Chuck Bodeen talks baseball with family

Chuck Bodeen's life centers around baseball and family. As player and coach it spans 50 years.
Chuck is currently head coach of the Women's Fastball Team at Yakima Valley Community College. Here he talks with his nephew Josh, about baseball and family traditions. They are later joined by some of his grandkids.

Raindrops the Size of Marbles


The news was not good.
The news they were waiting
for would not be good.
The options would be bad.

Bashō had been walking
for a long time now.
Nothing celebrated.
If you can’t see

the moon or the flower
in everything
you’re just walking
in your own shit.

Jim Bodeen
August 2014


You won’t find the hike
on any map, it’s not there.

No, but it used to be.
The first two legs,

yes, but not the one
overlooking the glacier.

The moon walk.
Yes. Years ago

it was listed
in the hike book,

then it was gone.
Understood was this,

tundra walk discovered,
overused, taken off map,

unmaintained trail even now.
But it’s there, stunning,

7,800 elevation
between peak and glacier

with Forest Service
blessing, if not acknowledged.

Jim Bodeen
30 August 2014


He stepped through the wood fence
barricade erected by the Forest Service
after the storm came through
a decade ago. He entered
the erosion field where the White
did its damage in subsequent
winter storms, uprooting trees
criss-crossed in the acre-wide
and changing riverbed below the Mountain,
the thunder of big rocks
tumbling in fast moving
glacial water coming
from Emmons Glacier,
maybe a short mile above
where he sat now, back against
trunk of a dead fir, Old Man’s Beard
hanging like prayer flags.

He came here to this eroding bank
every September since things changed
more than twenty years ago.
He had prepared for this change
all his life, he saw. If it wasn’t
quite visible, it is what he believed,
back against this whitened trunk
holding him and the book of poems.

Jim Bodeen
28 August 2014


There was a storm,
a summer thunderstorm,
he was making root beer floats
in the kitchen
children surrounded

Adults had all disappeared
While children were swimming
adults circled on lawn chairs
talking about dreams
where had they gone he wondered

wanting straws for the hidden
vanilla at the bottom of the glasses
This was not his kitchen
not having spoons dislocated him.
Straws would draw this wonder from below

Jim Bodeen
26 August 2014



With a tiny scissors
I take cuttings from the two-year old
Sequoiadendron Giganteum,
dipping them in rooting compound
before planting in prepared bed.

Wild ones between earth and sky,
evolutionary ancestors, if you live
another four thousand years,
possibility you carry in your genetic code,
we all might survive. Wild ones,

Bashō loved the Bashō tree
for its uselessness,
wind and rain against leaves
large enough to cover a harp,
big trunk untouched by the ax.

Earlier, Hui Tzu received this
from Chuang Tzu: You have a useless tree
and don’t know how to use it, plant it
in the middle of nowhere, something useless
will never be disturbed. Bonsaied

in my back yard. Seedling Sequoias
thickening their trunks in their second year
revealing eternity. In pre-history,
a forest of conifers. The Western World
didn’t know about giant redwoods

until mid 19th Century. Sequoia
for Sequoah, son of Cherokee Chief’s daughter.
Dendron, Greek for tree. Now thought to be
a genus of its own. Wild ones
young climbers call you today,

walking hands and knees through creek bed
to find you. They find in your canopies,
hidden bonsai growing as epiphytes
high in your crowns. Discovering you
they become canopy trekkers,

traveling from tree to tree.
They bring hammocks with them
making animal love, sky walking
sky lovers. Entering the tree
my fingers larger than your limbs,

my in-breath is where consciousness
is born. The ex-hale is commitment
and salutation. This year’s trunk
growth, green, measured in inches,
will wooden before winter. Next year

or the year after, I’ll begin the search
for the pot to honor your journey.
Japanese bonsai artists secure
pines against earthquakes. Bashō
300 years ago saw pines

from the previous millennium.
Forests for futures none of us will see.
What makes you useless makes you valuable.
I hold a quart-sized spray bottle
misting ancient branches imitating the ocean.

Jim Bodeen
August 2012-August 2014

How the trees came


Wild one
Between earth and sky

Evolutionary ancestor

Jim Bodeen
25 August 2014


A friend’s message
leaves me not knowing

how to respond.
Out for a walk

Nobuyuki Yuasa’s
Bashō in my back pocket

I pull it out,
reading until I forget

about the whole thing.
Reading notes at the back end

Yuasa says count vowels
to count syllables—

Japanese breath counts
fall naturally

into breathing groups
five or seven syllables.

Jim Bodeen
22 August 2014


And yet we all in the end live, do we not, in a phantom dwelling?—but enough of that, I’m off to bed.
  —The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling, Bashō/ Burton Watson                    

My wife gave birth to twin daughters,
and I, helpless and overcome with joy,
passed out copies of a poem in the street,
distributing them too,
to doctors and nurses
in the hospital. The poem,
by Williams Carlos Williams,
is titled “The Gift” and it reads
as wondrous this day as it did
40 years ago. Among the lines,
“hard gold to love a mother’s milk” and,
“…all men by their nature give praise,
it is all that they can do.

Three years ago this day,
my wife and I moved into a new home
one level, smaller than the home
where we lived for 39 + years,
the only house our children knew
during childhood years.
We slept in the new house for the first time
on our daughters’ birthday.

On this day, this morning,
I sent that poem out again,
first to my wife and our daughters,
beginning my 70th year.


The house is in a development near the airport.
First homes for young people,
last homes for the elderly.
The house was non-descript,
without shade,
the one standing when the others sold,
but it had what he was looking for.
He liked the modest entry into the houses.
One turn off the four-line
shuttling people in and out of town.
A row of duplexes and rental houses
accessing the development.
He had long noted humble entrances
into the nation’s sacred places.
He saw outside sanctuaries
where others saw nothing.
The poor and rundown before national treasures.
He believed he could build a garden of trees.
He saw sanctuary at the end of the road.
A monastery that belonged to literature.

This is how the trees came to him.
Landscapers in developments
wanted three things:
put in underground sprinklers
and roll out grass over clay and rock.
Plant one non descript shrub
in the middle of every lawn.  
He had them transport his rocks
by tractor. They would take out the lawn
and put in a forest floor.
A mountain landscape
would emerge in miniature.


He tried to tell the woman at the nursery
about groves of trees at the end of railroad tracks
in his childhood. It’s a small place
he told her. I may even have to plant
outside the fence to make a ring.
A grove of trees in the middle of nothing.
A hideout for a boy. A place for an old man.
I want you to help me plant a grove of trees.
How could he explain a North Dakota childhood
to a tree goddess in an upscale nursery?
He broke through her impatience
with a single utterance. Zen.
She led him to the beautiful trees.
He picked out four:
Yoshino Cherry, Canadian Chokecherry,
China Snow and Serviceberry.
These trees planted oval-oval shaped
would make North Park.

This is the beginning of how the trees
came to him, how they surrounded him
and took him in, the ancestors.
This is how the pine trees, beloved by Bashō,
entered his life. It was all gift,
as the physician poet had prophesied.
It is all that they can do.
Surrounded, neither priest
nor ordinary man, as Bashō wrote walking,
he would give praise from here.

Jim Bodeen
21 August 2014

Welcome Bench at Dodge


Sadie wags her tail
hearing Teresa’s coming.
Belly rub and treats.
Maybe she doesn’t think
about her toenails
getting clipped.

Our vet for 20 years
thinks the tumor unsightly
but benign, wants
Sadie on steroids
through allergy season.
Weight’s good. Then

bath on front lawn
with three kinds
of cortisone shampoos.
I break some duck jerky.
It’s watermelon time.
One for Sadie, one for me.

Jim Bodeen
20 August 2014


He leaves a hand-written poem
pinned to bathroom mirror
with toothpaste

Jim Bodeen
17 August 2014


…being neither priest nor ordinary man.
     “A Visit to the Kashima Shrine,” Bashō

Tactical  breath walk
Land on the odd syllable
Pine tree, rock, akadama

Jim Bodeen
16 August 2014


In his first walk
he saw his dilemma,

meeting local and priest.
He was neither.

Neither was he Samurai.
Collecting nothing,

later he would have it all.
Now he would be neither,

nothing. For poetry
he would do this.

Jim Bodeen
15 August 2014


Hand rubbing stones from Spokane River,
working on the stone’s patina on front porch at dusk.
All day walking garden after early morning
coffee, talking poems. Mid-August
and crickets. All of Bashō’s
cicadas join in the singing.

Jim Bodeen
15 August 2014


Setting out on the first leg,
Record of a Well-Exposed Skeleton,
wind blowing through his heart,

determined to fall,
to become the title of his story,
Bashō describes his dress—

in prose, and early: No metal
on his belt, sack on shoulder,
clean shaven, string of beads—

like priest, but not one,
covered in worldly dust. Prevented
from entering inner temple. Bashō

descends to the stream. Knowing,
and remembering, the poet Saigō
writing for the woman

washing potatoes. Bashō
finds the way. Walking
to Kashina Shrine, his second

leg, two years later, confronted
again, he makes judgment: priest
clad black as crow, bundled

in multiple stoles, portable shrine
on his back, as if he had free pass
to world beyond the gateless gate.

Dizzied by the priest,
dressed also in black robe, Bashō,
neither priest nor ordinary man.

What is he? Who am I—wavering
between bird and mouse? He opens
Records of a Well-Worn Satchel,

with well-worn drapery wind-swept
and swept away, Fall necessary
to be one with nature, first lesson,

third journey. And one more:
Divestiture of security, serving
neither court nor scholarship

with its encumbering ignorance.
Preparing self for the task,
for the Deep Road to the Far North.
Deepest devotion from how one walks.

Jim Bodeen
15 August 2014


The Mothership is in the shop
and needs more than an oil change:
it needs brakes. I sit outside
on the smoker’s bench
that says, Welcome, not smoking,
reading Sam Hamill’s Habitation,
so new it’s still stiff from the printer’s,

not yet in a single bookstore.
What I’ve learned from these poems,
40 years in their making,
is how to carry a vision
and make a life from walking. Front wheels
on the truck aren’t wheeling,
front brake calipers seizing

and old rotors cracked. What this means
is money if we’re going to run
northern California rivers this September.
Looking for miniature landscape stones
is a suiseki journey. Making literature,
Hamill’s first word, standing
in a crowd of disbelievers, a call

from God through the exile’s mouth.
Those old Chandler-Price presses
mixing smells of ink and oil, bolted
into floors of the old fort
had my attention. All of it
a flood on the Welcome bench,
Requiem, Hamill’s homage to Rexroth,

Rilke echoing in Hamill’s ear
as he writes. And after love, after the cry of love,
is stoppered in the throat…It’s Hamill’s
Bashō though, stirring my heart,
these words on the Journey to the Interior:
Into the geography of soul
that makes the journey itself a home.

The morning passes into high summer heat
on the bench with Habitation and a notebook.
I studied the man, how he wrote, what he read,
for 20 years, a distant apprenticeship.
How I go to work each day is the same.
How I work with the poem is how I work
with little trees. Bonsai and poem

mirrors the already and the not yet.
What to leave in, what to take out, the same ache.
And in the river, Yes, again. Magic Mind
healing the rock as it surfaces in my hand.
I carry home what sensei leaves behind.
The signature of my work like this, raw,
in the notebook resting on table in Mothership.

Storypath/Cuentocamino—a dozen years
following a bilingual word half made-up,
charged and given to me, as long
as I had discipline and courage to obey.
A life-time with three charged words:
Luchador, Abrecaminos, Storypath/Cuentocamino,
nearly half a century listening to others.

Five years with the mothership.
Crazy Cloud and Mother Quilt rolling together.
Notebook, cameras, IPhone and sewing machine.
All given for what gives itself up in word.
Nearly anonymous. Anonymity
for the poem and for what calls itself God,
bound to call and calling, free and not-free.

Jim Bodeen
15-17 August 2014



You see,
you see it.

You see, you see.
Not every one gets to.
You see the world in this piece of tree fungus.

You see. It's, it's...

It’s a butterfly.

That’s what I’m saying.

Jim Bodeen
12 August 2014


Break from days of 100-degree heat
on the mountain, drizzle cooling us,
slowing the fire in the old forest
causing us to change hike plans
walking alongside White River.
This is a dream school
and you’re our guide, Tim.
No five classes a day, here.
Some years one or two meetings.
Time turns short.

Thanks for the hike.
Skookum Flats, no second choice.
Time with your nieces off trail, bushwacking
White River and old growth forest.
Time with Mom & Dad.
Time taking my hand crossing
water on a log with vertigo.

You are Samurai.
Your nephews and nieces testify to your virtue.
So does your father.
As among flowers the cherry is queen,
so among men, the Samurai is Lord.

So sing the children
singing of you.
This is Bushido.
Soul from mountain culture
crystallizing the Japan
we walk into here,
Wilderness Family National Treasure Park.

Jim Bodeen
15 August 2014


I’m going to buy a shirt
to build a wall
for my birthday pin.

The clip set at the top
so it will wear properly.
Finally I understand how to hang it.

So much better
than becoming a Windsor Knight,
I mean knot
on a silk tie.

These little pins
saving me all these years
time after time
from enemies
and dangerous situations.

Cosmology of angels
on a neutral background.

Jim Bodeen
15 August 2014


—for Dheezus

What I pick from the river
is only the heart,
but my granddaughter sees
two rivulets of crystals
and treasure: Break it open,
Grandpa, we’ll be rich.

We’re rich now.

No we’re not.
You don't even know what rich is.
Break it open, Grandpa.
Do you want to take it
to Heaven with you when you die?

I’ll leave it with you.
You’ll see.
You may want to break it open then.
But you’ll see.
It’s your heart.

Jim Bodeen
14 August 2014


I’ve never seen a hot dog so big.

Look at that jelly bean.

Jim Bodeen
10 August 2014


I was the eldest child
we were in the doze of hibernation
that voice we could hear
none of the news entered me as terror
Pre-reflective, pre-literate, pre-historical
My listening became more deliberate
Still not the news that interested me
I credit poetry for making this space-walk possible

Poetry can make an order as true
to the impact of external reality
I credit poetry, in other words, both for being itself
and for being a help
Rejoiced most when the poem seemed most direct
an upfront representation of the world
or stood its ground against
A rapture and an ache
a different kind of accuracy
poetry’s ability and responsibility
devoted to things as they are
fortified by a refusal to grant the poet
any more licence than any other citizen
having to conduct oneself as a poet
the stability of truth
the destabilizing nature of its own operations
challenged yet steadfast in my non-combatant status
a way of crediting poetry
What Yeats tried to do: to hold in a single thought
reality and justice
The violence from below
retaliatory violence from above
that Tacitus was right: peace is the desolation left behind
bowed to the desk like some monk
finally and happily I straightened up
Make space for the marvelous as well as the murderous
True to life if subversive of common sense
a world for the respect of every tradition
agile give-and-take
“An Ireland the poets have imagined”
Poetry flourishing, rather than proving itself
the poet’s lap of honour
It knows that the massacre will happen again on the roadside
Poetry can be equal to and true at the same time
the “temple inside our hearing.”
But the thing uttered by the speaker is still not quite
     the story of what is going on
rapture came from music rather than prayer
its tone of supplication, its pivots of strength in the words
     in the sheer in-placeness
form is both the ship and its anchor
What necessary poetry always does
touch the base of our sympathetic nature
The thing which always is
The power to persuade that vulnerable part
It’s rightness in spite of the evidence
We are hunters and gatherers of values
Our solitudes and distresses are creditable

Jim Bodeen
11 August 2014


Full of caves
and calligraphy

fitting the palm
of her hand

Jim Bodeen
5 August 2014


Coming to me in time,
across time, exploding,
and then the long wait,
a million, two million years,
waiting for a hand
descending into water
in the moment of recognition.

The first Ah,
my 50 years with Karen.
Palm lines read back in time.
The hand that took my hand
reaches into the river.
The stone evolving and devolving,
arrested. Submerged
beauty surfacing.

Blessed community blessing.
Grateful for all tipping hats.
A community of visionaries.
I carry your names
into the garden where each stone
is a star with your word.

A year of studying Japanese pines.
Oh, Pine Islands, Ah!,
in Sam Hamill’s Bashō,
and reading Bashō,
causes one to lower the eyes.

August 9, 1945,
my birthdate, also a call to remember.
All of this, all of you, part of the blessing.

Jim Bodeen
10 August 2014


His feet carry him
further into the river
Language tags along

Jim Bodeen
9 August 2014


Every day
when I go out
in the yard

with spade
and child’s rake
Karen got me

to pick up
dog poop
I say to myself

I’m going to go
right into the house
and thank her.

Jim Bodeen
31 July 2014