This is a statement.

I did some research.

“There is no way I know of walking past the end of the road or singing

past the last silence. There’s only the way to walk while the light lasts

and the road lasts and the song lasts.”

Tom Lea in the Preface to The Brave Bulls, 1949.

“These are Mountain songs, Woman songs, Talking God songs, and songs

of Returning Home. These last songs are used in case the one-sung-over

has been a prisoner of war.”

Frank Mitchell, Navajo Blessingway Singer

I did some reading.

Pretty important Texas man.

I’m calling this walk

The Blessingway Walk

I came to it late

but it lifted me

when I was lost in it.

These many parts to the morning

before sunrise with candles.

You know all about candles.

I’m out there

before they turn off the streetlights.


29 November 2022




These are ok. They’re good.

I’ve been in them a couple weeks.

No. Really. The shoes are good.

The problem’s not the shoes.

The problem’s in my left foot.

What’s that?

That left big toe is 77 years old.

What about the right foot?

It's good.

Big toe on the right foot don’t act its age.

Jim Bodeen

21 November 2022






but of course!

The monk as athlete.

Just a half breath

from the athlete of prayer.

He’d get himself in better shape.

He rose earlier and earlier,

and David’s psalms

sang to him as they did

when he was a child.

He walked his neighborhood alone

while his neighbors slept,

and during these November mornings

poems he’d memorized over the years

began arriving like old friends,

and one day, Father Merton himself,

could it be? ...seemed to be walking

with him, whispering in his ear,

You Sister, have chosen a path

too steep for others to follow.

Jim Bodeen

11-20 November 2022

*TO A SEVERE NUN by Thomas Merton




    for BG 

Midnight crisp, stars out

Big winds bringing in your birthday

Coffee-talk singing


8 November 2022




–for Lee Bassett

My friend says he likes my walking poem

but doesn’t know Archimandrite Aimilianos,

Elder Aimilianos, as he’s called at Simonopetra,

or even the Coptic Psalter, but

it doesn’t bother him. Is it, he asks,

the same Archie Bell & the Drells,

who sang, Tighten up? Exactly,

Exactly, I say. One and the same.

There’s a rumored

recording of the evening they spent

riffing in honor of the Desert Fathers,

playing on one-legged stools

to keep them alert and upright.

To keep them from the fall.

It is said, too, they were competitive,

that they cried, Foul!

when they were outlasted

by the monk on bass.

Jim Bodeen

17 November 2022

Triptych for KC



I. This is the Lord’s doing

And it is marvelous in our eyes

Psalm 118

Front porch, red chair, coffee on, mid-September, waiting.

KC is on his way here.

He made my Chaco Stick wound in white rope

when I left work two decades past.

This beginning, beginning its 19th year.

Chaco Stick on front porch this morning.

This liminal space tucked behind Little Cherry Twist.

This Chaco Stick for Chaco Canyon.

Chaco Stick brought back.

Time-bound. We were time-bound together.

Believing we were the best, knowing we were least likely

for all things knowing. He took children

into ancient ways and dark skies.

Led from Kiva to Kiva. Go up to go down.

When I left that room that led to visions for the young

I followed him into the Canyon, dark stones

under starlit skies in a small, one-man tent

before entering the desert monastery,

that mountain-lifted liminal Christ site.

Praise for pilgrim-sinners in their child-like joy.

Notebook and camera, singing psalms walking

while traveling to the Holy City.

They shall go from strength to strength.

One might say he brought me here.

Here? Chaco Canyon? That, too.

Christ in the Desert. He helped build

that monastery, St. John’s, the Baptist home.

Closer to home on Satus Pass,

where Karen and I stopped in July

to buy cheesecakes, having once been

a capful of vanilla from the secret recipe,

come from Denise and not the Coptics.

Were we led here by cheesecakes?

Led to these small books, this visual delight,

light display. Monographs housing single essays

by Archimandrite Aimilianos. This Mt. Athos Elder,

his Daily Report to God, his Fools for Christ,

this prudent thing to hold for path-walking.

He’s on his way, he calls, Am I too late?

Is it too late to come out?

II. All that I have is my sense of purpose, my affliction,

and my calling out in that affliction. My affliction is my asceticism,

it is my practice, my way of life, something

that I offer to God.

Elder Archimandrite Aimilianos. Psalms and the Life of Faith. p. 320

So we should not want to do the divine part ourselves and expect God

to do what is our responsibility.

A Night in the desert of the Holy Mountain

Metropolitan of Nafpaktos

Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, the sinner.

The Jesus Prayer

He had just finished building

his father’s coffin, and I had been reading

the Coptic Psalter, and asking for a guide.

His father’s obituary would be

in the paper after our talk. Now

at work on another coffin. His father,

a protestant missionary. I arrived here

through Rilke, And you know, he whom

they flee is the one you move toward.

I wouldn’t be ready for the distance between us.

My practice of matins self-serving

to monks beginning with The Six Psalms,

Matins, read in order, or an all-night vigil,

stand quietly, put aside all other thoughts.

My God, unto Thee I rise early at dawn.

Compunction will start you, take you to compassion.

The poet, like the eldest child, claiming

first rights and aligned with the Baptist,

wants this, at first checking discipline, perhaps

a way for him to the beloved,

to catch the attention of the Muse,

perhaps, too, he knows he’s lost,

good as he is, that good, and he

knows he’s pretty good. Compunction.

I had been that far off.

Walking in dark mornings,

The spiritual athlete begins his many steps.

In the solemnity of the hour, this.

Soul-pain. Soul-agony.

Soul-sorrow, Soul-wrestling.

Stopping on a mountain pass for cheesecake

with his wife, and this. Stopping here,

is an action performed.

Reading this verse, Elder Aimilianos writes,

It is like watching a man die.

I have been called out of myself.

This is the walking before sunrise.

Walking in the dark, before lights

go on in houses, I’m the late arrival.

That boat in the garage is for me.

III. Om, shanti, shanti, shanti

From ignorance, lead me to truth;

from darkness, lead me to light;

from death lead me to immortality,

Om peace, peace, peace

(Brihadaranyaku Upshanit--

KC to B

He writes these lines on the inside book cover

of the book he sends in the mail--

Metropolitan’s night on Mt. Athos with the Gerondis.

Don’t ask for names.

Begin this walk in the dark before Six,

listening to Leonard Cohen Tribute

and it’s cold. Gray wool gloves

for the mountain, Sherpa stocking cap,

Chaleco desde montañas en México,

worn under lightweight puff jacket. Lime green

running shoes light the road

when the odd car with its headlights

reveal a man walking. Head lights imagine

a prayer rope in the man’s front pants pocket.

The athlete of the Jesus prayer is a stranger

to every form of pride. Imagine the man singing,

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, by Cannonball Adderley.

It is 1966. It is 2022. It is November.

Jim Bodeen

25 July—4 November 2022

May this be born of gratitude for KC. jb




--for K, T, V, K

After-walking with first coffee before sunrise and psalms, lighting two candles. This altar collection below, an after-fall, a gleaning. Three painted match boxes, three polished stones, four tiny crosses from El Salvador. All gifts, themselves gathered as if sentient. Candles, too, had arrived wrapped and unmerited. Fall of life, full of color, each touched with hand-held back-story light-shade and bees wax.

The match boxes hand-painted by a friend. Each one paint-raised, lifted, solid circles, three circles on each, three color-rich song tones and bright. Lift one and it rattles. This one, a painted orange box, its one green circle the outer ring, center ring yellow and hot-to-the-touch red in the center. Red target-red, fire circle red, and dying-fire-red as if sunset dusted. Unsigned match boxes, come from the fire of a friend coming through fire, recalling my sister’s offhand telling of her bare-feet fire-walk this spring over hot coals when there was no fire in the forest. These red targets of redemption. This match-box painting friend, a woman, a poet, and serious student of archetypes and Jungian psychology. It is under-stood between them that she is sending another telling of the little girl and the match-box. The matches inside are meant to burn more than kindling. They come from one who knows how to build a hot fire, a fire that will not burn out. I am not told how to build a fire myself, not directly, but implications are clear: Build a hotter fire. It strikes me,--

here, the candles have been forgotten entirely. The candles, too, had come from a friend,

a man, a poet, who came to town to read some baseball poems. And there had been pie. He had taken two candle sticks from shelves behind the pantry closet and put them on the coffee table. How hot do candles burn? Excuse the digression. It was not my intention to enter into the wonders of archetypes

or death psychology (is it supposed to be depth psychology), but several weeks ago, some El Salvadoran crosses I had given to a pastor friend were found in cleaning out her desk drawers were returned to me, and without thinking, I placed them around the candle sticks. Each morning I’ve been struck as if striking a match by the mirror images of the crosses to the match boxes. Nearly exact in size. The smaller crosses fit into a match box. I share this to give you a sense of proportion. The match box is not a coffin. If you have never seen an El Salvadoran cross, or, for that matter, worn one, you’re missing out. El Salvadoran crosses are crosses of life. But to go back.

El Salvadoran crosses are hand-painted by children in primary colors. Their bright colors tell the story of el pueblo. Mi gente. I have placed one cross, the bright green, on my notebook where I’m writing this, in order to look at it more closely. The crosses, made of wood, are painted in enamel. Bright, deep, rich. (My earlier infatuation with fossil-fueled sports cars from England would call the color of this two-inch cross, British Racing Green.) Enough of this spotted-fragmented and lost past, my story is rural, poor, not material. I sit before these candles as one who has talked his way around faith. This tiny cross on my notebook comes with seven, yes seven, painted images.

From the top right, a portion, or piece of the sun, bright red morning with yellow rays, part for the whole. Child-inspired. Painters and poets employ this technique in their daily lives. (This cross was most likely painted by an older child.) (Yes, there’s a word for it.) Descending the vertical upright post, its tree, is a large, tropical flower, red, orange, yellow and green, out-sized here, and brilliantly full, filling the entire width of the painted wood. Beautiful, where the body of Jesus would traditionally be seen, or, be, in other cross traditions. Beneath the flower, a white dove in flight. And below the dove, a yellow chalice, its base unseen, off the cross but inside the cup, what appears to be a large white orb. This image is made more important by seven tiny black and radiating brush strokes surrounding the orb, perhaps ‘egg’ is a more accurate word. I wonder if my friend who gave me the painted match boxes, knows about El Salvadoran crosses. Or has one? If she doesn’t, I could give her one of these surrounding the candle sticks around the quilted panel on the altar, which is also a coffee table. The hand-made table-runner sewn by wife, in ten story-telling squares. Table-running and fire. Walking across fire-coals.

I suspect you know about the coffee table. Its patience also understood. But wait, I’m not finished. This one cross has more to offer.

On the right crossbar (horizontal) crossing the intersection, a small, swimming fish, red scales, blue fins and blue tail. A white head and one white eye. On the other side of the bar, and also on the other side of the tropical flower, is the largest cluster of purple grapes--they wouldn’t fit into your largest cereal bowl from your kitchen, complete with green leaves and wooden vines. Each grape in the cluster must be less than one-sixteenth of an inch. Cluster-this-packed. Grapes this ripe. Grape cluster larger than the dove, than the fish. This cross, this bright green cross (and speaking of things happening in intersections, last night, another friend, immigrant, undocumented, sends an image on my Iphone of an umbrella, paragua,in Spanish: a deluge of rain, with this: Los libros, Las mentes, y los paraguas Solo sirven Si se abren—books, ideas, umbrellas, they only work if they’re open. She’s Mexicana. Her husband, deported, is from El Salvador.

This cross, this bright green cross on my notebook, and all the crosses, all the match books, original, this green one fits in my hand, is not a crucifixion or a crucifix, but a cross of life. Say it again. This is not my imagination ballooning on you. These village images make up the essence of the El Salvadoran cross. Nor does this cross negate what the crossbars on any cross points to—that being those two other crosses on each side of Jesus, to his left and to his right, the two criminals, Barrabas, and the other one for whom we have no name, the first congregation theologians tell us. How far we’ve come.

El Salvadorans call their crosses trees of liberation, trees of life. They are, well, they’re beautiful, objects of beauty, which is to say, crosses that arrive with stories. They are crosses that come with suffering, and they cross through sorrow to joy. These, certainly, like the matchboxes, like the candle sticks, like the candles wrapped in tissue by my friend, the ones resting on the table runner. Everything rests here, but the crosses are meant to be worn around the neck. They come with an eyelet wound into its top or apex, so that a string can go through. They are crosses of experience, of suffering and trouble

and resurrection, crosses of pilgrims, gardens, children walking to school. They mirror match boxes in size and detail. They are fun-filled and full of fun. And lit each morning by candles, candles running down, light descending. Color-filled and resting beside polished stones, which I enjoy along with the psalms each morning in this softest of light, the warmest of fires.

Jim Bodeen

21 May 2022—16 October 2022