Clown that I am


Outback in compost again,
forking another bag of sweet gum leaves
from last fall into the box
that's been cooking since late spring.
I thrust my arm up to my elbow
until I can feel the heat.
I'm a god-damn clown—
more interested in compost
than flowers.

Clowns in El Salvador, now.
They're the real thing.
They didn't train
at Barnum & Bailey Clown College.
No sirree, Bob.
They trained in L. A.
Their tickets home paid for
by Uncle Sam
from the deportation budget.
These guys dress up,
put on their red noses
and orange hair
and board the bus,
shoot drivers
who won't pay
their extortion fees.

Jim Bodeen
16 June 2010


We've already made Cream of Wheat
and dropped some maple syrup
on top, but we've still time
to look at stamps from the year
you were born. The Lighthouses,
Yoda from Star Wars,
and the Speed Boats.
Grandpa's favorites
are the six civil rights stamps
from the year you were three.
All this before it's time to go
and you discover the folder
with old photos,
and negatives, which come
from the world before you arrived.
Holding the negatives to the light
becomes one more way 
to find ourselves.

Jim Bodeen
14 June 2010


       —for D & N

We had the perfect life,
he said, in the perfect house.

The company I worked for
spent 60 thousand dollars
training me, and then
they let me go. We're going
to Usulután tomorrow.
No, we've never been there.

God's been waiting on us for 40 years.

We're going to spend two years
building relationships. We're going
to find their needs, their skills, their talents.
I said to my wife,
Maybe we should move there.

You say you've been to Usulután?
What's it like?

Jim Bodeen
San Salvador
13 November 2009

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