My sister calls and says
she can meet me on the mountain,
gives me a choice of days.
I say, You choose,
and she says tomorrow.

Memorial week on the Mountain
and my sister comes to ski with me.
Seven years ago this week,
my wife and I on our way
over the pass to see Tyler
before surgery, when the phone call comes
telling us to turn around.

We’re driving, still in the car,
and my sister tells us,
Turn around and go home.
Seven years ago.
Time moving faster
than we can track it.
Time slowing us
until we’re paralyzed.

I came here to the mountain
before it closed. That sunny day,
that one. In the Patrol shack
I’m given permission to sweep
the mountain, patrolman asking
for clarification, He died today?
Don’t leave anyone in the trees.

New snow combines with wind
and temperature stays cold.
Sastrugi is changing snow sculpture
in micro second fragments
when the sun comes out
No focusing of the camera
Guess work art works like this,
Who can work the fastest camera.
We are given just seconds
in magnificent afternoon
snow light, shadowed bright,
late afternoon.

This is Tyler’s Run
I tell my sister.
This is the run
I named after Tyler
the day he died
right after he brought
his daughter into the world.

Sastrugi or zastrugi
is what we’re looking at.
Sharp and irregular—
grooves and ridges
formed on snow surface
by wind erosion,
saltation of snow particles

These are Russian words
and this afternoon sunlight
gives us these shadows.
Ridges perpendicular
to prevailing winds,
steep on windward side
sloping to leeward.

Sastrugi is what we run into
when we stepped out-of-bounds
for the light on the snow. We duck
under the ropes marking boundaries,
bringing us back inside. Tyler’s Run
begins right at 6000 feet
and before turning on to it,
your eyes look directly
at Hogback Mountain
a wall of rock and snow,
gateway to  Goat Rocks Wilderness.
A sharp turn to the east
takes your skis over moguls
just large enough for edges
to get a grip and turn
into the fall line. This is
the kind of run Rexroth loved,
and wrote about, dreaming
moonlight crossing snow. If you stay
to the high left at sunrise, you’ll be
in sunshine and fresh powder,
and if you were born
at the right time, you might
begin singing Gayle Garnett’s song.
Singing it here, sing, we will,
We’ll laugh every day,
your skis arcing, lifting you   
as you sit back just a bit
to ride what got laid down
last night. We’ll sing in the sunshine,
sing it out. My sister tries for it,
sings, We’ll ski in the sunshine.
We laugh, our skis throwing snow.
Just that fast, and you’re out of sunlight
and into shadows, and there’s plenty
of shadows in Garnett’s song, too,
she’s a writer singing, …soon
I’ll be on my way, Don’t hold
me back, Don’t hold me here.
Van Morrison appears, singing, too,
voice and presence,
cutting in as skis pick up speed,
Cut loose, that fast, Cut loose.
The descent is thrilling,
the story never gets old,
these are images of our divinity,
images of the divinity of man.
Tyler’s Run gives you all this
in under two minutes,
Ski tips swallowing snow,
great lips opening for the feminine void
in the large poems of Octavio Paz,
outside of time with Tyler, 27 forever,
a son, nephew, friend and father,
a sailor himself, bilingual,
student of Spanish, reading with Paz,
…supe/ que morir es ensancharse,
this run on skis is the fast swoosh
of the feminine void. Death
is expansion, and it has brought us
here, to this mountain, still
above the cat track, where
the other mountain,
White Goddess Herself,
will greet us in our wondrous descent.
We are two, brother and sister,
Mother and son, uncle and nephew.
We are on skis and this
is the run of accompaniment.

Jim Bodeen
24-28 February 2016


That's about all that I know about harvest.

For the words/deep breathing
our mother blooming.
At one door, it was the door
that had to be opened.
And then, after that,
the rest that came
was only the rest that came.
But that, perhaps takes away
from all that came with your January visit.

I try and write a letter a week.
Afterwards, I have no idea
what is in there, you know.
They come from that other place.
It's Thursday morning.
I'm still recovering
from Tuesday evening at the shelter,
grateful for it, but don't know
if I'll ever be able to do it again.
My mother was the one
who washed the floor
on her hands and knees.
That's still the only thing I trust.
Thanks, Mom. I'm learning
what work it takes to remain alive.
That's a wonderful thing.

Jim Bodeen
25 February 2016



We use skis
to ski to the place
where you don’t need skis

High Camp is open
Today the snow
was like butter.

Jim Bodeen
23 February 2016

Day One of Five


Sammie takes the camera at High Camp
and makes a photo shoot.
I like what she sees.
Her vision opens me up.
High Camp is as much a part
of our process as anything else.
The archetypal temple.
Way back, out back,
where consciousness begins.
Where the dreaming takes place.

They’ve moved the microwaves
upstairs where we like to sit.
Even this a good move.
Now they’re eye level
for the kids.

The backpack is BCA,
Back Country Access.
First aid kit, Swiss Army Knife,
extra gloves, masks for each child.
Compass, ski wax, headlamp.
Old Man's Beard, lotion, lunches for High Camp,
Shambhala edition of Rumi.
reading glasses, notebook.
It has sleeves for shovel
and probe, but these,
along with the beacon
have been given to my son.

I could skin up, and climb,
but I was no good on those old skis
in fresh snow in the wild. Limits learned.
Heel release. Heel locked.
What opened for me
is what these children needed
to take care of things in bounds.

Like John Prine sings,
It’s a big old goofy world.
Children negotiating snow
on skis
is part of this direction.

Jim Bodeen
19 February 2016


What happens on the mountain
happens on skis with children.
Sammie loses a tooth
eating lunch at High Camp.
How this goes, how it doesn’t.

Johnny meets us on the lift,
surprising us. On his ski
he’s written with a marker,
“Be kind whenever possible
It is always possible.”—
the 14th Dalai Lama
(Big Hitter the Lama, Long)”

You know Aunt Cindy?
You know Aunt Diane?
Johnnie is Aunt Diane’s son.

There’s a time of mountain day
when the ski feels so natural
to the child, that she falls
because she forgot they were skis.
That’s what I’m looking for.
No, there are no lessons.
I’ve never taught them a thing
about skiing. I either say,
You go, or, I go,
without saying a thing.
It took me years to begin
to glimpse this.

Jim Bodeen
16 February 2016


Washed off the mountain
Snow couldn’t hold any more water
Icy ping of sleet on cheeks
Skis moving through laid down
troughs of wet cement
Calling out in song
how good it is to be here

How good it is to be
on the way to High Camp
looking for a window table
on Sunday morning
The only restaurant
I’ve ever wanted.
Don’t call for reservations
This is a wilderness crossing

Valentine’s Day with Sammie
on the Mountain, hitting all the connections
Working the camera, finding the zoom
hot chocolate and coffee,
brownies and Mentos—
candy in a rainbow
of flavors—sending it
all down the mountain
on Facebook. All those crosses
in the windows. Chapel
at High Camp, most
don’t think of it as a temple
It’s never been anything but
Don’t go the mountain to ski
High Camp is lunch in the backpack
Backpack itself, back country access

Match Old Man's Beard and hat
So many impulses to turn into the trees,
to ski there, eat snow,
to look at snowflakes in their six-sidedness,
Old Man's Beard
to become the canopy itself

To access this, while dancing
Sammie's day. She waited,
and she gets Valentine's Day
she moves through the kind of storm
that washes out highways
Sammie makes Sun Catchers
from plastic beads, a heat process
for Valentine's Day
One tied to the altar
on the rear-view mirror,
the other goes up with fingers
on the window at at High Camp
Sammie takes the camera
and finds the wet light
Her eye all squint and focus
Her sense of composing, of composure
And her joy, even at being washed out
in her soaking and early out

Jim Bodeen
13-15 February 2016


Grandson reading Star Wars in car.
Where it all began again.
Where it begins, being children with children,
taken up in snow.

Mountain music.
Music of the car.
Music of the child.
Music of the wind.

The snow’s music.
Grandpa’s big ears.
North Dakota’s music.
Indigenous drums.

The politics of the child.
The politics of the song.
The politics of the witness.
The politics of the breath.

The camera’s great reach and focus.
The wonder of the listening mountain.
The grand daughter’s place in the great listening.
The parrot in Robert Sund’s poem—

This being the father who cannot reach
for his children. This being.
All this giving it another go.
This being Sunday, the Sabbath.

This being the way it is.
This being the way it is imagined.
This being the ski as it sets and releases.
Canopy of tree and sky on a tiny planet.

Jim Bodeen
Valentine’s Day, 2016


Orange peel and tiny carrots in baggies
and York heart-shaped chocolates
surrounded by cover-worn copy
of Rumi from Shambhala. OK,
And the wrapped IPhone
on the pine table, all well and good.
Two pieces of Dove dark chocolates
wrapped in red aluminum foil.
And the unwrapped message
that held the chocolate, inside
and smoothed out, with the message,
Make the first move?

Tainted documentary.

Jim Bodeen
12 February 2016

Day One of Five

All of the weather reports were bad. And the ski report was a cliché and a bad joke: Prepare for liquid sunshine. This path, it’s not about alpine skiing any more than it’s about recreation or mission. It is about listening and saying, Yes. Call and Response. Daily music. It is about one-on-one, and being on the mountain. The task is to be present. What can be seen and heard. How many tools at  one’s disposal. Being one of the tools. Being present.The inexhaustible surprise. Available light. Being outside. The dreaming that has been given is available to all. It has not been anything one person is responsible for. It has been something that one has to learn to listen for, and become responsible to. 

With what we knew about the weather, we had to pay close attention to the light. We we looked through the camera, we knew something was in our favor. So much snow had been uncovered by the rain that we had to slow it way down in order to get closer to all this beauty. As you look at the little trees being uncovered, remember that they're still under eight feet of snow. Put the camera close and see what it can find. The lens is much better than your eyes. These are the tops of trees. Not the tree itself. Your eye can see the bonsai, but this tree will never go into a Chinese pot. Remember, too, this is a designated Wilderness area. You're in the Goat Rocks. People fought to preserve this place. You're now inside the Chapel at High Camp Lodge. This place, The Chapel, is open to all, but it doesn't post any signs. There are prohibitions. Some think this place is a tavern. Everyone likes the varnished pine tables and benches. There are microwaves available for those who brown-bag it for lunch. This has been a day of weather and God. Both, like the surroundings of six-sided snowflakes, all different, are part of the absolute other, inexhaustible and different.

Jim Bodeen 
12 February 2016

Night Moves


Its trunk a full two hands
in diameter, 40-year old grape

vine, wine vision of green
dreaming. Foch, near cousin

of Pinot Noir out of France.
The gnarly twisted trunk

came out two years ago
with a spade and a saw,

elder brain seized
by eastern tree art,

placed in a 5-gallon plastic
planter from a nursery

with potting soil and pumice
for drainage. Two

winters, re-establishing
roots. Right before Valentine’s

he goes at it again, gnarly
himself, cutting roots

grown out from the bottom,
freed from the sides

with a knife. New soil
of red rock and pumice,

a clay pot 3-feet tall
chosen for its elegance, vine

set to show its twisted path
and history with the old man.

Jim Bodeen
10-12 February 2016


He’s no longer
the medic crawling
through hospital's rice paddy
lost and scared.

Jim Bodeen
3 February 2016


Just so I’m clear with you,
I get to keep my word,
God-given, one, and bi-lingual,
only as long as I’m present to it,
myself, God and others. Show up

and tell the truth
best I’m able,

beginning word,
principiante, hy-

a following word.

Jim Bodeen
10 February 2016


Doing chores, running errands,
Robert Sund reading Shi Shi poems
from 1971, recorded by someone at Centrum
in Port Townsend six years later,
Sund like he’s sitting
next to me in what my friend calls
an American voice. That third summer
at Shi Shi, he says, couldn’t get
anything written, people showing up
on the beach, anxious, anxious,
poems born a half century ago
coming out of my old Subaru
in Yakima friend, this seriously rectifies
the situation—keep an eye out
driving these streets,
they’ll pull you over.

Jim Bodeen
10 February 2016


Choir upstairs singing,
following the drinking gourd—
a concert choir with heavenly voices,
and all this action
coming from below—
Men’s Bible Study shipped from Texas
complete with discussion leaders—
taking attendance, taking cash,
this is some train, coal
trane chugging night vision
before the homeless arrive
in the church basement—
Rumi says,
Look at the chick pea in the pot—
boil, nicely now! and keep moving,
get a move

Jim Bodeen
10 February 2016



The boys know
I have their skis.

They want to know
if I have both shovels

for digging the snow cave.

Jim Bodeen
8 February 2016


Not always on skis
this journey on snow

Jim Bodeen
6 February 2016


The boys are in their sleeping bags.
Angelica sent hot chocolate,
conchas and bolillos for dunking.
I microwave frozen cheeseburgers
followed by a cup of butterscotch ice cream.

Crawl out of the sleeping bags, and
brush your teeth, get your jammies on,
and crawl back in bed. I’ll start
the movie. It’s called, Never Cry Wolf.

The boys get up and brush their teeth.
Alex comes over and looks at the notebook,
he asks, What are you writing?
I show him, the last sentence.
“The boys get up and brush their teeth.”
He smiles. He’s wearing a head lamp.
He likes the idea of no lights,
conserving energy. The boys
both like the headlamps.
It turns them into miners.

Jim Bodeen
8 February 2016


Two ten-year old boys with Grandpa in the Mothership winter camping and White Pass in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Movies, snow caves, High Camp. Eating snow and skiing. Being boys. Being ten. Bringing everything they have, using it up.


That time arrived
without anyone noticing.

The boys were there
and then they weren’t.

They still called,
and their language

arrived, familiar,
comforting, and

distant, too,
out of reach,

as though
I was someone

presence as a kind

of memory. My offerings,
too, were different.

They were boys now.
Their questions no longer

surfaced. What was theirs?
What was mine?

What is a grandpa
after things change?

When the boy is all?

Jim Bodeen
8 February 2016

The Fever Breaks: Robert Sund in the Goat Rocks with Jim Bodeen

It is hard to leave the Hot Spot. An afternoon on skis in Paradise Basin, Goat Rocks, Cascade Mountains, with a camera and the poems of Robert Sund reading from 1977. Snow crystals, hoarfrost, drumming Sund and evocations of Pablo Neruda.



I knew what the trees were like on Sunday, but there were kids with me, who wanted to float and shred. The light wasn't right. It didn't look possible to return, but then things turned. One of the turns had to do with light. And then the fever broke. I held firm to my schedule down below. And then my orders arrived.

Afternoon side light. Low. Sunshine. Cold, too. I tried to get as close as I could, but I had to stay on skis. Three feet of fresh snow would have taken me deep. Waist deep. I used every memory chip in my backpack. There was so much sun I couldn't see what I was doing, what the composition was like. All guess work. A blind shoot. Weather held and it remained cold.

Once in a while I'd glimpse a frozen drop. Is there such a thing? Frozen drop? I don't think so. About 90 minutes. Just out of bounds. A duck under the ropes. Three locations. Three stops, I mean. No time to think. The light changing too fast.

Then the skis had a turn. They were faster than I was ready for. I wasn't given a choice.

When the lifts closed, just before four, light changing by the minute, a former student, from the alternative school in the mid 1970s, father, grandfather, pilgrim, steps towards me, and we ride the lift together and ski out.

These images, selected too fast, gives an idea, I hope, of what it was.

Jim Bodeen
4 February 2016