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“For me, that includes the many millions of ruined gay lives…”
     --Anthony Heilbut, Harper’s Magazine, February, 2017

I’m not spread across four States
hands in Colorado and New Mexico
with feet next door in Arizona and Utah.
No angel, either. Eyes strapped
to John on Patmos. I saw this,
reading the story in Harper’s.
I saw this. The number
that no man could number.
Revelations 7:9. Black gay corpses
outnumbering four thousand lynchings.
Let me try this in Spanish: Era
tan grande que nadie podía contarla.
Suffering in the pew comes down to here.
I saw this number.

Jim Bodeen 
26 February 2017


It made me cry, that photo. Skiing
on my mountain. My country
on overloaded time. Image
arriving through song.

The child's plastic bag
of gold fish crackers. Her cousin
taking the toy black spider
from her parka pocket.

My grandchildren at lunch
in the lodge, seated at pine table
full of sunshine. Me, looking
at the match-book-sized paper

in my writing,
I am hiding behind children,
using them as shields.
Black spider on top of the crackers--

a piece of paper scribbled with words.
I snap the picture. On skis,
on my mountain. Over-loaded,
I become other to myself.

Jim Bodeen
23 February 2017


When calls began arriving,
men angry and women traumatized,
I found myself first engaged,
then immersed. Sometime later

I knew I had been here before.
Belief within me, the letter
triggers the poem going beyond.
Called out by God or natural forces,
undetected and undetonated
bombs hidden in my brain
exploding. When I recovered,
cleared by modern medicine,
[And the Machi in Chile reading urine],
I was left with no filters.
Some of the blindness mine.
30 years ago. 50 years ago.
The Again and again of it.
That became the journey,
walking into Safeway,
overheard comments in pews.

Arrival of the autocratic state
slides in with a sigh of relief
in the community. You can
hear people say,
from this election: Now
can we have some rest?
Can we just move on? First as question,
repeating itself as imperative,
Just move on, already!

People leaving fingerprints everywhere.
Would I still drink from the common cup?
I remember Christians returning
to the tiny cups in droves
during the height of the Aids epidemic.
Did I have anything in common
with the faithful? I know how you vote.

You've been fingerprinted by your coffee group.
Your doctor files your medical records.
Everyone in the choir knows who's giving blow jobs.
Where did you put your Constitution?

Living the unfiltered life returns.
I recognize it in the young, going active,
for the first time in their lives.
Robert Moses walking through Africa after SNCC.
Start the poetry now. Crazy Horse dressed
in clothes made in China.

What a word, that. Anyway
you can. Make that way.
Make a way any way you can,

Way Maker.

Jim Bodeen
25 February 2017

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