Failure with conversation
Fresh  after festival days
Shut up now in the notebook

Jim Bodeen
29 November 2015



Drop me a post card, sometime,
Donald says, as we say our goodbyes
After tacos in the park, after Uncle’s prayers.
Feel their hearts, Uncle says,

Donald translating. The language lesson
Deepening, hearing the L, hearing the D,
In Sioux dialect. Drop me a post card,
Sometime. The Highline is a rail

Road between Dakota and Yakama.
The quilt is from women off the Avenue
And my granddaughter looks at our film
Wanting to know which one is Uncle,

Which one is Red Boy, because she wants
To have names right on her drawing.
We’re pilgrims stopped at a picnic table
After Wolf Point saying thanks.

Jim Bodeen
25 November 2015


21 November 2015

The garden put down (finally) for winter.
Bonsai trees protected in layers of bark and leaf.
Twice in one day for coffee with friends.
What happened to the day?
My older friend tells me of an 8-day journey
He took when he was 21 and in the Army in Okinawa.
With another GI. It was 1960 or 61, and the two of them
Ended up in Kyoto. They went out looking for girls
And ended up in Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital,
Another world, and he was never the same.
The friend is my jeweler, a shield maker.
He walked through temples and pine trees
And his eyes never returned to the barracks.
He pins an elk’s tooth in a copper thimble to my vest.

Jim Bodeen
21 November—25 November 2015

23 November 2015

Karen stands in her coat and scarf
By the chair in the medical office
Waiting for her appointment
On the morning of our 47th wedding anniversary.
The sun is a silver disc in the eastern sky
And she mistakes it for the moon.
Ours is routine medicine I begin to write
As the nurse calls her name in mid-sentence.
Before sunrise Gary Snyder read
From a recording of  Dangerous Peaks
In the living room, bringing his voice,
Each practiced syllable, up the 5, for us all.


Say the word out loud, even while silent,
Reading to oneself. Hear it in the ear
As it was written down in the speaker’s voice.
Even one’s own words, on paper, a kind
Of betrayal. Circumambulation of the body
Stretching, after bouncing on the ball.
All limbs holding, going up to, beyond,
Seven steps along the way, breathe and relax.
Muscles working in a circular pattern, moving
In and out of three places where a poem
Is held to the eyes. Ocular entrance
And new-found territory in cellular life.
Present to the re-sounding word.
Each beat, pulsing, re-pulsing against silence.

Jim Bodeen
This Week in November

North Dakota Slow Time

Crazy Cloud/Mother Quilt explore North Dakota "deep time" in the Mothership.  Memory, poetry, family roots connect in a solitary campout in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, NoDak. Images and sounds from North Dakota Historical Center in Bismarck add to dreaming and understanding. 


            0530 hours
            20 October 2015
            Cottonwood Camp
            Theodore Roosevelt National Park
            Little Missouri River
            Medora, North Dakota

The Mothership isn’t exactly the 2-Step,
Crazy Cloud. It’s a Dodge Ram 3500.
Steak tacos and Mexican Rice for dinner.
Museum in the morning before heading West
And maybe a walk at first light, before sunrise.

How it is with Storypath/Cuentocamino.
Shut down everything but the road
For the notebook and discovery within.
The books I carry in my backpack
Blessing the other in all ways. Cameras

as another set of eyes.
Emptying the ears with sage
Coming forth with the invocation of music
Iris DeMent sings the poems of Akhmatova
And the plains will never be the same.

Badlands be ancestral storyline. These
Trackless woods and the on board library.
South of the Corps of Discovery,
We read the winter journals of Meriweather Lewis 
In the wonder of knowing the homecoming story. 

It can be done, except in notebook narratives. Alone here,
Karen and I. The only ones here.
Campground five miles in from Ranger Station.
No hookups. No water. Solar power.
Lewis and Clark winter in Mandan,

1804 turns into 1805. Almost 100 years
Will go by before any will remember.
Roosevelt arrives in 1883 for a buffalo hunt,
Invests in cattle, operates two large ranches.
Maltese Cross and Elkhorn. Buffalo

Almost gone, Roosevelt will create
Five national parks, 51 national bird reservations,
Four national game preserves
And 150 national forests. Earth Lodge People,
Hidatsa,Mandan lived here nomadically

For 500 years. Hidatsa learn about corn
From the Mandan. These two combine
With Arikara Nation to the South.
TheSmall Pox will arrive in 1837.
This is the contact point—the way

It was told to me. The day Death
Came and stayed. In the Mandan
Origin Story:  Lone Man was walking along
And became aware of himself.
The land was new where he was going.

Here on the Little Missouri River.
In 1845, Mandan and Hidatsa move 40 miles
Upriver to form Like-A-Fishhook village.
Arikaras join them in 1862. The government
Forces them to Fort Berthold in 1885.

Today that nation is known as Three Affiliated Tribes.
This is called walking in sagebrush before sunrise.
This is the notebook in the Mothership in song.
My people, conscripts and loose ends from Denmark,

Will migrate north working their way from Bismarck.
The story will be told as a new deal. Lights will come one.
Fracking will come into the vocabulary
And be hailed as creating employment,
Fracturing bedrock using a slurry of sand,

Chemicals and water to extract oil.
Spilled frakking fluids will be mentioned in brochures
as being more dangerous than spilled oil.
Oil is cheaper to collect than natural gas
So they burn off excess gas until a way

To build collection infrastructure I found.
Gas flares in 24-hour facilities light up
The dark skies of North Dakota. Stars are out,
Too. First light from the East.
My God it’s beautiful. Fingertips freezing.

Jim Bodeen
Mothership Log

North Dakota Badlands


Camped on the Little Missouri
late October,  the young Ranger
tells us the park’s winterized
and water shut off. Five miles in,

we’re the only ones at Cottonwood.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park at Medora.
Carne asada and Mexican Rice.
Grasses all yellow and brown

contrast with tinted greens in sage.
Animal tracks on the River.
A lone buffalo just before the campgrounds.
Slow traveling and museums

from Mandan to Bismarck
exhaust the imagination.
Meriwether Lewis in my head again.
What happens to the mind inside

deep travel. Impossibility of return?
Extinction as graphic as the dinosaur.
Crossing the ocean floor of North Dakota,
why have I never imagined underwater

creatures larger than the camper on the pickup?
On the top wall of the museum, a movie
shows the planet giving birth to continents
over time—598 million years in 1 minute, 46 seconds—

the fetus of our world being born. I film
it four times. My wife records it on her telephone.
Hearing language of Hidatsa and Mandan
by native speakers with translations.

Williston Basin and Bakken Formation
become more familiar than family.
Circumference and depth. And just below
Bakken, one more possibility,

Three Forks—banned for now from drilling.
Gas flares light up North Dakota skies. Tonight,
though, it’s quiet in the Park—just us and critters,
and we’re turning towards home. Another

confrontation rich with tribal chance.
The Corps of Discovery, almost forgotten
for 90 years, made the journals vulnerable,
 without accompaniment. So much we don’t know, so…

Jim Bodeen
20 October 2015
Cottonwood Campground
Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Central Lutheran Choirs, with the Bell Choir, "Praise Canon"

"Praise Canon" Central Lutheran Church Bell Choir. Karen Bodeen rings bells 8 November 2015. Karen Bodeen is Chief Navigator and Quilter of the Mothership.

When A Tree Presents Itself

Exploration of word and silence in search of the yamadori--collected bonsai--a poem and a tree in the wild. Bonsai, forest road, combining trail and word--this day of working wonder takes what uncertainty gives, on its way to becoming what is found there--new by fact and necessity.


Won from the street of the word,
I glimpse how it is in translation.
Not knowing how to find you in there
or how to go back another 100 years,
not knowing those words are yours,
not knowing which words.
Your words, not the work
of some committee.

Such a tree discovered in the wild.

The book came in the mail.
The poet came and left.
Little trees with big trunks
and all this weather.

Me on my way out of town.

Eyes frozen in telling wonder
sacrificing for a tape recorder.
I have to work, too.
Drop me a line sometime.
In speech like mine
it all starts by stopping,
starting again going sideways
little stutter steps
backwards and forwards
trackless like the woods
in poems sung a century later
before appearing on the other side--
no understanding--
none--how it all came to rest,
or turned into word and way.
How I see all of this from listening to her.
A kind of sideways drift

without dwelling there.
That's one way to never lose it.
Living out what's never been written down
but only told.
Living in a town where I don't live.

Jim Bodeen
1-9 November 2015

Klipschutz, poet on the road,

klipschutz comes through Yakima on his way to Walla Walla. He's reading from his new book, talking poetry and reading at Inklings Bookstore on his way to see Charles Potts, poet and mentor of many, and these poems give witness to this journey. A video of the entire reading is also available on YouTube.

After the Resurrection of William Tyndale


But, of course, is some kind of code
for one like me.
Would I not be seduced by truth?

Truth would settle me,
a discussion of truth,
put me in the room,

so to speak. Speaking
truth. And the old pastor,
wily, does find the moment,

keying on love,
knowing what I need most
to hear. That was 40 years ago,

and just that fast,
he's been gone so long,
and while he's speaking to me,

now, I can call him up,
but I can't speak, even
after being handed this word.

And so it is that I find
William Tyndale, holy man
on the run translating the word,

(while driving in my truck,
mind you, listening to music,
wondering). How did William Tyndale

give us those words
in Ephesians? I already knew
didn't I, how new it was!

But I couldn't guess what
until I looked, and here it is,
crossing time, ...but let us

follow the truth in love...
True wonder of word,
given. The man who

would be stripped
of his calling by the world,
shows me a softer

way to stand, handing me
a more difficult way to walk.
Following truth,

more believable for any
in any time. And so it goes,
still, the modern man says.

comes from the printers
in 1534. In English--

And then
that committee convened
by the King--

We have an opportunity here...
to strike, to be bold, yes,
to speak--to speak truth

in the name of our Lord.
Did they, in that moment,
forget or remember, to love?

At the same moment
that English gives us Hamlet
we learn to speak emboldened.

These words will be enough
for one like me, given as they are,
by one who understands.

The truth to speak
for half a lifetime, a privilege
taken and carried,

a kind of ploughman
taken from his roots
and given a pen--released

now, to the humbler,
more difficult place,
500 years and more, after

the execution. Needing
now only to follow,
living it out that way.

Jim Bodeen
1 November 2015

First Bible for Ploughmen: Letter to Wm. Tyndale

Dear Ron,

From the early days of Sigmar at Central Lutheran, once off-handedly responding to me, from Ephesians: "...but speaking the truth in love..." You know it that well, too. Ephesians 4:15: "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" That 'even' being italicized by some spell-bound editor, being charged in under-stated humility. This, as you know, from the King James Bible, 1611. The RSV, and new RSV changing one word, "but" to "rather." What fine work, committee, members! You kept the power of the language. And Sigmar, was he chiding me at the time? I can't remember, but he gave it to me, and he gave it to me in love. He was chiding me—and using the truth up front to suggest I be more loving. But speaking the truth in love. But of course you know me well enough. You see me coming. I’m up to something else. Here it is. I've been reading the William Tyndale New Testament, 1534 edition, with corrected spelling. This, too, is background. And somewhere in the back and forth of my mind, I got to wondering, How does Tyndale, translator on the run, translate that verse? How does it come down to us for the first time in English? Tyndale has been resurrected in our day. Tyndale translates: "...following the truth in love..." For the first time in English! That's what it was, how it is. And you know, Sigmar, that wily coyote Icelandic man of all the beyond. That verse never left me, a stone on the trail. I could hold it in my hand. Of course I love, speaking the truth in love, and those translators, in that moment. and I love it more, too, knowing this morning that it came from Tyndale almost 100 years earlier. ...following the truth in love...I imagine that committee at table, looking at those words, “…following the truth…” We have an opportunity here, my brothers, we might step this up a notch towards higher ground—we might speak truth—in love, of course. Tyndale was but following himself following Christ. Let us be bold. Unfair? Crooked listening on my part? Insisting that it be my way? Let chips fall where they will. William Tyndale instructs me across time. Crucified man resurrected. My wheels have come off by now, as you know, Pastor Ron, my friend who prays for me. Who else would I share this with now? I hope your day includes some rain for this parched earth. Rain here. This is a p.s. also. In Spanish, it's also stunning: Mas bien, al vivir la verdad con amor...Do you like this little shift: Even better, mas bien,--to live--al vivir la verdad/the truth...With love then, in love, following, doing my best. Truth out. Jim 

5 November 2015


I’m one of the ploughman, Dear Father,
one of those listening from below across time,
writing in the margins of the sustaining word
passing through you. 1534 Ploughboy Edition,
passed on from hand to hand, used,
this inscription on the inside cover
in black marking pen: Dear Cousin Patty,
This is the most beautiful miracle of a book—
read the Intro for some surprises—
I think of you often and smile.
Much love, Jack.
Timothy 1: 6; Matthew 19.
How’s that for an introduction?

I.      Some words of yours that have survived—besides the New Testament
      the King’s Committee took credit for and made famous:

As you addressed us, Dear Reader, may I in turn address you,
Dear Father.
May all your words taken out of context here,
for they are lovely compacted—show only the work of love.
The dangers you knew, that took your life, long past, yet…
Language remains in trouble, but it’s more profitable, now—
They lock up young black men in prisons.
Listen to you! “…let the finder of fault
consider the Hebrew phrase or manner of speech
left in the Greek words.” You’re talking to me,
here, across 580 years, give or take.
You talk of translation “…the kingdom of heaven,
which is scripture and word, so locked up…and locked out…
that he that reads or hears it, cannot understand it.”

You write, “…person for person, number for number,
and an interrogation for a conditional.”
Mainstream in any age, along with your light in margins:
“…me thinketh it better to put a declaration
in the margin, than to run too far from the text,”
all the time calling me, most dear reader.
That Confession in the priest’s ear
is but man’s invention, still provokes reaction
is certain, and amends not to God in works,
but to my neighbor, whom I have hurt,
evidenced by our hanging heads,
our evolution remains apart from practice.


For the end of the commandment is love
that commeth with a pure heart.
It is easier for a camel to go through
the eye of a needle, than for a rich man
to enter the kingdom of God.

I’m one of the rich, Dear Father,
your book arriving by plane and truck.
You have not had good press.
You have never had a better one.
Direct language. One, David Daniell,
after saying, True Christianity always releases,
writes, longer answers are more complicated,
and every change Tyndale makes
is more than defensible, it is correct.

“Working alone and in danger,”
with the driving mind of Paul.
Father stripped of all, skin scraped clean
of committee by committee,
you are the house under the house,
your words to us. But a ploughman—
Skin-Scraped-Clean, named again Morning Breath.
You wouldn’t recognize us today,
Man-On-the-Run, Father,
We’re undercover, but we’re not pursued,
surrounded as we are by so many words
we don’t know which one to follow.

Your every day directness arrives fresh every day.
You say, Be not afraid of every shadow.
The Authorized version says,
Be not afraid with any amazement.
Tyndale: He that can take it, let him take it.
Both the repetition and the garden.

Why, then, more than history?
Why, then, the silence?

Because it is the Tyndale Bible not the King James.
This is how we receive your testament.
Because it is written on the run and in danger.
Because it is written from love and in faith, not committee.
Because it is the house under the house.
Because clear sentences show he knew how.
When James gives Bible revisers the Bishop’s Bible
as foundation, he guarantees a coat of Latin
washing over Tyndale’s English—“One of the main reasons
for fearing you, Tyndale, right here—a safe distance disappears.
David Daniell shows how this happens.
David Daniell is closer to me, than you,
in ordinary time, but the two of you  
come to us from sky time.
If it’s Latin you like, Tyndale is not for you, Daniell says.
Your Bible, William Tyndale, comes from one mind, not a committee.
Because of the beloved vernacular.
An English equal to connect us to God.
Word-making walk with Jesus.
Word on the road for men of the road.

Jim Bodeen
Spring, Summer, Fall, 2015