0621 HOURS

Coffee finishing as I come

into the house after walking

the short block of the neighborhood,

glance at yesterday’s offering,

adding, Oh, I had pickles!

on the free line. Gail is out

with her little white dog.

It’s dark. Street lights.

I can’t talk. We had company,

and all have colds

and we’re testing for Covid.

Let us know. As for the Psalms,

Lord, they have opened me,

and you have given this day.

Jim Bodeen

29 September 2022


Mowing lawn first time

in three years. Wears me out,

feels good. Josh has been

that good. I text him

isolated in his room

with Covid. It looks like

I cut that grass with a scissors.

He writes back, Ha Ha.

He doesn’t punctuate.

Karen, back from hygienist

sleeps off nitrous oxide,

induced liminosity dreaming

from a dentist. Outback

with the Coptic Psalter,

preparing myself for prayer,

Psalm 87 directing my lips,

I am a poor man.

Bow down, Lord, hear me out.

Up at all hours, Elder whisperings,

Monks are God’s athletes.


6-7 September 2022



…it is fitting for the upright to praise him[1]           

…es propio de los integros alabar al Señor[2]

…right living people sound best when praising[3]

…to the straightforward, praise is becoming[4]

…for praise is comely for the upright[5]

           --Psalm 33/Salmo 33


I take my temperature on the 33d Psalm.

With the 33d Psalm I live out my days.


I haven't gotten off to a very good start today.

It's early. That's not lost on me either.


Cool jazz, easy on the ear, isn't me.

I'm slide trombone, slurred, full of spit,


in between every position.

Caballero andante, cruzando las fronteras.


I have used flattery and been found out.

I stand guilty before my friends


and hide my eyes from my companion,

suspicious of myself before the beloved.


I am a beggar for the unguarded word.

Soy buscador, navegador armado en quijotescos.


Escudriñado de nada, chulo de diccionarios.

Como me dije, este día sería largo.


I am useless, there is nothing I can do.

The 33d Psalm is the breath-gift praising God.


Jim Bodeen

28 September 2020

[1] New International Version

[2] Nueva Versión Internacional

[3] Eugene H. Peterson

[4] Ellen Davis

[5] King James Version


O God of Sorrow and Steel,
My God, God of Jesus
and God of my North Dakota Childhood,
You know me like you know my music,
I am never in doubt. You know,

God  of the Blues Sung Slow,
My God, God of Salvation in the Blues,
my tendencies in the music store
run steel deep into sorrow,
You know how I found You
early and stayed, a person
my age, ambitious in foolishness,
always auditioning, before You
again and again in the Notebook
and in the Mail, You are,
You, God of Commemorative Stamps,
God of my country's sorrow,
God of Sorrow and Steel,
You contain my tears, with me in my weeping,
You do not, I do not hear You, You, God,
No voice of yours stops in my morning prayers

Jim Bodeen
2 October 2019


It's hard to be judging when
you're curious, Elizabeth.
This prayer goes through you to God.
When I forgive myself it's not me.
Blessing arrives from somewhere
I don't know. Here it is,
a post card in the mail
from my own hand. Post-
marked by the government.
From Holden, traveling with Karen,
in a boat towards my down-lake self.
Deep water unbound in time.

Jim Bodeen
10 September 2019


When news comes on
I grab my bike
and ride the development

Everybody's 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


Dear Sue: Fragments from your Good Gift,
Eudora, first reading of Eudora Welty's
garden book, her mother's garden first. A stone path
to mother: Her way of meeting death head on.
Miracle, the Look! See! Mira:
You and me, here. Text dazzling
like camellias. Like the breadboard,
hand-made. Made. Like the fire
on the raft carrying father. Carrying me
through The Optimist's Daughter,
along with Barry's book, ...there are Letters.
Forever vulnerable memory alive in us.
The making do of who we are
through flowers older than war.

5 July 2019

            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


Dear Mr. Knox,

Sad night. Good job.
I took this picture of you
with my IPhone

Karen made the card.
I picked out the stamp
choosing, for you,

Marvin Gaye, What's Going On?
over two others: Post Office Murals,
and Wild and Scenic Rivers.

All best, Jim
22 May 2019


Rubbing river stones by hand
for their patina keeps me from writing.

Jim Bodeen
22 May 2019


During the White House Correspondents' Dinner
I snapped this photograph of Olivier Knox,
President of the White House Correspondents' Association,
and Karen made this post card
enabling us to witness and record this moment
in our nation's history. The United States
Postal Service has issued new Forever stamps,
three of which I've purchased for these cards
in an edition of six:
Wild and Scenic Rivers, five of which I know;
Post Office Murals, Oklahoma ponies, already mailed;
and Marvin Gaye at the Howard Theatre:
What's going on?

Jim Bodeen
22 May 2019

            for Jim Hanlen
We stayed in Teddy's North Dakota park
after they turned off the water. Late October.
I grilled tacos and took photos
of the Missouri River at sunrise.
There were horses. You write
that your father liked rain,
and he's gone like the house.
Let him wander. Trust he's OK.
He's your Father-Dad,
You wouldn't want to find him
any place you could name.
Keep picking up those post cards
in your wild travels. The after-taste
is unforgettable.
            Love from here--jim
            21 May 2019


If these pages can serve as witness or rest stop,
for any thing or moment diligently off task,
if they can be a collection point for unconnected details,
or for the getting ready of prayer, seconds of assembly,
let me serve the offering of  their emptiness. If the recording
of raw data aids in listening to my mother, whatever the task—
the wilder the better—may I work for the God under
and over—and beside too!—oh God Beside Raw Data,
always calling for what is uncovered—
speak to me in words that have no thought of themselves.
Permit me to record what is there—nothing more,
and only that, present to the unconscious breath externally
before me. Any page. Every scrap. The something
behind any fact gives itself up for storm or story. Thank you
for notebooks I turn towards. Bless this practice
and where we’ve been together, intimate and raw
as any beginning lover. Innocence
reclaimed, a photograph that never stood
for a camera. How could it be any other way? Oh, snapshot.
Messy page, crossed out words and second chances.

Jim Bodeen
February 19, 2006


God of Impracticality, God of nothing but truth,
may I be useless in all things, save your service.
Keep me from all action.

May I take care of my dogs.
May they be my only teachers.
May they help me in my nothingness.

May the word be adequate, nothing more.

The poem manifests its way in my hands open before you,
in my commitment to our correspondence.

Provide for me a path of such uselessness
that I am left swirling in daily confusion
conforming only to that which is misunderstood,
and to which I commit to daily
with no sign of affirmation
from you or the world.

Make me the most useless
among any in the world who have eyes.

Jim Bodeen
January 6, 2006


I don't know your music
so we can't start there.
When the camera went down,
I felt as though a part of me
had gone missing.
Inadequacy of the moment,
sustain me. Even as time gets short
life becomes more intense.
Go figure. Last week,
lost in traffic I couldn't hide.
A moment I can't talk about.
To say that love found me
understates the traffic.

Jim Bodeen
16 January 2018


Not a lot of time. I'm in the middle
of the third biography of Dylan this month.
After all this time. That word again.
Tell me what it's like in lockdown.
Who do you listen to? Beyond the music?
What are you carrying?
I'm guessing two things about your parents.
They don't want you to become nuns or poets.
Choose one, on your own time. No hurry.
Wednesday, then. 1:30?

16 January 2018

P.S. Like my friend Jody says,

Make your own sign.


We would drive over the mountain pass
into the city in the old Chevy on a Friday evening
with our young family. The radio on
and women talking in firm voices
to disc jockeys about hiding families
from our government in church basements.
Our car would be dark, and our children
fussy and sweaty from the long drive.
My wife and I had worked all day, too.
Even the car was hot and tired.
The Church is a sanctuary,
the women were saying.
Not a place to be blasphemed
by government bullies.
Words seeded themselves in the cushions
of our car seats. These people are Christians
I said to Karen, whispering to her
inside our dark car in traffic. These people
are walking with Jesus.
These are the basement parables.
It would be years before I heard
these voices again. They come to me
at odd times, still waking in the morning
with music coming into our bedroom,
echoes of still signaling courage.

Jim Bodeen
October 22, 2005


After coffee, before worship,
let's see what happens.
A quarter century ago
I cross a river saying

to myself, Let's see
just how far I can get.
I got a ways.
Thing is I still talk the same.

Jim Bodeen
24 December 2017


What I can't do is tell you anything.
Yes. The you that is me.
Me? OK,
that you that's everybody.
Can't tell you a thing.
What can you do?
The you that is me?
The me that is you.
I can tell what happened.
To you or to me?

Reading a day book.
This guy's name comes up.
Where he says, You can't live
by the light of someone else's lamp.
I liked it but still didn't know, you know?
Nothing? No.
You didn't do anything?
OK, I grinned at what I found.
Nothing more? Words?
Not a word?

Who was he?

Jim Bodeen
17 December 2017

11: 9. THAT'S IT. 11: 9

What's that line in Isaiah?
The Earth is full of God.

Jim Bodeen
9 December 2017


Don Eduardo y Luz walk us to the
community garden, late September
in Sacramento, where we pick
two kinds of eggplant, berenjena,
a small handful of serranos,
two California chiles, and I grab
the weed I've pulled for half a century in Yakima--
purslane with the tiny yellow flowers--
Jim, Jim, Jim, esta es yerba buena,
la verdolaga. Usamos en ensalada.
Sabroso. I'm wearing a Yerba Buena gorra
from San Francisco. Luz steams
the verdulaga before dinner, adding
it with beets to the salad. Part
of the resistance in her city,
Teología de la liberación es parte
de los raices de Pastor Eduardo.
Leo Los Salmos en nuestra recamarra
antes de dormir. En busqueda
de la felicidad. Gritos y clamores
de protesta. Gritos contra la injustia social.
Temas de Luz y Don Eduardo.
At breakfast Don Eduardo sings
the entire liturgy for me in Spanish.
El libro sobre los salmos está llamandome.
How is your liturgical life?
¿Cómo está su vida litúrgico?

Jim Bodeen
22 November 2017

To:                         Terry Martin (E-mail)
Subject:                 Post Card to Camp Yakima
Terry and Jane,

It's too fast here. But wilder than I ever
would have expected. The Mariners slow down
and then take us late on too few runs.
I'm not paying attention anyway.
Email deflects the truth
and doesn't convey the message.
The story rests in tiny cups from China.
Sitting is sitting they say.
And there's no doubt about music
coming through all this noise.


HARVEST SONG [Psalm 118]

Let the psalm be heard from hop vines
climbing towards September sun
at Cornerstone Ranch where blossoms
ripen for brewing beer. Two friends
at odds stir the mash. What is
the Latin word for brewing?
Bob Marley sings. Here
is the Valley I call home,
my son the one who dries
the flower that flavors the beer.
Tendrils curl towards all
that has been rejected.
Sew the hops into canvas bales.
This is the parable of the fermenting stone.

Jim Bodeen
29 October 2017

for Pastor Phil Nesvig

He was reading those psalms.
He had just sent a note to his friend,
the pastor. Responding, the pastor asked,
What do you mean? The mess you’ve made
of your life in the pew? He hadn’t remembered
saying that, couldn’t deny it now. The pastor had
sent him a passage from Luther: Let us recall our former
misery and the darkness—gather in the harvest…God’s word
is like a passing shower of rain which does not return. Salmo 8:
that was his psalm for today, his meditation he would carry.
O Señor, has puesto tu gloria sobre los cielos. Por causa
de tus adversaries has hecho que brote la alabanza
de labios de los pequeñitos para silenciar al enemigo.
He found translation in English not to take him far
enough, his own poverty necessitated translation
one step more re-moved: Su dominio, la aves
del cielo, y todo lo que surca los senderos
del mar. All that swim the paths of the sea.
Would his friend think that strange?
Could it be that the suffering
in the pew came from
places never felt
from pulpit
or choir?

Jim Bodeen
3 November 2017


Waiting outside my grand daughter's
working in the psalter, I fail to ring
the doorbell to find she's already inside.
I don't recommend this to anyone.
These psalms in English and Spanish,
two translations. I say this to give
myself a laugh. 1968 or 2017?
Trick or treat. The Lord's enemies
will be like the beauty of the fields--
las flores silvestres--they will vanish
like smoke--como el humo. Psalm 37.
My thumb is out, a hitch hiker,
calling on the Lord, It's me, It's me.

Love, Jim

            --Laertes, Hamlet

This bracelet, made of Old Man's Beard,
by a child, put it in the urn
with my ashes, living word.
This is my life with children.
This is the full response to adults.
My necktie on Facebook.
I'm the empty chair at sit-down dinners.
Absent during the film discussion--
Dinner with André?
What did they discuss on MSNBC?
Hardball with Chris Matthews.
Each resistor resists for children.
Trees are nominated in all categories.
Lichen Ceremonies ask
who you listen to.

Jim Bodeen
12 March 2017


Talking with Karen earlier
at kitchen table while writing
post cards to the President
for the Ides of March--Boo!
scared you there, Mr. President,
ah, it's just me in Yakima--
My wife says, No, no, no.
I'm not sending any post cards
to him. I want to get back
into this country when I travel.

Jim Bodeen
14 March 2017


            --for Gretchen, Megan, Suzy, Kirsten

He points his ski pole down the mountain.
That's the way down, but this is the fall line.
Two different paths. Water finds
the fall line. So do your skis.
Release the edges and let them find it;
when they do, let your body follow,
bend into your knees, settle in,
complete your turn. That's the dance,
over and over. A simple
and effortless down up down.
On this snow there is only this snow
and this sky. This run you're riding,
Northern Sky, turns us
liminally, eliminating time.

Jim Bodeen
29 December 2016


Singing Alleluias into the refrigerator
puts you in Grandpa's Hall of Fame at nine.
You two grew up on the way to High Camp.
Samster reads the map of trails, you sing
your way down Cascade, memorizing
the runs: Holicade, Tucker and What.
Paradise Basin itself. Snow Devil, Vertigo.
Northern Sky and Boulevard, which takes
you back past High Camp to Chair Four,
the Double where you wrap around the bar
and hold on. On this day, your vision
sees the mountain as a movie produced
by the two of you. Putting it together
you say, It's better when we combine ideas.

Grandpa Jim
30 January 2017


Watching the rhythm of your turns
as you descend the mountain, Kate,
I remember days we skied before Kindergarten
took you to the academic school, away
from the imagination of wilderness. 
We studied snow, named bumps moguls.
We shouted to each other,
Turn and go! as our skis: K2 Indie',
Atomic S-7, K2 Juvie, and Missie,
grew longer, and took on twin tips.
We made lunches from home
and packed them in. We talked
about books, dances, and dreams.
From the first, that's the way you ski.

Grandpa Jim
30 December 2017


--for Terry, Jane, and Karen

creates epiphanies in mail boxes
and collaboration re-turns to nobility
as an ally in resistance. Toxins
we'd never invite to coffee
sit with us as family. Eyes
remain alert to change in discourse.
Welcome to the Temple of Holy Boldness
and secret anthems. Dangers,
toils and snares as visiting companions.
Elvis sings, Who could I turn to but the poem.
Karen feeds the birds
and they shit on the deck.
Jane turns birds into clay.
We do words into lines of music.

Jim Bodeen
28 January 2017


On this winter camp, grand daughters,
cousins, make movies at night before skiing.
The movie makers named the hex bugs
as characters in their  movie. Hexbug,
a brand of toy automaton, attract the kids.
Children like the touch of bugs
in familiar rubber, and the way they move
on their own. In their movie, the children
cast Hex Bugs as counselors.
Remote controlled robots
change direction through head rotation.
Both nine, one cousin says to the other,
Look at them, these counselors,
running away from our questions.

Jim Bodeen
6 January 2017


has a picnic table in shade
and we stop and get out the little Weber grill,
put on four brats with apple and chicken.
Two young men in yellow vests
work the cleanup crew whooping it up
carrying plastic bags, helping each other
with what it is they're charged to do.
Not yet in their 20s we think, watching them.
Soon they smell these brats.
Hot dogs, they say, pointing to the grill.
We have two extra. Would you like them?
They run over as I get the buns ready.
Catsup? Mustard? Both. Karen says,
They've got apple and chicken inside.
One says, I can taste the apple.
The other says to his companion,
You're supposed to say, 'Please', and,' Thank you'.
Didn't you know that?
The man with the dog, smoking a cigarette,
watching us all, walks by, says,
They have just enough intelligence
for a government job.

Jim Bodeen
20 September 2016


Blaze lives around the corner
in the next block, walks his dog, Luna
by my place while I'm out
shoveling snow. Give me a little Luna
light, I say, my glasses already dark
from an hour in snow. About that name,
Blaze, I say, can you say something
about those parents who named you?
I can, he says. Mom and Dad
are in Michigan. Dad was in school
studying philosophers. Blaze Pascal
is who I'm named after. Yes, I nod.
"Men never do evil so cheerfully as when
they do it from religious conviction.

Jim Bodeen
10 December 2016


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