Young Climbers at Joshua Tree Hall of Horrors


At the roadside pullout,
a group of them,
young men and women
among old stones,
across the road from Saddle Rocks,
arranged in parallel fashion.
A series of halls.
Faces forming as natural buffers.

On the northwest side of Sheep Pass Loop Road.

The list of classic climbs: Jaws, Lickety Splits, Lazy Day, Nurn's Romp, Buckets to Burbank, It, Ledges to Lawndale, Garden Angel, Dog Day Afternoon, Grit Roof, Cactus Flower, Jane's Addiction.

Highest rating: Exorcist--on the East inner wall. Three and a half-stars out of four. 10.5. Traditional.

At the table in the Mothership with Karen, eating crackers and cheese, watching the young men across from us put on their gear. Their van hatchback open before us, full entry into their wilderness lives. Joshua Tree. The national park where two deserts meet: Colorado and Mojave. Rangers explain it at the Visitor's Center. Young climbers sleep in tents or cars outside the park on BLM lands. Which desert am I? Which desert is Karen? Colorado and Mohave. The Exorcist in the desert. Camera on the table. Sun block and water is what we carry. Light backpack and trekking poles. The National Park established in 1994. Coming out of the Sierra Nevadas on Highway 395, we cut across deserts. The park straddles the cactus-dotted Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert, higher and cooler. The Deserts distinguish themselves as you drive around the 1,235 miles. We ask the Rangers about the two, Karen and I, completing fifty years of marriage, what are the differences here? We ask each other: Are you California? Are you Mojave?

In the park. Out of the park. Lots going on. Young climbers. Student walkouts. One minute for each of the 17 murdered from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Students in Arizona march to Governor Doug Ducey's office. He doesn't appear. The papers? "Yes, kids can fix this. Keep up pressure. Hone advocacy skills. Become informed voters." Notes in the Mothership log quote Phoenix journalists from the Arizona Republic. I break quotations into lines.

Our young people
grew up watching adults
eviscerate public education
and genuflect to the NRA.
So-called adults
failed to provide resources
for mental health,
promoted policies that turned
the middle class
into an endangered species.
--Abe Kwok

They are wide-eyed and savvy,
I can't imagine
how that won't upend everything.
--Joanna Allhands

It's silly to argue that these kids
don't know
what they're doing...
they're powerful
because they have
no ties to the powerful.
--Elvia Diaz

Righteous anger
is a powerful thing
and these kids have it.
--Phil Boaz

These kids preparing to go up this rock aren't those kids and they are. They're part of this. They know what they've been given. What's here. Rock, piton, rappels, amp. Awareness of who they are still low in the adult world. Their language turns up in crossword puzzle clues. Savvy. Locking carabiner, chalk bag, chalk ball, climbing harness. Tape and hexes. The harness secures a person to a rope, or anchor point. What I come to learn: Carabiners, a specialized shackle, metal loop with a spring-loaded gate, quickly and reversible, connecting components in safety-critical systems. Knife. Sun block. Water.

Joshua Tree. Jumping Chollas.

The rock along the cracks weathers into soil. Over years, rain and wind erode the soil leaving a boulder pile. Look for lines in the rocks called veins. A vein forms when molten rock is pushed into cracks in older rock. As the molten rock cools it forms crystals of quartz and potassium minerals. If the crust pulls away from both sides of a rock, or if the rock shrinks while cooling, vertical cracks form. When pressure on top of a rock releases, like when soil and rock erode away, horizontal cracks form. And when the rock is squeezed from the top and the bottom, x-shaped cracks form. Underground dams force water to the surface and form oases. Early Mormons thought these plants looked like the biblical prophet Joshua guiding travelers westward. Don’t confuse the Mojave yucca with the Joshua tree. Yucca has longer, wider leaves and fibrous threads.
Ropes, locking carabiner, chalk bag, chalk ball, climbing harness, climbing shoes, tape, hexes The harness secures a person to a rope or an anchor point. Carabiners, the specialized shackle, a metal loop with a spring-loaded gate, quickly and reversible connects components in safety-critical systems.

Knife, sun block, water.

How did these young people get here? By what word of mouth?

I love the yucca. My friend plants a yucca garden on the parking strip outside his house in the city. It's a forest. He gives me the stalks. I make gates with them. Chinese gates. Gates with no fences.

Rock Climbers at Joshua Tree

I see them from the Mothership, walk to them.

Small talk. Where are you from? Inland Empire. Ontario.
I was looking for a job in Wenatchee.
Wild fire. I didn’t get the job. Rod. Conner. Jared.

Exoccist. A crack that goes up this rock.
A slight overhang. If you fall. I’ve seen pictures.

Expand. Adds pressure this way. Our protection.

Heavy Pedal Bicycles t shirt.
Brian walks over, ready to climb..
Solo hiker, climber. Do you know these guys?
I just met them right now.

Walk behind them with the camera.
Jangle of the gear, walking.
Listening in. Brian. Steel Structural Framer.
Storage company.

Climbing between jobs.
Between the times.
During the times.
Living the times.
What do I see? And hear?
What does the camera tell me?

What am I to make of the young men in the parking lot, putting on their climbing gear?
Where might they take me?
If I can't go where they're going, I can walk with them a ways.
Their vision. It is not the vision their parents picked out for them.
Immersion is a way into wonder. Immersion is one way.
Immersion is my practice.
I have a pass into the park, but the young live outside it.
A way out of abstract beauty walks here.
A walk into cactus.
Walking into stone.

There’s the Exorcist. There’s the crack.
Are we doing a crack line? I love crack lines.

Haul the pack up on a rope.
How to cross to the big rock?
Approach climb from different direction.
Are you guys safe? I’ll put up an anchor.
This is fucking scary. How are we going to get down?
I think it’s one wrap all the way down.
Birds watching.
Fuck. I’ve got to piss.
This one’s got chicken wings.
Toss me a spare beaner.
Oh I hate hauling. Fuck it. Son of a bitch.
We want that backpack.
Getting the four up to the crack.

I wish the start wasn’t so bad.
You’re getting me killed.
Yeah, this is a good day, too.
I felt so bad.

It wasn’t the climbing up part.
No, it was the descent.

Attaching a second rope
to kick the pack out.
Now pull.

Jarrod first.
There you go. Come on. Just breathe.
You’re in there. Just breathe.
Great feet. Relax. You’re fine.
There you go. One more.

Make your way up right here. Oooh, hello.
Fucking champion.
The young man who didn’t get the wild fire job summits first.

Oh yeah, And then you got that bolt.
The whistle. Yabba dabba doo
Son of a bitch
from below.
A burp.

Finger locks and hand jams are perfect. you could hang there all day.

Frivolous. No heightened senses, heightened awareness. Life is different.
Energy. Live changing.

Chalk up. 

Run the rope through the chains and rappel back to desert floor.


Behind the camera. Behind the stone.
Permission to watch and walk.
Their way.                             
Not able to do much. Steady the camera. Wonder.
Neither enthralled nor enamored with me, or the camera.
My walk with the kids climbing on stones.
Jesus doesn't stay in the parking lot.
Remain subversive.
A subversive feeling, this reaching,
this bag of chalk
hitched to my belt
at the back pocket.

Jim Bodeen
13 March--30 March 2018
Joshua Tree National Park--Yakima, WA



So sick So sick
like jazz
Talking black
Living outside
the empire

Jim Bodeen
30 March 2018

Crazy Cloud Travels with Charley


With me since I was 16, a decade with Crazy Cloud,
slow it to breath and breathing.
Quixote's horse, Rocinante, dressed in Dodge Ram
silver, old leather. Steinbeck more of a father
than the others, more difficult for this. Unrecognized

but not unknown. We do not take a trip,
a trip takes us. Descending from fame,
its own anonymity, bumdom, he calls it,
...the bum must relax. He can't see
cities of homeless descending with him,

I had not heard the speech of America--
you wouldn't know it now. So it was
I determined to look again, to rediscover
this monster land...I had to go alone
and I had to be self-contained. That

thread, Charlie, the French poodle
from Paris, on his way to getting lost.
Saving water in the mothership.
Karen, my navigating companion
since before birth. Steinbeck's

10,000 miles and 34 states, not recognized
once. Karen shows me images of an artist
who claims her images from dreams,
working in fabric, We are wrapped
in cloth from birth to death, can

we be any closer? Big winds
out of Reno towards Carson City,
Mothership rocking, and my hands
weary from holding the wheel. Text
arriving from Mammoth, Big storm

coming in. Did you fix the curtain?
Karen asks. Travels with Charley and Karen.
Mammoth Mountain is a series
of lava domes formed 60,000 years ago,
still creating dangerous gas. Steinbeck

recreates 1961 in Charley, reads
William Shirer's Third Reich the same year
I do at 15. He reads Joseph Addison,
sentences like this: I have found
many readers more interested in what I wear

than what I think. For every million
cell phones recycled, 772 pounds of silver,
75 pounds of gold recovered in our time.
False scarcity the mantra of politicians.
Steinbeck hangs a bucket on a rope

to wash his clothes in Rocinante.
No Manzanar visitor's center for Steinbeck.
Or Tule Segregation Camp terrorizing sensibility.
The map to rehabilitation a study in horror.
Washing dishes thinking of my carbon footprint.

Steinbeck is 58 with Charley. I'm 72.
He makes fun of hunters and guns.
You can do that, then. Best story
in the book, explores Spanish
verb, vacilar, present participle,

vacilante--a false cognate. He's
been listening, not vacillating at all.
"If one has been vacilando,
he is going somewhere but doesn't care
if he gets there." Tears of the moon,

teasing the young teacher.
Play now, play next,
let rhythm make us free.
Put your manos in the sky
Venimos a vacilar.

Steinbeck finishes in Texas, New Orleans.
Myth. Reality. Roots. Lost.
Bravado and humility. Who are we?
Earlier in Sauk Center with Sinclair Lewis,
my first American hero. He knows Red,

drinks with him. My grandma and I
stop in 1964, driving my red
Austin Healey Sprite eyes full of tears.
Steinbeck's greatest wisdom, I did not know.--
I neglected my country too long. Believe me,

his country didn't wait. He writes,
We know so little of our  own geography.
You got that right, John. You listened
everywhere, and myth wipes out the facts.
That's prophecy, and you're on it.

Jim Bodeen
6 March--28 March 2018

Skis tight, on edge


Shelling left-over peanuts
in bottom of my pack at High Camp,
chased inside by snow, rain, poor
visibility caused by things
having nothing to do with weather--
coffee and orange.
Shells piling on a napkin.
Mammoth had 3-feet of snow
in 36 hours? Is that possible?
Did I ski with you a week ago?
Your song loud sunshine.
You're red beans and rice. 
Peek at the Minarets.
Slender towers of basalt.
About to take me down
Dave's Run, that much
confidence in your Dad
following his son into snow.

22 March 2018

Oly and the Mammoth with Mother Quilt

Oly and the Mammoth, by Karen Bodeen, fabric artist, AKA “Mother Quilt”, riding the Mothership into the Sierra Nevada Mountains to deliver her landscape collage toTim Bodeen on his 47th Birthday. Karen Bodeen is a long-time student of ancestry in addition to her quilting. A bell ringer for many decades in a bell choir, Karen’s music emerges in this film driving the Mothership and dreaming the artist’s way.


Of course, It’s Tule Lake, she says,
echoing No-Gate that was her name
before she was named. Of course.
The one driving away drives toward,
arriving somewhere new.

Navigating quilt woman, threading
her way. Weavers and quilters,
always working, dreaming at work.
Look at my fingers.
Working on the dream.
Bringing it back in pieces.
Bringing it back in thread.

You think she would be easy to live with.

She is only pleasure.

Gold? Liver and stomach upside down.

Holding absolute gold in her hands,
she asks, What flames? Where?

Something like deliverance.

A man and a dog.

A man and a dog and his mother.
Mother Quilt!

La vida continua/ La vida continua.
Like music on the radio.
What a station! What a station!

I would have missed this but for you, Karen.

There is also a man in the moon, she says.
And in this quilt.
The quilt with the mammoth and the dog,
that one, there is also a man.

Jim Bodeen
24 March 2018

Somewhere in March

Coffee with Karen
Deep in the butterscotch chair
New snow on White Pass

Jim Bodeen
22 March 2018



Driving between time zones,
the furnace clicks on in the mothership.
We have stopped to rest,
the name of the town addressing itself
in rhyme, Abra Kanabra,
covering up its promises
to the faithful, who came here
to replace magic with truth.

The camp claims ancestral links to Crazy Horse.

I read three devotional
works on Lenten practices
followed by a poem by Richard Hugo
celebrating weakness and failure.
If you choose the one consoling me
in my hunger, the other three books
are yours. I'm keeping the poem.

For a minute there,
glancing my way, Jesus thought
I might be getting somewhere.

Jim Bodeen
19 March 2019


Spring games day-in-night
Under stars out of Phoenix
No drums for Yes, but

Jim Bodeen
16 March 2018




Folded paper cranes, Origami,
at the front entrance, and before that
the road sign, Blue Star Highway,
and one more, Manzanar,

dropping down from the Sierras,
Sierra Nevada's. Covered in snow,
snow-covered. Beauty of cover,
nieve. Sierra, first the name--

jagged mountain chain, code word
representing the letter S,
used in radio communication,
más profundo: teeth of a saw

in Spanish. Dark feminine
of ciaran. On the street,
Sierra's the type of girl
who brings out the best

in you--the best thing
that ever happened.


Dropping down
from the Sierra Nevada's

to Manzanar. And me?
What just got hit?
My connections?
My grand daughter

folds Origami cranes.
I was born 9 August 1945.
That day. Between the times,
that time. I belong here,

Manzanar. I taught
that book, Farewell to Manzanar
with my friend and colleague
in a course we called

Braided Lives on Turtle Island.
Shigataganai, we taught our students
to say. Shigataganai. Automatically,
It can't be helped. My daughters

went to Yamate High School
in Yokohama, and lived with the girls
who came here to live in our home,
exchanging intimate slang,

remaining friends. I was born
9 August 1945. While serving
in the Evacuation Hospital
in Vietnam in 1968, I skied

in Zao, nearby where Basho
slept on his journey
to the far north--Basho
neither priest nor ordinary

man, writing poems.
My granddaughter folds paper cranes.
Lonnie Kaneko, poet and friend
(who died two years ago) wrote

Coming Home from Camp.
Kaneko and his parents
were sent to Minidoka, Idaho.
Innocent yet pronounced guilty,

he is invisible. Kaneko, too,
writes in his mother's voice.
Kara Kondo, from Wapato,
in Yakima Valley where

we live, was interred at
Heart Mountain, Wyoming,
worked four decades at
Women's League of Voters,

dying at 89 in 2005. My friend
Louis Fiset, philatelist and printer,
wrote Imprisoned Apart:
World War II Correspondence

of an Issei couple, and Camp Harmony:
Seattle's Japanese Americans
and the Puyallup Assembly Center.
He is also caretaker of cancelled

envelopes carrying censored mail.
My granddaughter folds paper
into cranes. I was born 9 August 1945.
On the way into the Sierra Nevadas

to visit our son, we stopped at
Tule Lake Segregation Center.
Look that one up on your own.
Bonsai became known in America

when GIs returned from WWII
bringing Trees in a Pot, along
with Zen and Buddhism. An apprentice
to the trees myself, what fires

my imagination are Scholar's Rocks,
or Suiseki stones. Suiseki being
Japanese Art of Miniature Landscape
stones. Louis Fiset first told me

this practice was widespread at
Fort Missoula Detention Camp,
as Japanese hand-polished stones
rubbing them with Army issue

blankets. That's probably enough,
eh. Don't rub it in. No, No, Yes, Yes.
Clouds that day, crazy wild,
like the monk, Ikkyu. We

stopped at Manzanar. Spent
ourselves. I found the rock garden
walking out alone. I video-taped
three tumbleweeds circling

the basketball on the outdoor
court. Two balls waiting
for a game. White painted
rocks marking boundary lines.

Jim Bodeen
10 March 2018--14 March 2019
Manzanar National Historical Site/Gila Bend, Az

Postmarked Manzinar, Independence, CA


South 395
Gold Star Highway history
Tumbleweeds in wind

Ball court paint rocks white
Three tumbleweeds circle ball
New nets on steel hoops

Play finds survival
Outside barracks children skate
Yes, Yes, No, No, Hey!

Stones from Sierra
Hand polished patina shine
Artist signed rock art

Stay with family
Segregated by an oath
Not for us, GI!

Hey, I'm a GI
I am you and you are me
What is goin' on

Jim Bodeen
10 March--15 March 2018

Más allá que allá, Más,--Further!, Go! Go!


"There must be a back country of the beyond..."
            Maggie Anderson

Más allá que allá
Beyond needle prick blood let
Jumping Jolla Cactus!

Jim Bodeen
12 March 2018
29 Palms,CA



Wake at 3 am
Write poem return to dream
Revise lines at 6

Jim Bodeen
10 March 2018

Not Recognized Once


No trade, no tenure
Sought for adhering to road
Over Chuckle Pass

Jim Bodeen
7 March 2018



and ask his question. At Biztown, Grandpa
is already over his head. Privately he invokes
the Peter Principle, wondering where competence
left him behind. His goal now, at 8 am, not
to embarrass his granddaughter, not to make
a scene with his wife. His mouth, unaccustomedly
dry, sends him to the drinking fountain
where he straightens his name tag.
He's just been told to take his
Magnetic Dry Erase Marker, and write,
Skip 4B. He has already made his decision
not to ask what happened to 4A.

Jim Bodeen
5 March 2018



The student massacre in Tallahassee
in February at Marjory Stoneham Douglas
knocked the sails out of lots of folk, Grandpa
included. Grandpa taught high school journalism
for years. He wrote a Letter to the Editor
to the Tallahassee Democrat and told them
to support student writers. He knew what
they could do. Their critics said they were
under the influence of left wing media.
That pissed Grandpa off even more.
When his letter was published
he was attacked. The writer called
the murderer a perp, saying we need
those guns to keep out socialists.
Grandpa advised the school paper
in 1988 when the Hazelwood decision
came down from the Supreme Court.
Student journalists on The Spectrum
sued their principle when he censored
stories on divorce and teen pregnancy.
Hazelwood East High School, St. Louis County Missouri.
1983. Decision came down in 1988.
Students lost 5-3 decision. Administrators
could exercise prior restraint.
He remembered those days in his school.
The kids are all right,
Grandpa thought. Always have been.
Now they're shot full of holes.
Murdered in their own schools.
Shot full of holes. Those red pencils.
Red pencils and so many bullets.

Jim Bodeen
5 March 2018

First Words From A Great Grand Daughter


            Pauline Klueber

I didn't get the last bite of a cheezy.
Grandma was going to save it for me.
I didn't get to hug her one more time.

[As told by Karen Bodeen.]

Jim Bodeen
4 March 2018



and to break every yoke.
            Isaiah 58:6

The fast is required for abundance,
the robed man says. I read his words
every day. I want caffeine. Ripe
cherries from high places

and dried on sidewalks
in poor countries, roasted
in stainless kettles
in my home town.
Add running water for all,

            every where,
with faucets and valves.
Add the contents of my refrigerator.
Add technology, teachers,
replaceable printer's ink cartridges--
Clothes with cool colors
and shoes that jump. Code language:
Study and discernment. Tread lightly.
Hold the coffee. Hold for Ignatius.

Jim Bodeen
27 February--1 March 2018