What's more than that,


Dante, blind, turning for the ascent,
he had seen all he could see,
but there remained, below,
voices still, he knew
they were there,
but he could listen
no more
and he turned up the mountain,
the first switchback

Jim Bodeen
29-31 July 2018

What happened in the listening time


He'd said it before, in conversation. He hadn't yet brought it here. He'd gone as far as he could go to listen to what he'd found there, in the faraway lands before he could return and listen to what's close. Nothing could have been closer than his mother. He left and went as faraway as he could go. He went to where everything he heard he heard as strange. Strange and wonderful and all of it beyond understanding. Here is where he practiced the listening. Listening to get it right. And he gave himself up to carrying it, and bringing it back, all that he had heard. All that he could carry. It took him, well, it took him most of his life. And he did what he set out to do, he brought it back. He brought back what he heard. And what he heard was her, his mother. He heard her. He sat with her. He had listened to it all. Now it was her turn to return to him. Quiet at first, mirroring his father's quietness. She was hardly noticeable. Her current, like a directional system, guiding him now, through all traffic. Sometimes she would talk to him, throwing out some of her favorite, even family famous, where would we go for naming them? Baseball maybe, line drives--he thinks he'll try it out--Sometimes she would swing and smack the ball where no one was, a rope, but usually the line drives were, like aimed at him, terrifying shots, but now they arrived as volleys, a kind of pitch of delight, and he'd go public with it, I'll give you one more chance before I'm calling the sheriff! one-offs, like that. That close, like his mother was throwing batting practice. They walked like this then. This is how they walked. They walked further through alienation exile than any who knew them individually, would have guessed possible. Both of them quiet, even on busses. In their newness, she asked him again, that question she asked him half a century ago, riding to the baseball game. He was living with priests and nuns at the time, and she asked, Do you still believe like we believe? Asking now, she patted his arm, as she was want to do. I can kid you, too, you know. The others, well, they never listened like you did, not to me. When she said that, he heard his father call, from the other room, Cele, get in here, I need your help. Everybody on the bus turned and looked at them.

Jim Bodeen
29 July 2018

How did I find this,
Then, Egzackly*, How did I,
What was I after

*spelling from Ken Kesey, Sometimes A Great Notion

Jim Bodeen
27 July 2018

Seen in Seattle


Comic body, comic clothes.
Not made in North Dakota, worn there.
North Dakota worn.
From Chicago catalogs.
Not hiding the body.

The illumination.

In all of its chubbiness,
a wonder among teenagers in Seattle.

Jim Bodeen
12-24 July 2018

Birch Canoe


Lotus petal tucked
Dreaming inside skin blossom
Bright bubble light burst

Jim Bodeen
25 July 2018



Elbows bent into knees
The looping time, late July,
Chaparral nesting

Jim Bodeen
10-25 July 2018

Learning to Walk


The teacher whose name I do not know.
Who I thank each day.
50 years in two weeks.

Mid-August, 1968, touching down.
He sees me walk into the room--
takes me into the hall--Mid-

September, 1968. Night class
in acting.
Community college--

This is how you walk.
Bend the knees. Bend the elbows.
Left leg, right arm. Swinging--

Swinging hips, turning!
I'll wait out here. Eyes, man!
Go! Go in now. Go!

Jim Bodeen
10-24 July 2018



This is me selling Christmas cards
door to door. This me taking over for Mom.
This is me vacuuming.
This is me in the kitchen.
This is me selling brooms for
Lighthouse for the Blind.
This is me at the paper shack counting papers,
bagging them before delivering. Seattle times.
This is me smoking a cigarette throwing the paper bag
over the handlebars of my bike. 120 daily. More on Sunday.
This is me quitting the market where I cleaned the cooler
where deer skins were thrown. Unable
to clean up maggots. I couldn't hold my head up.

You want to be good at door to door.
You have to have a product you believe in.
You have to present yourself , not scare people.
You have to know how to get your foot in the door.

I was ten, new in Seattle. Then I was 12.
I'd moved on from Christmas cards.
What I was good at was selling those brooms.
Products from Lighthouse for the Blind.
Dad drove me into new neighborhoods twice a week.
Blind people made everything I sold.
Understand, I was doing this for money,
I also believed.

You're representing those who cannot see.
You're making lives better, like Jesus.
You're not wearing jeans, OK?
You better believe the blind shall see.
You show people your broom.
You're wearing a necktie, just old enough for pimples.
Good evening, Ma'm.  I sell products made by the blind,
and I work for The Light House for the Blind.

This is how I got my start, before
I loaded fruitcakes inside Paul Bunyan's 25,000 pound
birthday Cake at Seattle World's Fair.
I worked before the Fair opened, after it closed,
and all 180 days. Before I became a busboy.
Apprenticed to itinerancy.

My journalism teacher signed my yearbook
saying he was certain I'd be rich.
I loved him so much. But he was wrong.
Now, Lighthouse for the Blind partners with Boeing.
They teach signing, Braille. Accessibility.
Advocate for blind and deaf/blind,
and blind with other difficulties.

Behind the Seattle Lighthouse,
Ethel L. Dupart's Fragrant Garden
contains over sixty different plants
appealing to the sense of smell and touch.

For me it was always about the senses.
Who had them, who didn't,
how they keep moving around. *

Jim Bodeen
16 July 2018

*Lighthouse for the Blind is the largest employer of people who are blind on the West Coast, and the largest employer of people who are DeafBlind in the nation.

Cello On Tailings: A Meditation

Cello meditations begin after a boat ride,
part of a walk into mountains.
Not Thoreau sauntering.
Cello meditations begin after the concert,
alternative listening. A young woman
wants to heal the wilderness--
that much you've been told.
Other stuff, the invitation
and the overheard--that's part
of the practice that brings you here.

Jim Bodeen
22 July 2018


Music walking out
They do not arrive
I sit
in the butterscotch chair

Sought, knowing
they will be
and happening
without the experience

through pages
carried and carrying

Jim Bodeen
21 July 2018


Here, in here,

The museum of failure

Jim Bodeen
14 July 2018

Ojas de Nada


In order to protect one
it was necessary
to exile the other

The way to move
into the imagination
the only one I had

the other
empty pages

Jim Bodeen
19 July 2018

Kiss of the Beloved


Returning to her
Who brought our son to this life
What I had to do

Jim Bodeen
10 July 2018

It's Arrowsmith's Montale, too


The voice, in short, in which poetry, fusing with life, becomes incarnate spirit, language ablaze, with something like divinity.  "Syria" (1951-52), Notes, p. 732. William Arrowsmith, The Collected Poems of Eugenio Montale 1925-1977.

Beach reading pitiless holiday,
grandchildren surround me,
digging sand dollars inflecting

multiplying treasures of rainbow, 
citing ancients on poetry
as a ladder to God, Montale

excuses himself. Daily decency
after reading names
in mid-day sun

memorial at Sant' Anna.
Desert flowers, lost shoe horns,
every written line evoking

road, underlined, referenced.
All I want in Little Testament,
no longer able to memorize.

Return to time among children
tenderness and cruelty
no love for God or opinions,

they make nature theirs
without worshipping.
Can I go back?

Dig my toes into sand.
Walk the beach.
Sandals and rain jacket.

Hooded for wind,
with my phone for photos,
finding sun reflecting foam

in tide pools. Clouds in sky,
clouds in sand. Close-up, abstracted
for patterns. The road ahead

is not a way. So beautiful.
Like jazz. Grasses with shadows
drawn towards early sun,

one burnt log banking sand
in earlier wind, stammering
like that log, sastrugi sand,

rousing language. Happy
kids selling washing machines.
A way out of memory,

mind. Where I find,
Heat, Lightning. Where
the poet laureate found it.

Did it make them brothers?
Children face the ocean
with two shovels, animated

themselves by sea, surf
pounding 12-year old hearts.
Me in sinking lawn chair

rocking, wool gloves
around my fingers writing
in a notebook. I have also

spent my life facing
memorials luchando\
mi fé, finding confidence

in the other, in others,
my other, now in Arrowsmith's
Montale: dissolved

into other, at the point
just before saying yes--
elsewhere, too, partly

how we apprehend
what children inhabit,
ineffably, momentarily, again.

Jim Bodeen
3-5 April 2018



Weathered logs, snow fields,
great water for propagation
of mosquitoes, and fog! Still
able to this, after hiking
through burnt forest,
Wolverine Fire, 
in its surroundingness,
knowing, too, how fires
move fast, uphill,
preheating fuel,
These trees.

Jim Bodeen
16 July 2018


what joyness noodles its way in, like song-souled, no, no, no, song-sold, oh no, no, that won't work, won't do, won't become, never, never, never, now--now, now, no. Stop. On the first one, where you'd be proud if your dog behaved, crossing that lined-up in the cross-hatched place of wonder-color, it can't be done, raw like that. Jim Bodeen



That learned practice
When writing didn't matter
The morning Godsend.

Jim Bodeen
7 July 2018

The Ultimate Brief


            for Zev

First possessions
The 1953 Mickey Mantle card,
what stays, remains what

can't be gotten rid
of, no matter, how boxed, scis-
sored, treasure-traded

Jim Bodeen
5 July 2018