Nez Perce Trail Over Lolo Pass


After posting the wrangler video
40 seconds long, I mailed a book
to friends building the envelope
with stamps. Batman beneath
the Batman Moon, looking
at the Bat Muse in front
of the yellow light, blue cape
lit for the bat, dark side
for me and the mailman.
This package announces itself
with Jaime Escalante's
stand and deliver forever;
two pickup trucks--
the 48 Ford F-1,
in John Deere green,
and a cream-colored 53 Chevy
with spare tire mounted
on driver's side.
In addition, two Ray Charles
from three years ago. What'd I say?
Counter-cultural patriotism.
Small but utterly clean windows.

Back from E Bar L Ranch
with writers, camped away
from others, the sound of horses
outside the mothership, early
as I'm working on a poem:
Horses. I grab my IPhone
and video the last 50 stampeding
in front of me, the wrangler
whooping it up. Carry your gear,
cowboy, keep it handy, unholstered.

At home, friends. The philatelist
telling American history
through stamps traveling in mail,
envelopes being as important
as documents--diplomatic exchanges
between U.S. and Japanese ships
repatriating civilians during WWII.
Exchange rates: One peso per half ounce
from the Philippines to U.S. mainland.
Eating blue berries and cereal.
The unopened letter.
Claiming it three years later.
I'm ready now.
Aging. Is this something we can do
together? She says we can.
She says we can do it.
Birds are back. We have thistles.
The kitten from next door attacks
a finch. A book in the mail.
Sweetgrass. Indigenous wisdom,
scientific knowledge, teachings of plants.
Finch under the tiny bridge, rescued.
The haiku: Goose music overhead.
Kneeling to become native.
Small engines mowing.
Envelope as messenger.
Unsuspecting witness.

Jim Bodeen
1-9 September 2016

Morning Wranglers at the E Bar L Ranch


Lolo Pass came first in my childhood,
in the back of Dad’s 1951 Plymouth,
traveling from the small town
in North Dakota, to Seattle,
after the death of his mother.
I was six years old. Stopping
at trail markers our family
learned of Lewis and Clark.
I still carry something of my mother’s fear
along with earned scars
of the mountain pass and a 2-lane hiway.

I cross Lolo again at 71,
reading trail markers,
this time with Chief Joseph,
Chief Looking Glass,
Nee-me-poo and the Nez Perce.
Niimiipuu. Nimpau.
The real people.
Nez Perce Trail.
The year 1877.
Flight and collision.
Trails of sorrows.
Orofino to Lolo.

In the Kooskia Café, asking the waitress what I should know,
me, almost missing the photographs. Jane Gay’s image
from 1889, Chief Joseph with  translator and interpreter, James Stuart
and Alice Fletcher. Fletcher,born in Cuba, the first woman scientist
to live with American Indians.
With coffee at the Kooskia Café.

This is the Clearwater.
20 years ago I published the poet’s book
with the same name, Clearwater.
Stopping at road signs tonight
I wonder what I’d find in these poems.

In Warren’s breath, …who called themselves the Nimpau,
after the flight, the return, “…now back in the Northwest
(but not in his own land, a prisoner on a reservation
in the state of Washington), Chief Joseph died sitting at his campfire.
The reservation physician reported the death
as caused by a broken heart.”
Warren finishing his poem with all of us stopped at a traffic light,
hoping for the right stranger who will stop when the light says go,
and looking into his own heart, standing paralyzed, needing to know."

Road sign historical markers
to freeze your heart at Penn Warren’s stoplight.
The photograph of Chief Looking Glass for your bathroom mirror.
Chief Looking Glass with the bow in his right hand.
Leather and beads with the grand hat.
Elelimyete’ qenin’, Wrapped in Wind,
Ala’limya Takaniin, Cyclone Traveler.

This is Clearwater, Lochsa, Bitterroot, Blackfoot.
A River Runs Through It. Underneath the stones are the words.
Dick Hugo in the Buick.
Mom and Dad. A boy in the back seat.

Jim Bodeen
8 September 2016


Nobody tells me about Ghost Town Turnoff
where I can see the Garnet Range.
After all these river stops. When granite magma
entered limestone, the two reacted to form
a new kind of rock. The key to gold mineralization
lies in granite magma rising molten from earth's crust
forming the slippery base for block to slide on,
cooling, crystalization separated quartz and gold
into veins. My pastor friend remembers the Finn,
Arne Siirila saying poets are nerve endings of society.
When Grandpa Charlie was dying in Dakota,
he said, Don't let them burn me. Dear God,
don't let them cauterize my nerves. We cried
each other into comas, and left for Black Elk's grave
located in St. Agnes' Catholic Cemetery in Manderson
at Pine Ridge. Pretty soon, for the dreamers,
oblivious of the star dust in their palms,
gold is in the pan. You figure that one.

Jim Bodeen
29 August 2016


   Lewis and Clark came up this ridge,   June 29, 1806, they ran into ‘a shower of rain,   with hail, thunder and lightning, that lasted
   about an hour.’ Trail Marker #334 HiWay 12 East

Nothing but sunlight as I stop
to step in the river
wondering which of these stones
turned water during this storm.

Bitterroot Batholith Granite
found between Old Man Creek and Powell.
Rock outcroppings, pale grey,
cooled below surface,
exposed over time by uplift
from below and erosion
from above, granites can be laced
with large feldspar crystals
or dark stripes of other kinds of rock.

Imagine standing on the seashore in Idaho.
These slabs of diorite were part of the ocean floor.
One hundred million years ago.
As continental and oceanic plates moved together
this par of the shelf was pushed upward.
Diorite weathers to dark gray or pinkish brown.

Near the Powell Ranger Station, Gneiss
is the rock with swirly patterns. Metamorphic,
pronounced, “nice.” As the molten granite
of the batholith pushed upward, some rocks
above it melted and mixed, like streaks
of chocolate syrup stirred into vanilla ice cream.
Metamorphic rocks are changed by heating
and re-crystallizing under pressure and high temperature.
Greenish gneiss near Lolo Pass
is probably metamorphosed limestone.

Lolo Batholith Granite near Lolo Hot Springs
is a younger, smaller cousin of the Idaho Batholith.
It was formed only 50 million years ago.
It is characterized by gas cavities lined with crystals.
Some contain the gemstone, Smoky Quartz.
Pink when freshly broken. Containing larger crystals.

Jim Bodeen
27 August—8 September 2016


After tacos--street tacos being summer-long staple
and creation, tonight on the tiny Weber grill.
Forget to squeeze lime, but guacamole made
at home, folds in all the flavor of Michoacán.
Wind tonight, shielded by camper. Pulling
cilantro from my teeth with toothpick.
Una habra is a pass or cut between mountains
in brushlands of South Texas, Northern Mexico.
A stone hunt for scholar's rocks,
crossing rivers: Yakima, Clearwater, Lochsa,
Bitterroot and Blackfoot. So many creeks.
Jim Hanlen, chess-playing creek poet
now in Alaska--sometimes spelled, crick
out West. About 3 pm. These stones
wait for the poet who can listen to them.
I'm too dazzled by their beauty,
Monkey Mind on the river, it's all
I can do to keep my balance in the current.

Jim Bodeen
28 August-8 September 2016


That bacon, now bacon
Let me go take a leak
Let me hear those No.Dak jokes

Threading the sacred needle
Touching down on the fabric of skin
Overlay of Plains

Moving, moving, moving
The pen across the time
In and out of North Dakota

Waking in the mothership
Alone, embracing the ear
Looking for the power light

Trespassing signs
Did piss me off
Cowering, backing away

Walking away from old friends
Like leaving North Dakota
For an all-night cafe

My old mother
In her mustache days
Hot fire from a wild tree

Alcohol in fish tanks
Blackfoot River over the bluff
Parker Pen in notebook

Grab the wrong notebook
Where the story changes
Funny man telling jokes

God's glory in sunrise
God's truth in sermons
Thank God for poems on Sunday

Write these ten haikus
Fill your coffee cup
Step away from the canyon

Jim Bodeen
28 August 2016
Greenough, Mt


That's what's going on
inside the body's magma,
held up by a plastic folding chair.
It might be better
to cut this gig short
and return to the garden park
with the monk-high fence.
So solitary selfish sitting here
with family
writing in a notebook
drinking coffee
while sunlight
backlights tall grass
beyond the fence line.
Birds, too, circle
in the field, their wings
flashing sunlight
as they search
for something to eat.
Food is everywhere.
I photograph all this
with my Iphone--
It's a telephone Grandma,
with no operator--
Breakfast bell rings
and I stir my oatmeal.
So many bells ringing me home.
Bird chatter calms me down,
helps me listen to you, Mother.
You're with me,
So many ways to talk.
Oh, Jimmy, she says,
Oh, Jimmy, over and over.
Oh, Jimmy.

Jim Bodeen
8 September 2016

Chief Looking Glass
Elelimyete' qenin'
Wrapped in Wind 


Sitting in my chair
on the bamboo rug
outside the mothership

looking at all this light
in the pasture
trying to harvest
what's ripe in the grass

I forget to brush my teeth.

Jim Bodeen
30 August 2016

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