Before the AIDS Quilt at Navy Pier, Chicago

They photographed quilts they had brought
to share. They had laid them out on the floor
in the living room. And in the Indiana Museum,
they had done the same. The Vine Quilt             
with its colorful patchwork leaves.
And the Rainbow Quilt hung
in the modern art gallery.
Marie Webster's linen and cotton appliquéd
on cotton from 1920. The quilter
who wrote the first history of quilting.

Then the sky fell. Quilting would no longer
be on your grandmother's bed.
Donna Stader laid a blue cotton slash
across the top and it became the falling sky.
Family history would never be the same.

Silent with each other with time,
they walked the Pier in Chicago
without purpose, finding themselves
face to face with the AIDS quilt
on Pride Day in all of America's
major cities. The wall-sized
block of Sotomayor, Front page
AIDS numbers unfound
by grandma and grandpa
in the newspaper, Squares
of the fallen beneath the cartoon.
Never again. Daniel 1958-1992.
Act up Chicago. Cure the System,
Fight for the living, bordering
the waterfront: We're all living with AIDS.
And the young woman appearing
before in shiny satin rainbow cape,
on this side of the rail,
before the basketball jersey
of Stephen J. Gibson.
She turns towards me,
for the camera, in her rainbow tshirt,
smiling, holding up the cape,
fresh from the parade.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt photos by Lisa Howe-Ebright
from the 1988 installation intersperse themselves
between quilt blocks. We see the first quilt blocks
on the pier floor, with the first viewers
walking in witness.

My friends post images of the Parade
from San Francisco, and Seattle.
Happy Pride Day. Facebook.
Worth sharing again.
Minneapolis' Loring Park.

.45 records cut into black circles
with red and blue labels, quilt square
originals, with the hand-written notes
of personal loss. Hand writing
forever witnessing. The word,
Remember, over and over,
remembering in new ways:
We remember all those lost to AIDS
who had no one to memorialize them.

The names over and over.
T. Charles Steward, Michael Bennett,
names with images of vocation,
Chuck Lund in his chef hat,
the restaurant where he did his cooking.
The dates of shortened lives:
8/30/60-11/4/94. Marc Sawyer.
A gold ring and a red ribbon.
You don't have to be infected
to be affected. The colors
of the rainbow in the letters.
Quilt patches as tombstones.
So many images of music.
So many musicians.
Not just sons and daughters,
your grandpa, too.

Jim Bodeen
June 2016


Cajun prawns and lemonade
walking Navy Pier in Chicago.
An afternoon away from the car.
The woman saw that book in my hand.

Walk without talking?
I'd never get anywhere!
Each stop with the eye
is another step. I'm looking

into the AIDS quilt, hung on the pier
in 15 blocks crafted from 48,000
individual panels, each remembering
someone who has died of AIDS--

largest community art project
in the world. Each cloth panel a thread.
Here's a house with an open window,
curtains lifted by a quilter's breeze.

The title of the book that stopped
that woman: How to Walk.
I'm supposed to be paying attention.
I got here by walking with the quilter.

Jim Bodeen
26 June 2016s
Chicago, Il

Karen and Jim Bodeen

Solstice at the Indiana State Museum


The oldest rocks on earth are not from earth.
Gondwana is the name given to an ancient super-continent
believed to have sutured between 570 and 510 million years ago.
Gondwana formed prior to, becoming part of, Pangaea.
Indiana bedrock is limestone.
The oceans were the stew where life simmered.

The mammoth is too large to photograph.
Focus on the neck bones.

Oscar Robertson.
Kenneth Edmonds, Don Mattingly, Red Skelton
called Indiana home, and are included with a photo collage
with James Dean and Florence Henderson.
The photos and music of Axl Rose and John Cougar Mellencamp.
A display featuring a blue and yellow pin on white cardboard,
proclaiming Hoosier Youth For Nixon.
The pale yellow Studebaker confusing front and rear.
Next to this, the Hippie dress and love beads,
circa 1968-1975, made from a 1920s embroidered
cotton bedspread and Job's Tears seeds.
Jim Jones got his start here, a Butler University graduate,
drawing huge crowds in the mid-1950s.
He chaired the Indianapolis Human Rights Commission.
You can see the tin sign from the People's Temple.
More than 900 of his followers committed mass suicide in Guyana.
The uniform of the Green and Gold undefeated State basketball
champions from 55-56 season mirrors
the white walled auto behind it in my photograph.
Steel and leather leg braces c. 1949, worn by polio sufferer
Ruby Davis of Pulaski County. Braces provided by March of Dimes.
Ruby was a mother of four, in a wheel chair from 1959
until her death in 2007, at the age of 87.
The Iron Lung used at Union Hospital in Terre Haute
from 1953-1967, treating Infantile paralysis, looks like
the capsule that brought the Chilean miners from the mine
in 2012--or your old hot water heater rusting in the basement.
The photographic display of Ernie Pyle, 
WWII war correspondent,with his typewriter 
and book, Brave Men: "You feel small
in the presence of dead men, and ashamed of being alive,
and you don't ask silly questions." January 10, 1944.
His leather and canvas duffle bag, stamped with his name.
The wood sign by GI's: At this spot the 77th Infantry Division
A paper airplane American P-40 cutout 
from a General Mills cereal box from 1944.
The poster of WHY The WOMEN of INDIANA want SUFFRAGE: 
WHY? BECAUSE: It is the only method of government 
that is moral or just. A charcoal, stiff-brimmed hat 
with a yellow ribbon proclaiming Votes for Women.
Following the Civil War, the 14th and 15th Amendments 
specifically excluded both white and black women 
from the right to vote newly awarded to black men.
Suffrage in Indiana was won in 1917 but ruled unconstitutional.
Billy Sunday, following a major league baseball career, preached
fire and brimstone from his home in Winona Lake.
D.C. Stephenson smiles in coat and tie, white shirt,
beside a full-length photograph of his white KKK gown.
"I am the law in Indiana," boasted Stephenson,
joining the Evansville Klan in 1920. Stephenson built
the organization's Hoosier's ranks to roughly 250,000 people,
from his Indianapolis headquarters during the 1920s.
In 1925 courts convicted Stephenson of rape and murder
and he served 31 years in the Indiana State Prison.
The Ku Klux Klan spread bigotry and hatred across Indiana
against immorality and the influence of outsiders and non-whites.

Abraham Lincoln moved to Indiana when Lincoln was eight years old.
Displays of Booth Tarkington and Theodore Dreiser are side by side.
And Abraham Lincoln's Rail Splitter is on display, 
handed down from generations
of Barnabas Carter's family from Evansville, Indiana.
A decorated Native American buffalo hide.
A 12,000 year old clovis point, made of chert, by Native Americans
is arguable the first known great American invention.
The Miami wampum belt, circa 1785, likely served
as a speaking instrument, kilaahkwaakani,
calling for war against the white intruders stealing the land.
The Indiana Department of Corrections electric chair
whose tenure lasted from 1913-1994.
Not native to Indiana, corn arrived about 1300 years ago
from its original homeland in Central America and southern Mexico.
The lyrics from Strange Fruit with Billie Holiday singing,
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees...
Here is a strange and bitter crop...

In its own display the formal taffeta, perhaps satin, gown
of the KKK, bright red hood and gown, with gold epaulettes.
purple ribboned vestments down the front with white blue stripes
at the wrists, two crosses on the chest--and those cut-out holes
for the eyes hiding the face. This robe, the Klan state chaplain's robe
was worn by the Huntingburg Chief of Police in 1979.
No longer the predominately anti-African American
organization of old, the modern KKK evolved
into a loose association of fundamentalist,
gun-rights, anti-immigrant and white-pride adherents.

The Slave Registry of 1805, shows slaves
arriving to the Indiana Territory, who remained
property, and although the 1816 state constitution
declared slavery illegal, as late as 1840
there were still three slaves listed according to the census.

Some of the biggest changes to our world
are revealed by the smallest among us.
Ryan White's bomber jacket from Elton John behind glass.
White died of AIDS at 18, months before Congress passed the AIDS bill
that bears his name: Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS
Resources Emergency Act. Can change come
in the guise of a nightmarish killer?
Eurypterid (Carcinosoma newlin),
about 425 million years old,
spent most of their lives in the seas,
but at some point crossed the land-water barrier,
and this giant hunted in the shallows near Kokomo, Indiana.
Its choice of shoreline home helped prepare
the species for life on land.

See, see. See Jane. Oh, Jane. Look, look, look.
Our Big Book, Dick and Jane were revolutionaries,
developed by elementary school teacher Zerna Addis Sharp,
1889-1981, of Hillisburg, Indiana.
This "look-say" reading technique shunned standard phonics,
combining simple words with pictures and repetition.

Here's Cole Porter and Ethel Merman
and anything goes:

You're romance,
You're the steps of Russia.
You're the pants,
On a Roxy usher
I'm a lazy lout that's just about to stop
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

James Whitcomb Riley's raggedy man was inspired
by a homeless German man his father hired to work at the house.
This is old school They don't make them like they used to.
Here's Kurt Vonnegut Jr., and the Children's Crusade.
And fyi, the Vonnegut Museum is down the street.
And here's a light blue Prozac pill the size of a Coke bottle.

Under the Dome in the First State House
by Christian Schrader, oil on canvas,
shows how far we've come.
Quilts are here and the collages of the contemporary.
Roomie's Daughter Got Married: And Things
Don't Always Turn Out The Way You Thought, Myra Ann.
Thank you Myra Schuetter for your watercolor.
This is the American Dream Suite Robert Indiana:
The five of you: hug, eat, err and die.
You're not on the fire engine this time.

How does the pendulum demonstrate the Earth's rotation?
Inertia makes it swing straight, and gravity pulls it back.
The pendulum, tied to the building travels laterally
as the building moves. It must be the floor
that is rotating. If the floor is attached to the earth,
then it must be the earth that is rotating.

Jim Bodeen
June Solstice Week, 2016
Indianapolis, Indiana

Don't Pay That Ticket Blues


"No pagues ese ticket"
The Ticket Clinic
1-800-CITATION (in yellow)

[We have the Ipass on the dash
so we don't pay the toll.]

7 Super stores in Indiana
Krazy Kaplan's Fireworks
Shop us First

Post-Acute Rehab

[Pinball eyes with a stick
of dynamite in his hand.]

All the liquor
None of the Clothes
New Gentleman's Club
10 Dollar Dances

Big Daddy K's Fireworks

Speaking Dutch Kaas
Cheese [On a Kaas truck]

Cook County Courthouse

Bankruptcy Starting at $999.

20,000 Square Feet Super Fireworks Store

Johnny Rockets Fireworks
Less Billboards, Better Prices

[Four lanes both ways]

[Call 911 on the burgandy Toyota
by Exit 22. Trfd to Highway Patrol
He's driving on the bumpy warning strip.
Slowing down, in and out of lanes.
He's also picking his nose ]

Welcome to Indiana
Crossroads of America.

Roll your own Tobacco

Three For One Specials
Indiana: A State That Works

Bite Me. I dare you!
Mosquitos Eliminated

World Class Cancer Treatment
Right Here At Home

Taco with a pork chop
Give me to Daddy
[Ray Brown Live on NPR]

The Duke of Oil Car Center

Pick your pepper
Dr. Pepper

Jim Bodeen
21-22 June 2016

Solstice Notebook


Yuri checks out the Jeep Compass
at Enterprise with free upgrade,
adding that Cubs tickets pay street prices
the week pulse becomes part
of our language. Our morning walk,
the meditation on violence

part of the daily step. First words
coming from the sky, descending
into O'Hare, Karen's
Chief Joseph Vest for Children of Sandy Hook
before me, as she turns the Jeep
towards I-294 Tollway to Indiana.

Black interior in the ride,
indoor skydiving on the left.
Sandy Hook names sewn into the lining,
grandkids growing out of their clothes
into soccer shoes and baseball hats.
90.9 Jazz on NPR Chicago--

12 December 2012 to June Orlando,
now solstice sun shines on us all,
a Stevie Wonder song, Creepin',
songline in this lane, grandkids
modeling the Dream Vest, reading
the sewn poems of Yeats and Blake

into Chief Joseph's pocket walk.
Somewhat lost getting off the plane,
beside the restroom, a bookstore,
tipis at eye level, Jim Welch's Fools Crow
signaling, leading me to Thich Nhat Hanh's
How to Walk before me on the counter--

some summer count this--eat a Chicago
dog with Karen, replace lost Notebook
at Target, "Feel your feet solid on the Earth,"
"White Man's Dog was restless..." merging,
my traffic lane, on the highway
walking, out of Chicago to Indianapolis.

Jim Bodeen
21-22 June 2016


The 98-year-old ancestral aunt tells how she arrived
at the care facility after her fall and hip repair.

We found her in the cafeteria eating a dry roll
and cold oatmeal. She describes her flight
while talking to our granddaughter:

Air Force One, oh my, what a plane.
Did you see it when you came in?
Oh,Lord, goodness. It's a plane.
There's nothing like it coming down.
And Obama, good God,
I never asked to be on his plane.
But he is, why Jim, tell Sammie,
he is the President, and that plane!
Well. I never expected
to fly on Air Force One.

Ethel was there. She died
when she was 83. My old partner
at the restaurant. She was right beside me.
And your mother, Jim.
Lucille was sitting on the other side of me.
We were all there. The three of us.
The plane itself was like cut in half.
I can't describe it any clearer than that,
how we got here. The plane.
To be on that plane.
It just broke in half.
I don't know how we landed.
When I woke up, I was here.

Jim Bodeen
18 April--12 June 2016


Karen likes to sit on her perch
on the deck, watching birds
feed in the birches, looking
down into the garden

where I have made my descent
placing my notebook
on the small table made from staves
from a wine barrel. Before

I followed Williams into Paterson,
when I was still following others
into Williams, the descent beckoned
and called and I knew the all of it

without needing to know more.
Decades before this sanctuary
became a promise. Descending,
I was able to live among, living close,

in shifting community, now shaded,
among shade trees with histories
going back to Dante. Karen sets
herself before birds, trees in ceramic

pots, and stones come from fire
and washed into strange stories
over tens of thousands of years,
one image of creation. Late morning,

in a chair with notebook and pruners,
I don't write much, but look up
at trees from below, getting up
from time to time, taking a branch

growing crosswise into a tree's interior.
Cutting it allows more light
to branches needing encouragement.
Both seats contain memories

accessing renewal of sorts.
We are done with accomplishment
even though we have chosen our places,
I chant, Ground the love! Ground the love!

Jim Bodeen
11 June 2016



From the step ladder
with loppers pruning,
Jacquemonte Birch limbs
asking me to reach higher,
a strange request
whose reach arrives
from other desires,
believing is the excavation


Svetlana Alexievich, writing in Russian,
chronicles the intentionally forgotten.
The premise is that the work of unremembering
is most active shortly after events
have taken place.

She visits the exclusion zone,
the estrangement zone, contaminated lands.
The naming itself, obscure.
Oral history through excavation.
Layer upon layer of words.
Underneath the public memory
lies the personal. In Alexievich,
called “a history of emotions—
a history of the soul,”
secretary of the Nobel, Sara Danius, says.


One more friend with cancer.
Diez milles. Working on my street tacos,
needing a place to land this morning,
garden chairs wet from last night's rain.


Lee sends me a prayer in the mail
from James Wright, in ink,
"I know you know this one..."
This time, I have left my body behind me,
crying in its dark thorns. This,
followed by the good darkness of the poet.
How did he ask for all this?
How possible?
The poet calls on the phone.
A murmured conversation across time,

...murmured conversations beneath a lowly thatched roof.
from Shinkei's brush in 1463.

This is the way into the garden and out.
Studying Shinkei, Sasamegoto,
in the Mothership down 97,
camped in Oregon's High Desert.

Practice coming out as it will, as it wants.


Desert stream songline
Water flows sublime bent reed
Pine needles in wind

Spring sun blazing snow mountain
Ancient river renga call

Fear, trepidation
all that lies in the shallows
trigger this escape

Where else to start from with words?
My friend, my friend, drink your tea

Directions out of here:
Go down Rosterhaus road turn right,
it runs into Knott Road

Knott runs into 97


Dear Svetlana,

My friends all read detective novels.

Jim Bodeen
27 May--10 June 2016



            for Tom 

The El Salvadoran Cross
is unmistakable, a neighborhood
of intersecting white houses
and red tiled roofs
filled with laughing children.

Jim Bodeen
10 June 2016


Just Sanctuary Moving.
Just sanctuary moving around the house.

Just memory, then. Just Memory.

Say the thing over and over.
Say it over and over.
Over and over again.
Over until you get it right.
Just Memory.

Walking the garden remembering.
Walking the gardens remembering.
Walk the garden and remember.
Re-Member, remember.

Place where it starts.
Places one comes back from.
Places one comes back from?
Where is the garden now?
Where in the now is the garden.

With the book in the garden
In the garden with a book

What hasn't been said up to now?
Has it all been said?
Has the inexhaustible been said

Said and done
Is any of it true
I mean, still true
What holds

What holds is what remains

Remember. Just remember. Remember it then.
Uncover what you can
See what comes up
See and re-joice
Just Sanctuary Moving

Jim Bodeen
23 May--7 June 2016


Mid-morning, first week in June,
below Canada Chokecherry and China Snow,
heat wave on the way, record temperatures,
with the notebook, chasing away robins
who want the rapid ripening serviceberries,
and my granddaughter wants a pie.

North Park, a grove of four trees
and a basalt stone table, gift from a friend,
a call back to my North Dakota childhood.
Specimen trees instead of willows,
and no railroad tracks to follow.
No Indian graves. A different kind

of dreaming. The woman
at the nursery call this Serviceberry.
Looking at it, I balk, unable
to see placement or beauty. 
She disappears and I think
she's given up on me, only

to return with a book too big to carry,
open to the page.
This is what you're looking for, Jim.
This tree is the heart of your park
completing the grove. I'm as far
from North Dakota coulees as I can be.

the purple berry with the edible seed.
Juneberries, well-loved on the prairies.
Known by many names:
Saskatoons in Canada, and Juneberries,
Serviceberries and Shadbush in America.
North American native people made

Juneberries part of their diet.
An important ingredient in pemmican,
a blend of berries, dried meat and fat.
Sometimes called sugarplums,
today's gardeners praise the 5-petaled,
fragrant white flowers in drooping clusters.

Amelanchier arborea, berry
of my North Dakota childhood.
Berry of my mother's kitchen--
connecting family picnics at Tasker's Coulee,
where bushes grow wild traveling
from Missouri by bird. Tasker's Coulee

in the Wildlife Preserve created by FDR,
seat of Lutheran theology and country church,
where personal mythology is born in me.
Did the tree goddess from the nursery know?
In the first years, the few berries 
go to the birds. My granddaughter takes me

by the hand and childhood returns
with the tree's bounty, Grandpa, taste this berry!
We fill our cereal bowls until they promise a pie.
These are Juneberries, beautiful thing,
Let's take them to Grandma. I was your age,
a boy, when I first tasted this pleasure.

Jim Bodeen
May-June, 2016