Almost, Through This Long Night


We have reached the point
where we can’t get through the night
without more news of fires.
This is what we say to each other
turning out the light, Our goodnight kiss
whispering, Chelan.
Chelan is on fire.

Jim Bodeen
18 August 2015


         —for Wes Hanson

Cool, clear morning, old song.
Stayed low in summer bag
beneath sunshine and sage.
Fall feel to things, finally,
circling. Sage, rock,
and bird song. Suiseki stones
under kitchen table,
the mothership a zendo
dreaming. Spokane River,
low and warm giving up
deep histories in river rock.

Walking off the grid
changes the eye, charging the eye,
bringing you closer
to William Blake.
Have you been with God
this morning, Grandfather?
A dozen small birds fly
into a small shrub
just beyond sage.
Sun higher on my cheek
since birds landed
entering water home.
Water too low, too warm
for fish. Some of what this day
has already given me
is failure to respond to beauty.
Walking with a man
carrying a sling
full of hand-made wooden flutes
on a quarter section of land
dedicated by law
to trust and preservation,
bone dry open to any passing match,
I’m accompanied by the listening power
of a camera with better ears
than mine, and an eye
beyond man’s capacity to comprehend,
a falcon’s eye in yarak.
Living like that for a morning,
trying and failing.
I walk with a man
who paints, whose water colors
activate the imagination,
who writes poems daily
wrapping himself
in a piece of hard scrabble land,
land that opens at Sliding Gate Road,
the mind itself born of a Williams poem.
The river I walked into
could not care less for the action above it
on a freeway of cement,
fueling commerce and apocalypse,
the fires themselves at this moment
jumping the great Columbia River.
This river, these pot holes,
my feet in this warm water
at its dangerously low level
granting me access to stones
not seen in anyone’s lifetime.
These stones with stories
of where they’ve been.
We guess what’s happened
and we’re not wrong.
They will appear again
in countless poems, in gardens.
I walk on them in sandals
balancing, off balance too,
turning them with my hands,
carrying the odd one
with me to the mothership
in cloud sky worship.
Already they have a place
in the great telling of morning.

Jim Bodeen
7 August—18 August 2015

Walking the Poet's Land with Wes Hanson

Poet and painter Wes Hanson walks his land, talking about how the land trust works, and how it belongs to generations to come. He talks about the poem, plays flute from a quiver of flutes, revealing through language and deep knowledge of this land, how a life comes together. Wes Hanson's Land Trust, from hard scrabble to deep beauty, is located in Coeur d'alene, Idaho.

Road to Sliding Gate : A Poetry Reading with Wes Hanson

Poet and painter Wes Hanson accesses home and sanctuary through art, as poet and painter who works daily for beauty and the imagination. His portals begin at the entrance to his land through a narrow gate and a narrow road. One leaves one world to arrive at another where color and the imagination, collaborate with the painting and the poem.



     “And Karen, does she abide?”

Yogurt with granola
on a picnic bench
and sliced (cold) watermelon
from Hermison
with Karen. This,
the third picnic bench
we’ve sat at with meals
since returning
from Costa Rica.
American River,
White River,
Pot Holes.

Walking in tall grass,
the man we were with,
our host’s voice
out of the 19th Century
in the American grain,
“And Karen, does she abide?”
We walk in silence
as I think about the word
and all who might use it
along with all who have.

“Karen, she is the Starship.”

Jim Bodeen
7 August 2015




Jim Bodeen
11 August 2015


Lawn mower at my neighbor’s.
Soft light, porch light, I can see
to read, words shadowed, visible.
Library visit today
full of surprises, titles
I went looking for, too.
How good is that.
How good the stretch of stiff legs.
Reading the hawk book.
Karen comes out and sits.
She’s looking for the neighborhood sound
and the itch cream.
She’s not carrying anything to read.
I close the book,
ask her to help me pronounce goshawk,
my notebook open on my lap.
She can’t believe
how much I don’t know.

Jim Bodeen
10 August 2015


Early afternoon.
Didn’t get an early start.
Read four of Kevin’s poems,
listening in his voice
that slowed me up
then stopped me. Somehow
the Charles Berkowsky film
on PTSD surfaced
with Jonathan Shay
and those GIs.
Do I deserve this much disability?
Shay confessing,
They really kidnapped me,
and I thank them.
It might be a good idea
to carry The Iliad
in the glove box
of your car.
Achilles doesn’t understand Patroclus
until he’s dead.

My notes on the other page
will tell you
what things were said
and how I was knocked
off balance. Discover Pass
no good here, but my Senior Pass
works. O crowded by beauty,
I am. I didn’t finish
the Whalen biography
last night or this morning.
I’ll put it in the pack
along with my black bean
chicken-beef burrito
brought from home.
Let me finish this Root Beer
and then I’ll get started.
There’s a breeze.

When I arrived
I was ready to go home.
Hot, tired, why not?
I took a look at the loop
and asked myself
what I thought I’d do
when I got home.
The pack looked pretty good,
Naches Loop looked even better.
I’ve got two cameras
and a poet’s biography.
There’s that music from Berkowitz’ film,
Gorecki’s 3d Symphony, The Lost Day,
and Unfamiliar Wind. That passage
from Paul, shouting,
Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!
¡No te hagas ningún daño!
¡Todos estamos aquí!

I do want to read that poem
of Lew Welch’s
before I put on my boots.
The Song of the Turkey Buzzard,
Beak open, neck stretched, gasping for air.
Oh how we want to live.
Keep the highway clear
and harm no being.

Jim Bodeen
29 July—11 August 2015

DOB: 8/9/45

Now at 70, I get asked
often about my birthday—
usually it’s nurses
asking for confirmation
about the man
sitting in front of them.
8. 9. 45., I say, that’s me.
And so it is to the nurses,
that folder in their hands
has my name on it,
my DOB. Increasingly,
they’re young, vulnerable
walking through doors
not knowing who’s there.

Increasingly, too, I’m interested
in that day, 8. 9. 45.
Do you know what happened?
I sometimes ask, cringing,
anticipating the rolling of the eyes.
How could anyone know?
That day. Nagasaki. Oh.

Born on the day the door
swings both ways makes a difference.
Why is the day called the sliding gate?
Called survivors eat the sweetest cookies.
This year a friend sends me the story
of a bonsai tree that survived the bombing
of Hiroshima. 390 years ago. Two miles from the blast.
Given to the bonsai National Arboretum in 2001.
A white pine already mature
when Basho started north.
Every tree’s story.
Protected by its placement next to a wall
in the Yamaki family nursery.

The friend doesn’t know about my birthday,
how  gift arrives as responsibility,
how the tree shapes my days, becoming part
of the river life. On this day
of my birth in an isolated village
in the State of North Dakota,
the celebration of remembrance begins early.
Karen and I begin on the 6th
taking the back road to see a poet in Idaho.
We stop in fenced sage outside of Hanford
on the Columbia where a sign commemorates
Reactor B. Someone has shot a hole
through the sign with a rifle.
The camera runs through it.
Life and death on the other side.
Alamogordo, compound word, place name.
Big fat poplar tree. Site in New Mexico
where the plutonium bomb first explodes.
Writing the word in my notebook
I’ve never heard the name spoken aloud.
Alamogordo. The driveway to the poet’s house
takes us from one world to another.
In this place, we say the words out loud.
Alamogordo. Big Boy. Fat Man.
We walk the land, we make a movie
of the poet reading his poems.

Henry Stimson honeymooned in Kyoto
where the Army Colonel wanted to drop the bomb.
The colonel wanted to make a point.
You can read about that. The conversation
between Stimson and Truman,
but this poem is about walking the land.
This poem is about the portals of the imagination.
It’s a refrain in a Bruce Springsteen song about a train.
Gospel song. This poem.
My friend wrote a poem about the 6th of August.
We make a movie.
We eat fresh peaches sprinkled with raw cane sugar
from Hawaii. So sweet.
We begin a 3-day celebration of the poem,
August 6th,
which brings us to this morning, my birthday.
marked man, blessed
in the wicked time of wonder.

Jim Bodeen
9 August 2015


Alone on the porch
with a burned-out coffee pot,
early, options exist
for extracting flavor
from the beans,
and I know how.
This, the easy part.
Even the hard part’s
easy, I know the practice
and how to follow the line.
The village has been wrapped.
Evacuation accomplished.
The metal roof resists heat
and throws back the flames.
The word remains urgent
and available.

Jim Bodeen
3 August 2015

Color Morada, que tomaba Cristo


Wake between times and doors
swinging and then, she asks,

What are you doing?
And you try to tell her

about the covers.
What is rumpled now

will never be straight.
Underneath the House of God,

another house.

Jim Bodeen
31 July 2015


Morning breeze, sounds of the city
waking. Enter through open windows—
este es el fenómeno de honrar
el espíritu de los gatos—

This is fascination with cats and gold.
Sabor de papaya, that’s what this is,
overpowering elegance.
El reino animal. Tail extending

beyond the anus, crossing Bering Strait
in Pleistocene times.
Jaguar, ocelot, puma.
2000 years of recording jaguars,

before arrival of Spaniards
in 16th Century. Jaguars
associated with might-and-birth
of two indigenous groups—

Teribe and Bornuca.
When the sun still had not risen
stones were soft as mud,
a man called Suik,

Monkeys and pigs,
decided to take a journey
looking for a place to live.
A jaguar joins the group.

They leave Talamanca
and set out for the Pacific
crossing mountains.
Suik dies in the night.

When jaguar sees morning light
he’s blind, and leans into a rock
leaving a paw print, beginning
the chase of time.

Monkeys and pigs.
When approached, people chasing them,
they become something else.
Some monkeys. Some swine.

Jaguar is upper crust society.
Dioscorrea. God Running.
Tubolwak, clan owner of the names.
This discovered message:

Calm the tiger, caress him
until he shrinks, turning into stone.
Wrap the stones in cotton
placing them in a basket.

Protect them. They will not
fly off, if well-watched.
If they fly, they turn,
and return as tigers.

Jaguar, apex predator.
Más carismática
en las Americas, emotional.
Immortalized in time and dream.

Work out details of the bus stop,
la parada. Let the curtain
blow over your eyes.
Let the breakfast beans

of Jahel settle your heart
while children
play ping pong—
ones who opened the windows.

Jim Bodeen
5 July—31 July 2015


The mask you have been given
is the apprentice mask of two worlds,

the one worn by the man
when he took up the knife

and put it into the wood,
that time, to see if he could do it,

the one he wore then,
during the time of the testing.

Jim Bodeen
6 July—31 July 2015


Wood for this mask
is indigenous from Costa Rica—

Madera Nazareno,
color morada, purple—

que tomaba Cristo
carried by Christ—

Pura vida in Jaime’s language—
Morén morén rá—

Awa is Costa Rican indigenous
for Curandero, shamán, cacique, machi.

Jim Bodeen
7 July—1 August 2015


Casa Concordia,
House with Good Love, loving,
San José, Costa Rica,
riding local transportation,

Jahel and Jaime with us,
con nosotros guiandonos,
corazones concordia,
platos tipica,

walking the city
underneath teatro nacional
pre-Columbiano oro,
indigenous artist enters gratis,

so do all of the children,
underneath the house of God
is another house.

Jim Bodeen
July, 2015