Those damn red threads!


Still in Dakota, a boy,
a Yankee fan, cutting up
my baseball cards
pasting them cut-out,
trophies from cigar boxes
(cards treasured by collectors)
showed itself as dreambody,

leading to five scrapbooks
of Yankee lore (including
ads of each player smoking
Camel cigarettes) during
5 championships in the 50s.
These lead to my only lasting
work, daily discipline in notebooks.

Jim Bodeen
14 October 2017



Work brings duende the teacher said
when I asked him about Lorca,
but when the only
work is waiting? Mischief
pulls the stool out from under me
again and again. Walking
into fragments. Ouch.
Shin guards protect baseball players.
This struggle with the duende
is the only thing that matters.

Jim Bodeen
14 October 2017



What to put in and what to leave out
is a conceit of editors. Geologists
know there is always more missing
to the record than rock columns can show.
Your cover will be blown
regardless of your skills.
Sometimes it's best to let people
know who you are before you begin.
Pull the car over and park.
Get out your little hammer
and tap away. You know
how much depends upon luck.
You don't always know
how lucky you are.

Jim Bodeen
12 October 2017

Storypath/Cuentocamino: AUTUMN DAYS

Storypath/Cuentocamino: AUTUMN DAYS: SEPTEMBER MEDITATIONS, THE MANUSCRIPT It is enough to sit with great trees and wonder, wild with wonder from a wilder God and an earli...



Baseball playoffs and Hurricanes
have me pushing the back-and-forth
button on the television after dinner.
I look up and away from the screen
at the walls where my wife
hung her landscape quilt
of the Oregon Coast earlier
in the day, sun-streaming
threaded surf
made from cheesecloth
crashing cotton shoreline.

Jim Bodeen
7 October 2017



Back from ride. Drops in the eyes.
Eyes good. Karen back from coffee.
A showing with her quilt. Healthy eyes.
My ride goes up Washington Ave
to the end. Johnny Wright singing Hello Vietnam.
I pull into an orchard between pears and apples,
glean an apple from the ground, Honey Crisp?,
sweet. Crunchy. Eating with one hand on bars
until I stop at light and turn on to 72d,
a 50-year old song booming
Or freedom will start slipping through our hands
fires we don't put out will bigger burn,
riding the sidewalk. This stretch full
of dumpsters with grass clippings,
this being Tuesday. It's quite a weave,
but walk free of glass. Last week one
handle bar clips a mailbox and I end up
in a private drive, but on my feet.
West Valley Library's between two lights
and I pull into bike rack and lock up.
Carrying a back pack just in case.
Check out new books. Pull out What the Hell happened?
Election of 2016, by the Rolling Stone editor,
walk to call number 759, to see if the Wyeth
books have come in. They haven't.
But this: 12 Centuries of Japanese Imperial Art,
carry it to the reading section, find this poem,
anonymous calligraphy, Let our Way, poetry
That we have rightly received
From the age of the gods
Not want in this world!
I take pictures with my IPhone
and when I get home find I don't have
some info in book I need. Sloppy work.
I'll pay for that and never know when!
Replacing both books on shelves
I'm back on my bike, peddling
uphill to light at Summitview,
shifting down into first gear
on middle sprocket, avoiding goatheads
as I wobble. It's mainly downhill from here,
fast all the way home, but lots of glass,
why is that? glass I know is here,
but fail to anticipate every time.
Zig-zag some, then safe past 64th
one mile to on flat paved shoulder
back to Washington and home.
Bump-stocks in Las Vegas bounce.
Like a song of repetition.
Bouncing. What gets easier comes
with leg strength and peddling.
Familiarity of the common.
Words in journals banging,
this ride ends at home with my
index finger on the automatic garage door opener.

Jim Bodeen
4-5 October 2017

Infinite Flow Wheel Chair Ballet

September Meditation #15

On the lawn in Ashland, Infinite Flow, the Wheelchair Ballet--bringing all this movement, asking these questions without actually asking them. So confusing, so wonder-making. One gets so dizzy.

All that has been painted over


       for J. H.

How did you get here? the writer
asks the interviewer. They're talking
about aps. Siri. Navigators.
Camped outside of a theatre town
in Oregon, my wife gives me direction,
but even she's plugged in, relaying
information about the locals.
We're camped off Indian Road
following the green sign,
but Google's voice photographs
an earlier planet, advising a left
off Dead Indian Road.
Looking closer at the green sign,
come closer to local history
by noting what's been painted
over in off-color green.
How did you get here?

Jim Bodeen
28 September 2017



The way the voice came off the page
in letters never left him. That line of Whitman's
he loved so much, O what is it
makes me tremble so at voices,
resurfaced again. Nothing like it
could be found in so many poems.
Seemingly unrelated things,
and then the Journal. He'd kept
one with discipline four decades.
Where ever he looked, it spoke.

Jim Bodeen
29 September 2017



I. Your Romero shirt's in rags? I'll send you mine
after one more wear. I feel like I've been bawling
all over town. J flew to El Salvador Sunday
to see her father. Remember talking to him
on the patio that afternoon after the Habitat
build? What's your favorite word, building
Monsignor's portrait on that shirt? Mine's
del Pueblo, in narrow white letters
between the eyes. I'm going to re-claim
a word, hoping it arrives from the heart.
Sad. Joyful, too. How funny La Raza
can be in tough times. One of the young
Mexicanos on Facebook says, Does
Taco Time have to go too? And we have
a new Beatitude: Blessed are the Dreamers,
from a pastor in Yakima, niece of Ken Kesey.
Sometimes I get great notions too.
What shall they inherit? She leaves that to us.
Another question: What do White people get?
James Baldwin, talking about the price of the ticket:
As long as you see yourself as white,
you force me to be black. I remember that day
we parted in El Salvador, you handing me
the Wendell Berry poem, last words,
Practice resurrection. I'm trying.
We peeled back some skin on that build.
Me, in Jon Sobrino's words: Where's God?
And his response: Don't know, but not in the Empire.
I think he means God doesn't sit his ass
on gold toilet seats. I believe Sobrino
gets his faith from Dreamers. I've re-read
his letters to Ellacuria in Heaven.
Getting toilet seats for all shouldn't be that tough.
I'll get you a letter. Karen sends her love.
We miss you and Erica so much.

II. You just celebrated your 11th?
In a tent? Tent traditions.
You and Erica plus those two dogs
won't leave any room for Cane Ridge.
Kentucky, 1801, by the Muddy River.
I don't know if that's right side
of revival or not. On our 11th
I got Karen Nordic candle holders,
wrote a six line poem
of love's legacy. Ashes fill
our mouths out West, nine States on fire,
            We're still trying,
wrapping our arms
around a half century of America:
From Nagasaki to Washington Ave.
The neighbor behind me flies [incorrectly]
a Nationalist flag made in China. At Cane Ridge
20,000 gathered outside Lexington
hungry for communion,
Christianity at a low ebb, people
falling, groaning, praying. 1801.
I imagine your dogs howling.
No Cane Ridge in Yakima.
Keep dreaming. Your tent waves
to us from the East Coast.

III. Ashes in our eyes today.
Ashes from burned-up trees.
How should we carry them now?
Where shall they be dispersed?
And who will lead us in ceremony?

Is there no more to be done?
Is this all?
Shall no more be done?

IV. Just before 7.
Working on a poem. Revising.
Becoming more 4-legged in the poem
becoming more one with trekking poles,
descending, shortening, full-weight bearing,
elbows becoming knees,
baskets a kind of hoof.
Studying goats in pictures.
Ridding the self of thought.
Riding the goat down over stone.

Toward alternative witness.
The common goal lived in common.

V. I think often of the hour
Erica and I spent in the basement coffee house
on Front Street drinking tea. How an hour like that
changes the world. Our time, Jim,
wilder in its free-wheeling--
Jesus loves you so fucking much!
arriving with such perfect pitch.

VI. Last week Bruce and I
drove to Quincy to see an old pastor,
the one with the jail ministry, 86,
who finds Jesus most authentically
in Flannery O'Connor [What Americans
want is Christ without consequences.]
O'Connor dead at 39 as was MLK.
The three of us met at the Idle Hour
(let that one ring in your ears),
and talked about men and meaning.

We are at best, rusty tools in the hands of the master,
our friend says. He thanks us for visiting him.
That was Jesus riding with you to visit me
in my darkness. Bringing him forward.
Recalling my visit from a decade ago, he says,
You asked me then where it says that in the Bible.
It's Matthew 5:16: Let your light so shine before men
that they may see your good works and glorify your Father...

From here he walks us to freedom.
John 14: 6.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
Warning or promise? Has it ever been
anything but a bomb? Hell and fury
the likes of which we've never seen.
Did he know this is why we came?

This is the gracious promise he says.

"No  human being will ever find her self,
no human being will ever find himself, alone,
in the presence of God. I'll be there at their side.
That's right. That's what Jesus said."

VII. On the 26th of March, this year,
I began keeping this notebook.
(I'm transcribing from it now, from last night.)
These notebooks. Three of them now,
beginning two months into the Trump Presidency.
Not a detailed notebook of Trump,
but a notebook, a commonplace book,
during his time. They do not make it
a notebook of Trump. This the third,
as I've mentioned. Should I continue,
I asked myself on finishing the first two.
Haven't I made my point? Checking
on this date tonight, 26 March 2017.
I come out to the Rattler Room
where I write to check on this fact.
I'm surprised to discover
this was only two months
into his Presidency.
I thought I began it much later
into his term. It all seems so long ago.
Only five months here.

VIII. I return to you both here, in closing,
sending our love. Greet your parents.
This a day of preparation for us, a day of leaving.
Steve was here early for tea. Francisco called,
drove his bike up. He leaves Saturday for the UW.
He pledged Delta Upsilon, clear and open.
Making men of character. Jazmin
is in El Salvador visiting her Dad.
She'll be back in time to start school with Francisco.
Karen and I leave in the mothership tomorrow.
Wish you were here to bless it with sage.
Art quilt collage workshop at Emandal Farm
north of San Francisco. I'm off grid that week
with Thoreau's journals. Then the city.
We found a beach that runs buses into the museums.

Love you guys so much. Jim
2-7 September 2017

Blessed are the dreamers

Blessed are the dreamers, Rev. Kerry Kesey says, in Yakima, the day that DACA died. Blessed are the dreamers, 5 September 2017, for they shall be citizens of the world.

Harvesting Water

Box Canyon to Longmire, Wonderland Trail on Mt. Rainier. Two brothers on the wonder trail. After record snowfalls, after losses, water washing. 13-mile leg of trail. August, 2017


Shutter speed priority
on the stone
deciding to stay, falling,
not falling,
the water. Finishing
something in each of us

as we change into boots
in a parking lot
before heading into
into wonder space.

After five hours
of elevation gain,
the trail levels off
at Reflection Lakes.

Fields of wild flowers,
Queen Anne's Lace, Daisy,
Blue Bells, and Paint Brush,
all flush with bees,
and blueberries!

My brother says,
I'm kind of goofy.
I'm fine with that.
That's me.

Jim Bodeen
August, 2017


My brother only slows
for Salmon Berries, ripe and orange,
mid week, mid August, he knows
this mountain where we bring
what we've lost, feet on the ground,
paradise with switchbacks
and elevation gain, only
a couple of miles off road,
and after a record snowfall
we arrive in time
harvesting water and light.

So much light inside the light.
Milton talked about this
and we remember, this light
interpenetrating light.
He was talking about angels
and how they make love
without elbows and knees.
Water over us and on us,
my brother surrounded,
light-soaked, takes one step
towards the vision
receiving him. He wobbles
once, unbalanced,
trekking poles
holding him to stone.

Jim Bodeen
15-18 August 2017

I'm Right Here, reading and poem by Barry Grimes

Barry Grimes reading his outlaw translation exchange broadside, part homage to Burton Watson, honoring Watson's Four Huts, and part elegy/requiem, this poem and reading is one-of-a-kind moment. One-of-a-kind poem. 30 August 2017



These trails have always been trails.

I try and talk
something else comes out
where I've never been
and where I don't know
where it is. Here is here.
Every time.
That's where we went.
So much fast water
falling over itself tumbling
off rocks bigger than men
ever tried to look at, take in.

All that speed over what won't move
over an aging body.

Why is the spoken sound better
than the written word?

Water washing water harvest sound
what we had with spilling light
coming out all sides like fire.
Maybe that's what is was, fire--
and fire-light flaring--


After a morning going up,
picking a tread way up over stone,
going down. Before trekking poles
this was hard work. Man work.

Water-stormed in wonder space.

Trekking poles, now, there's something
beyond water worth considering.

A man talking to a man
harvesting water.

Going mountain down after five/six hours
of climbing, mind already free
of what it knows and what it thought it knew.
It's changed, altered, endorphins, new-mind,
synapses, dopamine, everything spent
and mind falls out of itself, no-mind.

And the poles--poles adjusting the body.
and man body bent low, trekking
poles turn one as close
as one can become,
into one of the four-leggeds.
Man-drawn body,
body tight. Drawn in and four-legged
The man-elbows
act as knees--act--that's what they are--
knees. Front legs shorter
than man-legs trailing Muscle-work,
not touch and fly work Those knees
walking/jumping around rock and root,
fast--animal reflex fast. Those trekking poles
even look like antelope legs--
not as fast or quick, but the mountain rhythm
dance-hop reaches towards that kind of grace
in the descent-dance.
                         Keep it until you're changed.
It travels time-corners, connecting to other,
earlier times, trace element beyond time
splashes of awareness, pre-cognitive, connect time.
Precognitive. Animal dream
worth striving for--dreaming about--
those short front legs,--
those elbows turned goat-knee
surefooted off rock, goat-knees
            jumping rock
hoof-turned into plastic basket.

Just what is that, walking sidewalk in the city?

Jim Bodeen
25 August 2017--1 September 2017

I owe you a letter, James Jones:


Fuckleberry. How could you not love
a young man given that name? Fuckleberry,
and his friends who named him. Damned,
James, what to say? Yesterday, 60 pages to go,
on Highway 12 with Karen, driving to White Pass
for garden rocks with stops on the Tieton River,
trying to tell it straight up and soft.

How the book came into my hands. I was 20,
EM in Panama. Damned from here to there.
With Kipling's Barrack Room Ballads
in my duffle bag. Going like this:
Robert E Lee Prewitt, boxer to bugle--
Arlington, enlisted, to remain one
at a cost: to Treatment, Break him,

to the whorehouse, American loneliness,
scraping dead skin to blood cells--
The Re-enlistment Blues, collaboration
before the bust. Busting justice, busting
what gets protected, busting what's phony
in pride, busting all the way to the Stockade,
Stockade itself, a halfway house for trustees,

a test to get to Barracks II and Jack Malloy.
Dropping down the anchor rung by rung.
Anchor to Chancre. Honest Injun.
To citizenship. This far. Citizen.
To John the Baptist and Jesus.
And further. To Fuckleberry's,
I'll do it. Sure. I'm game.

Fuckleberry's Blues. America's
Game and Gone. 'Muricun.
Enlisted man blues. That song
written out. Sitting around. Scraps of paper.
The 10 cent notebook. Let it go
and come back to it. Soljur
carrying the confederate name

written out for the first time, GI.
And Top. I tell Karen in the car
about loving and hating, this Catullus,
tearing up his commission,
Fuck this shit. Prewitt's final
moment in the sand trap, Top returning
to the squad car, reaching between seats

for a dead man's only treasure,
a single poem in a cheap notebook,
The Re-enlistment Blues.
Catch 22 written here first.
Drink your Castor Oil.
This is some kind of Army.
Books to read in a GI's shirt pocket.

Jim Bodeen
1967 Panama--2017 Yakima

Falls, Butterflies, Children and Politics


My brother only slows
for Salmon Berries, ripe and orange,
mid week, mid August, he knows
this mountain where we bring
what we've lost, feet on the ground,
paradise with switchbacks
and elevation gain, only
a couple of miles off road,
and after a record snowfall
we arrive in time
harvesting water and light.

So much light inside the light.
Milton talked about this
and we remember, this light
interpenetrating light.
He was talking about angels
and how they make love
without elbows and knees.
Water over us and on us,
my brother surrounded,
light-soaked, takes one step
towards the vision
receiving him. He wobbles
once, unbalanced,
trekking poles
holding him to stone.

Jim Bodeen
15-18 August 2017


Her tripod set between trees
after the last switchback
looking into the falls
in her early 20s.
My brother and I
stop for a last look
from where we stepped
behind the fallen world.

I'd love to take your picture
she says. I have uncles
with your same names.
In the last year
I lost 95 pounds.
I'm still learning how to see.

Jim Bodeen
18 August 2017


Roots and their surfacing network
make steps for children
and hiding places for chipmunks.
They know trail mix
in their packs can't be shared.
They walk the trail
the week caterpillars arrive
in wild flowers. It becomes
their trail mission to keep each one
from being stepped on.
Walking with pastoral ears, prophetic voices,
they hear rumors.
How many senators again?
They're ten.
What's real and what's fake
is sharp, nothing blurred,
Their selfless acts of witness
bring butterflies into our politics.

Jim Bodeen
August, 2017



Thoreau, lost in Mt. Katahdin fog
caresses us all in the wildest moment
of his life--and this is recorded,
news lovers. The dream

I wake from prompts me, Don't laugh.
Jesus man meets me at the Railroad Station
that sells five dollar coffees. He promises
passing rain showers, Don't miss the chance

to be re-freshed. This is the Gospel Hour.
From the back yard garden I hear
train whistles, feel the stress of bonsai
trees during the record heat wave.

Jim Bodeen
12 August 2017



Block by block through the Imperial City.
Tagged by medics when they were brought in,
the words for where, "...Near Hue,"
during a firefight. We were south,
in Qui Nhon, the evac hospital
that took GIs hit during this particular
Year of the Monkey. January 31, 1968.
I'm skiing in Japan on R&R
a resort called Zao, near
where Basho walked on his way
North. Ignorant of Basho,
ignorant of Hue, but those mortars
hitting the airfield on my return
remain with me still. Basho
where I walk, black pine, rock,
running water, book.
Ink in every book. I stood
on the citadel eight years ago,
returning, trying to imagine
revolution with modern weapons.
Impossible task. One who stood
with us in the rain, fell,
broke her ankle.
Tourist evac'd from the Sacred City.
My job in Qui Nhon.
Trying to imagine.

Moral injury is language
we use today, listening now
to casualties from all sides.

Jim Bodeen
9 August 2017

Lines for Eternity, Lines for SGT Major Pendergrass


He flew to Seattle to be with me on my birthday.
50 years ago tomorrow. Career soldier.
The Ginger Man, Hemingway. James Jones.
Father, too. Like Writer-Dad.

Pendergrass by the Hemingway statue in Pamplona
in the black & white photo in my hand.
But before that. SFC Pendergrass,
already in Panama, when I arrived.

I was 20. And how lost?
Heaven help the ginger man.
He gave me that book.
The Ginger Man: I'm sick of people.

The less I have to do with them
for the rest of my life the better.
I don't care if I die. Had I found
that book? Pendergrass put it in my hand.

And then brought James Jones'
From Here to Eternity. Just months
before, in basic training, I was locked
into my uniform by Army chaplains,

saying, We believe in this war.
P-Grass, drinking 15 cent beers with me
in the Em Club while I learned
my way in the government hospital.

I hadn't only lost as a pacifist.
I'd lost Karen by being a fool.
I found myself in Robert E. Lee Pruitt, Jr.
Pendergrass cancelled his own writing

to listen to mine. I memorized Stevens
and Eliot, reciting; I found the difference
between triage and evacuation. Only way
to Karen went through Viet Nam.

We could drive. With orders, in a VW
through Central America--crossing
into Mexico from Guatemala on a Sunday.
Border closed until we paid la mordita.

Seeing Oaxaca from the South.
Where are we? The career soldier
would get us to Texas, where we
would both go home. But this soldier-

writer GI, would fly to Seattle,
50 years ago today, to be with me,
with Karen, with family on my birthday,
my 22d, born the day Fat Boy

dropped the bomb on Nagasaki,
making me sicker now than it did then.
Mom and Dad were at that dinner.
But it was the soldier who flew

with me to California to ride the 747
to war.  Heaven help the Ginger Man.
Get out and push like the rest.
The war would come to us at Tet

at different places. Evacuation
would become sustaining marrow.
Evolving, organic. Hand carried,
hand delivered, by a soldier carrying books.

Jim Bodeen
8 August 2017



Sing crumbling song
Soothe the throat
with some butterscotch

Jim Bodeen


He's a hire.

Jim, you don't know that!

I do.

It was revealed.
I trust the source.

Jim Bodeen


He couldn't shake it
He couldn't make it be known
This hot parched burning

Jim Bodeen


            "I'm so sorry you have a neighbor
    who flies the Trump flag." A friend

It's easier to drive by
the flag
than it is to enter
the sanctuary
and sit in the pew

Jim Bodeen


I was there but I wasn't
I wasn't there but I was

The body is the bread of heaven
The place where God speaks

Jim Bodeen
August 3-8, 2017

Premier of Vietnam, A film by Lynn Novick and Ken Burns interviews by En...


I. The Luncheon Conversation

We believe, Burns says, that America's
involvement in Vietnam is the most important event
in the second half of the Twentieth Century. Our
courageous conversation began in 2006.
The current White House is obsessed with leaks
like drunken sailors. History doesn't repeat itself,
but it certainly rhymes. This was a decade of agony.
It went on because it seemed easier to muddle through.
We hope to show you today, how we set the table.

Lynn Novick adds, Our country is awash
in un-processed trauma. Our efforts here
try to show there's no one truth in war.
Tim Egan, moderating asks about
grotesque inequality. He asks if this film
attempts to change the narrative of the country.

In a democracy one adds, you only have
so much time to win the war. New scholarship
over the past 40 years provides the distance
needed to have the conversation. We forget
that Ho Chi Minh was once a pastry chef in Boston.
Keep historians out. Talk to people involved.

You can find the evidence to find
what you want either way, Novick says.
The war took on a wisdom of its own.
Burns compliments. There was not
a governor on the engine of their enthusiasm.
Everything is available, Novick says.

Remember, Burns says,
There were three nations. Now there are two.

II. Conversation After the Film's Premier

Public Broadcasting convenes the conversation.
Investing in talk that makes us smarter as a nation.
Ken Burns confronts disunion, and lack of civility,
claiming it began with the Vietnam War.
He says, PBS has been his home for forty years.

But he's not that old!

Nine-Inch Nails and Yo Yo Ma
contribute to the music.

120 pieces of music in these 18 hours of film.
They ask the artists and the bands
for permission to use the music.
To an artist, every one said Yes.
Burns calls it the best music
in the history of the world.
Jimi Hendrix's family is in the audience tonight.

Is Burns excited about this?

Lock the doors, he says.
We're going to show all eighteen hours tonight.
You'll get out of here sometime tomorrow afternoon.
He outlines the format: 9 clips, 52 minutes.
Then Carl Marlantes with he and Novick,
Enrique Cerna asking questions.
We see Marlantes' unit on Hill 484.
We hear him talk about ghosts and ancestors.
Bring them out and embrace them.

Everyone in the theatre, my generation,
give or take, with crossover.
Many with wives, husbands.
Ones who came home.
A kind of synchronicity with anyone
sitting next to you.
Different than being at the Wall.
Something happening. Something to carry.

Jim Bodeen
26-28 July 2017



Emerging from dream
Disappearing syllable
Daily walk in song

Song in many stops
Invisible second line
Breathing counting beats

Beat-counting mourning
Summer stop into waking
Second line of song

Where does the missing line walk

Jim Bodeen
21 July 2017



Working a gift-bag of Kiawe Charcoal,
kee-ah-vey, from Hawaii, hard-wood,
the chicken goes on just after breakfast,
nobody's coming, trying to shorten
words simple. To say,
My hair is not on fire, or, My hair is on fire,
and know the difference.
(This, a praise song to the Senator from Montana.)
Weber Kettles have three vents that turn down heat,
and I'm a small part of Weber nation.
Jubilee Year for Karen and I,
reunited between Panama and Vietnam
during The Summer of Love. All debts off.
Van Morrison's Brown-Eyed Girl.
Making love in Karen's Chevy.
Where I started for this morning
when responsibility and chaos
broke through my fire-wall.
Those new digs you're in, Google                                                                                                      
has photos of that grand park.
Lucky strike, your image for this life.
Transistor radios. Remember?
Music we hear, not fit for the oval office.

Jim Bodeen
18 July 2017

Alt-Light Arrival


Morning shade-light
sun-in-front, happen
Shade with me
waking, chilled
some, blue quilt
warmed, head clearing
from parenting pain
child-strike slight breeze
urging me, urging,
Walk the yard
Go in and out
by all light
Last night
late notes
Harper's margins
ink stealth
second pen
in middle
of Jeremiah

Lightnin' Hopkins
black diamond vinyl clear
these are the Monday Morning news
my feet sandalled,
naked no shoes to tie
still life in blues

Jim Bodeen
17 July 2017



            --After Brueggemann

That each breath is a gift from God
remains real strange these years later
after first stumbling and fall. It was me,
arguing, the Bishop only smiled. The book

that breathes new life re-surfaces
in my own garden. My own?
Where tentativeness ceases,
listening never does,  So says

the Biblical scholar raising
language to alter that
which defends me,
a liberating way. What

is required? Walking
the poem across the abyss
without a net. What is required?
Of the man: Withholding

nothing of his being. Not me
looking for God, rather
God seeking me out.
Terror is anything but domestic.

Just breathing, already edited.
Fall down in joy and blindness!
Fulfillments already exceed the promised.
So many ways to read when new.

In, with, under, against.
Turning and returning.
Imagine the one who would protect God.
The one who calls Saturday the longest day.

Jim Bodeen
14 July 2017



Takes my breath away
Three edited syllables
Gathering sunlit sticks

Jim Bodeen
14 July 2017



Freedom from  miracles
freed me for breath-words.
Forming like crickets--A
Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card.

Burning with freedom
and on fire. Others saw
something they wanted
nothing to do with. Anger

sent me off.
I was in wind
that allowed me entrance
to sky. Over

and over I sang
gospel, breaking lines
on the half-hitch
just before placement

of the comma. Tiny
coma-breath tick
of songline. Jesus
sitting on a stone

with others,
smiling and safe,
listening to whispers
talk truth

to reason.
of a great feed.

Jim Bodeen

12 July 2017

Triptych for Rudolf Bultmann


            Dedicated to Father Stanley Marrow, S.J.


It starts like this.
I'm thirty years old.
Returned GI from Panama, from Viet Nam.
Finish school on the GI Bill.
Married. Three small children.
With questions.

Forty years ago I found that man
who took on those questions.
Me. A protesting protestant.
Stanley Marrow, S.J. Iraqi.
Living in community with priests and nuns.
Three summers. Three years.
Stanley rolled away every stone.
He took every question.
He took every security.
Every turning point.
It all happened.
That life.
Over and done with.
That fast.
It all began then.

Then I came home. That was 40 years ago.

This will take some time. I still have six days
before I turn the two books back in
come from Interlibrary loan. One came
from George Fox University in Portland--
the thesis of the young man from Princeton.
A thousand pages and a hundred bucks.
One paragraph from Christian Century--
a starting point. The other one,
Other, bless your heart,
the biography of the man come to me
across cultures and closed doors--
closed, if not forbidden. Six days.

I promised myself, given the chance,
my devotion and waking hours for the time
I have the books, if they came at all.
Their notice of arrival comes when I'm on the road,
costing me the first two days totalling twelve.

This is crisis. Deciding makes me smile. A president on a battleship.
No time for insider joking in code.

The yes and the no.

I was young and back from the war. The one in Southeast Asia.
During the bad time. To be fair here, I already belonged to literature.
I don't know. I was Medevac Sergeant at the Evac Hospital. In personnel.
Everybody counted, and we counted them sending them out.
I can't say to safety, because most of them were going home,
back to the States.  Round the clock new year. This way home, GI.
In those months. That time. Those poems came years ago.
GI bill. Following literature.

I found Amos. Hosea. Couldn't find Jesus.

Before Bultmann, before Stanley,
the Icelandic pastor hounded me. Both of us with North Dakota roots.
Rural. Small town. Town family among farmers.
Diaspora on the front end.
Him, into the beyonds. Beyond psychology, beyond religion,
wanting to write it. He wanted what the poem gave me.
I found Merton and C.S. Lewis from others.
He gave me Heschel and the prophets, he couldn't get me to Jesus.

First blush. Euphoric. Post-Bultmann. Pretty cool dude.
I'm the one liberated. Oh yeah. Look around. I try to tell it.
I try to say what happened. What I know.
I try to say where I've been. What happened.
I knew better coming home from Viet Nam.
I knew to shut up.
This was so much bigger. This was given to me.
Not a pastor now. Not anybody in pews either.
Sounding his name. Tongue explosion. A bolt of the blues.

The best that ever happened became the worst.
Name recognition. Oh. Yes. It turns out he doesn't matter.

The librarian calls. Both books, Spanking new. Never been opened.
Bultmann's eyes on the cover of the biography
dominate--the right eye directed at someone not identified,
the left eye in shadow. No attribution for the image.
Konrad Hammann. Marburg credentials. Translated
into English by Philip Devenish. This book presented
to The Guesman Collection for Biblical and Ministry Studies
at the Beverly Library, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.

A Lutheran convert to Vatican II.

Let that one play out.

I've been with the Chinese poets. The ancient ones.
And others. So many beautiful ones.
Always asking about Stanley.
Stanley says he talks with children to learn the language.
Bultman's name under my breath.
It's been, well, it's been good, it's been,
what it still is, a wonder walk.

And now, the surprise of these books.

Jim Bodeen
1 July 2017--11 July 2017


            --and to Philip Devenish, English translator

American Christians here have POTUS' back
in Germany this week at G-20 talks.
A starting point of sorts. A context
for my reading of your Bultmann.
Delights come early countering depression.
Yesterday Donald Trump says three times,
Nobody knows for sure. Kerygma?

Early delights, Professor Hammann, as I said.
I expected treasure, but to be giggling on page 11!
You first, Emancipation from received tradition,
followed by Bultmann: Deliverance without compromise.
Stanley Marrow, four decades ago, my teacher,
in an auditorium of nuns and priests: We swoon
imagining Jesus on the cross for three days,

not seeing those on crosses for thirty years.
My context. A married Lutheran. Aversion
to traditionalism myself? I write from arrested
development, your book a medicinal purge.
The way you bring us Bultmann: Faith
not making truth claims, but personal experience
making contact with unconditional power.

Back and forth of dance. Compatible daring.
Redemptive. Eternal forces revealing themselves
in temporal events. Do you ski? Professor Hammann,
you and Bultmann descend through snow
on alternating edges. The right sort of foolishness
and high spirits. Trouble reveals divine strengths.
Alone in the pew, this was my time of testing,

but I couldn't see it. Crisis of the bourgeois world.
The faithful person, never the natural person, always
the person killed and brought back to life by God.
The two of you together crossing time.
Free from every entanglement. Sitting with your book
I say to myself, I'll be funny, exploding in tears.
Across time, I held on to Stanley and Vatican II

as doors closed daily. Reading poems, writing.
Tracing sources to their source in primitive form.
Whose voice here, authentic? What has been redacted?
Who are these fools? There is no 12-Step Program
for Bultmanians in America. After the euphoria,
I begin asking pastors about Bultmann. Who?
Oh. He doesn't matter. Young theologians

at the Master Narrative workshop? No.
A perverted state is at enmity with God.
Persecuted Jews, Gospel of John, the Demythologizing Lecture.
I spend three of my 12 days with your book here.
How many hours looking at photographs?
Can I thank you again without condescension?
Muzzling decrees and the confessing church, No.

At Eucharist once, in community, common cup
turns into a vineyard at harvest, with wild dancing.
Years later in Lutheran marriage encounter
the pastor takes the bread from my mouth.
The Catholics tease me relentlessly.
Ask Jim, Lutherans know their Bibles.
Word encountered in proclamation.

Crisis occurring in the moment Jesus comes.

P.S. Baseball game tied: 13-13.

Jim Bodeen
3-8 July 2017


Blue Bultmann painted by Oliver Crisp is a good start.
Sunrise hues on forehead and under the left eye, reach
beyond paint and into text. Promise of light to come.
Mission to modernity. It's about time
someone from your generation writes this thesis.
After 12 days, your big book on interlibrary loan
on its way back to George Fox University Library.

What is the condition for a modern theology?
Be sure and run it by those suffering in pews.
They're waiting, David Congdon, Dr. David Congdon,
Welcome. Here, everything fabricated
is banished--Bultmann at 28.
Mission turned towards interpretation.
Wave to your friends. This will take awhile.

Tension and pull, back and forth.
Paradoxes testing metaphors to breaking points.
The poem gets to yes only after saying no.
Tergiversator they called him? Tergiversator.
We know that one without looking it up.
Resurrection occurs identically with faith itself.
Hidden, you say--the Bultmann appeal.

A word clear in itself Bultmann says, asking Barth in a letter:
How do I say this to my children?
Dr. Congdon bringing the next two:
How do I say this to myself?
How do I hear it to myself?
Entanglements, ideologies, and guarantees.
Free of these, the word clear in itself,

beginning. I write from the pew,
liberated 40 years ago, by an Iraqi Jesuit,
who took every false teaching he could find
before giving me back to Luther. My wait?
40 years-plus, from Fr. Stanley Marrow to here.
I write from the edge of gratefulness,
a garden, mostly poets, but this weekend,

a pastor, in his 70s, low bullshit tolerance.
Cooking Mexican. Corn on the grill.
Chiles--de arbol, pasilla, habanero,
with Nopales, scored, like fingers.
Once you start telling people the secrets,
they sit up in their chairs. Isn't keeping secrets
sin as much as the fear? Who carries more fear?

Laymen or pastors? The pastor remembers
Arthur Võõbus, in seminary. The Estonian
carrying manuscripts on his back.
Every seminarian killled. Looking at him,
Mr. Dean Stewart, I am very disappointed in you.
I expected more than a book report.
Only being open, not created, self-revealing.

The unnumbered dead never counted in pews.
Laying out the Bultmann program. How big, this wait?
Some of what's remembered isn't remembered right.
What froze changed in the storage. What took root    
grafted itself seamlessly. How it gets heard
reveals the eschaton.  No guarantees
in the poem, walk the image to the abyss,

I can be wholly other, only when the dream
is wholly other also. How many times do we die?
How do I tell you this is real?
Time to soften up under an aging crust.
Your companion Bultmann's on the shelf.
When God arrives, he's already here,
been here forever, already beyond.

God's word is money that doesn't spend.
I'm reading my margin notes
inside the art of understanding.
May we, in your words,
take this strange world seriously.
From here, I find Hammann's biography,
one way only, love, perpetually beginning.

Jim Bodeen
10 July 2017