All of my arrests surround the body.
After qualifying as an ICE Raid Verifier
I wanted something like a union card.
I have been ill for some time.
My wife kept repeating, You're not
making me ill, you're giving me a challenge.
These are ones who taught you
how to walk. Nothing is foolish
in the free play of thought.

Men walking off the plane
were reported to have been African.
Here are some tips for filming ICE:
Protection granted under 4th Amendment
ensures the right to privacy,
unreasonable searches. You can
record ICE in public places.
Film visibly. Don't insult, incite.
See it. Film it. Change it.

If I surface too fast, I'll get the bends.
I've never even been to jail. Really?
she says, handing me the key,
this one opens to let you out.

Jim Bodeen
30 August 2019



When news comes on
I grab my bike
ride the development

Everybody inside
1969 wasn't my year
I was there in 1968

When I return
I put the bike away
clean the kitchen

Jim Bodeen
29 August 2019



His pack full of stones,
he only had to claim the last three
before crossing water.
He wouldn't take all three.
One for sure.
He would make triage.
He took two.
He followed every rule but this.
He compensated by strapping
one extra bunji cord to his back,
under his arms, after
he had secured the pack
to his body. He had
his trekking poles for balance
and checked their locks.
Water, knee-high
when he stepped in.
When he stepped on the branch
submerged, covered with moss,
water not moving that fast
he hadn't counted
on the weight of that extra stone
or the one rising
from water to meet him.

Jim Bodeen
24 July 2019



The Breeding Stones*   

            "MAKA 'AINANA were the fixed residents
of the land. The chiefs were the ones who moved about
from place to place. It was the maka 'ainana who did
all the work on the land, yet all they produced from
the soil belonged to the chief. the people were divided
into farmers, fishermen, housebuilders, canoe makers,
and so on." David Malo 1835-36

            *Breeding Stones
Collection 1889
From Koala, Ka'u, basalt
J. S. Emerson Collection 1889

Ku' u ewe, Ku' u Piko, Ku 'u iwi Ku' u koko

My umbilical chord, my navel, my bones, my blood.
            Said of a very close relative

Beyond found


These are the stones
arresting me
in the Bishop Museum

located in a boxed assemblage--

A Shadow Box
like the ones
of Joseph Cornell

working with found objects
let them back you back
earlier and sturdier

until the stones
archived here become
the universe

this one
you're apprehending

gathered grateful gatha

tiny-papered exactly

Cosmic accuracy

Placed waiting
Stoned DreamBody


Jim Bodeen
22-25 August 2019


Look for an old man
Walking through hotel from beach
Bearing full back pack

Jim Bodeen
21 August 2019

What Else Don't I Know?

            Hokule'a changed our lives

What else don't I know?
the young woman asks
when the canoe arrives.
She's a navigator by birth.

As Oceanus expands
I sit on museum steps
listening to the ancestors,
What else don't I know?

Jim Bodeen
21 August 2019

Bishop Museum, Honolulu

The Birthing


            --for Vance
The face-shaping happened
in the time before time
arriving as being
emerging from cloud
to cloud focusing and gone
I glimpsed and saw
my own dying
and dying raised the camera
to the sky above the mountain
I was dead
in that terrorizing moment
my finger shutter-clicked
all evidence for the dreaming
here in my mountain testimony
presented in cloud-shaping-clarity

Jim Bodeen
2:30 am
19 August 2019

PILLARS OF THE TROPICAL WORLD for Victor C. Pellegrino and W.S. Merwin


            for Victor C. Pellegrino and W. S. Merwin

The produce stand by the side entrance
to the restored plantation site, wood framed,
covered roof, displays coconut, papaya, mangoes
on center island surrounded by pineapple
and organic watermelons, and that intense,
pungent smell of ripening fruit. Customers
add credibility for tourists. Tiny bottles
of salsa with sea salt, macademia nuts
and dried fruit. Small bags of dried
sweet taro make me an outsider.

Opposite the cashier, in the corner
on the bottom shelf, under plastic,
Poems From A Farmer, Victor C. Pellegrino,
with his photo in t-shirt, arms full
of harvest. Being the only book
in the market, statement made.

Here on family vacation,
invited father-grandpa
learning my ropes from the side,
never a fast learner.

I have come to Hawaii as a guest.
I am here on probation.

Visiting The Plantation, a shut-down sugar mill
turned souvineer farm for tourists
after the tour I walk through the store
of shirts and jewelry staying close
to grandkids, I photograph the historical
with my IPhone, noting ownership's nod
to globalization as cause for closure,
old photos of workers and their faces,
find myself alone, drawn to the produce stand
separate from the plantation.

Wood-framed, rural, in contrast, rustic
roof, inside display of coconut, papaya, mango
on center island, pungent in the nose, coconut
milk-filled water loaded, around the island
commercial products, salsa with sea salt and lime,
macademia nuts, corn and watermelon.

In one corner, on bottom shelf, a paperback
book of poems, Victor C. Pellegrino,
Poems From A Farmer, his photo on cover.

Victor Pellegrino dedicates his work
to seven grandchildren, naming them.
He has immersed himself in language
with a 2-page Hawaiian Glossary at the back
helps me, as well as locals, get closer
to all that comes organic, not explanation,
in the poems. Who has planted Taro? he asks.
Once there were 300 varieties. 80 remain.
One tastes like popcorn he writes,
40 grow on his No'ho'ana farm.

Weeding, he makes contact wandering,
...with thoughts/ I would not have thought/
And emptied my mind of thoughts/
I need not have thought. He writes
to what he grows. Taro, Kalo, Tomatoes.

Books in backpack don't determine
the journey, however. The books
know they're there in the same way
Pellegrino's tomatoes know he loves them,
that his hands carry words. The man
carrying books in his backpack
knows too. They're back there.

There for the rescue times,
books carry their own wariness,
weary too of the bag they're in,
with the water bottle and sunscreen,
the bag of mixed nuts. And these,
The Essential Poems of W. S. Merwin,
Alexandra Popoff's biography
of Vasily Grossman, The Soviet Century--
beach reading? Will that mask hold?

Italian-American, Pellegrino gardens
(orto in Italian) named his garden Noho'ana,
Way of Life, on his family's kuleana land.
His wife, Maui-born, Wailuku-raised,
Wallette, have been in Maui since 1967.
These poems just come to me
he tells Catherine Kenar at Maui News.
He and Wallette, beloved,
built their home in 1968.
Pellegrino is good.
He is that good. That important.
He is what is unmerited in me.
He rescues the books in the backpack.

Yesterday, a day away from family,
my wife and I took public transportation South
traveling to Ha'iku, end stop for Merwin's Conservancy,
where Paula picked up the mail. One day a month,
on Maui, the Conservancy is open to the public.
We are here on that day, a month too-late
for our application to get us inline. Merwin
has restored the palms
from a ruined pineapple plantation,
...see how they wake without a question
even though the whole world is burning
The sun is out. It isn't raining.
At the post office, the post master
takes post cards Karen made from our images
covered with new frog stamps
with hastily written haikus for friends,
and hand stamps them, saying Paula
always asked about his kids
picking up the mail.

I have come to Hawaii for the poem.
Pellegrino mirrors Merwin
and Merwin mirrows Pellegrino.
This has nothing to do with merit
or who was here first.
Or even did they know each other?
There are seven consonants in the Hawaiian language,
H, K, L, M, N, P, W,
and the same five vowels as in English.
Pellegrino provides a two-page glossary
at the end of his book. Merwin
wrote 50 books, a translator
whose poems travel the world translated.
From the shelves of produce stands
their work remains, planted trees, planted taro.

Jim Bodeen
August, 2019   


    pc to B, K, M.

One That Slips In

Merwin among palms
Mail from Ha'iku Post Office

Captured Syllabics
Reading At Maui

Mandelstam's Divide
With and without permission
Fourth Prose: Stolen air

From Sands of Beached Now

Earthly Russian God
In death state of enchantment
Pock-marked cobbler's son

Jim Bodeen
18 August 2019


"When you are alone you will be all right."
       W. S. Merwin

We encounter Juan Jusko's acrylics
in the hallway of the bathroom mall.
Here they are: Pu'unene Mill, Kaupa Store,
Holy Ghost Church. Kaupa Store draws
me in. Missing boards under front porch,
Cement steps with philodendrons growing
by corner of house. Drain pipe detached
from guttered metal roof, and here,
in the doorway, the girl,
just shy of school age in a blue blouse,
white lace at the neck, jean shorts,
looking out. Beside her, family dog,
mirroring her, as relaxed and at home
as is the girl. Kaupa, ancient district,
Moku in the old language, Gift of God,
remote, sparsely populated,
a sustainable ranching community.

Juan Rusko has been painting from his van
on Maui for three decades. Most of the time,
he says, the steering wheel is my easel.

Layover time for a bus transfer
at the Mall, traveling towards
Merwin's Conservancy in Haiku,
we drink mango pineapple smoothies
with tapioca, our senses cold-frozen,
unable to leave the dog and girl
in the doorway. The sign above them,
Beer, Wine, Sake. Beyond
the Red and White Coca Cola
beside the Kaupa Store sign
on the roof, the arching rainbow.

Jim Bodeen
16 August 2019



            for Gilbert Chandler, 80

Just back from Detroit with a new camera,
talking to Gilbert, he says, I have an idea.
We'd go into six homes of the elders
and take some pictures. [We went
to 30 homes.] At the first house,
Gilbert says, Jim's going to take
some pictures and conduct some interviews.
[He hadn't said a word of this to me.]
With each family, someone would ask
where we'd been. Oh, you've been there?
Then tell us something we didn't hear
asking questions. Gilbert is old school.
He puts Black Yakima together like that,
through stories, weaving, what gets remembered.

            I love you so much, old friend.
            9 August 2019


            "I felt this was coming."
                        John Coltrane

We were a caravan of two in your truck.
The stories were one story.
The one story was many.
Driving Yakima, tracing roots,
Ronald to Cle Elum
into the mines. Mining Cle Elum
to that train pulling out of Louisiana.
New starts as strike breakers.
This is Duke Ellington, 1936.
Juan Tizol with him. There were lyrics
but they were never sung.
Duke on piano, Harry Carney and Billy Taylor.
Taking off from Hollywood, Clifford Brown, Dizzie, Monk.
All the way to Marsalis and us, in Standard Time.

Gilbert. So the kids will know.
The Jazzopators--
Dat, dat, dat, dat, daaaah.
dat, dat, dat, dat, daaah.
Gil Chandler.

Long slow history gathering it up
while driving for the city,
where there were jobs. Getting to know
streets and alleys. Who lived where.
Who kept this. Who threw out that.
Who knew who and all the music
coming through you.

Dat, dat, dat, daaah.
dat, dat, dat, dat.

That, then. That now, Gil Chandler.

Mrs. Navada Spearman at 100.
Who knew. Who knows. Who remembers.
Our famous names. Old Yakima. So many.
Esther Huey. Esther and Gil. Historians.
Phil Pleasant's neckbones. His hugs.
Don't give me no handshake.
Roho Shinda. Roho means spirit. Shinda overcomes.
Tanzy and Audrey Livingston.
Tanzy's beautiful hands.

Bruce Carter, Betty Lou Harris, Dorothy Yates.

The caravan.
And all the pictures we took.
Tanzy was 84 that day.
You're 80 now.
Everybody's riding with you.
Your head turned, listening.
That story. Every name
with a place in your story.
The name in the story--
more important than pictures on walls.
We all want to ride with Gilbert.
That story's a song, a caravan,
and Gilbert, you're the Duke.

3 August 2019



He calls his classmates, The Swells,
my friend writes of his grandson.
They're children of those who belong
to the Center for Worthies.
That's how Red Pine names them.
I'm from a small town in the country.
I'm not a wheat farmer's son
and it was their town.
Chicago catalogues
is where we got our clothes.
You can imagine the laughter
when we moved to the city.

Jim Bodeen
3 August 2019



Gent's Barber Shop, just
after 9, waiting for Angie,
one man in chair ahead of me.
I brought her some peaches
from Johnson's Orchard.
Before leaving the house
I cut Karen fresh spears
of cold Mexican melon.
Karen let me read
some words to Jesus
a man asked me to read aloud
petitioning for poverty
in all things and transactions.

Jim Bodeen
1 August 2019

That Which Resonates


Eating peaches, nectarines,
sun-charged from our valley's
finest orchards leaves me stun-
wondering, What's next?
Moving river stones in the garden
I can't count the rivers
yielding such hard-rocked memory
in my hand. Snow-capped peaks,
caves, along with summit approaches
for climbers.

Feel the water
rushing over the stone.
Feel your blood
rising to the surface.

Jim Bodeen
31 July 2019