On the island of sand
I remove my boots, socks,

all my clothes.
Three creeks emptying

the coldest water.
My toes, already numb.

I wash my cock, anus,
armpits in separate

movements. Each organ
given deserved, and ample time—

submerging my head
encouraged by each cheering toe.

Jim Bodeen
26-27 June 2015
EightMile Lake/Yakima

Animal Orientation


Trekking poles shorten
coming off the mountain
leading me, bringing
body closer to earth,
a turning  angle,
animal orientation
more sure of self
one of the four-leggeds,

Jim Bodeen
28 June 2015


It’s somebody’s pickle jar.

Jim Bodeen
26 June 2015


This hike to the alpine lake—it’s all about the trees,
            the fallen trees—walking through them
on the way to the lake. Standing there.
            The invitation in silence.

O fallen ones, your movement
            restoring community—
standing there, the charred ones—
            As I go out.

I will never forget you—you stood
            for the camera on the way in.
I didn’t see you coming—
            and there it was—
your invitation in silence.

The portraits, present—
            My God—
You’re part of the trail—
            burned black before me
already composed. You, who have been
            so patient—

as it was in your green life
            when you were making leaves
and candles—making leaves and candles—
            your story in your needle making,

in your deep rootedness,
            and in your deep belonging,
your belonging, and our entrance
            asking for treaties and interdependence—

In your great burgeoning forth
            of the cosmos, in which you played
(and so do you still),
            as it is in the great legacies—
you stood there.

            You thought you were
just walking to the lake with your pack
            and your water pump?
You stood there. You stand so still.

            You, the great trees,
in a wilderness place set aside for your well-being,
gave yourself up in flames.
You war word and witness.
            Word in witness—

Greeting me. You greet me,
            and the camera follows you
off trail. You watch as I walk out,
            thinking I know you—
recognizing you in your individuality—
            knowing you as you
went up in flames.

            You are kept as you stood
in mid-flame. The individual flame
            marking you where it took your life.

The point where the camera
            interacts with the flame
calls me out.
                        I recognize you now,
walking out. Walking out,
            I know you.
            My reach in accompaniment
is always greater than the actual walk.

            You stopped me on the trail.
I left the trail at your invitation—
            unable to resist your dark beauty.
There was no choice—

            You stood as the beloved stands,
and the cameras, which I carry,
            captured your light
coming from all that is unknown
            within me.
                        Who are the lost ones?
                        What might they need to be found?

And all that is unknown and on fire,
            lights up in flames—
the flames remain.
            One follows the beloved
in an easiness, without guarantee.
            This is true as you are true.

Long ago, a young man, in another war,
            my country defoliated you
as part of a conscious plan
            aimed at the destruction
of your jungle family.
                        It was my job
to evacuate soldiers
            who had survived the battles,
the wounded ones—burned monks
            in monasteries, eschatons—
and the trees burned before us.

            Totems on the northern shores
of Haida Gwaii—

            How we saw the other—

It was my job to evacuate soldiers
            who had survived the battles,
the wounded ones, to burn centers.

There are no burn centers for the trees.

You have stood for the camera.

You are beautiful in fact, wound, flame.
            Beautiful in texture—
your blond wood shining
            under and after flames.

With and among you.
With and among you.

Asking for that.
Asking what you need.

You are the elders.
You are children of elders.

You are word out of silence.
Word into silence.

Jim Bodeen
26-29 June 2015

Accompaniment with the Trees: Particular Pleasures

Particular Pleasures: EightMile Lake Hike, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

The summer garden asks for different things. A different kind of attention to water. Each tree with its own thirst, its differing hunger.  The poet had called them out from their silence during the time of war and occupation. The memories of trees was greater than what any of them knew. They had  voices, but how to access them?

Backpacking trip to EightMile Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness through fires of recent years, Burned-out trees, and charred roots stand for portraits and as witnesses, for solitaries passing through. Listening and meditation walk. Conversation with books in the backpack: David Hinton, Fenton Johnson, Belden C. Lane.



Rock walk surface work
Stone gives up its portrait
Quiet inside talk

Jim Bodeen
16 June 2015



The object is always more important, more interesting, more capable (full of rights): it has no duty whatsoever toward me, it is I who am obliged to it.
            —Francis Ponge “Banks of the Loire”

I.                   The pine tree has entered the garden.
Black pine, White, Jack Pine, Mugo—Mountain or scrub mountain.
The pine trees have arrived, come from the coast of Japan.
The pine tree is here, a result of all of my failures.
The pine tree has a foothold in my soul.

The pine tree has arrived in the brush and ink of Basho.
Basho left everything behind for the poem.
He saw those pines during his great disvestiture.
The pine forest has arrived.
Long after Basho, true.
The pine woods.
The pine woods is also here.
The pine woods is here in the form of a notebook.
The notebook being a manuscript of Francis Ponge.

The pine tree is photosynthesizing this morning.
The pine tree that is occupying my mind has taken root in the garden.
The occupation of the pine tree
along with the etymological journal has begun.
There is so little time.
There is nothing but time.
Time and the pine tree and the occupation.
Let it begin.

Pinus thunbergii. Pinus Mugo.
Pinus strobus, the white pines.

More pines coming.
They’re on their way in the language
of everyday use. They arrive
in the songs of Tony Childs.
Responding to water and song.

II.                Heat wave lessening. Water trees before dusk.
Cool them off.
Maybe heat will remain under 100 degrees.
Coming down from 106 to 101 yesterday.
Beckett’s last works, dream-conscious.
Saddened by fame, cigarettes and alcohol.
Maybe his mother’s in his head.
Merton’s last words, “And now I will disappear.”
Francis Ponge. He begins with a two-fold guarantee:
need for expression and opposition to language.

Francis Ponge in the pine woods.
A carnation. “Beacon in a buttonhole.”
Walking the woods. August, 1940, near Suchere.
After exodus, along the roads.
Just re-united with family.
The pocket notebook his only paper,
enough for the manuscript,

Objects, too, under pressure.
Witness of sentient beings.
Sentient beings everywhere.       
Unacknowledged. Seen but not heard.
Becoming like them, reclusive, yet.
Magical stones, avoiding drabness.
Objects in the everyday world.
The time of the pine wood.
III.             OCCUPY.  Reside or have one’s place
            of business in (a building).
Fill or preoccupy (the mind or thoughts).
                  transitive verb 1. to engage the attention or energies of.
 occupy (v.) mid-14c., “to take possession of,”
also “to take up space or time,
employ(someone), “irregularly borrowed from Old French
occuper “occupy (a person or place), hold, seize”  (13c.) or directly
from Latin occupare“take over, seize, take into possession,
possess, occupy” from ob “over”
(see ob-) + intensive form of capere “to grasp, seize, (see capable).
The final syllable of the English word is difficult to explain,
but it is as old as the record; perhaps from a modification
made in Anglo-French. During 16.-17c. a common euphemism for ‘
have sexual intercourse with” (sense attested from early 15c.),
which caused it to fall from polite usage.
“A captaine? Gods light these villaines wil make the word as odious
as the word occupy, which was an excellent good worde before
it was il sorted.” [Doll Tearsheet in 2 Henry IV”]

obsess, (verb) obsesses: obsessed; obsessing
1. To dominate or to occupy the thoughts, feelings,
or desires of someone:to beset, to trouble, or to haunt
persistently or abnormally:
Suspicions about his neighbor's honesty obsessed Matthew.
2. To occupy someone's thoughts constantly,
compulsively, and exclusively:
The desire for revenge about the way she was treated so badly
by her fellow workers obsesses Marge's sister.
3. Etymology: from Latin obsessus, past participle of obsidere,
"to besiege, to occupy". Literally, "to sit opposite to".
from ob. "against" + sedere "to sit".


His primary occupation was as editor.
His father’s occupation.
A way of spending time.
A game of cards is a pretty harmless occupation.
The Roman occupation of Britain.
The workers remained in occupation until October 16.
A property suitable for occupation by older people.

Inhabit, populate, settle, engage, employ, distract, entertain, divert, invade, occupy, suppress, seize, conquer, storm, annex, subjugate, subdue, besiege, agitate, blacklist, boycott, bring down, chase, defect, demonstrate, destable, dislodge, foment, march, occupy, oppose, oust, overthrow, subvert, raise hell, occur to, flash, dawn, think, strike

If a thought or idea strikes you, it enters
your mind suddenly or unexpectedly.

IV.             Pinus is an ancient Latin name.
Strobus, a spinning top.
The resin made pitch, tar, resin, and turpentine.
Sailors used pine pitch to caulk their vessels
and to keep their pigails together.
The pine family, or Pinaceae, includes
conifers, pines, firs, and spruces, easily confused.
Pinecones are the mature female reproductive organs of the tree.
Pine needles are joined in bundles
of two to five by a papery sheath at base.
American pines include the lodgepole pine,
so named by Lewis and Clark.
Ancient pines in China and Japan are much revered.

Candling Pines in the garden/Training Pine Bonsai
Buds called, or known, as candles,
are trimmed just as needles begin to separate from stem.
Pinch or trim with scissors.
Vary the amount of candle removal with indirect
proportion to candle size.
Leave the weak ones, prune the aggressive ones.
Or,candle them all, or, allow the candle to come
to its moment of perfection,
then candle. Finally, take your tree to the teacher. Ask.

V.                Pine tree tops bend snow-blue in Gary Snyder’s poem.

Ponge wondering over the ten days. 
Is this it? Is this all I’ve done?
Ten days, Sixteen pages, comprising, composing.
The limited paper. He needs to check some definitions.
Uninterrupted and relentless effort.
Tempted, he says, to call it, the time of…
And he does say, “…after an eternity of nonexpression
in the mute world, it is eager now…” the mute world,
to be expressed, that he “has given it hope.”

Saying this, surrounded as he is,
August, 1940, in the pine woods,
checking connotations and etymologies,
he can’t yet see how those trees will need his voice
75 years from now, in this time, our time.

VI.             “So let’s return as quickly as possible to the search for everything
that can be said about pine woods and only of them.”
       —Francis Ponge

My own sorry efforts.
Refusal to listen.
Don’t start with pines. Stay away from the Black Pines.
Stay at home with Junipers, American.
The Black Pine represents Japanese aristocracy.
You’re too old anyway.

Everything said was true,
and I wasn’t ready when I walked into the room,
and I drew the number of that beautiful tree,
Corkbark black pine, Pinus thunbergii.
The buds had already died.
Initiation not discussed.
I didn’t know.

Moving from teacher to teacher,
hearing the stories of Masahiko Kimura,
his trees are known wherever stories
are told of transformation,
I, too, am moved,
but I keep an arm’s length
from those doing the telling.
I can access photographs.
Tweezers in shirt pockets reveal the uniform.

Modern bonsai is evolutionary
with humble roots,
brought home by GIs after World II.

The teacher I find talks like this:

When they’re small, prune hard.
It’s very easy to fall in love with a tree
at Home Depot with no potential for bonsai.
I’ve done it. “Roots, trunk, taper.”
Branches coming down.
Small branches are our friends.
Big branches not our friends.
We want our branches
to divide and stay small.
Leave the front open.
Your tree wants to invite you in.

Oceanside cliffs and strong winds
off the Japanese coast
creates these masculine trees.

In our own small way
we will try to emulate
these conditions, cutting
candles, pruning needles
with our fingers.

Jim Bodeen
4-14 June, 2015


Constructed of pine by a woodworker and bonsai artist, a walker. Fourteen inches by fourteen inches. The depth purposely set at four inches to serve as a container, or pot for plants, in this case for bonsai trees, and their training. An alternative to the expensive ceramic pots from China. The bottom of the box made with one inch slats separated from each other with one-eighth inch gaps leaving ample room for distributive drainage. Wood screws. Beveled. Finished borders. Holes drilled in the bottom for wiring trees to the pot, in this case, a box. Design principles copying the ceramic pots, if a bit deeper. The four inch walls at a 45 degree angle. The craftsman-artist makes these boxes at cost for his fellow club members.

My first experience with the box after preparing it for the trees and mixing the soil of pumice and small red rock, was to plant three small spruce trees come in the mail as seedlings from the Arbor Society, and kept in nursery pots for two years. Two blue spruce and a Norwegian Spruce. Oh, and a cutting from a Sequoiadendron Giganteum that is doing fine! My initial impulse was for more of a grove of trees than a forest, but the trees themselves showed me other possibilities. As a boy I knew groves of trees from walking railroad tracks. A country boy in North Dakota. Piled rocks were graves from Mandan warriors and so they remain to me this morning. I place two fist-sized rocks found in the mountain river and hand-rubbed for the developing patina, in amongst the trees where two Chinese monks sit reading poems.

As my grandkids came around me in the back yard I began to think of a different kind of sandbox. The sandbox gave way to the idea of a park. From the park came more parks and different kinds of parks, wilderness areas where no gardener would be allowed to enter with the tiny scissors sharp enough to take digits of fingers as they’ve been known to do. Here there were playgrounds and sanctuaries. I began to prepare garden boxes for the children, empty but for the prepared soil. At first I would give them cut branches from the Korean Pear tree, flowering roses from the Old World Heritage rose bush, tiny animals from the toy room, and a couple of small rubber frogs from my own collection. They were given instructions and pruners. You have access to anything in Grandpa’s garden, but it must be the right size to create the park you want to play in. You can take from any of the rocks and any of the flowers and trees. They built rivers and lakes. Hiding places where adults would never find them. Bridges and hidden caves underneath the bridges. Animal sanctuaries and farm lands. They had neighborhoods and houses. Lego’s found their way in. A trail system was one of their favorites. They were showing me ideas for my own boxes. They were showing me how boring my ideas had been.

The spruce trees were growing and outgrowing their box. I resisted the cutters, and the wires, too. A woman friend reminded me of the broken feet of the Chinese women in times past. She asked me if the bonsai came from the same period. I didn’t know, but I knew it all came from the dark place, that the emperor wanted to see the size of his empire in one sitting, without having to travel. What is the price for beauty? Why could I not focus more on the principles of bonsai itself? Where was my respect for the tradition?

Wire with soft hands, the master says. Don’t damage the bark of the tree with the wire. Wire keeps the branch from breaking, and allows movement. There is nothing without movement.

Jim Bodeen
8 June 2015


“But The poet on his professional walk learns something; he takes from the blackberries food for thought. ‘This is how,’ he says to himself, ‘the patient efforts of a flower—a delicates one—succeed, and generously…”
            —Francis Ponge, Ten Poems of Francis Ponge translated by Robert Bly

And so it was at the game last night, first local game
of the season. June, with its June night summer sky
and no wind, wearing hardly any clothes myself
just in case something comes up. Fireworks after,
my granddaughter frustrated because she couldn’t
get the video going with her telephone. How could
our ancestors understand that sentence? I have been
outside with the hose, cooling down trees before
the heat of the day. Blacks, pinks and khakis
all together, they present us with the spectacle
of family members of all ages…What about
the professional walk? You lover, you amateur.
Francis Ponge loves etymology, and its counter-
part, its amateur walk. Robert Bly loved these
poems and I have just come across ten of them
tossed from library shelves. I have been one
with the blackberries. This is a mute object
of expression workshop. Blackberries—urban
ones in Seattle, apprenticed with them early,
I remained. During those years when they
were beyond my reach as the poem, I cut
 myself and was cut, cutting also the vines,
going into them, past where I could be seen.
Here I declared myself. It was in Seattle,
on a hill in Ballard, above 3d Street NW,
across from the house of my father-in-law,
overlooking the Olympic Mountains.
A half century ago. They were trying
to get rid of the blackberries, everyone,
it seemed, was trying to get rid of the blackberries.
I stood with them in solidarity before
I had the word. Cut and stained
I wrote that poem bringing home berries
from which I made jelly and syrup.

Jim Bodeen
6 June 2015


“From now on, may nothing ever cause me to go back on my resolve.”
            —Francis Ponge, Banks of the Loire

Let’s begin then, in my backyard
with a line written 74 years ago
on the banks of a river in France.
The poem came off the UPS truck two days ago
and entered my life at that time.
Just two days. Certainly it’s a prayer
and comes from the same source
as the psalms of David. The poem
seated itself immediately in my notebook
even though I had several friends in mind
with whom I immediately
wanted to share it. The poem.
I was reading the poem this morning
in the cubicle at the doctor’s
waiting for him to come in. I forgot
about him as I began transcribing
the poem into my notebook.
I was somewhat taken back
 when the door opened interrupting
my meditation. The book itself,
Mute Objects of Expression,
translated by Lee Fahnstock,
bound in lovely, folded cover sheets
for strength and durability, cut
to make a small, square book,
an object of art in itself,
created well after the fact,
cover illustration by Anne Gilman,
perhaps the trunk of a tree
with cursive writing super-imposed
over it, itself the trunk of a tree
underneath a canopy of words
serving as the title. The apex
of this book come from the trunk
bearing the name, Francis Ponge,
who wrote this poem, this proem,
in a notebook, probably not
a great deal different than the notebook
in which this writing takes place
this morning, from a doctor’s office,
a backyard garden. Ponge
writing on the banks of the Loire,
from Roanne, during the occupation.

Jim Bodeen
4-7 June 2015

Two Highways 97 and 31--Central Washington and South Central Oregon


Out of Yakima on 97 South. When Karen sees the wild horses in high outback to my left, I pull over to the shoulder of the road. As the automobile gained prominence in the early 1900s, horses were no longer essential to the Yakama nation, and many horses of all breeds were released on to the land. Feral horses migrated and reproduced—and reproduced in such numbers, that they’re now a threat to even the salmon, having overgrazed and survived in a hostile environment. Bunch grass has been replaced by invasive cheat grass. A solution remains as elusive as their sudden beauty.

The video camera sits between Karen and I. We’re twenty minutes from home. We’re sharing this 2-lane highway with trucks this morning, and the shoulder is too narrow to be safe. Trucks shake the mother ship, coming between us and the horses on the hills above us. I put the camera down. Looking at Karen before pulling back on the highway, I see two horses grazing in the ditch out the passenger window..

We’re listening to Joe Pug, his songs new to us, promising. Here it is close to home, this world of wonders. Some youngsters approaching 40 have sent him our way. He’s the real thing. Unplugged. Bright Beginnings, Burn and Shine, I Do My Father’s Drugs, and songs as hymns: Hymn #35, Hymn #76. Like that. I Do My Father’s Drugs would have me as the father, right? And the way I hear the song, and it’s a good one, the drugs are the wars we’re still carrying—Viet Nam being at the top of the list along with our entitlements, the most ecstatic of all being our generation’s hold on power.

Pug is confession, rejection and witness. “When freedom is routine…When every revolution is sponsored by the state……" In one line he sings, “I do my father’s drugs…I fight my father’s war…” In another, "When all the streets in Cleveland are named for Martin Luther King…” And this: "I've come to meet the Sheriff and his posse/ to offer them a broadside of my job..."

Big trucks, wild horses. Music. Riding with Karen. Goldendale in front of us, and then the descent to the Columbia, massive wind machines competing for our attention in the mythic landscape of the grand river. Crossing the river itself, and Oregon. 97 South is a scenic byway itself, most of the traffic following the Interstate into Portland. Here it’s Wasco, Kent, and the ghost town of Shaniko. We’re traveling parallel to the Deschutes River where I took our daughters river rafting on their 21st birthday. Then it’s the Metolius, and into Bend, stopping at High Desert Museum on the other side. We don’t stop at Newberry National Volcanic Monument, We’re here. We’re without children. We're without a dog. Saying this on paper stops composition.

The night before we leave, I go out to the Mothership after Karen has gone to bed. Parked and ready to go. I open the Mothership Log, different than the notebook, different than the small composition book in the back pocket of my Levi’s. Each notebook called here, giving me different access to different things. A different way of being with Karen, for one.

It’s Monday, opening day of baseball season. Mariners opened in Seattle with Félix on the mound. Felix, from the Latin, meaning happy. Moving into luck, too. The feminine is felicity. In medieval liturgies, Felix culpa, O Happy Sin. Scars of wear we’ve been. Worn with pride in Heaven, some say. This from a note in Belden Lane’s Backpacking with the Saints. Felix is on the mound against the Angels. He strikes out 10. Mariners win 4-1.

We’re on our way to Mammoth Mountain, California in the Sierra Nevadas to see Tim. Skis packed in Thule up above. A spring snow storm just dumped a ton of snow giving us the best conditions of the year in mid-April in the middle of a drought. We were to leave this morning but a granddaughter was sick, so we kept her. First day back from spring break for teachers and students. Yesterday was Easter. Chuck and his family her. Gave Chuck a shower last night. 36 days until he gets his new knee. It’s been a long haul since his surgery in January. Long way to go.

So many good things today because of the delay.

Two Fenton Johnson books arrived in mail. Both here. Keeping Faith: A Skeptics’s Journey Among Christian and Buddhist Monks, and an earlier memoir. Just read an important essay by him in April Harper’s. Xeroxed it for friends. Karen made gorgeous copies. Johnson begins with 15 lines of Whitman. “Facing West From California’s Shores:”
                But where is what I started for so long ago?
                And why is it yet unfound?

Chapter One. In Search of the Unfound. He begins at Merton’s monastery.

But the Mothership is about going it alone, and with Karen. Karen as much partner these days as muse. Partner and blessing. The Fenton Johnson article in Harper’s, The Dignity and Challenge of Going it Alone, is not about living the carefree life, but its opposite, and Johnson’s solitaries are Siddhartha Guatami under the Bodhi tree, Moses on the mountain demanding of God, Jacob wrestling with his angel, Judith with her sword blade raised over Holofernes, John baptizing in the Jordan, Jesus fasting in the wilderness and in the agony of the garden, Magdalene among watching women, and Basho setting out for the deep north—for starters.


She says, Turn here, and I say,
Which way? We’re not yet
 to streambeds.

Watching her
with her camera
and smart phone,
The merlin falcon,
built for taking birds
from the air,
hitting speeds
of 240 miles per hour—
yellow feet—
day-time birds
have feathered feet
to quiet their approach,
sacrificing a bit of speed
to cut the sound.
Cars and electricity
the great killers of birds.
This is Karen the witness.

She is winding water.
She is the stream dropping
into flat country,
swinging from side to side.
She is a twisting loop
of meanders. Not from here.
The River Menderes in Turkey.
Ancient rooted River Maiandros
to the Greeks, doubling back.
Karen the river orphan,
depositing on one side,
scouring on the other.

Here she is again,
photographing mare and foal,
barbed wire sculpture, witness
to trees: water, air, and sunshine,
needing only these, the mother-root.
Here she is still water
holding water to her breasts
for those who thirst.
I follow her
as I am able.
This is Karen turning us.
“Turn here,” she says,
and I say, “Which way?”

9 April—23 May, 2015

We stop for ice cream and butterscotch out of La Pine. School is in session, so the young woman at Dairy Queen must be older than she looks. In addition to the quart of soft serve, I ask for a cup of butterscotch sauce. What? she asks in disbelief. A cup of butterscotch sauce in a separate cup. For this evening in the mothership, I say. Butterscotch Sundays. She’s never heard of such a thing, she says. She says, I can’t do it.  I’m not asking for something for nothing, charge me a couple of bucks and ring it up. Oh my God she shouts to the short order cook behind her. “This didn’t happen,” she says handing me the sauce. She’s smoking a cigarette in her car when we drive off. I’m telling Karen about this. After dinner, camp set up, preparing the sundaes, I discover that the sauce she’s given me is for the dipping cones. One solid chunk of plastic-like butterscotch in a DQ cup that will never be poured over ice cream. The young woman proved to be right. This didn’t happen.


Karen has found another way.
Highway 31 bypasses Klamath Falls.
We don’t have to go back too far,
she says, and  I pull off

into a stand of trees
with room to turn around.
There it is to the right, she says,
followed by a State Highway sign,

Oregon Outback Scenic Highway.
Ribbon of asphalt, best experienced
by low speeds. We hit rain,
than snow, windshield wipers

working hard. High desert,
this great basin, one of the largest
in North America, harboring
inland sea during last ice age.

Built in 1932, 120 miles long,
the highway turns spring into winter.
We have clothes but don’t
want to put them on here.

Karen says, “I don’t like the way
you’re driving. You make me nervous.
You’re looking around.
Eyes everywhere but on the road.”

Crossing in and out
of national forests, we miss
as much as we see. Between Silver Lake
 and Valley Falls, the Mosquito Festival.

The handmade sign tells us, 
Slow Down to 45, Elk and Deer
Being Killed by Cars!
Karen wants to go even slower.

We’ll miss how the mosquito
got to Oregon, The Cowboy Dinner tree,
 “Ana’s Reservoir is up ahead.
We’re stopping. Chance of snow, 90%.”

April/1 June 2015


Debris falls around the circular cone
filling with water, until pressure
bursts open its southern wall.

Luther Cressman, archaeologist,
finds dozens of sagebrush sandals
dating from 9,000 to 13,000 years ago,

at that time, the oldest
Native American artifacts
found in the new world.

1 June 2015

Karen is telling me, “There are hot springs down the road.” My response: “I got you where you told me to go.” Ana’s Reservoir isn’t as large as it was before the drought. The zoom on the camcorder finds it. I hook up but later find the water’s frozen. We’ll find the hot springs in the morning before we stop for breakfast, but we won’t stop. Our hoses would have been frozen by morning. Lucky thing I check. I don’t always.

Brats and hot dogs on the portable Weber Grill. We’re the only ones in camp. I look through notes in notebook from earlier in the day. The meanders at High Desert Museum. “The river does two kinds of work. It transports water, and transports earthen freight. Extra energy is spent re-shaping its course.” Karen’s reading emails from home on her IPad. The wife of a friend has died. Our daughter adds up the vet bills. This has been a day of turning around to go another way
in the same direction. A day of stopping early. A no-where place. A best place. Hours of this before us. A place where we can say, “We left home this morning.”

This is how it is in the Mothership. This is how it is with Karen. Another day together. Karen’s connected, IPhone and IPad. In addition to books that ride with us always, Red Pine’s Cold Mountain, David Hinton’s Chinese Poetry Anthology, and Home Ground, as staples along with the notebooks, I pack a couple of books I’m working on at home, Jane Hirshfield’s Ten Windows with me tonight. “Our human attention has many ways of engaging the primary world in any moment—perception, identification, comparison, associated drift, memory, the attraction/aversion of fear and desire, the old evaluative habits of predator in the presence of prey.”

“That’s Summer Lake?” I ask. “That’s Summer Lake,” Karen says. “It’s almost dried up. We’re almost due east of Crater Lake."

We’re warm in the Mothership, I’m up at 0530 drinking a cup of coffee, writing in the notebook. A good night. Two layers of aluminum insulation I put down last summer sweeten our nights. These are 1/8” layers of aluminum insulation laid down in truck bed and underneath the mattress make a big difference in below freezing temperatures, and the furnace knows its cue. We get a night of winter camping and a snow storm on Tim’s Mountain. 10-20 inches of new snow on Mammoth in the middle of a drought. It’s dark and snowing. Mammoth Mountain another 500 miles or so.

And Jane Hirshfield in this morning’s notebook:

“…a supple, turning aliveness, the hawk’s swoop voracity of the mind when it is both precise and free.”

“…there is something entirely unshackled in each of these poets. You feel they could say anything from within the liberated energies of creative seeing.”

“Soft machinery of the dark. Fish in carts after being taken from their grand rooms.”

“…while writing a poet is unchained from sadness and free.”

How can I stop? And why would I want to?

It’s snowing and I’m in the cab. Ready to head for Mammoth Mountain and the Sierra Nevadas. Karen’s in the Mothership buttoning up. Courtesy of West Valley Library, I put in the first of two cds by Bill Frisell titled Mystery of Birth. This morning we will pass by the hot springs where tourists stop, where they’re advertising says, “…it’s eco-friendly and geothermal cabins warm your soul. Couples find time for one another while soaking in outdoor rock pools…a sacred place for serenity, healing and renewal.” A few miles past the hot springs, fresh snow falling, we’ll stop for a cattle drive, as cowboys on horses, drive the cattle across Highway 31. We won’t have stopped yet for breakfast in the Mothership.

Jim Bodeen
April—May—1 June, 2015

June Statement


Just outside the door of the Arboretum,
a newly planted Golden Berberis,
Berberis Thunbergii,
still with the nursery tag,

three plump bunnies
having it for dinner.

Jim Bodeen
31 May 2015


The Battle of Little Big Horn
Was fought in 1876
69 years before
I was born in 1945
69 years ago

 Jim Bodeen
11 May 2015-1 June 2015