The Moon Over This House


Dishing with Karen
Snow Giant Peach on ice cream
Spoon leaf fall moon glow

Jim Bodeen
24 September 2018

Found Poem in Mandela's Letters


            When you're pressed for information,
            you know you've got to play it dumb.
                        Leonard Cohen, Waiting for the Miracle

My silver Parker T Ball pen has also disappeared
I ask you to investigate the matter and have this article replaced
Give me the information and the date when they will be returned to me

Jim Bodeen
10-24 September 2018



She was going out
as I was going in
you were walking
with me, with
your own questions
It was the same door
all of us going
in the same direction
She would understand
others too, others
not so much

Jim Bodeen
19 September 2018



Earlier in my life I used to be Sheriff of Three Corners,
walking from the curb garden into the street
holding my wooden rake, forcing traffic
to slow down as drivers tried cutting through
the stop light on Tieton. Now my practice
is to hold the hose, ignoring the underground
sprinkler system while remaining in the yard.

This is not a treatise on the weird,
although I've been told there's a t-shirt
riffing on the Beatitudes, Blessed
are the Weird, which triggered things like
up the down staircase,
book that came looking for me at 13,
had I left them, even then, the writers?

not dreaming as much as knowing
Jesus lived daily with the same shit.
And what about John? John
in the water up to his waist,
saying, Not me, not me, settle down!
Time traveling through music
and beyond the left hand, that first

Christian congregation, criminals
with square hand-forged nails hammered
through tissue and bone, one
with the man in the middle abandoned
and ensuring that the pews would fill
and empty, over and over again
searching for the easier way,

they're pretty fucking weird too,
two thousand years of them,
Easy, easy, let's try it through here!
Mundane. Solipsistic. Take a year,
take 1968, [Not fair! Not fair!]
Just the chance that coming of age
here, makes normal participation

in American democracy impossible.
Beyond that walking in the unread,
and passed over texts, gum-grease,
protolapsis uh de cutinary linin',
who could Zora send that one to
beside bilingual Langston
laughing into fragmented normality

momentary home, Don't pass me by,
Just one plea, No more, No more,
and how many ever asked to see
the badge, those tin pins, copper-
wired by the Dada jeweler, weird!
Weird! Weird! Hose you. You.

Jim Bodeen
10 September 2018

What we don't see coming


            for Lee Bassett

All morning playing with mulch,
composting North Park
while looking for misplaced books,
working on poems--eating sausage
leftover from breakfast dinner
three nights ago. Douse
in green Tabasco, what I found
when I couldn't find deliverance
for the damned, confounding
Karl Barth hounds me defending
Bultmann again. Bultmann
defend, confess, send and receive,
as riddles increase the graces.
Here in the notebook, the lost books
bring forth Mountain Home,
Hinton's first anthology of Chinese poets,
and because I'd just read his translations
of Su Tung-p'o in his big book following
a study of Burton Watson's of the same,
I am released of my search for Barth.

Hinton says some things differently
here, than in the big anthology
with the white cover, and says a couple
of things, twisted a smidgeon, so fine,
and this, on water: consciousness,
wandering like water, how East Side Su's poems
all enact in daily life. And this, in being clear,
water has an inner nature
enduring all transformations. Perhaps,
he says, (What do you think, Gary?)
the greatest rivers and mountains poet,
but here it is again, what he says
in both places about Su's poems
taking shape like water
from all it encounters. His poems
weave together the empirical world
and wandering thought.

                                    I will finish
this, staying with it, in a minute,
but what is foremost on my mind here
is this poem from my old friend Lee,
After you're gone, we have you here,
Lee Bassett, masked as a bibliophile
in Seattle, a monk, the abbot?
from Bright Insight Monastery
traveler of Tokaido Road with Ed Cain,
painter and heaven walker,
and though I've known Lee
for decades, I didn't know this,
his Tokaido Road, until, wandering
off road myself, I saw the prints
in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh
while running down photos of One Shot
Teenie Harris, and his images of black service men
and their families, that's Joe Louis!
this when I was walking Hill District
looking for clues to August Wilson,
clues I found by the way! Oh!
Snow Tracks! This, of course,
I find in his poem. Lee Bassett
is a rivers and mountains poet,
and not only that, Bassett and Su,
both sitting poets! sometimes
to the detriment of their own health!
Sometime I have to stop them.
Who is talking here, which one.

I thought I was looking for Burton Watson's
line here, but I was wrong again--
this one in Hinton:
and tomorrow morning, long after we've set out again for the day,
he'll still be here among the white clouds of this poem on the wall
Watson and Bassett and Hinton and East Side Su
I didn't see any of this coming

Here's my old wife back from the store, ah Vieja,
Su never needs the last word, Hinton says,
I smile remembering us young
how long it takes to know a poem!
Wild thoughts, wild thoughts,
no, wild nights, wild nights,
because each gesture in the poem is wild
Don't rattle the kids trying for clever
turn the ruin to compost and wonder
holding us closer than any flower

Jim Bodeen
10-11 September 2018



The Paul Friday 5B
variety first developed
in 1996, in Michigan
by Paul Friday. Famous
for his Flaming Furies--
peaches numbered in order
of when they ripen
in relationship to each other.
Number 5 signifies this one
was 5th to ripen of 27 kinds.
In Colorado it can be the first--
49 days before standard Elbertas,
118 days after full blossom.
Elbertas are used as the standard
for measuring ripeness of all peaches.
The rich, red color of Paul Friday 5B
signals to its value. A semi-cling peach
not a free stone. We're in Yakima,
one song away from Johnson Orchards.

The longer a peach remains
on the tree the sweeter the taste.
Topaz is worth the risk of frost
coveted for its aromatic smell.

It's the middle of September
and I've brought home four peaches
from Johnson's. Snow Giant.
White-fleshed, Snow-white,
weighing in at a pound each,
easily bruised, sweet whether firm or soft,
often thrown into trash
until the mid-80s, sweet
with low-acid. I read through
all the recipes past down,
all the ones linked on-line,
                        and knowledgeable
of sugar content in watermelon
from eastern Oregon, blueberries
on Cheerios. Moving through the day
with cucumbers, small zucchini
in olive oil with Beefsteak tomatoes,
and Walla Walla Sweets,
I savor succulent valley produce,
even as peach juice runs down
my chin, early afternoons. This
is all preparation, getting ready
for evening ritual repeating itself
through August, into late September,
one we have to be home for
completing each summer day,
one recipe pleasure-visceral deep,
fresh peaches over ice cream.

Jim Bodeen
August-September, 2018


Poems from the Butterscotch Chair


Empty dish washer, scrub pan
in sink and make Pike Place Coffee
for Karen. September sun comes through
window from tall grass. I've walked
the yard reading poems of Su Tung-p'o
remembering his 800 letters, his 10,000 pores,
and his translators, a millennium gone,
returning to my own wandering thought,
sitting in the butterscotch chair,
a memorial service at 11 for the husband
of a former Bible student,
I was her Sunday School teacher
decades ago, firefighters in love,
another day of Aretha's songs
rare and unreleased, released in me
part of our cultural breath, oxygen-loaded
breath prayers singing us a little more
into being, carrying her
from before we were born
how we got through

Jim Bodeen
3-14 September 2018

September Watermelon


flat from first hope-breath
breathes and turns towards
watermelon sliced cold
into shards, sweet running
with spilling wet juice
and yet with flavor flown
first September days
sun-softened not quite
the same sugar as last week
turning into garden
with my shovel digging clay

We drive into orchard garden
through trees Karen stops so I
grab an apple fallen
within a minute cracking open
in my mouth eating pulled pork
sandwich on stale bun mustard
loaded sates me good
Karen driving me to new schools
where grandkids start September
ripe whole goodness graced
making garden cleanup easy
television offerings added on
to all before this, RBG,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
and I come to bed early
reading easy poems
with never the last word
of Su Tung-p'o, still reading
when Karen comes to bed
reading a biography of Laura Ingalls
How did they stand it Karen asks,
They didn't they ran screaming into fields
both of us remembering what
the Justice said
Just get your feet off our necks

Jim Bodeen
3-11 September 2018

The Project of the Hose


Su Tung-po traveling at night
looks at the stars
each one where it belongs
little ones like children
running through famine leaves
a few years shy of 1000 years asking
What does Heaven do anyway
Burton Watson, closer to us
sighs in wonder, translating
and because my friend
forgot his birthday
I'm reading these poems
instead of sitting with him
drinking High Mountain Green
this garden hose in my hand
does a fine job watering these trees
it keeps me close to what is love
Su Tung-p'o walks that evening road
clearly remembering the night's sky moon

Jim Bodeen
3 September 2018

Sound Beauty


Difficult to work
September sun stuns seedlings
dreamed water word stay

Jim Bodeen
11 September 2018

Out from the Porch


Walking September yard
Picking my slow way through books
A chair for Karen

Jim Bodeen
8 September 2018

Walking into the Smoke


"...So pour out the whole cup, offering to a river and its moon"
            Su Tung-P'o

Two days from the exact day, four years ago,
this tundra walk on the great mountain, Tahoma,
still hidden from maps, high enough to put us
in telephone range with our wives at lunch below. Changed
now, we leave Yakima under crescent moon
in the eastern sky. Third Burroughs still listed

on the map, with no access trail. My brother,
me, erasing time, with time, still, a prompt.
Sunrise. East side. East Slope Su. My recluse
search kept on,  David Hinton translating
the Sung poet, arduous exile
tried for treason, wandering like water

with his inner pattern, weaving together,
never sounding like the last word,
every gesture in a poem is wilderness,
these last two lines leaving me perpetually
breathless in the poem, walking alone,
walking with my brother. This day,

my brother, turning to me, asking:
            "Where is Dad?"
"Oh, Chuck. No."
He's been talking to the others,
the believers, literal one. "'The smoke,'
Dad said, his last words. Where is he?"

No, Chuck. No. He's not.
There's no such place. Listen,
Dad visits me. Once in a while,
in dreams. He's ok. He's so quiet.
Sometimes I don't even notice he's there.

Don't see him. He's off to the side,
kind of like he was as our Dad,
in a lawn chair. Legs crossed.
Smoking. That half-smile.
Oh, brother! Come up from

the dream-world, Father.
Show thyself!
                        Our father,
dead forty years, when this surfaces
tundra-hiking, to the Burroughs,
I didn't know, stopping, shouts

from the three Philippine women
tagging with us to the rocks above,
calling for us to take their photos--
OK, now you're part of  us, I say
after the photographs. Dramatic talk,
conversation as adventure, we're

in the middle of what's wild, my brother
and I, you've walked into this, no stopping,
Chuck, my brother, our Father is not in Hell.
No burning place like that, exists, Jesus,
God, Jesus-God wouldn't permit it,
now I've said it. Three angel-women

immigrants walk with my brother, listening.
We are Catholic in Philippines. Catholic,
Muslim, Buddhist, yes. Surrounding him
this moonwalk gives way to testimony.
My brother telling his story, his loss,
our hike here four years ago, holding

to shreds of possibility before the crossing.
Third Burroughs, we show them, above glacier,
below Tahoma, cutting a sandwich,
peanut butter and peach jam into pieces
for us all, and we have little fishes
dried in salt and vinegar. A young man,

Joshua, from Israel sits with us on stones,
and a young couple from New Zealand
down from British Columbia. To be outside
together, among the young. Snyder, Chatwin,
Kerouac. Who are the poets from Philippines?
The caregiver who takes care of the old man

and the M.S. patient, wraps two slices of salami
around a chunk of mango and hands it to me.
Everything on the table now. We're inside
heavenly dreams now, John Lennon.
The way my brother says, My Lord,
evokes Aretha, singing for the crossing-all-of-us.

Jesse praying, If you leave here today
and don't register to vote, you're disrespecting
Aretha. My sweet Lord. Su Tung-p'o,
East Slope himself: Clever wise ones ruin'd me--
 I have old friends in those mountains,
and they keep calling me home.

Jim Bodeen
1-6 September, 2018



Who'll sit and wait with me
The night air chill
What does Heaven do anyway
Careful--don't get too wrapped up in dreams of high office
Wanderings of a lifetime--what do they resemble
The old monk is dead now
Do you recall that day
Peering closer...trying to write the words on my stomach
Missing a word or two, getting eight or nine
I try to date the stones
What will the creator make out of me next
Each time I look at him I'm lost
The lamp's burned out/look at the slanting dipper
The priest grabs their money heads for...
When your poem came it brought back those times again
We grow old but who goes on grumbling about the gods
My home is where the river first bubbles from a fountain
Mountain monks pressed me to stay
Write a poem quick before it gets away
Don't ask who is foolish or wise
This hermit has a special way with hills
The flower is the embarrassed one, topping an old man's head
I only hear a bell beyond the mist
Lately I've developed a taste for the quiet life
Wise men fill the court, why do things get worse
Is it Shao's music make me forget how things should taste
Stilling the mind, no medicine is better than this
I hear no voices but the scuff of shoes
Strike your own evening drum morning bell
Doesn't Lord Heaven see this old farmer weeping
At Twilight Fine Rain Was Still Falling
Cold thoughts--where can I talk them out
The children are silly but you're much worse
What you get's not worth the trouble
Throat parched, thinking only of tea
I wanted to write a verse to your last year's song
The governor's gone mad
An hour of delight among these cliffs
Make sure the mind never clings
Come to think of it, why rush to town
The bell on the pagoda top talks to itself
I may be dropping by at odd hours
Years now I've stolen posts I never should have had

Funny--I never could keep my mouth shut
But here's a stranger, alone, heaven against him
What's ten years when a thousand pass like hail on the wind
Leaning on my stick I listen to river sounds
I long for my loved one in a corner of the sky
I get another cool day in this floating life
The hundred rivers day and night flow on
I like the ringing sound my stick makes when it strikes

10,000 things
100 rivers
84,000 verses
300 tiers of green hills
800 letters
1000 folded hills
7,000 miles, 18 rapids
10,000 pores

I myself am in the mountain
What spot did you observe it from to get this air of unconcern
An exile is like a monk: where is home
Who works these wonders
He himself became bamboo
Little boat with a single oar
Poetry is certainly lost on him
Roads go there, they're not for me
I envy crows that know the way back home
I move my bed dodging leaks on the roof
No time to give even my head a good scratching
Living water needs living fire to boil
Black Muzzle, south sea dog
Such is the light of my mind        

What form gratitude, becoming grateful,
lifted text carried into the garden
with my spade, raising dull rocks
buried in clay from time before beings
like ours wrote poems
Does the text become itself
becoming something else, Burton Watson,
the heavy clay remains heavy clay
the stones a mound, cairns towards somewhere,
the lifting, a liberation, after the long wait,
endless longing and silences

Jim Bodeen
28 August--5 September 2018



An act of resistance.
Maybe my best practice.

Programming sprinklers
underground sets the timer
to your empire mind

Jim Bodeen
3 September 2018



Where nothingness takes me from here
follows the cairns right back to liturgy
and words. Grape Nuts and blueberries
in Greek Yogurt tips my hand,
doesn't it. I live behind a walled
garden of trees. An idler,
I open a book of desert poems
and read, We are so much more
than what we are. Mmm.

My friend arrives. High Mountain
Green Tea talk and listen. Hmm.
The listening. Through
to silence where God, active
agent, legislates. I'll be rested, then,
listening, a kind of dizziness,
this levitation. This lightness.

God speaking through silence.

Fragments on the page. Fumbling for them.
Sacred reading. Thrill of a new word,
florilegia, flowers from which the diligent,
O desert father, flowering!
can draw out sweetness. What can't be said
in words, but sung, when you can't be full-joy quiet.

Vanessa Zoltan's flower garden of quotations
delivers a new text. If you treat something
as sacred, it becomes sacred. Safe, generative rigor.
What gets one better at loving.
                                                  For more
than a week now,
I've been reading a single paragraph of a book review
for a book I haven't read. Here is the sentence
I've been carrying from the pastor writing the review:
The forgiven one is made clean without the opportunity
to argue her case, which is an act of true grace.
Timothy Brown is the pastor's name,
and the book, by Benjamin J. Dueholm,
Sacred Signposts: Words, Water, and Other Acts of Resistance.
Resistance here, is meant to denote the secular world.

Collected fragments walked through the day,
you're suggesting they're sacred? Practice
of the daily notebook, no more than that.
That sacred. That's Zoltan. Daily practice
of poets, many others. Zoltan, Jewish
child of Auschwitz parents, athiest pastor,
claims fragments as new text.
                                                For instance--?
                                                This morning--?
What happens among Christians can still astonish...
...the modern world after Christendom is receiving
            its own frightening diagnosis...
...a kind of healing it can neither imagine nor grant...
...resist this world and point to another one
...they are brutally worldly and literal
...words which confront...
...ludicrous pardon...
...prayer, praise, and worship, which steal time and labor
            away from the world unlikely itinerary...
...not an explanation but the thing that resists explanation...
...deciding what matters...

Who's that?
Who's that?
This is me.
That's Benjamin J. Dueholm, Sacred Signposts.
That's a new text?

Thesis of the despised notebook.
I'm listening to Tommy Espinoza eulogize Senator John McCain.
John, I'm a Democrat! So?
Returning from my bike ride, emptying fragments
loaded before I left, I pull into the house
of the truck driver, Greg, Greg says,
I got to get me a bike.
Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver for Arizona Cardinals,
says of John McCain: He ran for President.
I run out of bounds.
The thing I have against the poem
is that when I read the notebook,
it's got more blood running through it
than most poems.

                                    My friend and I,
we were talking about practice.

Jim Bodeen
29-30 August 2018