#60 Scattering gathered pebbles

Japanese maples
Other side of Torii Gate
Red River dreaming

Salt and pepper tiger shrimp
two sets of chop sticks

How to hear unheard language
An orthography
A set of symbols, spelling

Policeman bracelets
Turn up in Mountain Poems
Dragons in city alleys

Inner-patterned syllables
Bring old man out of childhood
All the way around adults

Karen navigates the way
Quilting on her telephone

Longshoreman hat window sits
Year of Dog Fortune Cookies   

Jim Bodeen
29 November 2018

On the Totem, He holds a frog

#55 Flower reigns in splendour

Native sound booth find
Her children repeat old ways
Dreaming words awake

#56 Thou hast come down to me

Path to Ancestors
Gives all to future children
First Peoples Mother

28 November 2018
Jim Bodeen



            for Karen

Working my way towards you
in our full time, in bed
before sleep, the one
whose sun rise confirms
50 years together
(54 years of knowing),
you watching tv
in the living room,
crossing time, across
time, not automatic
or even earned--beyond luck
grace acknowledged,
comic and worse
in my failures, but never
without desire for you,
your presence and quiet vision.

I had to grow into it
You sat it out until I did
Four years
Two years plus months of separation
Two years of letters

I'm still pissed off at the photographer
the way he missed desire
choreographing his American lie,
who made those men chosen to witness
what we were publicly saying, Yes,
how he framed me,
wrong, wrong, no. Not this.
What did I know of ceremony? Marriage?
Beyond what must be turned towards, walking?

A boy from North Dakota,
returned from Southeast Asia,
feeling catalog pages for clothes,
that awkward, that too, witnessed.

That photographer who choreographed
all that arrived exhausted from the 1950s,
requiring me to be picked up and carried
against my will, to the altar, when

I couldn't, had only one word to say,
Yes, (waiting too for yours),
even fearful, a kind of surfacing terror
in me, to say, shout, Yes,
all manner of yes, to be united
in public word. To make a love story
one could believe in.

                        When does marriage begin?
For me, years before I would know you,
timeless time without knowing
how to be your husband,
magnificent Christ-star vision,
years before your ring would show me
it can't be done alone.
Premonitions of knowing
even as the shutter, obedient
before the photographer's finger,
recorded what we would be up against,
stepping out in love, minutes
before you would appear
disturbing, shaking, unshackling me.

Jim Bodeen
November, 2018

She was too close to God

#49 I was singing alone

Karen's too damn good
I had to call her on it
More than once I did

25 November 2018

#50 Begging door to door

Still counting on luck
What North Dakota call dice roll
Beds such purity

You never asked for a thing
My striving for you doubled

Jim Bodeen
25 November 2016

Cowiche Canyon Sunshine


Burl's Barber Shop before
Cowiche Canyon
hash browns, eggs,
Every day on me,

Wolf's Den Wapato.
Hoagie Roll
with peanut butter
apricot jam in pack,

backed by black bean
burrito and sunshine.
Walking frozen grass
morning image-jammed

feet melting it all down,
winter-frost prints
Hinoki Cypress coffee-
ground fed, what Yeats said.


Young people at trail head
motor running in car
while I open hatchback
put on boots, they're

making love just before
lunch time, song from
my car, Cowboy Junkies
Notes Falling Slow


Zip parka in sun on rock
Sandwich with John Haines'
early Alaska poems,
Green Man that one

baptized Jesus, Look at him
way he's dressed, put him
under in that icy water
nesting birds watching in trees.

Take out an apple
and notebook, looking up
and down from outcropping
one aluminum can

I missed last week. Voices
coming up trail, I ask
Can you pick up that can,
drop it on rock by trail--

thanks, I'll get it.
Because I'm talking too
I don't tell them
this is a No Talk Zone.


Creekside Trail beyond
By-Pass Bridge 11, What's this?
Judy, 83, walked in from Fred Meyers
asking about trail. We walk

a ways. Hiking alone.
Like I am, caution sign.
Black hat, black slacks,
fanny pack, running shoes,

binoculars. Most of my friends
are dead or in old folks homes,
I was in a hiking club
in nature conservancy. She

goes to first outcropping.
We stop and look. This
is as far as you can go,
I say. I'm glad you have

that one trekking pole.
Two are required from this point.
I'll wait here, until you get
to trail head. Give me a shout out.


Sun below South Side
Canyon, cold stops ink running
in notebook. Haines also
cold, closed; a caution,

Be careful, getting up.
It's dangerous, this outcropping,
sitting here, afternoon
this long, mid-November

sunshine. You don't know
how stone-dizzy you really are.
You tell yourself, standing,
You're only 30 minutes

from your car. Take that as sign.

Jim Bodeen
19-24 November 2018

Golden Jubilee

#43 Steps echo from star to star

           for Karen--Who else?

These lines to work with
When I didn't keep myself
I had no traction

Scattered in blue dust
Words rooted, leaning away
Waiting for your call


Syllabic footnote
Tear storm, wind storm, wait tear call
Detritus wind wait
#44 Air fills with promises

Where poet's verse dulls
Wayside where shadows catch light
Long marriage perfume

Jim Bodeen
22-23 November 2018

Only this, Beloved

#36 This is my prayer to thee

Daily Jubilee
Waking long view Sunday joy
Compressed 50 years

Each breath ready for what comes
Falling in and out of dreams

Jim Bodeen
22 November 2018

Ancestors Eat First / Dia de los Muertos

Ancestors Eat First: A Meal with Dad

Following in the tradition of Latin America celebration of Dia de los Muertos, Kirsten Schowalter and Jim Bodeen honor Dr. David Schowalter and his family, with a reading and presentation of Kirsten Schowalter's memoir In My Own Skin at the cemetery in Rochester, Minnesota, where Dr. Schowalter practiced at the Mayo Clinic.


            for Kirsten Schowalter

Crops are in as we gather
with ancestors, who may
confuse our offerings
with exploding cannons

no one has names for.
Trusting we'll be recognized
for our tiny poppers,
we go on with the meal.

Sitting before the stone
carved from Mnemonosyne,
Greek Goddess AKA Mom,
her story in time's narrative,

eating after the ancestors,
left-over sushi, pea soup,
and crumbs from that muffin!
Enough--What appetites!--

words surfacing
through your skin
coming through the body,
then me taking a turn--

interrupted then--sudden
appearances of your story--
Rocks at Lake Itasca
Bobber. What your Dad says

next, clearest word of the day:
Carbon, nitrogen, oxygen.
Something people can use.
Whoa! What life is.

Jim Bodeen
30 October 2018

Storypath/Cuentocamino: : Gitanjali, the Song Offerings Part I

Storypath/Cuentocamino: : Gitanjali, the Song Offerings Part I: Gitanjali , Song Offerings, Rabindranath Tagore Gift copy from the scientist Dr. Gobinda Sarkar, October 25, 2018, Rochest...

Cannonball! Cannonball!


His sax says things are getting better.
He reaches for more. Moving
into the song a piano helps it go.
Now he says 75 things
are getting better. If this is so,
Cannonball, why have I turned
to the 19th Century? Not to Whitman,
not Twain, all moves I've made
in the past. I'm with Fred Douglass
and John Brown. Douglass
has re-translated Isaiah.
Brown has just left North Elba
following a utopian plan.
Timbukto. We're a long way
from the river Tuckahoe
catching elbows 
from contented Christians.
Toni Morrison's letter
arrives in the mail,
Nobel Prize winner
working for Morris Dees
and Southern Poverty Law Center.
White racism, KKK
moving into mainstream comfort.
Riding rails, unsettled in time.
Dred Scott, man! Dred Scott!
Fugitive Slave Law on second rail.
Cannonball, Cannonball.
Speak to me of the 75 things!

Jim Bodeen
18 November 2018

What's the snow report?


This morning I read an obituary
of a woman who skied off Mt. Adams,
Pahtoo, Old One Standing There,
she was Queen of the Rodeo,
Stanford, and a language teacher
where I worked thirty years.
She taught Spanish and English,
skied until she was 85. Last night
In bed I reached for a book of poems
by Jim Harrison, Dead Man's Float,
poems about getting old that give you
tooth ache drinking a Coke.
I get mad at myself and can't sleep.
I see where I wrote the day I got the book.

This morning while Karen
reads the paper drinking coffee,
I'm reading his poems.
Harrison's all these different ages.
He's 74 and can't believe it.
He's 7 wondering who he was.
His poems on the bedstead gathering dust,
poems full of Lorca and Machado.
It pisses me off. Forgetting like this.
I paid a taxi in Granada
to take me where they murdered Lorca.
When I find Americans who don't know
his essay on Duende I buy it for them,
that sweet New Directions copy
with poems and Cante Jondo.
What have I done for Harrison?
That woman who skied
off Pahtoo, she climbed Mt. Rainier twice.
She's out of my league. I'm 73,
writing in a notebook.
Her accomplishments make me think
of my failures. She marched with MLK.
I never knew her, never heard her name.
Dark sounds, Lorca, Dark. Dark.

Jim Bodeen
16 November 2018

Spanish Traditions


Quince jelly on pancakes
Membrillo with Manchego Cheese
Winter picnic from kitchen

Douglass not only used the Hebrew prophets; he joined them.
            --David W. Blight

OK, Karen says,
I'm reading my own book.

Jim Bodeen
15 November 2018

"No Other Desire"

Could we sing again!

Dr. Gobinda Sarkar sings couplets 
from Gitanjali of Rabindranath Tagore
in the coffee shop:

"No noise...No Noise"

#24 From the traveller

Boxed harvest butter
Perfumed flesh grown for blossoms
Aphrodite's quince

12 November 2018

#25 Give thy-self to sleep

November's kitchen
Lumpy quince odd crossed jelly
Autumn aroma

13 November 2018

Live inside your word

#20 My basket empty

Newspaper flutter
With beloved at my side
She clears her throat

#21 A thrill passing through

Left-handed chopsticks
All my transgressions leave trail
Side light sun-breath cold


Frederick Douglass
Now he would be a writer
By my own table

Jim Bodeen
10 November 2018

GITANJALI, Song Offerings


            I have no desire at all
            except to sit at your feet

When you sang into my telephone, Gobinda,
from the corner of the bookstore, this couplet
from Tagore's great hymn, I was certain
you had told my life story with the beloved
with the signature of science and boatloads
of empirical evidence. Rabindranath Tagore's
Gitanjali from your hands to mine. Here
anniversary day, ours, Me,
with the beloved in the body. 50 years.
I remember you telling Kirsten,
I attended my first American wedding
when your parents were married.
This, our situation here.  Married
and blessed in that other year,
 of love and violence, 1968.

Gracious Scientist, least religious man
in the Mayo Clinic, but among the holy ones.
After your father leaves your mother                              
and you start the school of hope.
What else? Splitting assignments
you take one half, she takes the other half.
Bengali, science and math. My Mom. Wow.
Binapani Sarkar, Goddess of learning.
I am the least religious man in the world--
with a passion and determination.
Beliefs can do a lot of things.
Gobinda means God you say.

We talk about the Bodhi Tree
and the dog in pain. Why we suffer.
Empty stomachs and big laughs.
I'll buy the food and you keep talking.
I don't have any religion.
I have a pure free mind.
I am a free man.
You give up the big laugh.

Calcutta your birth place.
India, Bengal, and Bangladesh.
Tussles between Hinduism and Buddhism.
I am Hindu.
British and Indian Independence.
Your long road through Canada
to science and laughter through hope.

You pass your gift to the Bengali people
to me through the depth of your laughter
and books. I carry your copy of
Tagore's Gitanjali from bedroom
to the garden, surrounded by song.
Offerings to the Beloved. What
I try for each day, one song at daybreak.
Read and discover. Tighten one line
into five syllables of music
written into my notebook. Carried
into the day with the task
of music and listening. To harvest
17 syllables, one haiku of praise.
Three lines of obedience. In prayer
for the one who loved me
before I could see or sing.
Before I was present to love.

Gobinda Sarkar. Doctor. Scientist.
Least religious man as you claim.
Gift of the Mayo Clinic.
From Calcutta to Rochester.
Man who opens the famous clinic
with laughter and song.
Most present to the Beloved
and long marriage on this Yakama day
where we give offering in song.

Love from Jim 
3 November 2018

#1 So Many Distances

Another way home
Never quite arriving
Wind gone into the Dakotas

Jim Bodeen
25 October 2018

#3 Sky to Sky Music

Your voice comes ringing
Two hands singing four hand bells
Bells in your hands delight

2 November 2018

A Blessing from High Forest Rest Stop

Annnie Wright, Janes Wright's 'A Blessing' came to the Rest Stop outside Rochester, and how Kirsten Schowalter got there. A beginning narrative. 


Dear Annie, By now you've most likely heard from Kirsten
in her own skin and seen pictures too. I'll try and sound like myself
and not confuse you with word costumes at Halloween.
Do I sound like him? Or do I sound like the other guy.
Both men quick with tears, as am I. Thank God
for them, Dick and Jim both.  At the end of the day,
beginning this sentence, I remember throwing
jackknives in Jerry Grouer's front yard
with neighborhood boys trying to stick
the knife in the grass and not into someone's
outstretched toes. Manufacturing spots of time
before we knew Wordsworth--but we knew
more than dandelions even then, all those
daffodils in prairie gardens of our aunts.

Your generosity, Anne Wright, lifts Kirsten's
story into another of the sacred circles,
hyphenating and spirit-filling them with blessings.
Feel this in Kirsten's shout! The snowstorm
cancelling in her earlier trip home, makes you
one of her guides, showing her how poets
reclaim what has been lost in love's pursuit.
Isn't this what you gave Jonathan Blunk
authorizing the biography. He says
your marriage brings more sunlight
into the poems and sobriety. 
No clear glimpse of the poet without Annie.
I felt the two of you like that in Martin's Ferry.
Empathy of the poet. Negative capability of Keats.
How you hang on to your being.
How you share it with Kirsten. With me.

The woman in front of my eyes suspects
I'm only trying for what's clever, something
someone might remember, and most of the time
she's right. When she's not, she's closer
than I am now. She's a bit like you.
Tomorrow I trade in the baseball cap
for the fish bone wool knit from Yoruk Nation
I picked up a few years ago looking for stones
on the Klamath River. Trick or treaters
come tonight and we have Milky Ways
to keep kids safe walking streets.
The doorbell rings. How does someone
as poor as me respond to ponies?

Jim Bodeen
5 November 2018

Anne Wright's presentation at James Wright Festival, April, 2018, Martins Ferry, Ohio:

Riffing Tagore

#6 Last day end before

Butter and honey
On toasted French Bread, green tea
Filling out ballots

Jim Bodeen
1 November 2018

El Día del Perdón


I don't quite know
what this is, this time
together, this
with all

I had a flicker
of it, but
I was way
way ahead

of any

Jim Bodeen
21 October 2018



            for M.D.

Bicycling circles of houses
winding in eights
as Karen comes home
con crema de pollo
lunch she didn't eat
but I do with green tea
and honey, she's still
full of her cold sneezing
me listening to Coltrane
peddling outside of time
Trane driving and turning
a cop on the block
pulls me over, Hey Jim!
It's Mike--
thanks for the letter
and stamps I sent
him a block of four
First Responders
Forever a couple of years
ago he stopped kids
from knocking over
my stone cairns
coming into our place
Finally I get to thank him
I get to say your name
all the time Mike
People ask
Don't kids
knock down those stones
Not since Mike
brought them
to my door

Jim Bodeen
30-31 October 2018