She asks about the tie die t-shirt
hanging on the porch.
"Was that for me?"

"Do you like it?"
"I like this tie die scarf on you."

Jim Bodeen
23 August 2010


At 3 am I light charcoal with woodchips.
Music, wood smoke and slowing traffic.
That's my work now, and I'm on record for that.
Mom's still here. My brother says, "Jim,
she doesn't know who I am. I asked her,
Do you know who I am? She couldn't tell me."

"I always let her know," I say. "Maybe wrong
giving the answer, but I'm talking when I come
around the corner. Good morning, Mom,
I say, It's Jim, are you ready for Church?
Other heads come up, too, all nodding,
and for 30 seconds I'm everybody's son,

and Mom's ready to go in minutes."
Texas roadhouse barbecue. 12-pound brisket.
Big smoke, low heat. Ten hours.
Break 180 degrees to make tender all that's tough.
Brisket is nothing but controversy on a grill.
My rub is simple. Garlic, salt, cayenne,

no mustard. Standard herbs. Texas mop sauce
for moisture and sandwiches. Root beer instead of beer.
Carmelized onions and Ray Charles. Burnt ends for ones
you most want to share all that's secret. Bite-sized favorites
of kitchen staff. This is the first Bodeen family reunion.
No expectations from me. Staying close to this brisket

and the Weber Grill. Monitoring heat.
Why now, this year, a question most everyone has.
Gathered in circles counting losses, that's part
of what comes with what remains, isn't it?
More beginnings than any two eyes can see.
We'll run out of brisket. All should get a taste.

Jim Bodeen
20 August 2010


To bed early with Eliseo's book, Marcos.
Mexican dichos. Sayings. La familia sagrada.
Trying to control what's sacred may be the worst error
a man can make. Not knowing a thing,
trying to accommodate the suffering in my head,
defending against it. Footholds.

I grew up in a small town in North Dakota.
A couple of safe houses—Grandma Myra's, Aunts Lil & Alice—
some friends, and railroad tracks on both ends of town.
I ranged on foot and bicycle, walking tracks was best,
and birds on wires—robins and Meadowlarks whistling.
Baseball cards and the Saturday Evening Post. An image

of family, and the family I had. That Victorian
house owned by Farmer's Union. Town boy in a farm town.
I've said all this before. Groves of trees by tracks
outside of town and rock piles believed to be Indian graves.
Both house and church, gone now—the Lutheran Church
by fire, a fence between us. The calling came from here.

The minister's voice saying one would know.
God's call unmistakable. Not for everyone.
In my yard, my mother called, and my father cried in pain.
A bowl of water in the kitchen where my father's feet soaked.
And out back, a barn, and Indian tobacco.
Mandan and Sioux. I knew the difference,

I knew my place between nations.
What fooled me was the pastor's voice calling one way.
I listened for that not knowing one had to follow the other.
That's been my life, listening for that call.
Crying out, too. From silence, and back to it.
The burning began, and kept burning.

Jim Bodeen
20 August 2010


—for Barry and the tin can trust fund

Ears on the street—
the band sings what the young know:
The money's gone
and all jobs feed the machine.
The dance in city's summer
a Cumbia rhythm mirror
shimmering off sidewalks.

Jim Bodeen
19 August 2010

1 comment:

  1. beef brisket owns all the ingredients for a family meal, a full feeling with the tumble of spices so many bring to one table. this is a centerpiece on the table and helps me feel home. kjm