

while I get three boys honey and crackers.
When the doorbell rang
I put down Meng Hao-jan's
Mountain Poems, 689-740 C.E.,
Meng called them My Mountains,

searching for Ch'an Abbot Clarity-Deep,
this line triggering a letter from old friend:
I heard the unborn inner pattern young
and always practiced seeing through self...
continuing the ruggedness of the way. Amen

to that I say to self. Threads of faith,
my friend writes, Thin threads of faith.
Bicycle tires spinning, I'm trying
to remain upright too,
and on this road. How did Jesus

hang on with John the Baptist
in his head? Do you guys know about John?
I ask my nephews. Wild man
who ate wild honey dipped in grasshoppers!
Sit down. I'll get you crackers and honey

right now. Sit at the table. Do you like honey?
All this in the time it takes
to listen to Amazing Grace: Meng Hao-jan,
Jesus, John, my friend, my brother.
Me, those three boys, the inner pattern.

Jim Bodeen
6 December 2018

Gitanjali Jazz Rifts

Gitanjali Jazz Rifts Part III

#74 There at the fording

Monk in lone canoe
One oar left behind on shore
One oar cross-breeze drift

#75 River has its work

Interviewing stones
No traces of little boats
Chance trail encounters

Jim Bodeen
6 December 2018

#76 Great Sky Solitude

Riding bicycle asking whereabouts
of my departed friend,
Meng Hao-Jan asks about tea

Leaves in thermos
Spring Harvest High Country Green
Telegraph road carries
far off distances

Jim Bodeen
6 December 2018