Mammoth Mountain Mothership Run Into New Mexico


Changing mountains, not leaving them.
Heading south in mothership. Sierras
alongside Karen--Look--

Ski and sew--All winter with Keats,
snowpack strong. Arrived, 1819,
young man with sore throat. A couple

biographies, poems and letters:
An open time. He would defend the oppressed.
Smudge difference between seen and heard,

erased and disappeared. Entry and access.
If poetry is dreaming, what makes us real?
Conscience-calmed, the soldier healed,

and bird-song. Snow-mold raked
from grass renews tiny roots.
I sit with my teacher, book in lap

reading Blake's Everlasting Gospel.
Christ's nose, hooked or snubbed?
Yours or mine? Well? Maybe that

could make the president laugh.
Distance, and all that's denied, inspired.
Maybe that's asking too much. Dressed

in civil rights denim, the teacher howls,
younger, meandering in memory.
Episodic, transparent juice-quench--

and all the dead whose names are in our lips,
receiving what's offered, a full cup
before turning page. To be

in the perfect sense of otherness
freeing one of return's necessity.
How man walks after promise.

22 March 2019

Popular image of Christ: Urizen. The God of Reason.

"The Vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my vision's greatest enemy.
Thine has a great hook nose like thine,
Mine has a snub nose like to mine." (a.1-4)

As King says, in April, 1963, the enemy vision is not only personal, but is contrary to prophetic vision. "Reason is an enemy because it blocks vision."

Christ is the one man, according to Blake--and King, acted always with vision. "It is vision or imagination that enables one to realize God.

Blake writes of Christ: "Thou art a man: God is no more: Thy own Humanity learn to adore"

"The Urizeneans have perverted the terms. They equate gentle to polite and obedient; humility to lack of confidence and doubt; chastity and virginity to prudery and hypocrisy."

Authority needs obedience which is duty.

Motive other than pure desire is the sin. Suppression of desire is blasphemy of the human soul. For hypocrisy prevents the soul from the freedom which leads to vision.

Forgiveness of sins, for Blake, is an act of vision. Forgiveness of Sins, this alone is the gospel.

"The forgiveness of sins does not ennoble the forgiver as a magnanimous individual; it saves him from the sin of accusation...and his desire for forgiveness makes the forgiveness permits both the sinner and the forgiver spiritual salvation.

"There is no spiritual salvation through moral virtue...that moral virtue is selfish..."

Listen to King quote Blake: "The Moral Virtues in Great fear/
Formed the Cross & Nails & Spear,/ And the Accuser standing by/ Cried out, 'Crucify! Crucify!"

Through the concept of forgiveness, Christ can and does return; and that is the everlasting gospel of salvation which enables the poet to sing in Jerusalem: ...of the awaking to Eternal Life.

Taking notes on an essay my teacher wrote 56 years ago. Reading a novel. Taking notes in the margins. Remembering coffee two days ago with two friends. Looking at what I'd just written in an email. Then, nodding with a morning tiredness. The tiredness that comes from early morning reading. Not the newspaper. No. From the reading that comes from books. That kind of deep drowsing.  That kind of drowsiness.


Finally, last night, I was able to print out your April, 1963 essay on Blake's Everlasting Gospel, and read it slowly. Thank you. Forgiveness as a visionary act resonates and enters like spring itself. Easter. And if I have paid attention to, and pursued the idea over the past 50 years, it takes its place in Christian theology along with literature. One gets in the church endless attempts at it, but occasionally, something gets traction, too. Along with trying to document these moments, they usually document themselves, as this one does. Several years after my seizure, I attended a workshop in California at the Center for Attitudinal Healing (after reading a long poem by a man coming from there), and, feeling somewhat sorry for myself, found myself sitting before a panel of women whose husbands had given them AIDS. The one woman said, "I forgave him in order that I might forgive myself." That one stuck. And then, crossing disciplines again, the work of Jonathan Shay with PTSD in Vietnam soldiers, yielded to Moral Injury, or betrayal of values, and betrayed values through society's norms and participation in war, etc--and it strikes again. Visionary act complimenting, mirroring, the unconscious act of praising, as in the Ancient Mariner. Visionary acts also spontaneous. I see I'm running on, now. It's very beautiful, and very personal, too. And I thank you for it, for this essay, and for your presence and being.

Like those Chimallo chiles. 

He had been reading Keats. He had been living into the uncertainties. He'd been re-routed.


Ancient of days. Ancient child, one dreaming forward out of the past. Fist full of stars thrown out of the night sky. Visible and heard in the Santa Fe bookstore, deep root royalty telling stories I had read and not only forgotten, but not taken in, and this time, taken in.

Karen on the phone
with her ancestors
in the mothership

breathes out
the exhaled word
I was beside myself


I better put on my pajamas
in case the police knock
on the door
in the middle of the night.

Jim Bodeen
24 March 2019


0300 HOURS, 27 MARCH 2019

Call this night's sleep good, it's a new day.

That's not what you're feeling, though.

No, it's not.
I'm saying goodbye to my son,
thanking him
for his life on the mountain.
Thanking him through tired muscles
of the body for the past two days
at altitude, in snow, in wind.

How come you're crying?

You wake in big wonder,

Isn't there a better way to say this?

I woke to say it another way.

Jim Bodeen


Four days
on two mountains
new looks
historic highways,
12 West and East,
97 North and South,
familiar, mine,
2 in the middle
mined again
transporting images,
dream tracking.
not knowing
what's what
coming or going

Jim Bodeen
19 February 2019



Not much. Bewilderment.
Karen's breathing. Karen's turn
and Albuquerque quilts.
We will eat breakfast with Tim.
And Karen's workshop with Ricky Tims.

We will cross the desert
crossing into Hopi country,
Chaco culture-land of ancient ancesters
and the ancestral walking with Karen
skirting the Grand Canyon.

Three nights at this elevation
puts the heart in shape for heart-work,
but what happens to the body?
Snow is our currency.
We will not hide our treasure.

The Mueller-Barr report appears
in a dry wash. Don't name it here.
Sastrugi art makes and unmakes itself
in the moment. Wind blows snow up mountain
while wind blows snow down.

Furious speeds of the news.
I watch it change in the moment
and see the changes in the hour.
Over time changes of a single day
snow art's mandala records itself in pixels,

disappearing before the sweep of a monk's robed
arm. I sit before the life of Dave McCoy
who changed this mountain search to freedom,
others tying it to geology's kingdom. When
I hear it said so clearly, I'm confused

with an almost evasion of the word.
Billy Glynn shows me his father Billy Glynn's
baseball card over the wall of his mountain desk
trying to reach his father's immortality
in plastic sleeves. He didn't like school,

but he could ball. He didn't want
Notre Dame or Seton Hall. He joined
the army and went to Italy in 1944.
Livorno. The short story,
mountain story told by a mountain man

and how his Dad found his way
away from combat into the major leagues.
He hit a couple of home runs
and the coach-major said,
You're on the team. Just like that

baseball was his war. Following
the thread of this story, one sees
vows taken every where one looks.
Showing up, being Buddha,
wise hope in social engagement.

Jim Bodeen
27 March 2019




If I can call you Lucille
You can call me Lucille
There's a little bit of Lucille
in every guitar

Jim Bodeen
28 March 2019



How we came to meet them in the petrified forest. Crystal staircase. Walking and circling the dogs, irritating in their leashless yapping. These ones, they were thrown also from the night sky? Sent to get my attention, arid, Godless and covered-up attention?


I was beside myself, she had said. She was beside herself. Karen was on the cell phone with a new-found cousin. They were deeply involved with ancestry. Karen's birth-mother had died before Karen was a year-old. She was raised by an aunt and uncle who she called Mom and Sig. Her birth father, un-able to care for her, wouldn't allow her uncle to be her father. Her new cousin, had just discovered her birth mother. She herself had been adopted. She called the one who raised her Mom, mother. Would her birth mother acknowledge her now? The two were beside themselves.

He stopped the truck and pulled over. I've never heard such language, he said. The beauty of it. I was beside myself. I've heard it all my life. I've never heard it until now. Thank you so much.


Sun and Moon
Outside Likely
With Enya

Jim Bodeen
24 March 2019



You’re in old Holbrook.
This is Horsehead Crossing.
You think you’re lost?
Maybe you just got lucky.

Those two men looking at us
might be wondering about us too.
So much for the wrong way,
I’m not getting on to I-40
until I know where I am
and these railroad tracks
tell me we’re close to something.

Let’s inch across here.
Those two men talking
under that painted sign,
Horsehead Crossing
Petrified wood, knives
False front of that old brick building.

What’s going on here?
We’re cleaning it up before it’s gone to the boss.
Some day we can tell what happened here again.
Deli and Ice Cream Parlor? Indian feathers?
It was a tavern before that.
Back there where you were
when you were lost,
go back there. Read the signs.
Bucket of Blood Saloon.
Old Holbrook. The Blevins Murder.

Yeah, you can take a look inside.
Pink paint, black bars trimmed in white
I can see the cross and the crossing.
Painted Indian in red headband, bare chest
with a bandolier of bullets
below blue-feathered circle
proclaiming Arizona Holbrook Tavern.
Sure, take pictures. A photo of the three of us,
and I hand over the camera
to Thomas Sample, older of the two men.
Silica moving into cells of tree rings.
Stories older than can be told.
The two men, taking me inside.
An unhung door reading Trail Boss.
Aluminum ladder out back
into the dugout cellar.
This tunnel was dug out all the way
to the bank. Holbrook was too dangerous
to walk with money in the street.
Samples climbs down and disappears
carrying my camera,
emerging with tunnel images
going around the corner
out of the tavern, cleaned up now
and swept. Old whiskey bottles
brought to the surface
from an archeological dig.
He hands me back my camera
directs me back to history
Bucket of Blood Saloon
and signs I missed when first stopped.

Comfortable now with local guides
before the town wakes and commerce begins.
Wooden walkways from 1888.
National Register of Historic Places.
Holbrook History in Little Colorado Country.
Four hundred plus years. From 1540.
Twenty-one years after Cortez.
How the Bucket of Blood got its name.
Crawford drew his gun and killed Lopez.
Shooting became general and Crawford
killed the other Mexican who fell by his partner.
A bill creating the Arizona Territory
was signed by Abraham Lincoln.
At Navahoe Springs there is a marker.

The museum will tell us
there are dinosaur imposters.
We will learn of six separate forests
of jasper and agate logs lay horizontal,
how fire, fungus and insects
buried in mud and soil of silica-rich volcanic ash
salts rich in uranium replaced wood cells,
of prehistoric peoples lived here,
and we will see ruins of dwellings
where daily life happened and is preserved.

This was shown and seen at Horsehead Crossing,
Old Town, Holbrook, Arizona,
and what was told by Thomas Sample,
on that morning we didn't enter the highway.
Fragments of the tunnel story.
Testimony and report.

Jim Bodeen
Holbrook, AZ—National Petrified Forest, AZ
29 March--25 April 2019


            Break every rule, Karen tells me.
            That's what he says, Break every rule.
                        Karen Bodeen

Piece it the opposite of how you drew it.
It was difficult to leave yesterday.
Harmony convergence, circle of life, divide and conquer.
Three hundred women and two men.
You want an audience?
A woman's chorus breathing with him singing.

Sewed blocks together converging.
Four dogs, rescued with teeth cleaned.
Skyfire, we were one dog down.
Listen to the Ahs.
Misty morning. I'm a 4-letter word.
Zebras, nightfall, wings.

These are the colors of the desert.
Sultry Susans and rage.
We are trying to be an international community.
Designer patchwork.
Let's talk about making.
These are the colors of the desired.

Let's talk about the wow factor.
Design to impress.
We look for it, instant impact.
Making hard look easy.
Design by use
using standard squares and triangles.

Shake it up.
Change variety by changing scale.
Breaking cycles on point.
Applique with leaves and flowers.
Urn in the playground of negative space.

Draw a log cabin block for me
Don't make it look like Granny's.
If this makes you uncomfortable,
chat and look at your neighbor's.
We can do wonky
by tilting the lines.

I talked to you about the forbidden zones.
You can go there, but you have to create it.

Jim Bodeen
29 March 2019


Last night, home a week, I begin again the Wordsworth biography. Remaindered from the back east library, a purchase for the cost of shipping, unread, I underline from the biographer's intro, "...the man that suffers, the mind that creates." An unread book, was it ever checked out? given now to me, for underlining, for marginal notes.

I walk the yard, move my books and laptop to the garden room, snap a few photos in first spring morning outside. Good Friday. Bees humming in the Little Cherry Twist. Tiny pink blossoms carpet the stones beneath the tree. Redacted Mueller Report out yesterday. Stanley Plumly died last week. It is his Posthumous Keats that carried me deeper into the poems. "Death may be the subject, but not dying is the eternal point," he writes. I'm provoked as I disagree. The more completely one is able to die, the greater the possibility of practicing resurrection. "If poetry--Keats is saying--is finally about the flesh vanishing, disappearing, turning cold--the absorbing night, the setting sun, the broken stone--it is also, in its afterlife, about the word as spirit, aspirant on the air, invisible, articulate, available.


I wake at night. Keats. He's still only 25. That word, still, over and over.

Interrupted by thoughts of Keats
while reading Cold Mountain poems
in the mothership, I wake
and read, it's quiet
in the neighborhood
and this California town
has gone to sleep

I put my miner's light on
Karen sleeping beside me
in this great bed
sitting over the cab
and write in my notebook.

Jacinda Ardern has re-written the script for how a nation grieves after a terrorist attack. Arden has banned automatic rifles in New Zealand following the mass murders of 50 Muslims. What it is. What it can be. Gets me going. Moving. I need to keep moving. I know that. It saves me every time. From complacency. From my country. From myself. What time is sunrise? 6:09? Nowhere near that here.

We bring our own questions into the mothership. Our own uncertainties. Bringing our past which is longer than our future. Karen's sewing machine. Karen's art. Not yet at the mountain, there are a couple of places to get to. I ask Karen about language, the fictional Loxian language in the Enya song, Karen saying I can't talk right now. I'm trying to read a map. "Is there a way I can reach you? Is there a sign I should know? Where are you this morning? I don't know where you are? I keep watching. I keep hoping. Is there a road I should follow to bring you back home? In the darkness of my dreaming, if I could be where you are."

How did this song, from so far out of my past, become the song that carries me leaving home? The question to Enya: Who are you singing to? Elevation of Satus Pass is 3,107 feet. We're about to leave the low country. Karen and I discuss collaboration. What I would do to facilitate her work. What if the journey in the mothership is just beginning? That we have another ten years? that these first ten years are only the beginning, the apprenticeship?

I remember being in a tent at Sun Rise on Mt. Rainier over 25 years ago, reading Thomas Merton on prayer, waiting for my son to arrive after midnight, after he got off work, miner light on then too, an earlier model, Merton saying, "We don't want to admit that we're beginners, but beginners is all we'll ever be.

Warming the engine waiting for Karen's final travel preparation in the bathroom, I access the source of Enya's song with the lyrics by Roma Ryan, Enya saying, There would be no Enya without Roma Ryan. Lyrics come from her book of the same name, Water Shows the Hidden Heart, the missing lines from yesterday included:

If I could be where you are
You're missing but you're always a heart beat to me

Water lies before me
Now you're so far away
In the darkness of my dreaming
The light of you will stay.

It's 27 degrees this morning driving south. Outside of Likely, California, the sun rises over a flooded barn and field. I pull over and photograph the warm light on water and barn. Karen reads to me headlines at a rest stop while I prepare Umqua Oatmeal with fruit and nuts. "Immigration officials detain 9-year old girl on way to school in San Diego." She's held 32 hours before being released to her family. Officials say, "She didn't look like the photo on her passport." Amparo. Due diligence. Her brother was initially accused of Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking. Amparo. Shelter. Refuge. Protection.

The Mothership is a zendo taking one from the domestic world. Taking one out of one's complacency--and complicitness.




The flame thrower delivers the Hmong woman's child.

Jim Bodeen
6 April 2019


We lit our cigarettes
with Zippos,
it was part of the uniform.

Mine has the logo
of the 85th Evacuation Hospital
and rests on the chest of drawers
in our bedroom
alongside photos
of our children and grandchildren.

I can hear its familiar click
anytime I want.
I can smell the lighter fluid
drizzling into the rayon balls
underneath the 1/4 inch felt.

GIs would fiddle with them
during the boredom hours
fixated by the exactness
of its parts, they would
name them, replace them,
marveled and lost
by its tiny perfection,
it's wind-proof flame.

Zippo carried the flame thrower.
He brought fire.
The M-9 carried on his back.
He and the medic delivered
the Hmong woman's baby
in the tiny village.

Jim Bodeen
National Petrified Forest
31 March 2019


20 April 2019


Power is the oxycontin of side-lined Ivy Leaguers.
            LTC Ralph Peters to Anderson Cooper
            8 pm EST, 19 April 2019


My musician friend, Bonny, who lives in China, sends me a report with a personal note: Jim Bodeen, you might need to know this. A costume designer repairs the broken wing of an injured Monarch butterfly. Her operating room is includes a towel, scissors, tweezers, talc, contact cement, toothpick and a wing from a monarch who died the previous week. Talc is to ensure that glue doesn't cause wings to stick. Butterflies need symmetrical balance to fly. Their life span is two to six weeks.


The week prior to leaving are spent preparing the Mothership for departure. The last thing I do is to have the cabin de-winterized so we will have running water. It's late March, and seems safe. At home, trees budding out, it seems safe to risk it, but driving into spring storms at six to eight thousand feet elevation gets me scared. It's Sunday, and at Susanville, I find a Walmart and purchase two gallons of antifreeze. I'm prepared to winterize again. Say that again. I'm prepared for nothing. I could blow this space flight up in the second night out freezing the pipes. Karen's the technician and troubleshooter of things gone wrong. I can show her where the manual is kept but I can't read it.

How does a father enter the world of his son who lives on a mountain? Mindfulness. My mind is full of things. Am I up to skiing on a 10,000 foot mountain? Thresholds. Foothills. Meeting our son on his mountain . For starters. Beginner is a better word. Karen trusting me on this. The thresholds: Mammoth Mountain; Ricky Sims Luminaria Quilt Worskshop, Albuquerque;  Pueblo communities New Mexico. What we find peeking out from ourselves.

Cold Mountain's Poem #176 begins:

Ah, this confused, muddy world,
demons and wise ones live together.
If you say they're of equal mind
how can we tell them apart?

This is the new and complete Cold Mountain translation of Kazuaki Tanahashi & Peter Levitt, fueling my imagination. Their note on demons:  Rakshasa in Sanskrit. Eater of humans. Looking for a way out of your Christian duality? Tanahashi and Levitt, I discover, after finding their Cold Mountain, will offer a workshop this summer at Upaya Zen Center outside of Santa Fe, where Tanahashi is Buddhist scholar, painter, and calligrapher. Levitt is guiding teacher at Salt Spring Zen Center, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Presence at their 3-day workshop on the poems will require another journey to New Mexico. I'm carrying their poems to see where that might lead me.

Song #157 begins:

Sailing in a boat of rotten wood
you search for nimba fruit.
You journey across the great ocean,
where high surging waves never stop

Nimba's a tall tree in India with bitter trunk, fruit leaves. Sanskrit again, from the notes.

Ricky Tims and the quilts. Karen as Mother Quilt. The Mothership holds her machine.

with the Upaya Zen Center's Cold Mountain


Noble Emigrant Trail 25 miles from Susanville, Ca. Tonight we will have dinner with our son. Sierra Nevada foothills.  A cutoff of the Humboldt Trail in Nevada. It prospered in the mid 1850s because it was a shorter and more direct route to the Sacramento Valley. The new route was considered the best road through the Sierra Nevada. Grass, water and wood were plentiful the entire way. It establishes Susanville as a major town. I'll be afraid of mountain temperatures here and look for antifreeze for the cabin. Winter's not over.



Archeology and history preserve each other
in the petrified forest. In an environment
without oxygen, organic matter changes.
Silica enters the cells, filling them over time.
How then with Karen and I? Another night
to sleep with her, here, a painted desert
becomes its name. More than 800 memorable
sites beautified before the eyes. Mothership
landed for the night. Coffee now, and Karen, long
love in human time--how could this be done
without love's stony presence? Aren't we
almost quartz ourselves! Liquified
and softened one by the other.
How marriage continues itself
beyond gold's commemoration
into daily Jubilee. 50 years ago
today, married just over four months,
me back in school, Karen at the bank,
finished with first classes, the two of us
on a Montana honeymoon, our names
pulled from a hat, lucky ones
blessed and skiing free for a week.

This tiny cabin on wheels.
The two of us. Karen comes
from the bathroom's tiny door
and says to me at the small table,
Good night, countered by my,
No, no, no, and, Good morning.
We're having oatmeal,
Sailing from Byzantium with Yeats,
we are come from Holy fire--

while you slept we covered
dreamscapes through winter.
Snow bridges, cornices forming
fingers shaped by wind, reaching
for one another; sastrugi over-layed
with snow and dangerous
on both sides. How we crossed
and learned to stay together
day by day becoming each other,
bringing only ourselves. We are

in spring waking to SW light
and the many shades of gold
in sandstone. I wipe my eyes
with cotton pads cleaning bacteria
from aging skin, a daily ritual.
The physician does not know
Blake's Everlasting Gospel,
or Karen's message
from a cousin in the ancestral world.
A lost one who has found
her mother after these years
of not knowing. Ring
the Buddhist Bell for Jesus.

Jim Bodeen
29 March--23 April 2019                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       *

They would go or stay, according to the feel of the place. They had been so lonely. There were the children, there was the sister in the trailer, there were two dogs, and then there were the two of them, they had each other first.

They had been on the road now for some time. They stay where they felt comfortable. They stayed in that Louisiana park for nine months. At one place they had been park hosts. I learned so much of this later from my wife. The woman had opened to her and everything just came out. How did all that happen, I asked her. We found ourselves walking together on the walkway. One of us, I think it was her, just blurted out, I think we've been abandoned. That's how it got started with us. It just sort of happened.

I've been walking with the man wearing the t-shirt, the man wearing the baseball cap with the medals, these are the ones I know he had: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal. The rifle is the Combat Infantryman Badge. The Scout is an Infantry Scout. Others aren't clear enough in the photos or my memory. He had been in Pleiku, inland from Qui Nhon where I was assigned at the 85th Evac Hospital. He had been in the 71th Evac Hospital in Pleiku. I knew them because we shared casualties with them, we were usually on the receiving end. He talked about Home Before Morning, the nurse's book.

My son-in-law helped me with some of the medals. He said, "It would be interesting to know if there is engraving on the back of the crest next to the Staff Sergeant rank. That would probably state who it was from. It looks like a medal that was given by a foreign entity."

Zippo, flamethrower, adrenalin. Carrying the fire. Bringing the flames. Those are the images that arrested me. I mean, he was wearing them, right. Announcing to the world. His year was a year behind mine. He was 1969. I was 1968. Both game changers. Entirely different worlds. Different wars, too. And he was bringing fire. Was it a form of national revenge? Revenge after it was over when it wasn't over? Mindset. Worldset. Morale set.

And he was reciting poems, too. Can you keep going? I asked. And he did. He said there were so many at the university who urged him to get it finished, get it down on paper. He had it, though, it seemed to me, it kept coming from him, on automatic, fueled and memorized. I thought later of the World War One poets. About Robert Graves. Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon,, Rupert Brooke. Isaac Rosenberg. Rosenberg's poem: the rat, the poppy, the heart aghast. Break Day.

But more than then, it was now that kept me listening, asking questions. Asking questions when I could. This was a story that invited listening of its own. This was a family on the road. This was Cormac McCarthy more than Robert Graves. What about the children's schooling, he had asked. Home-school them. I'm their teacher, he had said. That's when he turned and told me about schooling and the university. A special education teacher. University trained, with teaching, too, in the university. "I hope these kids are picking some of this up," he told me, as we caught up to the women and kids, and Karen, who had become part of the larger group with them.

We were so lonely, the woman said. We had both lost our spouses. We needed each other. I thought she was native. That's the talk I heard, approaching them. Karen had said to the wife and kids, I'm from Yakima, and the oldest boy said, I'm Nez Perce. There were three kids, chiming in with their percentage of native blood. The littlest one said, I'm all white. His wife told Karen, He has ADHD. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome at birth. She was many things to this family. Wife, widow, great grandmother, grandmother and mother. Her daughter and grand daughter were in prison for drugs. I couldn't keep all of it straight. There was another person in their RV, a 30-year old granddaughter with Downs Syndrome. They were on the road. This park was their school. There were also the two small dogs.

We were walking in the Petrified Forest, reading the signs. How people find each other. What thou love'st well. The petrified forest.

29 March--29 April 2019



Walking the circle around the Crystal Garden
watching Karen photograph ancestral trees
petrified in the national park, memory-preserved,
color-change arrested, trees turned to cairns of love
showing us how to return, Karen saying,
I see quilts everywhere.

Two small dogs, yapping, unleashed,
have my attention as though
I’ve been waiting for them. And then,
the man with medals, almost walking
brass, dressed underneath in black,
drawing heat and fire, himself
gold-plated, a screaming eagle
of patches, patched himself,
his declaration, wearing the t-shirt
underneath in black and white,
either book or museum piece,
It Don’t Mean Nothing,
Nothing At All.
Code Language translated
in the historic forest,
one of my brothers,
Viet Nam Vet,
ostentatious in baseball cap
medal-filled bringing up
the question, Bullets
and schrapnel, too? And
because of the way we’re walking
we’re going to be walking together
and he’s made his introduction.

Tell me, I begin, about the tshirt.
We have not met Hozho yet.
Why we’re here as lost to me
as Karen in this moment. Hozho
is the spoken word that will break us open,
as we turn towards each other, about to speak again,
Can you tell me about that shirt?

Hozho is the spoken word
we came here for, not knowing why,
it will begin with the women,
the native woman and Karen,
who have been hidden from me
by sun and wind and shine.

The word will become word tomorrow.

It will arrive in the looking off, in the dis-robing
and dis-memberment of time and wonder. Hozho
descending, silicone movement too quiet to observe.
Silicone moving into cellular structure of trees.
We haven’t met the family yet. Karen talking unseen.
The hozho circle unformed. Imagine having someone
removing the veil under your eyes. My lover
moving in time, Place your hand over my breast
where my heart beats ancestral plum blossom.

And whirl. Whirl on the walk in the wind.

So I became a wanderer and went mad, a wounded bud.

God being also in dust.

Most pathless discipline and practice.

Bringing only myself.

I am bringing only myself to my question.
I am a drop of sorrow.
The beloved is known for loose behavior.
Play this music.
Can you tell me about that t-shirt?

Wounded words come through the adrenalin.
We lit our cigarettes with Zippos.
Mine rests a half-century later on the chest of drawers
with pictures of my children.
He was a flame thrower carrying fire on his back.
Sacred, apocalyptic fire, chemically produced
national secret fire, fueled for him,
about to be solitary for-ever, fused to his hose.
Can you feel Hozho’s tremolo? A scout.
Not yet a word either, no words for this, for these.
LRRPs were long range looking about.
They did not engage, they looked, and looked for,
while Scouts engaged. The man in the t-shirt
saying, I brought the fire. Hozho is the hospital
that sent you home before morning.

Hozho is the hospital mourning.
Hozho is the morning arriving with sunrise.
Hozho will be here tomorrow, the word
you’ve been walking for since you were 21.

The name of forgiveness is sorrow.
Proud flesh is the term given to horse’s wounds.
I am looking at the horse’s hooves,
not at the stars. This is the beauty of impermanence.
This is a sip of water on the walk in Crystal Garden.

Jim Bodeen
March 28, 2019, National Petrified Forest—30 March 2019, Santa Fe—26 April 2019, Yakima, Washington


Let's say you drove for days,
you've done your time in miles,
let's take the next 20 minutes
for these few minutes in this chair.
Call it manufactured time if you want.
Call it the time that will take all of your time
if you let it, if you give to it
something else again, that one. Red Painted
word on the side of the white pickup door.

Take five if that works
to bring back your 3-minute song.

Days and nights in natural time.
Days and nights in wheel time,
partner time, rolling wheel foot print time.
Crossing dry wash time,
over short-bridge non-clocking time.
Waiting time. Waiting to see your face
beautiful with dust-covering time.
Face-time. Face-to-face time.
So beautiful with dust, dust-covered.
Your own skin asking for lotion.
So much burned away.
So dry. So many water thoughts.
Stored water-thoughts in the mothership cupboard.
You have been with Karen all this time,
on a power boat wheeling. Persisted
and persisting, a practice.
Practicing and practice-time.
Smiling and sometimes practice
smiling back at you. You thought so,
once. and once, bringing yourself,
and only yourself. Bringing only myself.
You thought someone else might tell it wrong.
You didn't know if you could tell it yourself.

Jim Bodeen
29 April2019--Santa Fe, NM--2 May 2019--Yakima, WA


Um, yeah, of good.
Karen texts me three words
from her quilt workshop
in Albuquerque,
the city of two queues
where I sit in a roomful
of women and one man
who is both plumber and writer--
one who writes about plumbing
and what he does to make water flow

Nobody is as small as God,
she says, being other.
Easy for her to say
being Goddess and Godless
at the same time.
Do you need a prompt
to touch me, or pathetic one,
do you still need hands?

Jim Bodeen
Santa Fe, NM
29 April 2019



When I ask for directions
I never track the response to the way
So often I don't know how to be myself
So many roads don't go through
This morning I copy out the ancient lines
in my own hand to make certain
that it passes through my body.
As I rode my bicycle
around the neighborhood
a neighbor walked into the street
to tell me what had just taken place
Writing that poem in my notebook,
that's how the day happened for me

Jim Bodeen
24 April 2019


My mother
who made her way
in helplessness
gave me everything
she had.

Jim Bodeen
Santa Fe, NM
29 March 2019



Was it for this, William Wordsworth, asks,
addressing the river. Was it for this?
Bringing only myself.
This is what I have set out to do.

I have been asked
I have been asked,
I have been asked,
Who would be ecstatic

Was it for this?
Is this it?

Who would I be if I were awake?
If I brought only myself, what would confrontation be?
If I brought only myself, what would it look like?
Would there be a question if I brought only myself?

Bringing only myself, then, setting out.


The river in question is the River Derwent in the North.
The River Derwent in England, County of Cumbria.
It rises in the Lake District and flows northwards
through two of its principal lakes before turning
sharply westwas to enter the Irish Sea at Workington.
The name Derwent is shared with three other rivers
and is thought to be derived from a Celtic word for oak treees--
or dour water and went white and pure.


When I left the village, well, at first no one noticed.

Who was sad and left behind?

Well, like I said, No one noticed.

Karen and I were in the house.


Bringing only myself, a chance line from Mary Oliver,
arrives from a friend. Was it for this,
from Wordsworth, arrives through study,
by chance. Waking again, beginning again.

Milkweek thread and coming  into silence.

Karen luminescing in thread, threading.
Me before the Navajo word,
as mail arrives in slow time.

Walking like this, Karen and I,
circling the crystal garden watching Karen,
listening as she photographs
all things arrested in color, saying,
I see quilts every where.
The poet cannot say too much about silence.
Uncrowded inscape asking,

If you were awake who would be pleased?
If you were awake, who would be jealous?
If you were awake who would be ecstatic?
Who would be changed?
Who would be diminished? Be threatened?

If you were awake who would be relieved?

Let us explore devastation imposed by wealth
Let us explore mental health in a world on fire
Bring forth the documents of the poets

Jim Bodeen
29 March--6 May 2019
Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Yakima



Calles Placitas
Dancing matachines,
for Santo Lorenzo who suffered for us
From Montezuma to Christ

Santo Lorenzo stays in a family home for an entire year

New Mexico Piñon Coffee

One more museum
spirited Albuquerque
palace on the river
by the mountains

prayers in the morning with corn meal

One more museum moves the mothership
looking for a parking lot. Old Town
Albuquerque with guides
brings me to the Museum of Science
on Sunday. After purchasing the ticket
asking myself, Do you have reserves?
There's a basketball game on tv.
Walk through it until
you can get in. Just walk through.
Go to the bathroom, wash your face.
The senior volunteer gets an Aha!
from kids lifting a piece of basalt
comparing weights of stones.
Room on addictions showing the brain
in different states, and you're all alone
in the room, but for two high school boys
laughing. Upstairs a teenage boy's face
registers all of the emotions
while cropping everything out
but his face. The brain
has evolved into memory
and you recall the photo room
of faces of all ages and occupations
dead from drugs. You have seen this
in your own family, and you
are grateful for it all. You don't
have to take your notebook out,
your job is to just walk around
without trying anything else,
here it is, early photosynthesis
tand trees producing oxygen
as waste product. Suddenly
there's too much oxygen
to be absorbed. Gravitational
forces create the Ozone.
Parents read to children,
life-sized block show kids
how to build a human brain,
(telling what each part does)
(telling kids to take it apart
when done, put it away),
and when neurons show up
you can see how we're alike
and different from fruit flies.
Perhaps parental cause for joy
is that now they're getting it themselves--
what they didn't get in high school--
what I didn't get. That piece
of quartz three billion years old.
The recorded voice of the archaelogist
in the desert first shows you
how to see the bones,
and then leads you to the next
larger image, you are all pooped out
and have determined
that it's all right to go.
You have been diminished
by wonder waking.

Jim Bodeen
30 March 2019


1 April 2019
Just after 7 am
Los Sueños RV Park
Santa Fe, NM

Fussing with Little Buddy, my portable heater, to get bathroom toasty for Karen while my coffee cools and the notebook stays shut. I wake for the first time in my life in Santa Fe, with Karen. Maybe the altitude is too much for Little Buddy. He's been some kind of companion.

Do I say then, that I lost notebook time?
Do I say that I was not present to the task?

Let's see what Karen worked on last night, looking at maps, guidebooks.

When she wakes.
When she wakes up after listening to an artist-quilter, Ricky Tims, sing to her, telling stories, as he taught quilting design.
Let's see what happens to Karen with her [unfinished line]
Let's follow her.
Let's see how long we can remain here without worrying about it. Let me bring only myself.
May that be my way into the unknown day.
May that be my way into the time that I have.
Is that not what Bashō did?

The quilter changes the world.
[I thought the quilter saved the world.]
Ricky Tims does prophet work at ground level
            with the women
            who have lost their children
Let us have the courage to sit with this
            and not rush past it
[Ricky Tims was present during the AIDS crisis.]

We were so tired last night
What did Karen find after I went to bed?

The notebook is incredible. It reclaims time.
It renews the vision.
Poet [poetry and quilting] and quilter together do powerful things.
This may be, this is, as good as anything we've been given.

[Denny's Pancake House. Write about Denny's. How it's important.]

[It snowed last night driving from Albuquerque. Cold in Santa Fe.]

May I respond to it.
            May I be able.
May this be a gift, too, to all the grandchildren,
            To Sammie and Dheezus,
                        who gave me this notebook,
            [You deserve this
                        written in their hands, in pencil]
May all of the children find their gold

Oh, what surprises in the morning.

[Before breakfast, before Karen waking.]



            2 April 2019
            Los Sueños RV Park
            Santa Fe, NM 

My one daughter participates in a sleep study hooked up to wires in a hospital bed.
My one daughter prays for a child attacked by a pit bull, and flown to Seattle in a helicopter. Last word from last night is that the child is stable.
My son lives on a mountain in the Sierras.

My phone buzzes me a message from Walt Whitman. "Those who love each other shall become invincible." An advertisement. It reaches me in the mothership. The words have been inscribed an expensive silver bracelet. I put the words inside the Mothership Log. Here's the post on the child from the father who accompanied his son in the flight: One ear was completely torn off. It has been re-attached. I could see his teeth where his  cheek should be. They did an amazing job putting him back together. How sad for the dog, too."

Karen crawls down from the bed that rests over the cab of the truck as I finish recording the news. "Surprise, surprise. It's time for my coffee. As I get up from the table I carry Joy Harjo's book of poems, Conflict Resolution for Holy People, that I picked up yesterday at Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe. I also purchased a lovely centennial paperback of Salinger's Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters, and Seymour, An Introduction.


Reading the trickster rabbit,
Karen, listen to this,
Harjo named crazy for her bravery,
while rabbit gets himself in deeper and deeper,
he shows clay man how to steal a chicken.
Before this, everyone had enough. Stop
right there, Karen says, Sorry to interrupt,
but you need to send this to Jane.       
Jane our potter friend creates trickster rabbits,
and Karen records me reading the poem
and we send it to Jane on Facebook.
Harjo riding with us now, blues singing
jazz band love supreme Coltrane singing
poet grounding-saving me, let it go,
let it go, let it go, since last night,
her book of song poems titled
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings,
imagine that, 45 years ago living
with priests and nuns I laughed
myself into darker layers of hopeless anger
in a conflict resolution circle.
As it was and is, hopeless without the song,
for holy beings, listen,
this is only one of many worlds.
Yesterday at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum,
O'Keefe living wild after Steiglitz,
Nothing is less real than realism
I paint what interests me
Emphasize something. On her stamp
decades ago she said, Nobody
has time to look at a flower.
Yesterday, walking through Indian Museum,
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture,
(where Harjo attended) (where T.C. Cannon went),
yesterday when our lives were made new.

[The poet in retirement, from the world, but engaged at the most profoundest level, Stephen Gill writes in  his biography of William Wordsworth; William Hazlitt adding of the Lake poets, "Every thing down to their spelling was revolutionary."]

O'Keefe writing, "Where I was born and how I lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I am that should be of interest."

In Mystic Harjo writes, "I am trading a backwards look for jeopardy." [When we get home, the library obtains a copy of Crazy Brave, Harjo's memoir for me through Interlibrary Loan. I copy pages from it into my notebook. Here's one: "Though we have instructions and a map buried in our hearts when we enter this world, nothing quite prepares us for the abrupt shift to the breathing realm."]

It's time to clean up. I'm making a grocery list. Oatmeal, bananas, apples, instant coffee, Aveeno Body Wash, I'm going for groceries. Karen has learned of a fabric and quilting shop. I'll drop her off while I get groceries. We're going to spend another night. I don't know when I'll be ready to leave.


Resume notebook here: dec 7 jb


She had some horses, she did.
She had some horses.
It's the order here, and how.
The how and the beauty that goes beyond.
The horse and the rabbit.
The rabbit's been with me for some time
and I have a friend, Jane,
who's a potter and shapes them
making mischief in her hands
before taking them from the kiln.
I've been with these rabbits
and yours, too, and when the rabbit
opened for me in your Holy Beings poems
Karen says, You've got to read that one
to Jane, and I did, on Facebook,
from the mothership
in Los Sueños campgrounds
on the outskirts of Santa Fe.
My friend, Jane, she has some rabbits.

The kitchen table can't be owned,
but I can still call it yours. You pick out
all songs for the juke box.

I'm riding the neighborhood now, listening.
Listening and riding backwards. On my bike.
How in the order of things saying thanks.
Poems in my backpack weren't opening
and they were good ones hand-picked
and we'd been on the road long enough
for me to demand of the book store,
Nourish me. That's how Holy Beings
came into my hands, carrying me
collected and dishevelled mothershipping me.

Back on my bicycle a timed release capsule--

from 85th Evac Hospital,  Qui Nhon, Binh Dinh Province
when T.C. Cannon was painting, writing poems
from the 101st Airborne same time
I didn't know him, know his paintings,
his poems now, from Heard Museum,
didn't know you two were classmates
in Santa Fe, don't know about the time,
don't know that, I love the story of that school
your school, I found a street school
that took me when I came home,
taught there being taught
my jeweler taught me how Fritz Scholder
did it, the how of it, and now, on this bicycle,
in the development, I'm not dead either,
I'm good, last week your voice at Cornell
so good with those students, so good,
listening, reading, hearing/seeing that
the day before Crazy Brave arrives
from interlibrary loan and I sit with you
start to finish, rabbit's feeling important,
and the clay man's not stopping,
and you put it all in Crazy Brave
and I'm so glad you're in a band
mixing song and poem and voice,
all these lost tracks in the neighborhood
and that poem of yours on the kitchen table,
that's a poem that brings its own drum.

This is the bicycle in West Valley.
Yakima, from Yakama, Washington State.
This is your book of poems,
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.
playing with Coltrane in Oklahoma,
I'm a North Dakota boy whistle-
walking railroad tracks--
a kitchen table grandpa.
You can name the poets who aren't poets.
You're reading at Cornell
and then you're Crazy Brave
and now you're singing to me
in West Valley as I circle houses,
circling with your songs,
what a school, what a band.
Horses for teachers.
I'm sanding a salvaged cherry wood board
with a live edge,
making an altar for river stones,
remembering you remembering
the woman making decisions
keeping her
on the 13th floor.

Jim Bodeen
17 May 2019


Shortly after we get home, Dheezus and Sammie call. Sunday is their day with Grandma and Grandpa. They're on assignment, out back in the North Park making signs. Dheezus has learned about puppy mills. They're making posters and signs. They have a fund raiser. They're raising money. Armed with a wagon full of small planter vases, and Hens and Chicks from Grandma's Succulent Garden, they're going to go door-to-door in the neighborhood. They're raising awareness in the community too.

Dheezus has prepared a handout with a photo of Corgi the Kitten at the bottom, urging: Help us Today! Here's what the handout says:

Have you ever heard of puppy mill? Or have you ever been forced to do something you did not want? Well puppys experience stuff like this every day. And where does this happen you ask, the answer is, in a Puppy Mill. These, puppys are forced to breed and have their puppys sold, and this happens in horrible conditions. We are talking wired floors, multiple puppys in one cage, mildew in water. Some puppys are even afraid of grass. Yes, its true, these dogs are forced to breed in thee awful conditions, and the more puppys you buy online or in stores you re just supporting the Puppy Mill company and the more atrocious living circumstances dogs will experience. So Lets Stop Puppy Mill Today! Go to to find out more information.

When the hens and chicks are planted and loaded, they head out pulling the wagon chanting: Stop Puppy Mills Today! No More Puppy Mills! They go door-to-door. They disappear around the block. The wagon is empty when they return. They count their money. They get a donation from Grandpa. Now they want to deliver the money to the Humane Society. They also want to visit the animals. Can we visit with this one? They can. Volunteers listen to their presentation, learn where the money comes from, and are directed to donate the money through the Humane Society to combat puppy mills. Volunteers take the dogs from their kennels one at a time and show the girls to the visiting room, where they can play with them and get to know them. We take some pictures. We talk about the animals. We watch families going through the adoption process.

Traveling with Dheezus and Sammie. I won't get to do this forever. This is one day, glimpses of  their treasures.

April 27, 2019


Dancing every day. Dancing like this.
Dancing with Red Pine. Watching and listening.
Packing my salad with peas.
Pea-pickers in my background.
Serious pea-pickers.

One way or another,
Cold Mountain every day.
Red Pine's.

Cathay Revisited in my hands.
Dancing with the Dead.
Gold ink on red-brown paper.
A sign over a door.

Trembling words. A mother's voice.

When Copper Canyon published Red Pine's Cold Mountain in the mid-80s, the one with the tan-colored cover (with all of my original notes), I was attending the Institute for Chinese Literature at the UW. I picked up two copies, one for myself and one for Barry Grimes. Barry's writing about this right now, writing original stuff, and I don't intend to get in his way, or steal his peas. That's all I can say about that.

I have my three-and-a-half decades.

So, a few steps on the dance floor. The poet and what he does. What is, and isn't the poem. Every household. When we left...willows...make every effort to be with friends...I know I'm not alone.

That, from Cathay Revisited. Honoring Port Townsend as he honors Ezra Pound. A celebration.
He knows where they came from. Two horses whinny. Break off a branch and give it to someone leaving. Keep the titles. He marked the trail and never found it again.

"Red Pine looks down from above." Joy in finding that.

Can I be so familiar with Red Pine's Cold Mountain that I can't hear it anymore? What a good thing that is, if true. If even it's a little bit true. That's what I'm feeling right now.

When Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt published their Complete Cold Mountain last year I began a more than casual reading of their work. After a complete read through of their work, I began a daily reading, one poem each day, a process I'm in the middle of right now. What would I discover? As Red Pine writes in Dancing with the Dead, "The poem, as I see it, is a never-ending process of discovery." I don't have Red Pine's Cold Mountain open every day. But I always go there. I go to Red Pine for his notes. I go to Red Pine for his voice (his voice and his dance), and I go there to find myself.

This is not a book review, and I'm not going to tell you what I'm finding out.

In addition to this beauty of the gold-threaded ink on red-brown paper, this beauty of a chapbook by Empty Bowl, there are two other Red Pine books to match Cathay Revisited. Trusting the Mind: Zen Epigrams by Seng Ts'an, and A Day in the Life: The Empty Bowl & Diamond Sutras.

" means that we and everything in any universe we might imagine, are all of us one..." Red Pine, in his Introduction from A Day in the Life. And from Trusting the Mind: "The silk worms suffered / the weaving women weren't pleased / any new taxes / were all sure to please."

Empty Bowl books may be ordered from Empty Bowl Press, 14172 Madrona Drive, Anacortes, WA. 98221. Or

Jim Bodeen
29 May 2019


Dancing every day. Dancing like this.
Dancing with Red Pine. Watching and listening.
Packing my salad with peas.
Pea-pickers in my background.
Serious pea-pickers.

One way or another,
Cold Mountain every day.
Red Pine's.

Cathay Revisited in my hands.
Dancing with the Dead.
Gold ink on red-brown paper.
A sign over a door.

Trembling words. A mother's voice.

When Copper Canyon published Red Pine's Cold Mountain in the mid-80s, the one with the tan-colored cover (with all of my original notes), I was attending the Institute for Chinese Literature at the UW. I picked up two copies, one for myself and one for Barry Grimes. Barry's writing about this right now, writing original stuff, and I don't intend to get in his way, or steal his peas. That's all I can say about that.

I have my three-and-a-half decades.

So, a few steps on the dance floor. The poet and what he does. What is, and isn't the poem. Every household. When we left...willows...make every effort to be with friends...I know I'm not alone.

That, from Cathay Revisited. Honoring Port Townsend as he honors Ezra Pound. A celebration.
He knows where they came from. Two horses whinny. Break off a branch and give it to someone leaving. Keep the titles. He marked the trail and never found it again.

"Red Pine looks down from above." Joy in finding that.

Can I be so familiar with Red Pine's Cold Mountain that I can't hear it anymore? What a good thing that is, if true. If even it's a little bit true. That's what I'm feeling right now.

When Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt published their Complete Cold Mountain last year I began a more than casual reading of their work. After a complete read through of their work, I began a daily reading, one poem each day, a process I'm in the middle of right now. What would I discover? As Red Pine writes in Dancing with the Dead, "The poem, as I see it, is a never-ending process of discovery." I don't have Red Pine's Cold Mountain open every day. But I always go there. I go to Red Pine for his notes. I go to Red Pine for his voice (his voice and his dance), and I go there to find myself.

This is not a book review, and I'm not going to tell you what I'm finding out.

In addition to this beauty of the gold-threaded ink on red-brown paper, this beauty of a chapbook by Empty Bowl, there are two other Red Pine books to match Cathay Revisited. Trusting the Mind: Zen Epigrams by Seng Ts'an, and A Day in the Life: The Empty Bowl & Diamond Sutras.

" means that we and everything in any universe we might imagine, are all of us one..." Red Pine, in his Introduction from A Day in the Life. And from Trusting the Mind: "The silk worms suffered / the weaving women weren't pleased / any new taxes / were all sure to please."

Empty Bowl books may be ordered from Empty Bowl Press, 14172 Madrona Drive, Anacortes, WA. 98221. Or

Jim Bodeen
29 May 2019


Dad was born June 7th.
My father-in-law, Sig, was also born on this day.
The two men, my dad and my father-in-law,
were both quiet, neither had too much to say,
and when they expressed themselves
it usually took the form of doing something
for someone, or in their smiles.
They both had quiet smiles.
Each of them had a history
with alcohol and tobacco.

Karen and I were married in November, 1968, when I returned from Vietnam, and 1969 was our first year of marriage together. 1969 was a bad year in America, except for music, and while I heard and felt the music, I didn't really fit into 1969 and in many ways 1969 didn't happen to me. Karen and I were newly weds and I was back in school and hungry for books. I was hungry period. Hungry and thirsty. And here came June 7th. My parents were back in Seattle, having relocated from Alabama and the Boeing Airplane Company. It was my Dad's birthday. Karen said, It's my Dad's birthday, too. That's how we found out about that. Those two quiet men, Sig and Wayne, were quiet when together, too.

I'm driving on Highway 24 right now, out of Yakima, through Moxee, on the way to Othello, with Karen. We've been married 50 years, six months, and it's the day after our fathers' birthdays. We're driving to Othello to watch our grandson play baseball in the U-13 Club Team Tournament. Highway 24 takes you directly to Hanford where they built the bomb and exploded it, first in July, 1945, and then, in August, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bomb on Nagasaki was dropped on the 9th of August, 1945, the day I was born. At Hanford, the road splits...

This drive, the day after our fathers' birthday, is not about Wayne and Sig, though. I thought it was about them, starting out, about how we knew those two men in our lives, getting to know them, as we got to know ourselves--ourselves and each other. Or was it the other way around. Each other then ourselves. Each other before we knew ourselves. I had fallen asleep last night thinking about the two men on their birthdays.

Driving changes the conversation one has, again, with one self, and with others in the car. The road was wide open, a 75-mile drive, and not much traffic. What came up wasn't our fathers, no. What came up were our mothers. Mom and Alice. Lucille and Alice. Who they were. What they were like in a room together. What they were like in the same car. Karen and I, 50 years later, driving to Othello. Me thinking about my mother. How I'm like her. Thinking about Karen. How she's like Alice. Lucille and Alice, then, driving together, on their way to Othello to see grand children play a baseball game. Driving Highway 24.


Sit on this one for a few days. Right there, on the cusp of it, and I let it go. Didn't I run out of time? Didn't I get this far, set to return? But the garden's right here. Birds. Birdsong.  The art of setting stones in those essays, right beside me.

Lucille and Alice. They would look at each other, wary.

Bringing this up to Karen, she says, They were never in the same car together. Dependent love. Steeled love. Their ways.

Alice, older than Karen, her aunt-mother, gave Karen more room, room and distance. More geographically settled, too. A half-century in that lovely old home in Ballard. Alice always did the right thing for Karen. As did Sig. Her uncle-father. She had a laugh that precedes these words. A knowing laugh.

Lucille, North Dakota beginnings. Lost Father to the World War. A casualty, but not in battle.  Her mother's re-marriage brought abandonment into her life. I became her biographer. As in the God-call as I understand it, I said no for years, before accepting it as my life work.

Alice and Lucille.

Karen's Alice. I'm Lucille. I heard the voices coming as our children became of age, and left home. I knew whose voice I carried right away. Even after being granted a kind of liberation, allowing me certain refusals, after finishing her story, the inexhaustible work, I knew, and know, Lucille remains the muse, and liberation only comes with probation. A similar status granted grandparents.

And so, we carried it home. We carry it with us.

Karen and Jim.

After all the love we shared, our great, gifted and long time together, we share Alice and Lucille. Their wariness. Their eyes. Their language. Mother tongue. Mother way. Call this The Two Fathers if you like. The real story is somewhere else.

We're doing all right.

Jim Bodeen
12 June 2019


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