I'll take care of it, he says.
I'll take care of it.
I don't ask for help.
I'll take care of it.
Don't worry about it.
I'll take care of it.

Jim Bodeen
8 August 2010


—for the Habitat community in Yakima

Picked up in the driveway of the house gone down.
Kitchen and bathroom go first. They're signs.
From water-damaged to water that can't be stopped.
Other signs that things aren't quite what they seem:
extension cord leading from house to garage.
Not just who, but how many? We're not talking
poker chips. Picked up and pocketed.
Who played in that card game when risks
remained inside. One card changes all.
One red, one blue. Those two chips
left behind in the move, not in the game.
What about get-away? This house,
gone now, and people gone.
Watergone, for good gone, and fast.
Not dream gone. Back into shadow gone
with those plastic chips, one red, one blue,
rubbing against each other like money.

In poverty housing, every room is a bedroom.
Cost burden breaks down like this:
If you're paying more than 30% of your income, you're stuck.
This house is gutted to bare framing.
No permit's been issued for this work.
This is Yakima. We have 6,000 homes like this.
This is no chicken coop.
Habitat housing partners with working poor.
Partner families put in 500 hours of sweat equity.
No waiting lines. This is not, Go back to Mexico
and wait your turn to cross. There's a pool of applicants.
Habitat looks for a family and a house to work with.

The working poor has family income.
Between $16-31,000. Typical Habitat house
has 1100 square feet, one-and-a-half baths.
20 to 25-year no interest loan. No upside-down loans.
$120,000 average house. Two notes.
One's a "silent second." 87 Habitat homes
in our town. The principle portion
from all payments goes into new houses.
And we have a Habitat store. Last year
it contributed $150,000 to home building.
We have individuals, church sponsors,
corporate sponsors and grants.
Four families each year get a house.
Jimmy Carter builds, but he didn't start us.
Fred and Ann Bauman built the first house in your town.

Signs all around. Working signs.
Cutting signs. Border guards dragging the desert
with electric rakes. Garlic in pant cuffs
to throw off snakes. Plastic Bicycle chips
in the dust. Red chip, blue chip.
Look for the extension cord leading nowhere.
Follow it to one end of a drifting conscience.
Tap your finger against the single ply glass
in the window pane. One chipped corner.
Put your finger in the sharp hole
and serve as the insulation.

Jim Bodeen
7 August 2010
Holden Village
North Cascades

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