Jesús rompe con ese temor imperial y pisotea el mar...
—Eliseo Pérez Álvaretz

Equal parts day and night. Dimming of the day.
The boat that carries us takes away the shore.

Jim Bodeen
9 September 2010


Birds, mountains, crossing water.
Tangerine dreaming. Burning brightly
over time. Dream and chemistry's fusion
with ambition. Some chemistry here,
in this house, and some ambition
for putting the child in the poem
with the woman. Only one woman
bearing the ambition. She carried
her love into the artist's cave,
working with glass beads, threads
adding colors to the rainbow.
Her husband sits in the desert room
full of ambient sounds, hand-held
percussion instruments made 
by first nation peoples, and his dog.
Something missing in this room,
and that is what they go after
every morning before sunrise.

Jim Bodeen
8 September 2010


—for Robert Sanders

And then one day he appeared
in his new life, with a woman on his arm,
laughing. He had been gone so long
and there was still some catching up
to be done,
but other than that,
he wasn't afraid. Who was he?
He was the one who was the father
who was not the father who was the father.
This is not a Korean koan.
It is not a riddle from the far east.
He had that much love?
He was not afraid of that much love.
The simple truth is that it's just true.
It's true as it is with nothing added.
Like Christ, he was empty and open to being filled.
He knew the songs of the children.
The Jesus songs. Yes, the Jesus songs.
He came into their lives just like that.
Just like that, the same way they came into his.
And the woman? The laughing woman?
They're following each other.
Following each other. Another koan?
Laughing and crying are part of the same thing.
Yes, laughing.

Jim Bodeen
7 September 2010


Rain on the highway,
and in my heart? Say, Grandpa
and I see Grandpa
and grab his imaginary thumb.
He couldn't do anything about it either.
What a thumb he had.

And he's there every time?
Say the word.
This is the dream of the blue hole.
Hum on Highway 2 going east.
Funny thing, he wasn't really
my Grandpa, it's complicated—

his own son, cousin by tribe,
nothing more—has it, well—
This is the death of the virgin spirit!
He's the only one and he's always there?
Say the word.
Not your father? Not my father, not my mother.

Nope. Now you're him. Nope.
I have his steps, his imaginary thumb.
More than his own son. Too much.
Nope is some kind of word.
Some kind of word, nope.
Got that right. Got that

Can't do nothing about it
to it. Yup. Sure does. Nope.
What your Grandpa knew.
What he practiced. Big difference.
He had that thumb.
He did. He had that thumb.

Jim Bodeen
7 September 2010


He had his turn, and he had a good run.
He doesn't have to drive anymore.
He knows about that word drive
and he's more than willing to park it,
that word. Let him walk it into the dream
when he gets home. It's still hard
to believe in the light of silence.
Let him stand in wonder
at the child climbing rocks
placed just off the path
as a memorial to music.

Jim Bodeen
6 September 2010


"Save some time to dream."
—John Cougar Mellencamp

John, I was born in a small town, too.
I'm in another one now.
Last night at the ball field, feeling like I belonged.
Saving time. Looking good.
Singing our way through sorrow and laughter.
Running with scarecrows—
It's not only our friends who won't understand.
And to them you must be kind.
Your line is a blessing I carry.
Old songs have new things to say.
Like their singers. Your band brings it all
to Troubled Land. Sometimes refusing the preacher
is what brings Jesus. And humor.
My wife was 13 years old when I wrote this song.
So it is with compromising positions. I sing with you:
Put me in a pine box, six feet underground,
and my wife whispers in my ear,
I'm going to put you in a glass jar.

After your concert, before Dylan's,
a young man comes up to me
from the old neighborhood—I'm still there.
"We were playing whiffle ball in the street.
Your son and I. You watched us while you listened
to Blood on the Scarecrow. A glass of wine
in your hand and a cigar in your mouth.
You said, Listen to the song. It's important.
I thought it was the strangest thing to say.
That's how I learned about Farm Aid."
He's a lawyer now, a prosecutor.
He's holding three beers in his hands.
I'm listening, bringing it all home.
Driving, singing with you again,
I hear your home town voice in mine:
Always question your faith.
That's one place we lose our friends,
where we get to the place they don't understand.
We look so good in those moments.
Dancing on our toes. Shirt sleeves rolled up.
Small town look in a big time prayer.

Jim Bodeen
4 September 2010


"I've already gone the distance for a series of dreams."
—Bob Dylan

Dress the bard as a gaucho and let him walk
into the valley museum unmolested. Let him walk your town.
Let him scramble the arrangements of all your favorite songs
until they're unrecognizable. Unloose his band
to let them bring him to places unimagined and inaccessible.
Let all this happen in your home town ten minutes from your house.
Let him sing in many voices. It doesn't matter
if he says hello or not. Perhaps he is Miles Davis.
It doesn't matter if you can't catch any of the words.
Maybe he's Tennessee Williams or William Faulkner.
It's not important that you know.
His lead guitarist kneeling before him as he plays
mocks questions, possibilities, and the size
of the shadow cast on the back of the stage.
Women will die for his hat and say so.
You'll listen under the stars and be home by 10:30.
You will never be home.
You will never again witness this kind of direction.

Jim Bodeen
3 September 2010


We were already gone when the diaspora began.
We left the small town in shame
a full ten years before the great leaving.
I carried my parents' guilt
and this would be my greatest blessing.
This treasure in a child's heart
leaving his grandmother, waving
goodbye from the car's rear windshield
would become the greatest gift.
I belonged elsewhere already.
I became my mother's biographer
and she would tell a great story
involving children and baseball,
weaving it around memories of North Dakota.
She had been given a voice.
It took me so long to learn to hear it.
The work is inexhaustible.
It will never be finished.

Jim Bodeen
5 September 2010

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the bit about drive. good stuff. kjm