Iwakura Dedication

         for Craig Johnson

He discovers the rope end,
this farmer-sailor, one day
when land-bound, he sits
on his tractor. No one

asks about his sailboat,
but this same day,
the man in the desert
calls him for a rope

looking for one
with heft and diameter
that he might wrap
around a stone

for ceremonial purposes.
Unearthing the rope
the farmer thinks its age
a disqualifier. It is the rope

the gardener in the desert
has been looking for.
Stone patience never wavered
waiting  for the rope's arrival.

            29 June 2019



After stone setting, after morning
meditation on beauty, after reading
Francisco Goldman's Ordinary Seaman,
a plane overhead, small one, single engine,
Karen calls me into bathroom
to buckle her necklace
and I say I'm supposed to kiss your neck
and interrupt your day

I kiss her neck, she turns
to kiss me all puckered up fresh
lipstick wet drying on my lips
drawing me two ways at once

            I was rubbing a stone
when I sat down in the garden chair
I had to put it down to write
what was coming up deep down
things, Karen's inner life, interrupting
the brushing of my teeth, mother
of the child with spinal bifida
on Facebook, baby taken off Medicare/
Medicaid because he's been in hospital
30 days--that's it, Buster--from now on
all expenses, KChing, KChing, Mom,
How does one write that poem?

I've been in the garden all day,
I've been kissing Karen on the neck
buckling her necklace, while she's
sewing tubies, fabric belts
of soft cotton flannel with giraffes
and foxes tan and brown, belts
over the baby's skin to keep tubes
coming from belly button
or stomach somehow, that's not
exactly accurate, it's messy lipstick
love, the child, the child, a fabric belt
with flaps and tunnels, guiding
and securing tubes. Earlier
this day, Karen shows me a video
of the baby, struggling to roll over
on his tummy, Oh! he'll get there,
he'll get there, he wants
to make it, to get there, so bad!
Can he laugh? I ask. He can smile,
she says. I come out from the bathroom
naked, shaken. I can't imagine
Karen in her sewing meditation,
what it feels like, for her, for this child
she knows through this soft belt
threading itself in her fingers,
me so all alone in a book,
a book too, of wonders,
in the garden, a garden day.

Jim Bodeen
14-28 June 2019

Cherries for Robert Sund


            --for Michael, Bob, Bo, Rick, Tim

Early Robins and Tietons.
Early Robins are savor-blasts promising Rainiers in days--
kissing cousins, and the Tieton is first two-bite cherry.
I took out freeze-dried to fit them into the bear cannister
for this hike up your river. The pit in my mouth
is for remembrance. I bring them from Johnson's Orchards,
you might have eaten their apples, but not these cherries.
100+ years of Scandinavian roots. Where I pick,
bringing these for you, through friends at Shi Shi
who come here each year to sit with you,
hear you laugh with head thrown back on that boxcar.

I'm here at my own invitation.
Yesterday, over coffee, Barry says,
If I would have had Bunch Grass 20 years
earlier, it would have speeded up the process.
Barry keeps River House on the Yakima.
We both keep 12 x 12 shacks. I'm bringing
news with these cherries. Why I invited myself.
Your dry land farming poems. I was a boy
among dry land farmers in North Dakota.
My dad ran Farmer's Union grain elevator,
taught me to chew wheat into gum,
slide in flax-filled boxcars. Grew up
waking to train whistles. My people
were part of threshing crews
before combines went corporate.
A shirt-tail relative bought out
everybody and died of a heart attack.
Before he dies he tells a Mexican
knocking on his door, I'm supposed
to hire you at 15 dollars an hour
to run a half-million dollar machine?
Showing me his equipment barn
I turn and ask, What's that?
That? he says. That's a tractor.

Here's news from Yakima. Last week
five people are gunned down in White Swan
at the end of Medicine Lake Road on the Reservation.
All suspects in custody. Here's another
White Swan story: One of my Mexican
God-children, studying at the UW gets married
last week. Young Yakama woman
comes up to him at picnic table, laughing.
How do you know Francisco?
We box together for UDub.
I'm from White Swan, a senior,
graduating next week in physics.
Cisco Kid is my buddy.
Missing indigenous women
finally get some attention.
Susan Libby Marable, home-made star tattoo
on web of left hand between thumb
and fore-finger, went missing in '91.
After her rapist is sentenced last week,
her family asks, Where's Susan?
Where are the others?
Department of Natural Resources declares
High Fire Danger in the County.
We used to say, backpacking,
We always have fires.
This is my fire report.

A couple of things about your poems.
Home, for Tim McNulty. Prayer. World.
As is. River voice wild. Stone-inscripted.
Great ones divining the invitation.
The divine might be among us
but the design comes from human meditation.
Down on Earth. Where we are
in a small town. Unguarded.
How difficult that is,
I'm in garden space, myself, Robert Sund,
on my way to yours. Michael connecting us
through railroad song, hobo jungle jingle,
another Bo, looking forward to hugging Finn,
meeting Bob, passing around cherries
and wild river stamps. Oh, and Jody.
Don't know if you knew her,
She's true north, from your parts.

2010 House
One week before Summer Solstice, 2019

Reading and Listening to Robert Sund in the Cascade Mountains

"The Dreaming I do is beyond me." Robert Sund

June Berries and the Quilt


Karen returns from walking
the neighborhood. Our modest development
with its yard sale. It's Saturday.
I'm picking June berries, asking robins
for just enough berries to put on a bowl
of vanilla ice cream tonight. Karen
says her niece has several
hand-made baby quilts for sale.
We used to pick June Berries
in North Dakota. Tasker's Coulee.
I never knew who Tasker was.
That's how I know about coulees.
Us kids, we ran up and down
animal trails. Our mom's carried
kettles from the kitchen picking berries.
Did you see your quilt on the lawn?
No, but I didn't look that closely.
Well, she's the one in our family
who knows how to clean house.
That's why you sew that story block
on the back. June Berries grew wild
in Dakotas and Canada.
Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara,
Three Federated Tribes prized
theses berries. Trees sold now
in upscale nurseries for white blossoms,
reading Serviceberry. Two things
going on here, as I see it.
Those nurseries selling trees
not knowing their histories--
June berry's sweeter than blueberry--
and my niece with those quilts
on her sale rack. I have a ball game
to get to. My grandson plays at noon.
I don't have enough berries in this bowl.
Not for a single scoop. No clock
in baseball and robins have put out the word.

Jim Bodeen
8 June 2019

Songs for Your Bicycle Ride


Billy Holiday and Nina Simone

Jim Bodeen
14 June 2019

Longer Days


My hats lined up on pegs
tell me it's June, show me
where I've been
in my proud life.
Looking up from my books
I can't bear the thought
of covering my head
with any of them.

Jim Bodeen
2 June 2019

June 7th


Oh, Dad.
You're so quiet.
I remember you
in this prayer.

Jim Bodeen
7 June 2019



Aluminum seats
Two-legged roams dark hallways
Winds from eight peaks

Jim Bodeen
June, 2019

Somehow and the War


I was given to one
and got mixed up
in the other
Old now
just starting
to figure
things out

This notebook
is a companion
to the books

And the war?
The war
goes away

Jim Bodeen
31 May 2019

Ways of Remembering Soldiers--Two Poems


Song then, and song's sadness,
remembering soldiers. This day.
Remembering what it is to be 20
years old, and in uniform.
Uniform, and trying to get to that,
only that--before the interruptions begin
arriving. But I am out of town,
away from the garden. Outside.
This day peonies open.
This day China Snow's grand
lilac-like cousin-blossoms,
perfumes the yard, each breeze
holding, redolent circling infusion
kept close by surrounding sanctuary
of fence. Secure defence combatting
malodorant munition patriots.
Out of town, away.
My uniform hangs in a closet.
Bark on China Snow peels gold in sunshine,
crinkling like papyrus, rolling up like dollar bills.

Jim Bodeen
27-28 May 2019


            --for Olivier Knox

Work just about done for the day,
using up scented blossoms of China Snow
sweeping through the garden, energized
by the arrival of redolent, shielding me
from maloderant, first appearing
in 1825.  Blossoms offering protection
through the afternoon, while I catch up
from Memorial Day. I wanted to send you
this image of how you're going into my mail,
to only friends, all poets, a couple
of photographers. Oh, and my jeweler,
Marty, the Shield Maker. I'm a vet.
85th Evac Hospital. Qui Nhon.
67-68. We took those casualties.
Did some good time teaching
high school journalism. All best.

28 May 2019

The Old Man's Heart


It's bad on an old man's heart,
the old man says, watching his son's
son play ball. Ladies in the stands,
mothers, grandmothers, laugh
at him laughing. He sits like this
all day, through both games.
He sat here yesterday, too.
No harm, no harm, he says,
when the boys make a play,
his white hair waving signs,
You boys. You boys, no fear, no fear.

Jim Bodeen
26 May 2019

See it! See it! You own the plate!


Seated on cold aluminum benches
with Katie, granddaughter watching
her cousin, morning sun warms our back.
Kate's black jacket absorbs the heat.
She picks up Han Shan's poems
on my notebook. Let's write a poem,
I say to her, watching Josh at shortstop.
She says, Josh is in the on-deck circle.
Josh is up to bat. Oh, oh.
Hit by a pitch, off his helmet.
The next line is yours, Kate,
Hit the dirt, Josh, Get down, Get down.
Kate asks, How do you do that?
This is how we do it.

25 May 2019


Gypsy to Gypsy

            for L. A.

Tired of hearing myself talk,
even prayers I say in worship
wear me out. Disgusted others leave.
Then a young woman rescues
Machado chained to a distillery
in slick magazines. She remembered.
Taking tea in this tiny room,
this square inch, I'll remain
as long as she'll have me.

Jim Bodeen
20 May 2019