North Dakota Summer Drill



      Found and drilled from Wikipedia

     [The Deep Horizon Well has been found and located resting on the seafloor, 1300 feet NW of the well.]

The Macondo Prospect (Mississippi Canyon Block 252,
abbreviated MC252) is an oil and gas prospect in the Gulf of Mexico,
the site of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion
in April 2010. The name Macondo
is the same name as the fictitious cursed town

in the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez.
Oil companies routinely assign code names
to offshore prospects early in exploration.
This practice helps ensure secrecy during

the confidential pre-sale phase, and provides
convenient names for casual reference.
Names in a given year might follow a theme
such as beverages—cognac—heavenly bodies—
Mars—or even cartoon characters—Bullwinkle.

Multinational oil company BP is operator
and principal developer with 65% interest. 25%
is owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation,
and 10% by MOEX Offshore 2007, a unit
of Mitsui. The prospect may have held

50 million barrels of oil. BP secured approval
to drill the Macondo Prospect from MMS—
Minerals Management Service—without MMS
requiring use of an acoustic blowout preventer.
Drilling commenced 7 October 2009,

but operations halted at 4,023 feet below sea floor
when rig was damaged by Hurricane Ida. Drilling
resumed in February, 2010. An explosion occurred
on April 20, 2010. Deepwater Horizon sank
on April 22, 2010, 5000 feet deep.


"A noisy city with houses having mirror walls rose up....a name he had never heard, that had no meaning at all, a supernatural echo in his dream: Macondo."
          —Gabriel José García Márquez

Tony Hayward, 52, gained a first class geology degree followed by a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, and joined BP in 1982, with his first job as a rig geologist, quickly rising through the ranks in a series of technical and commercial roles in BP Exploration, coming to Lord Browne's attention during a 1990 leadership conference in Phoenix, Arizona. In 1992 Hayward moved to Colombia as exploration manager and became president of BP's operation in Venezuela in 1995. Hayward was appointed BP group treasurer, September, 2000, responsible for global treasury operations, finance and mergers and acquisitions, becoming executive vice president in 2002. In light of safety and resultant production issues in Alaska, and the report on the explosion at Texas City Refinery, the process for replacing Lord Browne accelerated. Hayward, termed CEO designate came to the come and competition. Tony Hayward said, "We have a leadership style that is too directive and doesn't listen sufficiently well: The top doesn't listen to what the bottom is saying." Hayward was appointed CEO on May Day, 2007.


Not having a paper route as a child
in a time like ours seems irrelevant.
I don't need to know more about Tony Hayward,
what books he did, or didn't, read.

Naming Macondo surely won't go
on his résumé, but a smart guy like Hayward
who lived in Colombia might have heard
about Márquez and Macondo, and I can

imagine a corporate handshake and smile
at the naming ceremony, although I'm not certain
they called it that. No one writes
to the colonel, the pension check will never arrive

in the dream city where magic
boils down to something as simple as describing
what happens in ordinary days to our people.
People, to be sure, who don't bank oil.


I grew up in the NW corner of North Dakota,
which is oil country, so I have credentials.
Wells began appearing between Bowbells and Flaxton
in the early 50s about the time I started school.
My grandpa hauled lignite—low grade coal to heat
houses in winter. We were town people
among farmers. I remember fragments
of conversation as we'd drive by those wells
that looked like giant grasshoppers to a child.
My dad talking to mom about farmers
who didn't even need to farm anymore
with that oil pumping money into bank accounts.
Put the land into summerfall and live rich.
Dad had it broken down into weekly amounts
so he could make sense of what he made
at the grain elevator. Those were shaky times
for all of us, slippery, too; I'd swim and dive
in boxcars of flax my father would load
for Great Northern. The smell of the Tioga Oil Fields
is part of my childhood inheritance.
Oil made us aware of the disparities.
My eyes are gifts from the poor.
North Dakota is another name for Macondo.

Dream worlds are not without tragedies
and long emergencies—dreams see fallen workers
and burning sea turtles and return empty handed.
Oil rigs drill deeper down than deep down things,
deeper than geologist miles sensor twisting
in furtive failing dreams, and dreamers rise helpless
as any image on TV. Helplessness finds its home
in abandoned bird nests and sustains itself
in anger serving as temporary fuel.
Uninhabited native lands make quiet offerings.

Jim Bodeen
25 June 2010—29 June 2010



Solstice week and flowers finally slowing down.
T-shirt weather after weeks of warm spring rain.

In the Gulf nobody knows what to do
to stop the oil from coming to the surface.

The Huffington Post offers its Daily Brief.
General Stanley McChrystal's summoned to Washington

after dismissing his President.
But this is it, solstice in America and Afghanistan.

Ita, Jean, Maura and Dorothy,
are only four or five poems back—

behind you telling you to get on with your life,
put it in the light. Transparency is lace that can't wait.

You either is or you isn't.
This is news from the Mississippi Delta.

My third grand daughter's third birthday today,
the second day of solstice.

We live in the desert with water problems,
rivers coursing through us we cannot see.

The Atchafalaya River wants the Mississippi River.
Deep Water Horizon, kids.

Rachel Maddow from Barrataria Bay.
Jean Lafitte National Park. Get me oriented.

The Wetlands in June, 2010:
Waterways, wetlands, nurseries, estuary—

motherwords, words in my notebook writing backwards.
Ita, Jean, Dorothy and Maura—

correction on the four--four poems and 28 years back.
Living with martyrs is a form of negative capability.

It is that. Bring it.
These days in June.

Jim Bodeen
1 June 2010--25 June 2010

Getting ready for Indiana. Karen's heartland family, and the July reunion. Karen's working every night. "My cousin Becky's going to be there, and I'm going to be ready for her this time, Karen says. Karen's story, peonies on her mother Dorothy's grave. Motherless at the age of one. The child's rocking chair saved for her by Aunt Marjorie, "...but she has to come back to Indiana to get it." The story I couldn't quite get straight when we were dating 45 years ago. The story with too much love and heartbreak not to fall in love with.

Watching Karen across the room, one ear tuned to what she's finding out tonight, one eye tuned to Deep Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf. One night during these nights, I ask her, "When we leave Indiana, what do you think about taking the mothership to Grand Isle, Louisiana, and taking a look? Maybe we could help clean up a corner of the beach." That night, before turning into bed, Karen hands me a map taking us down the Mississippi River to the delta.

Daily life in high summer.
My life with Sister Sadie Sadie.
Five years with the martyrs.
Ask them what they need.
Two months of nothing but El Salvador
in my living room.
Poems stacking up in the notebook.


belongs to the rails themselves.
Who, but the poor, would see this chance
to build on both sides of the tracks,
destroying the wrong side of everything.
A row of houses, a train of railroad cars,
couldn't match this community for intimacy.
No room here to couple or disengage.
The tin wall of one house
is the tin wall of the other.
The other is what this parable is about.
In this rail thin city of the thousand nameless,
everyone and everything rests
side by side for all to see.
So close to invisibility itself,
so close to home,
becomes immortal as it disappears.

Jim Bodeen
Notebook 3 November 2009—Revised 27 May 2010

So many things. Tantas cosas, as Medardo says. So many things. The rich life. Being here. Summertime. To see it and to live with the story.

Rachel Maddow leaves her New York City studio for the Louisiana Bayou. Her shows on June 2 and 3 come from Jean Lafitte National Park outside New Orleans. She interviews two men, David Muth, one of the Park Rangers, and Larry McKinney, a professor.

Some of what she learns and reports: 40% of our country's wetlands are here in Louisiana. Louisiana's losing 25-30 square miles of wetlands a year. Has been for a long time. The land disappears. That's right, it disappears. Mike Tidwell's book will tell me more. It's coming. It's next. Much of what we're losing—this is our country—is because of oil and gas extraction, erosion and subsidence. "The size of a football field while we speak." Friction slows the incoming storms. Water and waves affected by friction. Storm surges get slowed by frictiong—rasses in wetlands protect the cities. Buffers are gone when wetlands are destroyed. Storms that didn't threaten, threaten. Big ones terrify. 2.7 miles of wetland will stop a foot of storm surge. Get the oil before it gets into the wetlands.

Maddow's in a boat with McKinney and Much. Cleanup is more destructive than the oil, Muth says. Aquatic vegetation below the surface, where young fish are...suffocation...When systems break down, it begins to eat itself. Vegetation will come back, and immediately there's a great food source in the short run, but when it breaks down, it releases huge amounts of nutrients, things that look great, look recovered but aren't. In a few years, it will be over, no roots, and nothing but open water.

40% of U.S. drains into Louisiana creating these wetlands. 40% of crude oil comes from Gulf. Delta is toilet and treatment plant for the United States. A huge resource for the nation. Tough, rich system. How many times can it be hit? How many times can it get back up?

These are the questions Muth and McKinney give Maddow.

Rachel says, "Frighten me and enlighten me."


By accident on the internet, Mike Tidwell, and total immersion. He's hitchiking by boat through the bayou. He writes the way all of us might live our lives on one corner block if we get into it, our lives. He records it in his breathing. He chooses a limited portrayal of Cajun language, "...faithfully omitting the th sound and including some of the altered grammar without laying things on too thick. This approach serves to consistently remind...that Cajuns do, in fact, sound different..."

Bayou is Choctaw Indian word meaning sluggish, slow-moving stream. "I realize I've tumbled into the committed traveler's ultimate dream: complete cultural immersion." What the Cajuns show and tell Bidwell about disappearing land is not in dispute. They saw this coming.

Papoose talks to him, "'I love dis life on de water. It's my sanity out here. But dis life is dying. My ancestors, dey were all shrimpers. But I'm not sure I'll finish my career doing dis, much less see my sons carry on de tradition.'" Why? "'De land is sinking, Oui, oui, All dis land around us, as far as you can see, is droppin' straight down into de water, turnin' to ocean. Someday, Baton Rouge, one hundred miles nort' of here, is gonna be beach front property."

You want more don't you.

"'De Mississippi doesn't flood anymore, dat's why we're sinking. Dat river, she built up dis area wit' flooding. Now de Army Corps of Engineers has got it all penned in wit' levees like a snake in a cage. And wit' out all dat new sediment brought in every few years by flooding, we're going down...We're sinking. Sinking. And not just a little. Dey say every twenty minutes or so, a football field of land turns to water in Louisiana."

Add oil.

Mike Tidwell turns into a kind of grown up Huck telling a story that he can't tell to his environmentalist friends. The hurricane has to hit first, and it will. He tells his story, you can see it coming, our story, an American story, in the voices of the Cajun people who have it right. Bookshelves by scientists won't dispute what Cajun interviewees tell Bidwell. As a reader, you won't know how you got onto this raft. Who is this man with you who says his name is Jim. You don't know the difference between the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya.

Your mouth will water and you'll eat well on the boat.

"'We're de last of de Mohicans,'" the boatman tells Bidwell, and Bidwell is off the boat, a prophet—Huck with a mic—still on the same page with the Cajun Mohican.

"This is the Bangladesh of America..."

Pulling Bachelor Buttons, clearing a way through the desert garden, my neighbor runs by with her daughter. Obituary of her husband in yesterday's paper. Gentle man. Trivia expert, etiology student. "He loved the gentle debate, taking the facts he had at hand and applying them to the bigger picture, always trying to find the balanced perspective that left us feeling that he respected our point of view, too." He saw his son and daughter graduate from college.

I interrupt their run, the mother and daughter. I say her name, and she stops. We share details from the obituary, the thirty years of knowing and not knowing.

Across the street, too, more of this. Our oldest neighbor.

38 years in this house, this summer, walking this beat.

Three corners. In charge of music, wood smoke, slowing traffic.

Neighbors I've not known doing what I do and don't do.

Michael Doucet's fiddle in teh solstice summer light background during all of this. Leader of the Cajun ensemble BeauSoleil, link to past and future, from the earliest days of settlement in the 1760s.

"Cajuns are Doucets and Menards, but they're also Hoffpauers, Reeds, Johnsons, Conners, McGees, Ortegas, and Manuels, as well as Creoles such as Fontenot and Vidrine. The word Cajun itself, an Anglo corruption of the term Acadian, derives from the Micmac Indian phrase La Cadie, 'Land of Plenty,' which the original settlers in Nova Scotia adopted." Masters of the folk violin, Michael Doucet's 'From Now On, Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky,' and 'Le Two-Step de Basile,'" empties into the neighborhood with the pulled Bachelor Buttons.

My own family name, "Bodeen," Karen tells me from her research, is a soldier's name, given to Swedish peasants taken from the farm and conscripted into military service.

Andy Wallace's liner notes take me most of the rest of the morning to read when I come in from the garden. "As Michael Doucet once described it, 'Everybody in the band stood for a certain thing, and when you finally got all the ingredients together it was like a highly seasoned jumbo gumbo.'"

Preparing the mothership
The halflife of Tony Hayward, smart, geologist, one job, young hot shot, and now ceo of BP—with a budget greater than 90 nations in the world.
Trans-national companies—more powerful than nations themselves
Tidwell's books, Cajun music, Yakima, Mothership,
Solar panels
Immigration--walking with Luz
daily life, the blessings
bachelor buttons
stepping in dogshit
business cards
literature that means business.
the miniature broadside
marginal housing/el salvador
peace train/indiana poems
The bag Karen created for me
plastic bags in grocery stores
dog shit on new shoes
bag for peace pipe
bag for vacuum cleaner
family making
putting it all in the light/shadowless
stepping in shit
you said that
I stepped in it again
BP guilty of war crimes against turtles and marine life?
you can write about dog shit
if you make it funny


From a found blog: David Muth again. "David told us the marsh here, called 'flotant,' is made up of floating soil and vegetation so thich that it can support trees!"

"You could see oil in the city of New Orleans," said David Muth, chief of planning and resource sterardship for Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve, home to the Barataria Preserve a dozen miles (20 km) south of the city.

"Three hundred species of plants, as well as thousands of birds, alligators, toads and squirrels populate these wild wetlands linked to the sea by the famed bayous.

"This fragile ecosystem forms a 'hurricane buffer' for communities like New Orleans, noted Muth.

"'In the worst-case scenario, the oil would kill the plands and kill the roots and then the soil would disappear as a result of erosion,' he added.

"'We don't allow it to nourish the marshes anymore,' lamented Muth.

"Muth hopes the oil leaking from a ruptured offshore oil well 50 miles (80 km at sea will lose more of its toxicity each day under the effects of the heat, the sunlight, salt and bacteria in the water.

"'But if a lot of oil covers the marshes, the plants will die,' he warned."

From Crooks and Liars, John Amato’s Online Magazine, June 25, 2010

And while delegates at the World National Oil Companies Congress in London this week argue that they must be allowed to continue deepwater drilling despite the risks because land and shallow-water oil supplies are running out, BP is further destroying what little public support they have left by obstructing private citizens with small boats from doing their best to rescue sea turtles. BP is using shrimp boats to corral the spill into enclosed areas with fire-resistant booms, then setting it on fire to burn off the oil, not only killing hundreds if not thousands of sea turtles by boiling them alive, but destroying incalculable numbers of crabs, slugs, and surface fish that live in the Gulf of Mexico's sargassum seas, crucial habitats for turtles, birds and larger fish.

"Yet rather than aid volunteers and scientists battling to save the sargassum wildlife, BP is aggressively hindering any resuce efforts. 'They ran us out of there and then they shut us down, they would not let us back in there,' one of the rescue boat captains, Mike Ellis, told conservation biologist Catherine Craig.

"BP has good, if shocking, reason to want to kill these turtles. The Kemp's Ridley sea turtle is on the Endangered Species Act list. Harming them is punishable by prison sentences and fines up to $25,000 per violation - per turtle. But rather than allow rescuers to collect injured turtles from the burn boxes before the containment fires are lit, BP is choosing to deliberately burn the animals alive, thus incinerating the damning evidence.

"Blair Witherington, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who has been part of the sea turtle rescue mission observed the destruction going on in the sargassum waters. 'Ordinarily, the sargassum is a nice, golden colour,' he said. 'You shake it, and all kinds of life comes out: shrimp,crabs, worms, sea slugs. The place is really just burning with life. It's the base of the food chain.' But now those areas are dying or already dead. 'We'll see flying fish, and they'll land in this stuff and just get stuck.' The sea jellies and snails that drift in these currents that form the major food sources for turtles have been almost totally exterminated. 'These animals drift in to the oil lines and it's like flies on fly paper,' Witherington said. 'As far as I can tell, that whole fauna is just completely wiped out. Most of the Gulf of Mexico is a desert. Nothing out there to live on. It's all concentrated in these oases.'

"The Gulf of Mexico is dead."  

P. S. from Jody, As We Were Saying 

Dear Jim,

Went down to the water tonight to watch the full moon rise. After I came back I read your post for today. Now I'm going to bed, see what dreams I get.

But first I wanted to pass something on to you. You probably know, and it hasn't found its way into your blog yet, that a lot of the gushing oil isn't even reaching the surface. It's moving through the Gulf as long underwater plumes. For PR reasons, BP deployed dispersants to prevent the oil from reaching the surface where it could be seen. They used very toxic substances, which are now part of the mass destruction, to congeal the oil into droplets that are suspended in the water instead of becoming a visible slick. These plumes are killing everything below the surface. And the bodies -- large and small and microscopic -- are going to the bottom.


Then there's this:

FROM : DK Matai, Chairman: mi2g, ATCA, The Philanthropia Chairman : mi2g, ATCA, The Philanthropia

Gulf Oil Gusher: Danger of Tsunamis from Methane?

A new and less well known asymmetric threat has surfaced in the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher. Methane or CH4 gas is being released in vast quantities in the Gulf waters. Seismic data shows huge pools of methane gas at the location immediately below and around the damaged "Macondo" oil well. Methane is a colourless, odourless and highly flammable substance which forms a major component in natural gas. This is the same gas that blew the top off Deepwater Horizon and killed 11 people. The "flow team" of the US Geological Survey estimates that 2,900 cubic feet of natural gas, which primarily contains methane, is being released into the Gulf waters with every barrel of oil....

A Great Urgency --
To All World Religious and Spiritual leaders
from Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Lakota
19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe

"Onipikte (that we shall live),

"My Relatives,

"Time has come to speak to the hearts of our nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.

"We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for the World; we are guided to speak from all the White Animals showing their sacred color, which have been signs for us to pray for the sacred life of all things. As I am sending this message to you, many Animal Nations are being threatened, those that swim, those that crawl, those that fly, and the Plant Nations, eventually all will be affected from the oil disaster in the Gulf...."

For the entire prayer, go to:

Email alert from Luz

"Last protestors released from King County Jail after arrest during immigration protest."

Over 24 hours after being arrested during a peaceful street fair for immigration reform yesterday, the remaining eight protesters were released from King County Jail late this afternoon. Those arrested included OneAmerica Executive Director Primila Jayapal, Washington State Labor Council's Jeff Johnson, UFCW Local 21's Steve Williamson and Diane Narasaki.

"We felt that this was the moment to tell everyone - people passing by our event, those caught up in traffic, and people watching TV at home - about the moral crisis in our country where millions of people are suffering due to a broken immigration system," said Jayapal. "People are interacting with immigrants everyday and benefitting from the fruites of their labor yet they are willing to turn a blind eye to the suffering of these families...."


We're a people on the move
and always interested in talking
about papers whether we have them or not.
My name is Moses and my mother put me in a picnic basket
and gave me to the river. Moíses. Mucho gusto.
Soy Jim, y vengo de Bowbells, North Dakota.
Tell me about the Postville raid.
Postville, Iowa? Orale. I take it you're not living
in the town where you were raised.
Es verdad. We weren't brought in,
y no somos braceros, tampoco.
Echele. We were thrown out.
Pull or push, homie. Extradited people
still have debts to the coyote
to deal with after they get off the bus.
Bienvenidos al rancho, cabrón. Oh, baby!
You can't go home again. No puedes.
Joseph and his followers travelled the trade routes.
Every encounter with God begins in fear
and it's always God telling us not to worry,
No te preocupas, vato.
Maybe your mother gave you to God
when she made you a sailor
in the riverboat. Such
is the privilege of literature.
She didn't pin a note to my blanket
so I'll never know. Mira, a los dos lados.
Not, if it's practical, but can you imagine.
The ice man cometh. Sí mon.
And he's wearing a blue coat.
Grita como un mexicano.
The Bluecoats are coming, the Bluecoats are coming!
¿Montado en caballos?
Helicopters from the sky.

Jim Bodeen
1 June 2010—25 June 2010



So this is your preparation for leaving, and this is your story.
Where is your mother? I thought you were her biographer?
That's what you tell the doctors. I am my mother's biographer.
Coming out of your dreamlife on your wife's side of the bed
you had rolled off your 2" by 6" incline
designed to drain your pathetic esophagus.
Pillows all over the floor. What was that about?
You saw a piece of prose and then you get up and write in lines.
So this is the state of your tatooed heart.
Dreaming the mothers, dreaming the grandchildren,
and the way you say goodbye to friends, waving from a poem.

This is the leaving, the ticket out of North Dakota
and how to do it. Grandma Myra and Grandpa Charlie.
This is storypath/cuentocamino,
life with martyrs asking them what they need.
Maybe shaving lotion or laundry soap. Chewing gum.
Finding your way inside North Dakota is more interesting than leaving.
This is your last look under stones for lost children.
Are you getting a little old for this work?
This, finally, is what poverty is all about.
This is your call into Pow Wow Trading Post in Page, Arizona,
(you don't boycott Navajo lands),
calling for Mountain Smoke and another clay pipe.
This is a call for healing, and you will smoke that pipe
with the people in Grand Isle, Louisiana
and raise a cry for disappeared land.

This is your wife's story, you say.
This is Dorothy coming from the peonies.
calling for her daughter. This is Karen listening.
This is the Indiana story that bathes you in the dying light.
This is all of you in tears crying for joy.
This is El Salvador in the heartland, the rancho in Michoacán.
This is what you woke to this morning, the music is norteño.
The singers are Cajun, the accent French.
You're at the Mothership Store getting a new light
to help you see in reverse. You're getting the air
in your tires checked and you're finding out
all that you do not know that makes you such a fool.
Don't you think God's indifference is healthy?
These are the blues you will die in.
Your tires are over-inflated. Don't put too much air in your poems.
This is what you promised to do with the poem when you moved in.
You left, you say, for this.
Say joyfully, please, what this is. Please.

Jim Bodeen
24 June 2010



Karen and I married in 1968.
We've known each other since 1964.
I've never wanted to be with anyone else,
and have been taken to task by friends
for my lack of experience with women.

I promised 400 bucks a month and this—
We don't want a marriage like our parents'—
and while that may be true and foolish,
I stand by it, 41 plus years later.
Marriage statistics confirm

what the Stage Manager says in the play,
Do I believe in it? Look and wonder.
37 percent fewer marriages, divorce rate
steady at just over 50 percent. Big fight
in the country over gay marriage—

a coverup for institution and status quo.
Love that radiates burns all.
Love has nothing to do with knees and elbows.
I'm with Milton. Light interpenetrating light,
like the angel says. Gabriel waves us goodbye.

Our three children, married four times,
divorced three. I believe in divorce.
Thank God, for divorce,
more difficult than death itself.
Once in a marriage encounter, designed

to make our marriage stronger,
I took a chunk of bread bigger than pastor's vision
of my hunger. He went into my mouth
with fingers to reclaim God's body. I remember him
as the joke he remains. Once, a priest,

who doesn't carry divorce in his kit,
asked, When does marriage begin?
His question is daily medicine.
Some 20 years ago, exhausted,
worn out, our marriage flatlined. Kids,

maybe, maybe not. Both of us
in separate therapies. Not out of love,
nothing left. Dreams helped me.
In the multi-cultural world,
we're multi-cultural. What's more

multi-cultural than marriage?
I've been in love with Karen all my life.
My friend says she's married to herself,
and that makes sense, too. Me, too,
I'm for that. If I'm not in love with me

how can I love Karen? God only knows,
I haven't always loved me. I don't know
a thing about what it's like inside you. Or
your marriage. Or nonmarriage. Sorry
if that offends. I've learned lots from people,

but I can't see what's love
and what isn't. That's ok, too.
We did so many things backwards.
Still do. Swing-sets are Karen's.
She puts things together. And money.

I do toilets, floors, and the kitchen,
poorly. Yard and groceries. I stay home.
Karen likes to get out. Drier quits,
Karen turns it on its side, fixes it.
We hid the dyslexia before it became ours.

I do children, but not telephones.
Karen and I. Both 65. Radical, rooted
stuff. Grace related. Nothing's over.
Nothing's certain. We're a minority.
Lucky, with lucky stars.

Jim Bodeen
21 June 2010



Cutting out material
on the kitchen table,
dress pattern laid out
in afternoon light,

Karen follows the scissors
into a field of cotton flowers.
I come in from the garden
through French doors

passing through one living
room to another. Later, my
feet on couch, pocketed
leather gloves soiling

furniture, watching soccer,
Karen enters the room
wearing her dress, hem
cut two lengths, bare skin

of her legs before me,
summer light coming through
cotton, gift of four decades,
with her question about fit.

Jim Bodeen
Summer Solstice, 2010

Clown that I am


Outback in compost again,
forking another bag of sweet gum leaves
from last fall into the box
that's been cooking since late spring.
I thrust my arm up to my elbow
until I can feel the heat.
I'm a god-damn clown—
more interested in compost
than flowers.

Clowns in El Salvador, now.
They're the real thing.
They didn't train
at Barnum & Bailey Clown College.
No sirree, Bob.
They trained in L. A.
Their tickets home paid for
by Uncle Sam
from the deportation budget.
These guys dress up,
put on their red noses
and orange hair
and board the bus,
shoot drivers
who won't pay
their extortion fees.

Jim Bodeen
16 June 2010


We've already made Cream of Wheat
and dropped some maple syrup
on top, but we've still time
to look at stamps from the year
you were born. The Lighthouses,
Yoda from Star Wars,
and the Speed Boats.
Grandpa's favorites
are the six civil rights stamps
from the year you were three.
All this before it's time to go
and you discover the folder
with old photos,
and negatives, which come
from the world before you arrived.
Holding the negatives to the light
becomes one more way 
to find ourselves.

Jim Bodeen
14 June 2010


       —for D & N

We had the perfect life,
he said, in the perfect house.

The company I worked for
spent 60 thousand dollars
training me, and then
they let me go. We're going
to Usulután tomorrow.
No, we've never been there.

God's been waiting on us for 40 years.

We're going to spend two years
building relationships. We're going
to find their needs, their skills, their talents.
I said to my wife,
Maybe we should move there.

You say you've been to Usulután?
What's it like?

Jim Bodeen
San Salvador
13 November 2009

La poesía siempre ha sido el poder y la renovación que desplaza los limites


      —for Bruce and Ann Willis

My job this morning is to make
these C-Clamps. Alacranes,
is what Marta calls them.
Marta is the mother of the young woman

who will live in this house
with her young family. ¿Alacranes?
¿Qué son? Escorpiones.
Que pican, Marta says. I get it,

this word from nature.
I have to translate my location.
José cuts one for my template.
Steel rods. 3/16th in diameter—placed

into eight nails pounded into a mango plank,
measured so I can lay the rod in place
to bend both ways with a hand-made tool,
to make the mouth—or the C—leaving

an opening to bind two lengths of rebar.
Torque the steel rods and my back is finished.
No hardware store with a bin of clamps
to rescue me. This job pays for itself

in what it gives me—the pleasure
of knowing this house is earthquake safe.
We'll bind the rebar, lay the strengthened
steel in the hollows of concrete blocks,

fill in with mescla, cement.
It is possible to live another way.
My work is only so-so.
What Marta and José show me

all goes inside. There's a house, inside, too!
Language connects us, crosses borders
where passports divide. I'm the weak one
constructing this world, the people preparing

for other earthquakes, still building,
still unseen. Salvadorans know they're coming,
toss them off in laughter, call
for more cement from the scaffolding.

Jim Bodeen
13 April—11 May 2005

Jean, Maura, Ita & Dorothy—Solstice Lights


We would drive over the mountain pass
into the city in the old Chevy on a Friday evening
with our young family. The radio on
and women talking in firm voices,
talking to the disc jockey about hiding families
from the government in their church basements.
Our car would be dark, and the children
fussy and sweaty from the long drive.
My wife and I had worked all day, too.
The car, too, hot and tired.
The church is a sanctuary,
the women said, calling in.
Not a place to be blasphemed
by government bullies.
Words seeded themselves in cushions
of our car seats. These people are Christians,
I said to Karen, whispering to her
in the dark car in traffic. These people
are walking with Jesus.
These are the basement parables.
It would be years before I heard
their voices again. They come to me
at odd times, still waking in the morning
with music coming into our bedroom,
echoes of their still signaling courage.

Jim Bodeen
October 22, 2005


While sweeping
fallen blossoms from the hanging fuscia
on the front porch,
Katie arrives with her Mom
who's on her way to work.
I'll take Katie to preschool,
but first we'll brush teeth
and spoon seeds from grapes
for a smoothie. Then we'll cut
roses for Mama and Grandma.
We'll cut some for Kate's teachers, too.
I show Kate how to hold the rose
above the thorns.
I hand her the pruners
and point where to cut.
We walk flowers into the house
two at a time, placing
them in water.
Katie moves the slender vases
closer, to make a family,
and now we go back
to the garden, into Bacheley Buttons
taller than grandpa
and full of bees where
we cut from the side
and out of danger.
Kate asks if she can take
Bacheley Buttons to her teacher,
and I say, Yes, Yes, Yes—
Get in the car. Kate buckles up
putting flowers in the door handle
where they'll be safe.

Jim Bodeen
8 June 2010


This quiet morning's interrupted
by my daughter's phone call:
"Dad, it's Leah. I'm on my way to Les Schwab's
to get my snow tires on. Can you meet me there

in ten minutes, and take me to work?"
Bai Hao White Tip Oolong Tea
before first light won't take me
anywhere today. December 2d,

2005. Cleaning the windshield, I scrape
the date in ice while warming the engine.
I'm cold as any considered privilege
being taken for granted, before driving

down Walnut, looking into the sun
coming up over the high school's furnaces
sending out chimney smoke warming
cold bricks for the children

just now emerging from their houses.
My daughter's a new mother,
and her mother and I are helping
with care giving as she returns to work

as a kindergarten teacher at her school.
"Antonia, agarra su chamarra," she says
to the Mexican girl walking across snow
in a t-shirt, turning to me, getting out

of the car. "She's one of mine. Thanks Dad—
I'll get a ride from someone at school
to pick up my car tonight." Common days.
I had just written the name Jean Donovan

in my notebook when the phone rang.
Now I watch my daughter take the hand
of the 5-year old with no coat,
speaking to her in her language,

set back on course, grateful for my daughter,
this moment of true witness, chastened.
"Where did you go?" Karen asks
from her newspaper as I enter the house.

Jean Donovan, Sr. Maura Clark,
Sr. Ita Ford, and Sr. Dorothy Kazel—
all four women worked with the rural poor
in Chalatenango, El Salvador—

give me the joy of this day.
My daughter gives me the gift of praise.
For seeing the poverty
one is identified as a dangerous person.

The good shepherd takes the hit
from the wolf. Take it straight.
Take it where it leads.
Take it to the absurd. These

are the people who suffered.
When you pray, you stand in your own blood.
The face of Jean Donovan
had been completely destroyed.

Today, women from all over the world
come to El Salvador to march with women
in solidarity. Four women made their ascent
into Heaven 25 years ago today.

Nobody in Iraq left me on a rooftop to die.
Karen makes it possible for me. A march
on Washington calling for ordinary citizens
to resist while the President leaves in his chopper.

I make Karen's latte by foaming
milk until it's stiff. I pour 1/4 inch of milk
into her cup mixing it with a spoonful
of sugar to thicken. Heated to 160 degrees,

the rich liquid holds the foam
as I fill the cup, before pouring
the dark expresso over the top
and dusting with vanilla and cinnamon.

Karen reads me the headlines.
I tell her about the ride in the car
with our daughter. She forgot
her breast pump at home, had

to turn around and get it. The moment
getting out of the car—the teacher
taking charge of the play ground.
The joy I felt, and the humility

before this day. "Are we going
to walk these dogs in the park?"
"Let me see if my underwear is dry—
I need at least one pair." We carry

the camera. Karen walks Sadie
the pup up ahead, and Lacy Dreamwalker—
Almost ten years old! goes with me
on a leash across traffic on 16th.

We photograph each other in snow,
like what we see. Karen catches
me running with the dogs.
We'll use thse photographs

for our Christmas Cards.
Karen has planned a lunch with friends,
and I swim at the YMCA.
We'll read and listen to poems tonight in Tri-Cities.

President Carter suspended aid
after Romero was murdered,
but what happened after the murder
of the nuns? He reinstated aid

before he left office—and Reagan
made it clear that the military would get its money.
There will be no justtice for the generals even now.
Window shades for the truth report.

Questioning the Official Version
is the only way. If you do nothing
when something bad happens,
the order turns into this:

Look the other way.
This is the atmosphere of approval.
The real order is violence.
20 years of classified documents remain.

General Cassanova. General García.
We have the names. Ambassador Corr,
the Reagan appointee. Some will want
to provide a different perspective of history.

Democracy evolves on a rough road.
Blame and honor for all.
Drawing fire from both sides.
Jon Sobrino says the primary call

comes from victims. Crucified peoples
have the power of La llamada, the call
carrying the weight of reality,
bearing it in their cries. No longer

giving what they have,
giving what they are. It is better
to have problems than bad solutions.
Be present, not just for awhile,

but while you're forever here. Verification
is crucial. The cross doesn't speak to us
anymore. People no longer nailed to crosses.
"Defenseles majorities are put to death

innocently, massively, anonymously.
A martyr is someone who lives like Jesus."
Sobrino repeats himself until he's blue in the face.
The principle of solidarity among unequals.

I bring Christmas ornaments from the basement.
Terry stands in our living room,
"I'm back from the cave," she says, extending
her arms for a hug. She's been on writer's retreat

for 31 days and nights. "22 hours in solitary
every day." "Implosion or explosion," I ask,
and she talks us down the highway into Richland.
I eat Pahd Thai with chop sticks in my left hand

recalling the testimony of the civil rights worker—
I was tied to the helicopter window.
They shot me in the left hand
for being a leftist. I meet Rita Mazur

for the first time. "Ten years ago I was going
blind and wrote this poem to help me
store up memories. A friend of mine
put it on the Poetry Pole. I didn't know

it would ever be in a book. Reading
for you tonight is a miracle." I write down
all of my favorite lines from poems
in my notebook. Reading poems

puts us in the kingdom not the empire.
"Teeth stained purple from wine."
"Lupus turned our family into an Emergency Room."
"The body performs while the mind sleeps in."

Each empty seat in this theatre
represents a person who is marching today in Salvador.
Karen tells me she'll sit in the back
and sleep on the way home.

Terry rides up front with me.
We're home by midnight.
Snow tires give us the confidence we need.
We use the light of four women to remember.

Jim Bodeen
February 11, 2005—December 2, 2005
Yakima-San Salvador-Seattle-Richland-Yakima
[Tightened for excessive abstractions. Alteration of factual details not permitted by the principles/principios of this poem. 13 June 2010. jb]


       Padre de huérfanos y defensor de viudas...
       Es Dios en su santa morada.
       — Salmo 68:5

       Father of orphans and protector of widows.

One of the crosses hanging from the reading light
beside my bed comes from the wood of houses
destroyed in the earthquake and carried by women
carrying what remained of their homes.
This cross, painted brown,
three inches by two inches, hangs from
white cotton string, clear first image
of my every morning, artless in its clarity.
The story is plain in the wood,
plain in the making, a waiting necklace,
waiting for me to place it around any word
or neck, where it does its work, waiting
but not passive. 
                          There is another cross.
Smaller, painted in bright colors.
This cross, too, from Salvador.
A rabbit with a green body sits
in the crossroads, spilling in both directions
of the cross itself. Red paws, brown body
and ears, with a white head. To the left
of the rabbit, more like a bunny,
sits a white house with red roof
in front of a yellow sky. In front 
of the house and rabbit, a small green tree
grows in the trunk of the cross.
The back side of a cross I place
around my neck opens to a painting
of a red rose and a yellow bumblebee.

Jim Bodeen

Los ebrios de Dios / Poets Are God's Drunks


Because roses have been fed with compost tea
made from kitchen scraps, the surface root system
of Bachelor Buttons reaches into rose beds
creating a field of wild flowers becoming
a desert landscape. The non-gardener decision
to let Bachelor Buttons go and grow, thriving, even if they eclipsed
the beauty of the rose, is a decision made by flowers themselves.
The martyrs live! They want us alive, too. The fact of a meal
in one banquet hall. Ellacu—
no intimacy could be greater—
the sound of Sobrino's voice comes off the page
as the ears of Ellacuría perk up,
and one can see his head turn, the president
of the university listening to his friend.
But inside the wonder of intimacy and truth,
it is not Sobrino who speaks, but his friend:
Estados Unidos está mucho peor que América Latina,
porque Estados Unidos tiene una solución,
pero es mala solución...en América Latina
no hay soluciones. Better to have no solutions
than bad ones. Some call El Salvador the Holy Land.
Pilgrims read Sobrino's letters to Ellacuría
in the rose garden at the University
where students keep stories alive
with teachers and caretakers, opening eyes
for visitors—those who would see.
Dios de los pobres, el de Jesús.
Promises get made in the garden
that cannot be kept in the Empire.
No vuelvas, the bishop says in Dosteovsky.
No vuelvas, Sobrino reminds himself,
talking to his friend crucified with the poor,
Ellacuría still calling for the crucified
to be taken down from the cross. Dosteovsky's
bishop tells Jesus his return isn't necessary,
We've got it all worked out here, don't come back.
Dressed in the sacred and opulent
one cannot feel the uranium and oil
that made the tight fabric of our rich clothes.
Sobrino gives the world fifteen letters,
but only fifteen. Readers in the rose garden
are left to write their own to see what happens next.

One walks into a garden enticed by beauty.
Bees find a way to Bachelor Buttons
bees themselves part of a diaspora they can't see,
dependent on the makers of pesticides.
Nothing is finished by readers carrying
Sobrino's letters into any garden.
Shade grown coffee from the mountains of Salvador
intoxicates while serving as medicine.
Liberty connects to joy and joy is a gift from God.
Libertad es vencer las ataduras de la historia,
el miedo, el egoismo. Tied to the story
of the past, the pilgrim sits with coffee
surrounded by wild flowers buzzing.

Jim Bodeen
9 June 2010


Should I know you? the priest asks, from behind the screen door.
Waiting for him to open to door to hand him
the jelly and poster from the martyrs, he asks again,
Should I know you? ¿Quién es mi prójimo?
This is the Minority Report from Yakima, Dean Brackley,
saying thanks for connecting the Bronx
to Puerto Rico and El Salvador—The poster
from the 20th Anniversary of the martyrs at UCA,
Todos los mártires y todas las victimas viven hoy
y nos llaman a la liberación. Victims this summer
include the plant and animal nations in the Gulf of Mexico.
To access, or leave, the light-filled tomb with the open door,
one must cross through barbed wire, but someone,
a coyote maybe? has lowered one strand of wire,
bending and hanging it on the lower one,
making passage possible. A quotation from Ellacuría:
Liberación de lo que pueda estimarse como oppresión
injusta de la plenitude y de la dignidad humana; liberación
de toda forma de injusticia; liberación del hambre,
la enfermedad, la ignorancia, el desamparo; liberación
de las necesidades falsas, impuestas por una sociedad de consumo.
Ellcuría and the crucified ones. Take them down from the crosses.
Ask them what they need. They're calling to us now.

I'm part of the North Dakota diaspora.
My family thrown out of Dakota before the first wave.
I'm my mother's biographer. Mi mamá
es verdadera campesina del estado de dakota norte.
I'm a Vietnam vet, too. Add that to my résumé.
When I came home I found the prophets through Heschel
but couldn't get to Jesus. I fell in with Vatican II Catholics
and found Fr. Stanley Marrow, S.J., your brother,
Arab, a bit of an exiled prophet himself,
who taught me Rudolf Bultmann from my own tradition,
guaranteeing me freedom and tears in the pew
that took 30 years to embrace. Stanley
used to huff and puff from his podium:
Those of you who've made your vows think it's such
a wonderful thing, that Jesus spent three days
dying on a cross for you. There are those
among you who've spent thirty years
on that cross, and you don't know their names.
Stanley loved Lutheran theologians
my own tradition still won't touch—
Bultmann threatens to turn it all into metaphor—
the big fear. I've spent my life trying to acknowledge
these gifts from Fr. Marrow. Still finding them,
I won't live long enough to outline the narrative.
Brother David Steindl-Rast is the monk
who teaches me to say thanks—
companion of Tom Merton.
Stanley rolled away every stone of certainty.
He turned questions into Easter,
boiling it down to this:
We are not inferior.
Our response to what we've been given is all.
Tattoed again—I've not run into the priest who asked
if he should know me. I don't know
if he tried the jelly or hung the poster.
The poster is almost too light to carry.
We carried the jelly, subversive like poems,
in our luggage, and did not declare it
in customs, coming into the country.
When Mary left Yakima, she carried jelly
in her bag and it never made the plane.
It's kindergarten graduation day.
As I bring the cake into my daughter's classroom
I'm stunned by the beauty of the children,
boys in white guayaberas, girls in black dresses.
Sí podemos. Sí queremos, y por su puesto,
sí tenemos. Buenos dias guapos y guapas.
These kids, poster children of liberation.

Jim Bodeen
8 June 2010


Forgive me for helping you understand
that you're not made of words alone.
      —Roque Dalton

Ernesto Cardenal says Roque Dalton
was always laughing, laughing at the Jesuits
in whose schools he lost his faith,
telling fantastic stories of El Salvador,
true stories with nothing made up.
Cardenal says Dalton's commitment
to the Revolution was like a marriage contract.
It wasn't a government bullet killed him in 1975.
He made everybody mad.
Cuba, Moscow, Mexico, La Casa de las Americas,
valedictorian,—Dalton claiming patrimony
from the Dalton gang—bank robbers
relocated on a plantation with stolen gold,
returns to El Salvador clandestingly
in the summer of 65 and finds himself in prison.
An earthquake breaks open the jail.
He joins the Guatemalan Guerilla Army of the Poor.
Plastic surgery makes him anonymous.
He invents an army of clandestine poets to tell his story.
He names names. My favorite is the one
where he talks about the president of his country,
the president of El Salvador. Everything's possible
in a country like mine, Dalton says, Anything at all.
Today the president of my country
is Colonel Fidel Sánchez Hernández—Today.
Today he's the president. But, General Somoza,
the President of Nicaragua, is also President.
And, General Stroessner, Paresident of Paraguay,
is also, just a little bit, the President of El Salvador,
but less than the President of Honduras.
And finally, the President of the United States,
yes, he is more President
than the President of my country.
Cross and belong to us all, Roque Dalton.
Laughter and anger make us bold.

Jim Bodeen
April 25, 2005


       ebrio/a: ciego o dominado por un
       sentimiento o por una pasion fuertes:
       El poeta, ebrio de amor,
       compuso extraordinarios poemas.
            Clave: diccionario de uso del español actual

Poet's are God's drunks.
Cuesta a llegar
a esta edad como nosotros.

Lago Nawalapa—
The lake is an inheritance
the government wants to privatize.

The lake can be a menace too.
It is a wall of water.
The cause, the caller, the call itself

Poor land, poor farming.
Sweatshops outside the community—
Demobilized people.

Look for the perfect moment
in the day, and ask your question.
Ayer memorias, mañana justicia.

We'll be gone.
You will never leave.
The work here is finding wood.

El corrido de Rutilio Grande.
Questions for Jon Sobrino.
A poem for Marvin.

Sal y luz.
Rutilio Grande tuvo sal y luz.
He spoke with salt and light.

A day in the life from all over.
Él predicaba la palabra.
He enjoyed himself.

Music comes from next door.
Purple banner on white table cloth.
Random assassinations.

We have a house
beside a field of sugarcane
at the table of creation.

They made this one-way street.
It was news to me.
The government said we had water.

Show me the faucets.
We were on the other side
of the volcano.

Walk the trail of the combatants.
Houses of adobe.
Chairs of blue plastic.

Jim Bodeen
April 19, 2006