In January, 1968, I took an R&R from 85th Evac Hospital, Qui Nhon, took a train from Tokyo to Zao to ski. Kimonos and Futonjis in room. Flying back into Tan Sanh Nhut, Tet had begun, worlds in chaos. Round the clock months-long continual evacuations, young North Vietnamese under B52 bombs wrapped in gauze. I’ll ski White Pass today, eat cookies at High Camp with my notebook, and read some poems. A powder day.

When the long walking began

I just can’t say. In the unborn

belonging and the stupidity of the heart

coming to play in matters of faith,

winter faith matters, seeding itself.

Looking back through two notebooks

and shreds of evidence, tabulating

places, rest stops and mileage.

It’s snowing and workers

are putting up forms, sheet rocking

in snow. The street, snow-filled,

rutted and icy, but better for one’s feet,

because the unevenness of snow

works one’s body into its own

flexibility, and hiking boots

keep one’s ankles steady.

Nineteen years ago I left the classroom

carrying a notebook and a camera.

That’s what I thought about

as tears flowed. Still 58,

days before my birthday,

the same age as Charles Dickens

when he died. Some times

half page a day, sometimes

baking cookies in the kitchen,

scraps of recipes come from my head.

The twisted tree lives its life

while the right tree

ends up in planks

is what the Chinese say.

Another day walking

and after-walking in the notebook,

a blessingway walk, what I say

half-believing. So many

different walks.

Walks of privilege, walks of shame.

El Camino in Spain, Camino de Santiago.

Wonderland trail around Tahoma,

Pasayton Boundary Trail with that added

cut straight south another 15 miles.

The Long Walk of the Navajo.

Trail of Tears of the Cherokee.

Bruce Trail in Canada

Inca Trail in Peru

and Bright Angel Trail

into the beginning of time,

hands on the Vishnu Schist.

Two years walking the housing development

The decades of Tent City.

Poets walking the 19th Century.

Wordsworth and Coleridge in the Alps.

John Keats walking North into Scotland.

44 days and a shipride home.

The Trail of Tears cuts through eight states.

South Appalachia. Population

90% reduced from Smallpox.

A constitution and a written alphabet.

The Indian Removal Act of 1829,

Andrew Jackson ignores the Supreme Court.

Homeless in their own country.

Signed the treaty in 1835 opposed by 90%

of their own people. 6000 troops enter their territory

and the roundup begins in gold fever dreams.

Prison camps and river banks.

16,000 Cherokee captives.

The March begins in winter, 1839, in drought,

managing their own removal,

wagons carrying the sick.

A National Historical Trail, this

Trail of Tears, in 1987.

Now with a website,

a National Park Service Film.

From the Diné:

Long Walk of the Navajo.

Tséyi’—Canyon de Chelly--

from Ft. Defiance, Arizona to Bosque Redondo

Fort Sumner, Nevada,

depending on one’s route,

250-450 miles, 1863-65,

10,000 Navajo marched

through the sacred mountains:

San Francisco Peaks, Mt. Taylor,

Huerfano Mountain, Gobernador Knob

and Mount Hesperus.

A discussion question:

Imagine what it would be like

to march this distance?

What helps people maintain strength in different times?

How might the Navajo stay strong?

Allowed to return in 1868.

As a result of the Long Walk,

indigenous peoples were granted

freedom of religion.

From the Tierra del Fuego to the northern

most part of Alaska, George Meegan walked 19,019 miles

in 2,425 days from 1977-1983,

making his the longest recorded walk.

And returning to what matters,

Quanah Brightman asks,

What’s underneath the land.

Beginning in the summer of 1978,

Professor Lehman L. Brightman,

President of United Native Americans,

makes the longest walk of the year

with little money or food, walking

from Reno, Nevada to the Capitol steps

in Washington D.C. to jeers,

You’ll never get out of Nevada,

while thousands cheer him on.

Supporting Indian resistance, asking,

What’s under the land?

Coal, oil, uranium, gas, water,

to save their Indian way of life.

Crazy Horse, Hoka Hey, Let’s go.

Wearing the patch for the Longest Walk.

Sacred pipe for the Four Directions,

walking that way on Turtle Island.

Walking to defeat legislation,

11 pieces had been introduced

to defeat Indian Rights.

A Blessingway Walk.

We live by an understood law.

This is how we have always lived,

confronting people who look

at a sheet of paper to know how to act.

This is not the first time the Indian People have walked.”

We have to have people to walk.

We may be brothers after all.

We shall see.

Coffee finishing as I come

into the house after walking

short block of the neighborhood.

I glance at yesterday’s offering,

adding, Oh, I had pickles

with tuna on my saltines

yesterday. This is my life

reading psalms, all this opening

to God revealing all that is

dark within me. This God

is a quiet one. Photosynthesis

goes on. The leaves,

yes the leaves clean up

continuosly, the air,

But you will light my lamp,

Lord. You have penetrated

the darkness that I called for.

Gail is out with her little dog.

I can’t talk. We all have colds

and we’re testing for Covid.

Let us know. Let us know

how he is. As for the psalms,

they have opened for walkers

and you have given me this day.

God breaks the teeth of evil

and those who carry lies.

He’ll do it again and again,

walking, after-walking,

walk on, walk with the anxieties,

work with the ancestors

carrying Torah in their bones.

Those three psalms, 3, 37, 87,

read them with coffee.

Arrows hit their mark once again,

and every step marks compassion

for the poor tucked into your headband.

All of this elevation come from skis,

the drift if unweighting, unbound memory.

Jim Bodeen

25 March 2023




he was confronted by his female colleague

for not writing behavioral objectives for students.

I’ll do it, he said, grabbing a handful

of blank xerox paper on the counter

and binding the empty pages with his fork.

Jim Bodeen

15 March 2023 


Storypath/Cuentocamino: : PHONE CALL POEMS AND OUTLAW TRANSLATIONS: WALKING ...:                                                                                                               PHONE CALL POEMS AND OUTLAW TR...





Dear Mss. Clifton:

You are one of the gifts we send with Pastor Kathleen.

Partly because of poets we’re learning to get real.

And you were born with 12 fingers and 12 toes.

They were removed, and you had to live

your life, Holy Sister Priestess, without them.

You grew into yourself, but how,

Reverend One, Ms. Clifton,

did you balance without those toes?

And now we say goodbye to Pastor Kathleen.

Pastor Kathleen came to our house

to bless Rex’s1 painting of Rosalie Tompkins

and I gave her your poems.

Ms. Tomkins, a quilter from Gould, Arkansas,

African American patchwork threader,

discovered while sewing pillow cases, listening

as God whispered in her ear

as she sewed God’s colors into squares.

God let me see it, she said. The pool is giving birth

to itself all the time. Ms. Tompkins became part

of our family that day, as did, Pastor Kathleen.

Your Big Book, the collected poems,

brand new, Ms. Clifton, open on the coffee table,

when Pastor Kathleen came by.

A quilter yourself, Lucille Clifton,

asking in a poem,

do the daughters’ daughters quilt?

do the worlds continue spinning

away from each other forever?

A few words about Pastor Kathleen.

Karen and I gave her your poems for blessing Ms. Tompkins.

Sister Kathleen can pray, Ms. Clifton.

She brings the word and asks us to receive what she sends.

She’s got the same discipline you have.

Words like seeds. We’d never say Yes

to God if it wasn’t for faith.

When she frees the pulpit from fear,

she frees the pew. Standing against

intimidation, she said, Repentance

is more important than worship.

I wrote it down on the church bulletin.

Pastor Kathleen blessed us all,

and as she leaves, she’ll be carrying

your poems, the two of you, God’s carriers.

Blessing us, we turn around by blessing others.

This is the fabric of repentance.

Pulling back the covers of formality,

I smile, remembering

B. B. King’s guitar, also named Lucille,

and my Mom, Lucille, too.

Pastor Kathleen, I can tell you, Lucille Clifton,

shares a weakness for ice cream.

You two, you go on now.

Both of you, you’re making us right.

Jim Bodeen

12 March 2023

1Rex Deloney, African American artist, friend, teacher, prophet, from Little Rock, Arkansas. 

The painting, Mixed Media., by Rex was commissioned for Karen Bodeen.

RosieLee Tompkins by Rex DeLoney, and bottom,
Rosie Lee Tompkins and Lucille Clifton,
Complete Poems of Lucille Clifton, book cover.




           25 October 1934--1 March 2023 

Some are named

and some are not.

I racked my brain

to remember Caín

running through the Kiva.

So much of Cy

belongs to Children’s Theatre.

I have a list of memories

written in my notebook,

and then, dream fragments

that pop in my head

while at the grocery store.

These children of Cy’s,

some named, some not,

these children bring me

closer to Jesus,

where Cy comes closest to me.

The day before he died

I sat on the floor by his bed

and read poems to him

from my notebook. This one

stays with me

to my dying day.

Karen has her own.

She was sitting out front

on the bulkhead

and Cy came over

and put his arms around her,

making Karen and Jim

two of Cy’s children, too.

Here are four.

Jennifer, Joe, Ana, Rachel,

family names taking us

to Rosemary and home.

There’s another list,

the list Cy kept.

He never saw any need

to write these names down

as if he were taking attendance.

Jim Bodeen

11 March 2023




        “Tiny planned to drink hot chocolate and eat cookies.”

          Raymond Carver, Where I’m Calling From

We approach the ferry stop turning off

Lower Columbia River Highway 30

past Gnat Hatchery Road to Clatskanie--

Westport Slough to the Columbia.

This is the Wahkiakum Ferry, and

Oscar B is the name of the boat,

and we’re in Clatsom County, Oregon.

Wahkiakum means Tall Timber in Chinoook

and this ferry runs on the hour 365 days a year,

the last regularly scheduled car ferry

on the Columbia River between two states.

A 4-mile stretch taking 10-12 minutes

with capacity for carrying 23 cars.

The Oscar B carries you to Puget Island

and a drive of about ten miles

to a bridge taking you to the mainland,

on the Washington side. Lewis and Clark stopped here.

We’re the first car to line up

and we’re soon joined by others,

people stepping out of their cars

and rolling down the windows,

a woman asking, Are you here

for the adventure, too? Raymond Carver’s

family lived here in Clatskanie, I say

to the woman. For me, it’s a big deal.

There is a library and a park beside it

where we had lunch once. This

is where I’m coming from. Yes,

this is for all of us. Carver might have

fished here as a boy. His father 

worked at the sawmill.

No, I never knew him. Only

in his stories and poems. Later

his family moved to Yakima

where we’re from. This is my brother

and my wife. We’re coming from Seaside.

We were at the beach. And now we’re here.

Today we’ll see yellow and blue flags

of Ukraine flying as we cross the island

before arriving at Cathlamat, which means

stone in Chinook, and we’ll stop at Patty’s

for coffee and pannini sandwiches while

looking at the sign where the Hudson’s Bay Company

operated from. We’ll learn later

that the mother of a friend of ours

came from Cathlamat. I’ll re-read that story

of Carver’s, Where I’m Calling From

after we get home. A boy in the story

falls into an empty well, but nothing fell

on him and nothing closed off that circle of blue.

My friend is a shield maker and I remind him

of that shield of Achilleus he took into battle

with those pastoral images confronting

his enemies before they met his sword,

their last image of this life. The blue ocean

circled that shield of Achilleus.

We walked some miles on the beach

we say at lunch. Off the highway,

going slow. An old friend has died,

and his memorial is Saturday.

Carver puts us in the small world, like Chekhov.

Now things are out of our hands, too.

Tiny, God bless him would still have

things on his plate, whereever he is.

This ferry runs 365 days a year, on the hour.

Jim Bodeen

5-9 March 2023

Self-Portrait of the Poet



Self-portrait of a poet

washed up on the beach

in a light bulb

Jim Bodeen

3 March 2023



Photographing the Sand

This is one way to walk out of the world:

find your way to children, dogs.

Name the animals found in driftwood.

Look. This is about walking out.

When you stop at the rest stop

walk out back to the historical marker.

If there's not one there,

write it yourself in the notebook.

Rain and wind will guide you

once the others have disappeared.

The fact that Karen remains

testifies to her character

and the repetition of the needle and thread,

needles and pins is a song from the past.

The lens guiding you belongs to the blues.

Your job walking is to walk.

You will find that the noble white man

who wanted to be buried with the Indians

on Memaloose Island, and was,

was also a racist. Look it up.

You're a walker. It's an old vocation.

Vows are simple, but if you hang in there,

the light bulb will wash up on the beach.

You will find yourself along with your brother

inside the glass bulb.

This discovery along with found

light in sand will be your treasure. 

Jim Bodeen

3 March 2023