Looking around the room


            --for Leah

Baseball in a couple of hours.
Grand children on floor, asleep
on air mattresses and cushions.
My wife and I practicing from the side,
our gray hair like banners,
while parents function as bridges
between discipline and play.
We walk a footpath beside the Deschutes
and I remember its wild rapids,
bringing my daughter here at 21,
celebrating in a raft, river running.

25 May 2019

Nagual and the Medicine Woman


             --for S. G.

She calls it the Oriental Magic Coat,
purposely misleading judges
as well as those who might see it
worn in public. Mis-leading
even to those who may someday
come to wear it, this used
upholstery fabric turned
into medicine. For medicine
is what it is, and she
is a medicine woman.

Roses in full glory break
from quilted limits of thread and fabric
bursting in free form. A tribute,
Colors for Dean, contains
a white bird with a gold head,
fluttering leaf, broken free.
            Pure Love,
29 May 2019



When my parents gave me
the tool box at Christmas
I was still a young man.
What the fuck is this?
I've been wary of tools
for half a century now,
keeping two screw drivers,
a handsaw and pliers.
That's more than enough.
Chaos doesn't need that much
to start the hunger war.

Jim Bodeen
28 May 2019



Carrying pen and notebook
into the garden with tree pruner
holstered and buckled to my belt,
I circle yard shaded
by big limbs overhead
as sun takes its turn
nourishing bonsai trees
underneath. My friend
stops by for talk
of time-traveling
Billy Pilgrim and Mary,
the latter banging
aluminum ice trays
off kitchen counter.

Jim Bodeen
17 May 2019

As revealed in the foot


My wife comes to me with her feet
asking for a massage. How can it be
anything but privilege? Every organ
of the body reveals itself in the foot.
We have been together
for half a century.
She instructs me as we go,
leads me to difficult tissue.
She has walked with me
through all of my failures.

Jim Bodeen
22 May 2019



Um, yeah, oh good.
Karen texts me three words
from her quilt workshop
in Albuquerque,
the city of two queues
where I sit in a roomful
of women and one man
who is both plumber and writer--
one who writes about plumbing
and what he does to make water flow

Nobody is as small as God,
she says, being other.
Easy for her to say
being Goddess and Godless
at the same time.
Do you need a prompt
to touch me, or pathetic one,
do you still need hands?

Jim Bodeen
Santa Fe, NM--Yakima, WA
1 April--29 April 2019

Letter to Joy Harjo, Listening


She had some horses, she did.
She had some horses.
It's the order here, and how.
The how and the beauty that goes beyond.
The horse and the rabbit.
The rabbit's been with me for some time
and I have a friend, Jane,
who's a potter and shapes them
making mischief in her hands
before taking them from the kiln.
I've been with these rabbits
and yours, too, and when the rabbit
opened for me in your Holy Beings poems
Karen says, You've got to read that one
to Jane, and I did, on Facebook,
from the mothership
in Los Sueños campgrounds
on the outskirts of Santa Fe.
My friend, Jane, she has some rabbits.

The kitchen table can't be owned,
but I can still call it yours. You pick out
all songs for the juke box.

I'm riding the neighborhood now, listening.
Listening and riding backwards. On my bike.
How in the order of things saying thanks.
Poems in my backpack weren't opening
and they were good ones hand-picked
and we'd been on the road long enough
for me to demand of the book store,
Nourish me. That's how Holy Beings
came into my hands, carrying me
collected and dishevelled mothershipping me.

Back on my bicycle a timed release capsule--

from 85th Evac Hospital,  Qui Nhon, Binh Dinh Province
when T.C. Cannon was painting, writing poems
from the 101st Airborne same time
I didn't know him, know his paintings,
his poems now, from Heard Museum,
didn't know you two were classmates
in Santa Fe, don't know about the time,
don't know that, I love the story of that school
your school, I found a street school
that took me when I came home,
taught there being taught
my jeweler taught me how Fritz Scholder
did it, the how of it, and now, on this bicycle,
in the development, I'm not dead either,
I'm good, last week your voice at Cornell
so good with those students, so good,
listening, reading, hearing/seeing that
the day before Crazy Brave arrives
from interlibrary loan and I sit with you
start to finish, rabbit's feeling important,
and the clay man's not stopping,
and you put it all in Crazy Brave
and I'm so glad you're in a band
mixing song and poem and voice,
all these lost tracks in the neighborhood
and that poem of yours on the kitchen table,
that's a poem that brings its own drum.

This is the bicycle in West Valley.
Yakima, from Yakama, Washington State.
This is your book of poems,
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.
playing with Coltrane in Oklahoma,
I'm a North Dakota boy whistle-
walking railroad tracks--
a kitchen table grandpa.
You can name the poets who aren't poets.
You're reading at Cornell
and then you're Crazy Brave
and now you're singing to me
in West Valley as I circle houses,
circling with your songs,
what a school, what a band.
Horses for teachers.
I'm sanding a salvaged cherry wood board
with a live edge,
making an altar for river stones,
remembering you remembering
the woman making decisions
keeping her
on the 13th floor.

Jim Bodeen
17 May 2019

Lines for a Personal Jeweler


            for Marty Lovins, 80

Taking me from Chinook to White
on the Crest Trail remains
more important than the belt buckle
or the shield. But the Power Rod
in the Medicine Bag. Didn't that
put lead in my pencil!

15 May 2019

Entrance of the Elder


We meet this morning, early,
for coffee on the Shield Maker's
80th birthday. Our extravagance
recreating the imperial field
while astonished baristas
look over steaming machines.
Shields of broken glass
reflect a kaleidoscope
of time, burnished volcanic
eruptions. A documented world
stretches over tissue paper.
Hearth-protecting shields
give way to tiny lapel pins
the shield maker calls trinkets
in his one act of deception,
the sculptor's lone foray
into battle language.

Jim Bodeen
16 May 2019

Custard Dreams


            for Lars and Anne

His wife has her feet up
reading the paper, content.
He hasn't even walked through
the morning garden.
He has no plans
when he remembers
his friends who dropped off
two dozen eggs from hens
who eat only grocery produce
and restaurant food.
He's stirring golden yolks
into thick whipped cream
as he rises from his lazy chair.

Jim Bodeen
14 May 2019

11 May 2019

11 May 2019

She returns from the doctor
and finds me sitting in the garden room
shaded by Little Cherry Twist
and Japanese Maple.
She sits opposite me
on the white bamboo chair
with yellow cushions.
My wife and I share the
same physician. "He
gave me an A+," she says.
Her silver hair comes down
both sides of her face
as she smiles. "He said
my numbers are great."
The doctor never gives me reports
like this. He tells me
to control myself before he
has to do it for me.
She's a village elder.
She carries medicine to and from
ancestors and children.
He always give her
inflated reports like these.
What else can he do,
seated before one like her?

Jim Bodeen
11 May 2019

Treatise on Immortality


Karen brings home a tiny vine
in a paper cup
suggesting where it might be planted
in the garden. I'm not the young man
on the horse anymore, back stiff,
hair white, and skin allergic
to sun. A member of the pea
family, I do my research, cagy
like an old man. Karen
does hers too. Is it invasive?
Some grow to 20 feet.
It has such lovely leaves
she says, showing me the pot
where its stalk
might turn to wooden charm.

Jim Bodeen
10 May 2019

Sit-down dinners?

#29 in Red Pine

Choosing between society and children?
I made my decision before I knew
what it was. Laughter of children,
intuitive passion, play of clapping
hands in temple, splash of holy water.
The mischief of being mad
with God, that giggling spirit.

Jim Bodeen
9 May 2019

Reading Tree Temperature with My Toes


Yankees beat the Mariners 5-4
last night, scoring three
in the 9th after rain delay.
Walking the garden
bare feet this morning
looking at tiny roots
coming up in wet grass.
My grandson helps me work
the soil into better health
with leaves and mulch in fall.
We know the trees
are talking to us
and what they're saying
has nothing to do with baseball.

Jim Bodeen
8 May 2019

Chewing on wheat


plains people, small towns,
everything connecting to grain
and dry land farming
along with workers
who came and went
with demand,
all these are my belongings

everything just enough
it's not the same now
I wore those catalogue clothes
how each day's blessings
come to be

Jim Bodeen
7 May 2019



Using only the machi's
charcoal for smoke
he rose early to mix
bread and eggs with tarragon
and smoked paprika
to beef and pork combination
to form his loaf before
putting it on the grill.
Other herbs circling
his cupboard
were added
with garlic onions
sautéed in olive oil.
There are reports of engines
in the capitol
that cook with only direct heat
committing offenses too great
for the likes of his table
savoring smoke
arriving slow and indirect.

Jim Bodeen
3 May 2019



Surrounded by river rocks
gathered from famous west coast rivers,
the Pleasure Palace I share
with my wife prepares
for this spring morning with
mature specimen trees
showing fully opened blossoms
to the sun. Last night
putting my arms around
my beloved, she says,
When you get up tomorrow
pull the flannel sheets
from the bed and replace them
with cotton ones
to keep us cool
during the hot days.

Jim Bodeen
6 May 2019



Karen brings home strawberries,
fresas del otro lado en Michoacán,
while I take grandson home prior
to baseball practice. Our granddaughters
spent the night and fixed breakfast
for us before a class on communion
before worship. We had four children
with us y una clase sobre la eucaristía
se llama una mesa para todas.
We were bushed.
Estabamos atrapados, agotados.
Karen fue a Cinco de Mayo
y yo regresado a casa para limpiar
las fresas para el helados de casa.
Karen told me about our friend
who helped make a movie
A Table for All. So much,
she says, to appreciate,
but I'm going to take a nap
and wake up in a better mood.

Jim Bodeen
5 May 2019

pepper corns in his teeth


An hour before his granddaughter's
soccer game the old man
tastes the peppercorn
from last night's dinner
even after he's brushed his teeth!

Jim Bodeen
4 May 2019



Bringing long memory
photographing spring buds
on the rescued Douglas Fir
in the Bonsai pot
stepped on by an elk
before I was born
at the end of the great war
I remember walking the garden
as a boy with Mr. Reinarder
who gave me my first
lawn mowing job.
He wouldn't pay me
until he had shown me
his azaleas blooming
in their acidic soil.
Then he walked me
to the compost piles.

Jim Bodeen
3 May 2019



Stay away from agendas
and daily planners
Departed friends will find you
bringing their poems

Jim Bodeen
1 May 2019



Let's say you drove for days,
you've done your time in miles,
let's take the next 20 minutes
for these few minutes in this chair.
Call it manufactured time if you want.
Call it the time that will take all of your time
if you let it, if you give to it
something else again, that one. Red Painted
word on the side of the white pickup door.

Take five if that works
to bring back your 3-minute song.

Days and nights in natural time.
Days and nights in wheel time,
partner time, rolling wheel foot print time.
Crossing dry wash time,
over short-bridge non-clocking time.
Waiting time. Waiting to see your face
beautiful with dust-covering time.
Face-time. Face-to-face time.
So beautiful with dust, dust-covered.
Your own skin asking for lotion.
So much burned away.
So dry. So many water thoughts.
Stored water-thoughts in the mothership cupboard.
You have been with Karen all this time,
on a power boat wheeling. Persisted
and persisting, a practice.
Practicing and practice-time.
Smiling and sometimes practice
smiling back at you. You thought so,
once. and once, bringing yourself,
and only yourself. Bringing only myself.
You thought someone else might tell it wrong.
You didn't know if you could tell it yourself.

Jim Bodeen
29 April2019--Santa Fe, NM--2 May 2019--Yakima, WA

My Zippo and Family Photos


We lit our cigarettes
with Zippos,
it was part of the uniform.

Mine has the logo
of the 85th Evacuation Hospital
and rests on the chest of drawers
in our bedroom
alongside photos
of our children and grandchildren.

I can hear its familiar click
anytime I want.
I can smell the lighter fluid
drizzling into the rayon balls
underneath the 1/4 inch felt.

GIs would fiddle with them
during the boredom hours
fixated by the exactness
of its parts, they would
name them, replace them,
marveled and lost
by its tiny perfection,
it's wind-proof flame.

Zippo carried the flame thrower.
He brought fire.
The M-9 carried on his back.
He and the medic delivered
the Hmong woman's baby
in the tiny village.

Jim Bodeen
National Petrified Forest--Bedroom Chest of Drawers
31 March--1 May 2019