Watching the Women's College World Series
on ESPN, I hear a coach (whose name I don't get),
say, The team that relaxes first will win,
and send this to my brother, who coaches
women's fast-pitch at the Community College,

and he messages back, That's right.
Memorial Day Weekend in a heat wave.
Ken Burns previews his documentary
on Vietnam, saying, In many ways,
it's our Second Civil War. Karen and I

have tickets to the Seattle opening.
Yesterday my granddaughter asks me
what I've been reading. Children's books,
re-discovering children's literature
isn't only for kids. A biography on

Maurice Sendak. The picture book
is my battle ground, where I hope
to win my wars. The mask that gives
something to hide behind makes it
unnecessary to hide. Max is in his

wolfsuit. Standing on two books
his tail rolls out lazily on the floor.
His stuffed dog hangs from a string
on a clothes hanger to tied bedsheets.
Max fixes it to the wall with a hammer,

making mischief. He's not happy.
I sit in shade of elegant trees, mature
specimens, surrounding the perimeter
of this secular monastery, protected.
A white plastic fence seals this

domestic lot in contemplation. Bonsai
trees in Chinese pots, sentinels,
instruct me to go slower yet, to sit.
Leaf tissue sends signals
traveling at a speed of one-third inch

per minute as they determine
which predators are beneficial,
which ones dangerous. I am slower
than the tree. Do they sense
toxins in humans approaching them

the way the child in mother's womb
anticipates lack of oxygen
as mom inhales smoke
from her cigarette? Dreaming
healthy trees is my work,

I haven't the skill, or will,
to manipulate branches with wire.
A small plane from the nearby airport
drones overhead. Here is Afghanistan
and requests for more munitions.

Jim Bodeen
29 May 2017


            --for Phil and Ron

Where to start? Whitman's Wound-Dresser
sent by a friend? (...Whoever you are,/ follow
without noise and be strong of heart)--unable
to read until after sunset, finding again those doors,
elder poet not missing a single cot,
not one do I miss, firm with each. Start here?

Not where I came in with the day,
threading through scripture, through poems
from sacred fire ring, each stone
brought by special ones, here and gone.
Get to Joseph? Get to the pastor? Jail ministry?
Ones who left town and didn't leave. That joy--

start with the friend? Remember Joseph's
brothers throwing him in the pit, selling him
to traveling merchants? That story, mine, baby!
Hold on! That's my old pastor talking. He'll never
let me keep it, I say, hearing his voice--Joseph
story, enacted here on the cross. No

to Joseph is no to Jesus on Golgotha. I love
this man, and tell him so, hearing his musings,
compromised muse alliterated with the M
in his last name. Dear Ron, musing, I love it so,
this way. How to respond? one asks.
Favored one, racheted up. But something

else, one has to wait for. The familiar
in the confrontation. Voice of the pastor.
Voice of man become friend. Friends voices.
...bloody door slammers...reaches through.
One feels the foot, or mashed fingers.
One hears the bullet as door hits frame.

Door slamming become end of all listening,
end of language. How does one say,
This is beautiful, but Whitman removed the hinges.
I hear him, though, seeing him
with us in the small church, his slow cadence,
developing steps, building the sentence,

Christ-muse at his back or (beside),
urging language forward. Multi-cultural Joseph.
His door swinging both ways.
The impossibility of a slamming door.
The coat always many-colored for me,
nobody left behind. Slamming Joseph

and his brothers right into Jesus,
helping/making/showing something
that can't be done on one's own, showing
self connive with evil. Unable to forgive.
That re-sounds. One hears. We hear. I hear.
And the door slam turns on us, becoming

what else! The door slam turns,--
Bultmannian now, apocalyptic end.
To say anything resembling what is safe
or re-reassuring about faith, any deal-making
with the comfortable. Thanks all,
Memorial Day morning, this head wave

beauty coming at us, a scream to wake me.
Love from here, this being part of how
day carries, old man who was young
on the hospital ward in war. Joseph in the pit
is Christ at Golgotha, my No! part
of the day shout, listening too,

Whitman opening doors of time,
on, hospital doors! ...tear not
the bandage away...hard the breathing rattles.
(Come sweet death! be mercy.)
Cancel the I, validate witness, testimony.
Christ-embraced. Suffering re-sounding abundance.

Jim Bodeen
29-30 May 2017

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