“You’re busted,” she says.

It’s a woman from Yakima, who belongs to the medical community.

“You’re busted, she repeats.

“You’re picture’s on the front page

of the Navajo Times.

She’s accusing me of violating

COVID-19 protocols.

The Navajo nation is 97 per cent vaccinated,

I respond.

So are we.

Jim Bodeen

20 August 2021–17 January 2022



        for Lloyd Draper in the Cañon del Muerto

The way I hear the song, Lloyd,

you’re the Blessingway. Listen,

He comes upon me with blessing.

Before him, from there.

That’s how it happened in Chinle.

That’s how the song goes.

One more verse, same song:

Behind him, it is blessed.

Before him, it is blessed.

What happened in the restaurant.

Poems are letters to family and friends.

The notebook will receive all you have.

Your friend in the Yakima Canyon,


25 October 2021




       for Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times

Here’s Karen’s work, threads on threads.

Karen in color, cloth-colored new each day,

ready for What else? any weather. Patches

filling beauty-eyes in blessingway. Holding

what won’t be held. Unsuspecting

combinations. She wraps warmth

into the hidden image. Brings light

to solstice, balancing all that’s dark

in story. Fabric is her lead.

She can bury it when necessary.

Christmas without a cross,

bearing the needle’s light touch,

5 Ws packing foundation. Emanating

from Karen, a journalist’s essence.


Fall Equinox, 2021


Bench made from 2x4s laid

over two tree stumps, new,

like the apple tree before us,

waiting for what we won’t see.

We imagine Lloyd Draper

as we know him, fleshed-out

Blessingway, holding a book,

wearing a mask, placing his tools

in the basement, sitting hermit-like

(his word) under an apple tree

at the far end of Cañon del Muerto.

With Frost and Dickinson,

poets he talks about at lunch.

He won’t settle on one spelling of Hozho,

laying out beauty in ways choices

steal sleep. He is who he says he is,

Geronimo-force to reckon with.

Jim Bodeen

8 October 2021


The Blessingway Notebook

|And Walking

The Mothership in the Summer of Fires

Jim Bodeen

Summer, 2021


to the turnoff to Bristle Cone Pine Forest,

then another dozen miles to Grand View Park,

where we are now. I say to Karen writing down

fragments, Thanks for this, your notes,

for making this journey too. No power,

no company, no smoke, no fires. And

two nights.

Carrying lots of water, lots of fuel.

Tire pressure checked. Narrow road.

Here, a one-land road. If you think

your horn is going to be heard, Jim.

22 August 2021

Mothership Log 14-A



“Sunlight, rain, snow, air. Indeed, as we now know,

earth is made of heaven’s scattering of stardust…”

       David Hinton, Existence, A Story

Back at the Mothership,

Karen shows me her photo:

It must have been a purple pine cone

at one time--I didn’t know

about purple pine cones

until now—I heard, I say,

couldn’t see, but...I just noticed

she says, it must have been

purple at one time, had to have been.

This darker color with sap running

out. This living. This, these.

Oldest trees in the world.

Karen and Jim Bodeen


Mothership Log, 14-A

23 August 2021





So the children will know where

their grandparents are buried.

Driving into Chinle we follow

a local red pickup, whose riders show us

how to slow for caution. Crystal

clear guidance allowing

no dark opening.

Being and beauty’s highway.

Beauty in margins, margins

sharing road’s shoulders

with all those wild flowers.

Called by Navajo Blessingway Singer,

Frank Mitchell.

Setting up the morning at midnight,

notebook cruising, unguarded words wheeling.

The past week in wind,

seeming different, new and old,

like Karen’s breathing,

her breath as she sleeps,

her gift to me at night, waking.

How shall we know our grandparents?

Mothership a zendo dream machine.

Karen’s breath over time, a lifetime,

heavenly beautiful, belonging.

Old wagon out front.

Grandpa hauled freight like Frank Mitchell.

These childhood red wheels.

Beauty above, beauty below, circling.

Jim Bodeen

Chinle, Arizona

9 September 2021




My brother brings me this shirt

and says, Wear it tomorrow.

Looking at it, watching TV,

I say,

That’s a tough shirt to put on.

He looks at me, and asks,

Why is that?

Jim Bodeen

July 4, 2022


...this immediate experience of empty awareness

was the beginning place, that dwelling place here

in the beginning, free of thought and identity,

is where we are most fundamentally ourselves

...and reality logically begins.

David Hinton, Existence: A Story

A slower pace, a somewhat slower pace will do.

Of a sudden, should it start to rain,

let yourself get soaked.

An old friend, the rain.

Ko Un, Your Pilgrimage

Show me something that isn’t beautiful

and I’ll show you the veil over your eyes.

Lyla June Johnston, Dawn





Before the fires there were already fires.


Mothership in Spanish.

¿Es la madre de necesitad.

Buque madre.

Embarcación madre

Buque nodriza

Leche materna

Barco para reportar

Nave principal.

How do you say this?

¿Como se llamen esta barca cósmica?

This cosmic ship.


These stones, these tiny stones of no great distinction.

Karen wakes. Looks at the stones.

You built me a cairn,” she says.

She says, I only see boats arriving from the South.

From Canavaggio’s life of Cervantes:

Los bagnios, the slave prisons of North Africa.

Pasamaques, shoes.

Soldado aventajado, elite trooper.

El Manco de Lepanto—the one-handed veteran of Lepanto.

An entire florilegium of ancedotes surrounding the battle of Lepanto attests

to the legendary aura that quickly surrounded the event. And Cervantes: “He saw

everything, noted everything and put everything in its proper perspective....

Cervantes, a self-made man, explored the masterpieces of Italian literature

with the ardor of a person fond of reading even the scraps of paper in the streets.”

The Mothership.

I think constantly of cairns. Cairns in all sizes.

Mojón in Spanish.

Mi nave persona.

Mi nave personal.

Mi casa rodante.

La Toxica.

La mera Madriza.

La jefa de jefes.

La Madre de todas las barcas.


We are driving through fire in the American West.

We stop at Indian John Hill for a break.

Karen films the fire with her Iphone as we drive through.

Flames along the highway. Fire trucks from Yakima.

While billionaires joy ride in space,

my brother sends an email celebrating

Brother David’s 95th birthday. The Benedictine

Monk who I studied prayer with coming home

from Vietnam, reading Eliot’s Four Quartets

on a grass lawn in high summer,

the life of this dancing prayer of a man

and his invitation to caring

for one another and this beautiful planet.



urging us to sing, Come alive, Come alive,

Come alive and show you care. Are you going

to sing with me, Karen, giggling,

yes, coming alive as we sing

where the Mothership’s parked next

to the tow away sign. We are planning

a journey to see our son

who lives on a mountain

in the Eastern Sierras.

Karen will sew teasel into fabric

and I will hike with our son.

He is 50. I am 76.

He has been on the John Muir Trail.

He will show me.

Joy Harjo’s collection,

When the Light of the World Was Subdued,

Our Songs Came Through

open before me. It is 5 am

as I read Adrian Louis’ poem, Skinology,

ten stanzas of six lines each.

Lovelock Paiute, eldest of 12 children,

Once, I thought I saw eagles

soar, loop, and do the crow hop

in the blue air while the sun

beat the earth like a drum.

Louis was born in 1946,

(a year after me)

and died in 2018.

Fire hazard is extreme.

State Forest Service closed all lands

to recreation three days ago.

Mt. Rainier National Park remains open.

It’s safer on the Mountain, but change that damn name.

Louis begins his second stanza,

I have known some badass skins.







for the Blessingway. The living room

in Santa Fe, that summer Karen sewed landscapes

in Albuquerque, a room

full of women poets, Jane Lippman’s

on the back porch of the moon begins

reading dawn, Lyla June Johnston’s

grandmother’s voice in Dawn:

Show me something that isn’t beautiful

and I’ll show you the veil over your eyes--

become a mantra carrying me beyond

geography and time into great listening

where I’d been given, if not home,

a possible way, out and into, being,

Chinle, Blessingway, Hozhó.

Alerted, not registered, needing

Barry Lopez and his horizon

to give me the name,

Navajo singer, Ólta’ í tsoh,

Big Schoolboy, widely known

by his English name, Frank Mitchell,

buried in Chinle. Inter-library loans

enabled me to read over three summers.

I would record, and not know,

David P. McCallistar, Charlotte J. Frisbie,

returning the story each time

to university libraries, until receiving

my own from library storage in Walla Walla.

But still not permission from family.

Why not call Navajo Times in Chinle?

Karen says. Sometime relatives will respond.

And that’s what happens. Grandchildren

from Eastern Washington and Phoenix email

permission to put flowers

on their grandparents’ graves.

Rose and Frank Mitchell.

Cindy Yurth will pick up the phone, clearing wax

from my ears, taking me to lunch in Chinle

with Lloyd Draper, if not accessing his orchard

descending a chain in Cañon de Chelly.

Now we would hear again of Covid.

This is the time of the new plague,

and a new outbreak on the Reservation,

5750 cases in Chinle. Curfew at ll pm.

Shelter at home. And our plan honoring

the singer would be canceled--

diverted instead to see out son in the Sierras,

driving through fires, then, perhaps, Chinle,

and new information, 91% vaccination rate

on the Reservation, safer than it is at home.

We will go another way.

We are already on the road,

driving down 97 South.

Mothership carrying us into our otherness.



    Park Williams, UCLA Climate Scientist

Glen Canyon, Lake Powell, Lake Mead: as drought continues to shrink one of the nation’s largest

reservoirs, a garden emerges. And with the garden, this:

Warmer air evaporates water out of soils and ecosystems more quickly.

So every raindrop or snowflake becomes a bit less potent, because the atmosphere

has this increasing thirst. And that means, as we go into the future, to get into

a drought as bad as the one we’re in now, it’s going to take less and less bad

luck, because human-caused warming is doing more and more of the heavy lifting.

Park Williams

Elizabeth Kolbert, The Lost Canyon Under Lake Powell, The New Yorker, 16 August 2021



Here in the beginning, there is no commerce or profit, no politics or ethnicity or war, no

upper class or lower class, no stories or myths or ideologies, no explanation and no self…

it is a refuge where there are no words. David Hinton, Existence: A Story

Closing the Mothership Log,

I go into the house for coffee,

a cup of Yami yogurt,

Rasspberry Cream,

Moby Dick and Rain Violent

on Mothership table.

Yesterday I finished writing an essay

on Rain Violent, poems and weather signs

by Ann Speirs and Bolinas Frank.

I am carrying their genius with us,

watching, breathing Lorca’s düende,

their supreme struggle with the all,

Shooting stars burn through our air,

but the

filling the wind with sea and ash.

My grandson sprawled on the couch

peaks his head up from his Iphone,

Are you still wearing those socks?

Let those toes breathe.

I take the brown paper bag

with fresh peaches from Johnson Orchards,

cold, from the fridge, full of sunshine,

remembering Ann’s quatrains

fitting this morning’s truth:

Out of the scrub, children in red t-shirts

run chasing America like a soccer ball.

Things remain quiet

in the house. I look over

these morning pages,

know how precious this time.

Books sprawl. Not one

hint of Karen’s clean-up,

where she loaded material

for her quilt weave,

her fabric narrative

her threads of golds and reds.

Her color-wheel eyes.

Squeezing time like this,

closing doors behind me,

swinging breaths of gratefulness.




Another word they used before the word bilagáana

came into use was “Ones who cover up their ears”,

...You see, when I was learning Blessingway from

my father, he told me to just forget about those things…

They do not go with what you are learning...My

father...his name was Water Edge Man. My

father’s father, Man Who Speaks Often,

was a Blessingway singer...I was just a small boy

when I began to remember things.

Navajo Blessingway Singer: Frank Mitchell

Red sun, yellow halo, from Oregon fires.

180 miles from home.

To see our son in the Sierras.

He has a Wilderness Permit for an over-night

Inyo National Forest. Deer Lake.

Sometimes called Crystal Crag Trail.

Begins with steep climb from Lake George.

From this morning’s Art of Peace:

Contemplate the workings of the world.

Morihei Ueshiba. Polish

warrior spirit while serving.

Frank Mitchell leaves school, works for RR

setting ties, turning to cards, gambling.

He’s lost all his money. Clothes in rags.

His new name is School Boy

Don’t overlook the truth before you, ha.

I’ll forget Ueshiba’s book on a stone

by the fire circle when we leave.

Is Karen not the source of all before me?

Rerouting towards the Sierras,

Mammoth and our son, on the mountain

at Mammoth Lakes, still accessible.

Mitchell sings from Story-page.

We’ll be with our son. His Blessingway

through John Muir and Bristle Cone Pines.

David Hinton’s Tao replacing Ueshiba.

No explanation. No self.

Post cards and stamps.

Take pictures of the sun on this hay field.

Karen says, Look at those horses coming our way.

“Here is something you packed.”

“Oh, my two biscottis!”


Stopping outside Le Pine at pull off

looking for information. It’s smoky.

Information on volcano caldera.

Oatmeal with brown sugar, Regina Peach.

Unhealthy air. Road open to Susanville,

as four fire trucks pass. Wind blowing

Mothership rocking, Joy Harjo

winding us through the Milky Way

and the poetic justice of the band.

170-mile John Fremont loop takes us

into Pleistocene Epoch, austere, dry,

1.8 million years ago to recent time,

10,000 years yesterday frightening

fundamentalists who shoot up truth’s

story with a .22. Camels, sloths,

giant beavers. Fossilized remains,

and fires. The Albert Rim behind us

to the east. A steep cliff of hardened

lava flows. 30 miles long, 2500 feet high,

a fault scarp made over time, rock-tilting,

mind movement along stretching

fault lines, 300,000 square miles—

all of Nevada, parts of Oregon, Idaho.

Native Americans lived here 11,000 years ago.

Most lived in earth-covered pit houses,

affiliated with Klamath and Modoc people.

I’m cold, sitting here in wind.

390 miles from Yakima, connecting

with Highway 395, Covid-19 morphing,

Delta Variant, a traveler. vaccine-protected,

mask-wearing in public.

But we’re stopped.

Stopped-scared. Fires have closed highway to Reno.

Fires jumping highway. Two cars stopped,

Fast-talking men fleeing fires. Cars getting stuck

in dust and smoke, I lost a headlight—You’re not

going to Reno, are you! We’ve been pulling

people out. A horrible detour. Karen studying map

on hood of truck. We’re low on diesel.


Mothership sleeps on the street tonight. We get close enough to Susanville for fuel. Road blocked for detour we did not take.Fire men turn us around at stoplight in middle of four-lane highway. You can get back to Alturas, he says. Where we’re at now on side street outside of Sully’s RV Park, which is closed. Across from the city park. Sleeping on the street.

Pancakes, jam, eggs, syrup, orange juice for dinner. We split a fresh peach. Returning, we drove through Likely, California. Photographed the flags hanging from the General Store. Trump Is Still President, the flags say. Before we leave home, I remember, our friends say, Be careful. Covid’s still mutating.

And the Mothership Logs. Last page, first page. One book ends, one begins at a rest stop. Mothership Log #14 the new one, with Karen’s photograph on cover: See different colors placed over fabric.

Waking at night I have the options of LED light over head or camping headlamp. Frank Mitchell’s Blessingway—to and from Beautyway, Ghostway, Shootingway, Chiricahua Windway, the book opens to a small light from a pickup camper on the street. My father-in-law always gave me a consoling talk whenever I returned after a death had occurred in the family...Take the natural course in this world...Be courageous...I admired that father-in-law of mine for his talks...

This journey begins with a detour. There were roadblocks to Chinle. The appearance of a single poem while traveling. Opening poem, opening word, in a Santa Fe living room, Hozhó, the word, central medicine of the Navajo, through a young Diné poet Lyla Johnston, reciting the words of her grandmother. Power and tenacity of the oral tradition—come to me immediately, and also, over time.

I would like to visit the grave of Frank Mitchell, Navajo Blessingway singer. Would that be possible?

How does one get permission? I would like to visit the grave of Frank Mitchell. Is that possible?

Maybe not.

Every precaution is offered in good will, and with respect.

What isn’t about yes or no, stop or go seems full of good will. Possibly, inside of this reality, if I’m listening correctly, there’s something that permits one to say, maybe one could just wait at the door.

One day Karen says, Why not write a Letter to the Editor to the newspaper in Chinle?

That’s how I contacted The Navajo Times. Write us a letter, the editor says, tell us what you would like to do. Many times this is a way to contact family members who will be able to reach out to you. That’s what happened. One day one granddaughter, a few days later, another. And correspondence from there, along with background information and stories. Fuel? OK. But, inspiration, and a simple invitation. Our family invites you to place flowers on our grandparents’ grave.



Out of Las Alturas and Neruda, Into the Desert

Las Alturas. Neruda. Don Pablo.

Sube a nacer conmigo, hermano.

Las Alturas de Macchu Picchu

These fires aren’t in the Andes.


But now, retracing the miles, a two-hour drive away from smoke we spent the day driving into

and fires, too, tat home, in Yakima, on Bumping Lake, crossing Highway 410 on Chinook Pass

we have the somewhat meditative glimpse of world-wide itinerancy, millions of refugees with no

place to go, and who nobody seems to want.

Until asked to leave

Sitting camp chair by my bed

Utter estrangement

Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. Trump and guns. Our trees in ashes. Bon fires of conflagration.

Cormac McCarthy and The Road. Father and Son after America’s holocaust. I bought that book

for my son. We sat with coffee in Wallingford that morning saying goodbye. He was leaving for

the Sierra Mountains in California. Father and Son walking. Getting to him again. The trying

to get there. The promise of the hike. Walking. To saunter like Thoreau—that one dream, real as a Forest Service permit.

This is a re-routed Blessingway journey. Restore the earth. Bless the people. Restore and restoration.

A life of recovery. A blessing song. Frank Mitchell’s grave. Cormac’s admonition. Find the good


Sleeping in the Mothership. LED lights. Wobble walk to bathroom when jacks aren’t down

to stable the four steps. Rethinking. High desert. Back in bed. Touching Karen’s arm. Asking

about sleep. I’m good. Slept some. The journey or the drive. The first part. The extended part.

Blessingway for all. Not to get out of anything. To see our son. Slow down. Get through the night.

Check for fires before leaving for anywhere. Checking from Mammoth Lakes, too. From there to here. From here to there.

You have to respect these songs.

That song is what we use during a ceremony to limerr up a person.

They use that song to press the person who is being sung over, to get the circulation going

again and get the person back to normal.

...and you have to be put back to normal in these songs.

It is something to do with Beautyway that is ailing you.

That first sing, the Beautyway had to do with the Snake People.

...well you did something you shouldn’t which I knew was true.

Frank Mitchell gets into water over his head, while on a horse. He finds the water is safer. He

wants to get well to help his children. The land of the people. Blanco Peak on the East, Mt. Taylor to the South, San Francisco Peak on the West, and La Plata Range.

Riding with Joy Harjo and her band: History will always find you/ and wrap you in its arms.

Karen says, I keep waiting for the police to come around the corner.

It’s after 7 am. We’re pulling out.

Desert driving. Is that salt?, Karen asks, as I move the truck slowly to the shoulder of the two-lane highway, I think we better find out. It’s not salt. Let’s have some breakfast. Left-over bacon. Red’s Red Mill Oatmeal, cold watermelon.

Highway 90 to 290 South. Asking Karen, What were your thoughts last night?

No thoughts, but dreams. Cindy and Diane in one. Too much silence in the room. I guess it was a room.

Then, a Christmas party, and Sandy Teagarden came, and I had the dates wrong and the punch bowl was empty. I was trying to figure out what to do.

Empty punch bowl, missed dates, awkward communication.


Karen says, Everybody’s going the other way.

She’s driving.

Nobody’s going our way.

A 6% grade.

Trucks using lower gear.

Are we going up or down?

I think we’re going down.

It looks like were going up.

I’m sure there are some ups and downs.

Even in our lives.

Even in our lives.

Here’s where we can tip over, Karen says.

I’m glad there’s nobody behind me.

It’s interesting that there are only cars going north.

Nobody’s going our way.

I listen.

But nobody’s going to Reno on 290.



      for Joy Harjo and T.C. Cannon

Every day a was a praise song,

every word or act had import

into the meaning of why we are here as spirits.

Joy Harjo “Bourbon and Blues”

We wore the same uniform

in the same place and time.

I was at the Evac Hospital,

the 85th, finding beds closer to home

for Gis evac’d out of some LZ.

It was Sgt Pepper Time,

and the blues man/artist/medic

painted my sign into a drum--

the color of the Pride Flag.

Psychedelic Army Orange.

Your name--


over the entrance to your

gallery at the Heard Museum.

I sat by the paintings of Fritz Scholder.

In a separate room, audience of one,

I watched your story, a movie.

But it’s your self-portrait--

you in fatigues, I carry

this morning into Eastern Sierras

hiking with my son, 50,

mountain man, blues man.

Trailhead at 12,500 feet.

I’m from the Cascade Range

up north. We drove through fires

to get here, carried the music,

joyfully, of our Poet Laureate,

your friend, Joy Harjo. We’ve

got some horses under us,

just beginning. That woman

in Harjo’s poem hanging

from the 13th Floor, reclaimed

herself, climbing up that wall.

Yesterday, Burning Man,

burning woman, my wife and I,

long marriage, drive through

Paiute Country on a Blessingway.

Frank Mitchell the Singer,

and we’re in another museum,

where I meet you again, small

gestures, sage-cedar smudge,

Kooyoue Panunadu Overlooking

Pyramid Lake, off Highway 445,

covering 112,000 acres, home

to Northern Paiute, kuyuidokada,

cui-ui eaters, desert inhabitants here

10,000 years, nurturing threatened

cui-ui fish and Lahontan Cutthroat trout,

Save Pyramid Lake on bumper stickers.

Stick Game Blessing Song from museum

empties into the Kiva and high school below.

Tufa Rocks, also endangered, line a path.

You and Harjo sit at the bar in her poem.

Harjo picks up her sax. Poetic Justice backing.

Like I’m back at the Heard, looking at you.

That car accident. It never happened.

Jim Bodeen

19 August 2021–29 March 2022





Gary Clark, Jr. sings

in the car while he drives

to trail head. Orange Blossoms

onto 395 Highway South,

Mono Pass. We’re going to be

right up this on the other side

of the ridge. Evidence of flash

flooding and slides everywhere.

Nothing like starting your hike

two miles high. We do get to come

back to this, but the light won’t

be the same. At one mile

we’ve gained 846 feet elevation.

He asks me how I’m doing. I say,

It’s too early to say

how wonderful it is,

I don’t ever want to say,

1.3 miles, 1,100 elevation gain

after starting at 12.5. Lose

a liter of water for every 1000 feet

at this elevation. At 2 miles,

switchbacks’s pitch mandates

(teaches?) heel-toe rest

with each step. He says,

That Nile Valley Slide

on Chinook Pass, several years

ago, I see it everywhere. I’m

part dog. The domestic part

is dog. 2,00 elevation gain.

3.6 miles, 2 ½ hours.

1000 calories burned.

All this from his phone.

I ask about Devil’s Postpile,

National Monument, geologic

basalt wonder-columns,

101 feet high—100,000 years ago

when cooling lava cracked

into multi-sided columns—to understand

their sitting, their setting, you must

go back millions of years

to the time when there were

no Sierra Nevadas, when California

was a shallow sea.. Pangaea

was the western edge of North America

several hundred miles east.

As Pangaea rifts and moves

the stage becomes set

for California to arrive.

A turkey sandwich with a slice

of Swiss cheese at Mono Pass.

I’m dizzy after the false summit.

Two young women walking

from the lake to the pass with Captain,

their dog. And another dog, Thistle.

Then us. Father-son. My name is Two Dog.

We share a crumbly oatmeal cookie.

And your mind, Tim,

Coming down from a hike like this?

I try not to fall. Did you see

that tree leaning on that rock?

Jim Bodeen

20 August 2021–29 March 2022



As Karen gets up, I meet her at the bed,

her feet hanging over the edge.

The bed itself sits over the cab

of the Dodge 3500, big dog

diesel carries us in comfort,

but there’s not much room

in the cabin. Reaching out

 for each other’s arms,

I help her down, holding her.

Counting days with Karen,

Karen-blessed best Blessingway,

God-blessed blessing come-from deep

song line dreaming, oracular

in her quiet-longing mystery,

thread-line to listening, even now,

first story in half-century wonder,

first person, first source. Whose being?

Belonging to that source, deep accompaniment--

not belonging to, but for, the one-in-all,

my testimony. Again.

After her feet touch floor

it’s a 5-foot one-person hall-

way walk to the bathroom--

Karen’s story documented over time--

the cabin is small.

Being here with her.

Was I ever her first choice?

Here, now, our son, too.

Mid-life at 50, we haven’t seen him

since the plague. I was told in the dream,

Karen is one of the great Mothers.

We have come to bless our son.

Stone Mother Blessing Songs

at Pyramid Lake, handed to us,

come from time. 12,000 years ago

this was all under water.

Sarah Winnemucca spoke.

When animals were people

they had their own way

of telling stories. Traveling

through Paiute Lands we stop

and ask for blessings. Our mother

of all mothers is somewhere

below the mountains. Every evening

build a fire so you know you’re all right.

Her tears made the lake.

Her tears. So cold. Two tribes.

Outside Gerlach, two State Patrol cars.

One aid car. A girl in shorts, bikini top,

stands alongside the road.

You were given the Smudge Prayer for this.

Love coming from many places.

I bring the smoke towards me to surround

my heart so that what has been damaged

can heal and what pain is to come

will help me to be strong and grow

in a good way. Bundle of sage-cedar.

I put my son on skis when he was three.

He has been good to the mountain.



Arrive before 7

and you don’t ride the shuttle,

Tim says. Beat the people

going to work for the Park.

The three of us

on a forest walk

through basalt columns

fallen, pristine at our feet.

A walking bridge

and a photo of Karen

Where John Muir Trail

merges with PCT.

West Coast, Baby.

Big roots of fallen trees.

Weather-shined by sun and snow.

Tim knows about strawberry shakes

at Red’s Resort down trail

from Post Pile, but when

we get here, he orders peppermint.

Karen and I split the strawberry.

27 bucks for two shakes.

Sitting on a picnic bench

Tim says, See that tree stump?

Go walk around it, Mom.

Tell me how many paces you take.

We see a bear walking down from trees.

Tim gets up to take some photos

while we finish our shakes.

We hear a man say,

When they said

there were bears around

I didn’t believe him.

That’s the first bear I’ve ever seen.

I’m drinking from Karen’s straw

while she tries to take pictures

of two bees drinking from a spill

on the picnic table. Listening

to the firetalk with open notebook.

South Lake Tahoe’s on fire

right next to the fire they just put out.

People want that bear spray, Tim says.

45 to 65 bucks per can. People want it.

There’s a demand. They buy it

against the advice of the store that sells it.

Look at the smoke on the Minarets.


Schneider Springs Fire Part IV Blessingway

Tim leaves after dinner. Tri-Tip Steak on the grill. Salad, corn on cob, fresh peach Sundays. Tim puts

stuff on the table. Metaphors taken from technology applied to the personal. He calls it, download, upgrade. Computer terms. We came for this, too. How’s he doing? Blessingway.

Karen takes a nap.

Schneider Spring Fire update. (Our fire in Yakima.) 56,422 acres. Thursday A.M. Growth of 24,000 acres since Wednesday. Now fire has burned to more than three times the size of the City of Yakima.


Mariners win last night. 9-8. Ty France 2-run home run in 11th inning.


Our family and Blessingway.

I’m still a procrastinator, Tim says. I’m working on it.

Come journey with me, I say to Karen.

I am, she says.

It’s Friday night. Tim has been with us for two days. His off days. Our days with him. Two good days. And we’ll be with him next Thursday and Friday, too. His next days off. Dinner again tomorrow night. We’ll leave and return. The Bristle Cone Pine Forest?

And what about loneliness? I ask.

Loneliness is a drag. That’s what Jimi Hendrix says.

Frank Mitchell, Chapter 8: Blessingway Singer.

“...the Holy People, the invisible beings…”

“You are going to inhabit the earth, while we will disappear from the search into the rocks, into the mountains, into the hills, into the water, wherever we belong...go to these spots and deposit offerings.”

Reading backwards: “...whenever you say a prayer of sing a song, at the end of it you always say a prayer of your own. You say, ‘Well, my Holy Beings, I don’t claim to know everything about what I did. I was just doing as well as I could with what knowledge I have of it.” Frank Mitchell.

Mitchell, learning the Blessingway, talks at length of building or creating the “Mountain Earth Bundle.,” the Blessingway Bundle.” He even renews his Blessingway Bundle, untying it, taking everything out of it, and even asking others for help in renewing. Pollens, especially corn pollen, is extremely important.

Is a family not a bundle?

“If you do these things sincerely…”

The neighbor next to our campsite at McGee Creek is outside talking. They’ve been here for ten days. McGee Creek is just outside of Mammoth Lakes. He walks over to our fire pit. “We came for the Tequila Festival, for three days, and after that the wine festival was here. Oh, and before that, the Beer Tasting Festival. Ten days is a little too long. I’m not in that kind of shape anymore.”

The man, talking to Karen the entire time. “Our friends, ignorant people. They drink too much.”

I’m with the after-dinner blues, reviewing Mothership Log. From the 18th: Karen had been writing, and these are her notes:

K: Do you want a cracker?

J: No, I ate the one I stepped on.

K: I don’t mind doing this. Winnamucca Lakes looks like it’s all dried-up too.

J: Dried-up lakes inside dried-up lakes.

2:30 pm: Sweetheart Summit.

Could one change and drop into wounded disappointment and still be Blessingway. Can Songs for the Curing go through a wounded person while still blessing others?

Don’t take on the role of God. Sit by the table after sunset with your partner. Sit after the sun’s gone, chilled from the outside.


21 August 2021

After Sunrise

Sun in smoke beauty

Smoke has returned

Smoke never left

Slept-in, too

Slept in smoke

Camp chair with notebook, with coffee

After 7 now

Comfortable. Cool. No chill.

And this, from Bonny in China:

“The story of the stones can’t be told.”

One of the stellar ones: Student-become-colleague. Musician-cellist-writer-poet-teacher:

“Sometimes, go a little farther. Still can’t believe we walked up this little canyon beyond the Temple in Mangmuse after we explored Zhagana National Park, but so glad we did. It’s one advantage of being so far West [in China] in the same time zone since you have daylight for way longer in the east. Starting another hike at 5 pm? No problem.

I don’t know yet. Could be a poem. Or an epic novel that I don’t know how to write.”

Her photographs of the cairns.

Her second decade in China. Go a little bit farther. The story of the stones can’t be told.


Existence rustles. It wonders. It wants to recognize itself, wants orientation. It must for it evolved animals like us that feel compelled to do such things. Recognition, orientation: how could it begin? A cairn perhaps. Stones gathered, the largest few settled on flat earth, and the rest built-up from there: slowly, one stone at a time, keeping things whole. A cairn is mute and elemental as empty awareness. Ir orients. It recognizes, and means in a sense, everything around it, for where does it end? Its extent includes all of that elsewhere. It recognizes, but says nothing.” Existence: A Story. David Hinton

...for it is about everything other than itself.

So this morning. Strip away everything that can be doubted.

Empty awareness...the beginning place,

                 free of thought & identity

...where we are most fundamentally ourselves.

And another friend—Michael Davis, this morning: the Buddhist:

Beauty before, beauty behind, beauty above, beauty all around, walking the beauty way.

And my response to M. Davis:...but beautiful. What Joy Harjo says, We were here before jazz was born.


“Where you found that stone,” Karen says, “in McGee Creek, crossing that foot bridge, like it was waiting for you to find it, when that stone was finding you, I found my way to the bakery.”


Karen is telling me about Rosie Lee Tompkins. She has found a new article on her by Margalit Fox, written after he death on December 6, 2006, when she was found dead in her home in Richmond, California. She was 70.

Rosie Lee Tompkins, born Effie Mae Howard. She had been talking with Eli Leon yesterday—the Thursday before she died. This fiercely private person. Eli Leon had discovered her at a flee market when she was making pillow cases. Karen gives me this quote from Leon in the article: “Something she told me once was that despite the fact that nobody knew who she was, she felt like she had no privacy. She felt like she lived in a glass house and people were watching her.`

Several years ago while collecting suiseki stones [Suiseki is the Japanese art of miniature landscape stones] in Oregon, traveling in the Mothership, Karen had discovered Rosie Lee Tompkins in an article by New York Times Art Critic Roberta Smith. Karen is a quilter, and a fabric artist. Her individually designed and hand-sewn vests dressed me in my working days. She dressed me up, leaving me free of neckties and sport coats. I pay attention when Karen talks about quilting arts. On the day Karen discovered her in the Mothership, I didn’t. Today a mixed-media painting by the colorist Rex DeLoney

hangs across from Karen’s place in our living room. Rosie Lee Tompkins is part of our family. She’s a listener. Her mother, too, also a quilter, is in the painting.

Of her quilts, Rosie Lee Tompkins said, God designed the quilts and held her hand. Rex put her words in the painting, God let me see all the different colors. I hope they spread a lot of love. A fragment of the painting is on the cover of Mothership Log !4, the one I’m writing in this morning. Rosie Lee Tompkins is one of 15 children from a small town outside Little Rock, Arkansas, where Rex paints and teaches. Born Effie Mae Howard, she took the pseudonym, Rosie Lee Tompkins from her shyness. Effie Mae Howard was one of 15 children. She picked cotton. Roberta Smith from the New York Times writes, She has an unerring and intuitive sense of color.

Karen sees quilts everywhere. She is a primary source in the Mothership, and at home the artist-Mother.. Karen, too, a beauty blessingway. A singer of color and thread. A muse, yes, so quiet she terrifies.



Wood camp fires not allowed.

Subalpine plants and trees rely

on nutrients from decomposition

of dead and downed wood.

Campfire closures begin process

of returning areas to natural condition.

Sierra Bighorn Habitat, endangered.

Look for them above 10,000 feet.

Black bears tell us, this is

their habitat, too. Once

we’ve gotten into your food

we’re not wild anymore.

Hiker on the trail, Mexican-American,

from Jalisco, Ramiro. Ram Geronimo.

We talk about Lago Chapala,

Wonderland Trail on Rainier--

Mt. Tahoma. He’s been on my

Mountain, I’ve been on his. Ten

years younger. Both of us

Army vets. We’re laborers,

he says, I’m one year retired.

Another man from L.A.

One needs guides to get here--

inside becoming itself,

a charger but no cord.

Look around. Real windy

last night, a young hiker

tells me—so be sure

and throw down a guy line.

Water source at streams.

I pick up three stones

at two stream crossings,

a group of riders come

down from above, while

my fingers turn stones

in water. Where you been?

I ask the leader. Picking him

up at Grass Lake. He gives

me the sharp smile,

You must be living right,

TCB, Look for the yelling

that might be your bullet--

Dad. Then the last man from L.A.

coming from Steelhead Lake,

German accent, asks me

where I’m going. I’m going

to where I finished the poem--

back there a bit. Putting

a small stone on a boulder,

look around, find two others

calling to me. Make my cairn,

turn around, and start back

to camp. You could walk

to Canada on this trail--

John Muir Wilderness--

you’re on it walking to PCT,

Pacific Crest. You could.

I’m three miles in

at Beaver Pond, three miles

and a drive back to camp. To be

the contradiction, Tim,

is the Beauty-Blessingway,

Blessingway going slow, stopping

before going, not going,

a stone crystal on a day hike,

blessed procrastinator owned time.

Jim Bodeen

21-22 August 2022

Tim’s got a map to help us locate those petroglyph. We drive into Shidago Canyon, a most wild and beautiful ride. At one point, so narrow I pull in the the mirror on the driver’s side of truck so we’d have enough room to pass through canyon walls. We do lose our tailpipe.

We don’t find the petroglyphs.

Karen and I will look today.

Leaving for Bristle Cone Pine Forest.

No water. No hookups.

I open David Hinton’s Existence. Looking at a group of small granite pebbles, I have an idea for a cairn-temple altar to build this evening. another book, somewhere, Hinton writes, ...we do more forgetting than anything else. “...this immediate experience of empty awareness was the beginning place, that dwelling place here in the beginning, free of thought and identity, is where we are most fundamentally ourselves…

Sun on my right shoulder and back.

Creek music in my ear.

The water heater clicks on in the Mothership.

“This Cosmos is the Cosmos of our immediate experience, and if we don’t think of heaven and earth as mere abstractions, we can see that heaven and earth are indeed an accurate description of the physical reality in which we live.”

The Mothership itself is an act of resistance.



8. 6 Miles round trip

10,700’ elevation

1800’ elevation gain

He’s been here. Tim has.

Hell, he’s been here on skis, skinned up.

Karen’s in parking lot at Twin Lakes.

We’re the unexpecteds, arrived early,

and we are—I am—adjusting,

the altitude. Tim catches me

with his camera, (showing me later)

he can see the difference between

Mono Pass and Duck Lake--

Did you decide to go

on your own adventure? He calls out

from behind me. I’ve lost the trail,

lost in thought by where he’s taken us

in two days. I’m listening to creek music

from the creek, following it

instead of crossing over stones.

Not the trail? Ah,

listening to moving water.

Duck Pass. Inyo. Do drone Zone.

GPS says trail took us into a knot,

Tim showing me on his screen.

Woodpecker sounds like he’s

knocking on a dead tree. Almost

to Arrowhead Lake. So many lakes!

Passing it on way to Skelton,

going to skirt Arrowhead. Take

Arrowhead trail away from Emerald

(But Tim will take this trail

on way down—) if this were

winter we could glissade

in the absence of switchbacks,

but beautiful, dried-up pone,

moist and sensuous,

light-filled sun-fried open.

My son in his wild path

has also sacrificed his life

for his father’s road,

a paradox,

I state here as his gift to me.

One I’ve recognized and thanked him for

over the years--

I’ve been to Arrowhead

on foot, he says to me, handing me

broken pieces of obsidian—yes,

handed, created and shaped--

Arrowheads—The first time,

he says, I was at Barney on skis,

skinned up. We sit with Ritz crackers

on an island crossed-over rock

below Duck Pass drinking water.

That Neuttragena you put on your lips

causes cancer, he says, not smiling.

So many creek names to keep straight

their mountain water ways

or their names: Cold Water, Skelton.

Father-Son doing journey-road backwards.

This stream the opposite of the Art of Peace.

How so? What was I trying to say?

One more hard part. Barney’s another.

The breath, the breath.

Take this photo for me.

Stream splashing over rocks,

blessingway, veins

in stone-blood


the body of the earth.



Ranger Station, Schulman Grove.

Karen shows me a photo. “It must have been a purple pine cone at one time. I didn’t know about purple pine cones at the time. I just noticed that it was a dark color, and sap was coming out of it.” We learned about purple pine cones on the Discovery Hike through 4000 year-old trees. The oldest trees in the world. At the Ranger Station—too late to buy books, Rangers leaving as we arrive, a man and a woman, the man tells me of a book by Ran Laner. The Bristle Cone Pine, that will orient you. Two hikes. Karen and I take the Discovery Loop. Over a mile. Trekking poles. Karen makes it, switchbacks and all, rocks, elevation, 10,000 feet. That hike, with Karen, late afternoon, dusk, gnarly trees. How could a day be better?

Back in the mothership, Karen says, I’m going to turn out the lights in here and see if I can see the stars.





Pulling into Camp Six last night

I liked the position

where our heads would be in bed

raised two inches for good digestion

but I didn’t see the side angle

(but Karen did)

((and Karen maybe too tired to protest))

and it meant (and means) crooked

walking those 5 steps

from entrance through kitchen

up to the bed. The bed,

too, was crooked, sideways

and I didn’t mind that

(Karen said, I don’t know

if I can lie like this).

Karen was tired, though,

from switchbacks and spending

all that courage from her hike,

while I reaped the benefits

of how close she was to me,

close on the trail, close in bed.

Several times during the night

I warmed myself with her body

rubbing her back muscles

which must have been sore,

her trekking poles made

that descent over stones,

possible, but she’s not

used to that kind of physical

stress. But beautiful

that hike, beautiful thing

going with Karen.


My references to beauty, to the word beauty, include William Carlos Williams in Patterson,

Beautiful thing,Geoff Dyer, in he book on jazz, But beautiful, from his essay on Art Pepper; Frank Mitchell’s, Blessingway Singer; St. Paul in the New Testament, blessings; Mike Davis’ Buddhis Beauty, Above, below, around, almost like John Donne’s, ...license my roving hands, above, below, behind, between, around; the word ‘blessing’ in Spanish, bendicion, a compound word, Say good things, Beautiful thing…


Make another cup of Yuban instant

done with Starbuck's' expensive Via

and pour it into my new

lime green mug, while

water heats up I cut

cold cantaloupe

we picked up in Bishop,

slice it into bite-sized pieces

for breakfast

with Bob’s Red Mill oatmeal

and time is ‘nothing,

David Hinton says,

‘other than the movement

of change itself,’


“In that perennial moment thoughts and memories appear and wander and slip away…”

Then: the physical,

see mist


writhe, swell, thin away.

Through it all, the alcohol and drugs, the tv commercials and the bullshit of American capitalism,--

everyone in that Imperial family murdered, but one--

Shih Tao –

Stone Waves, the painter in disguise

The wanderer

Stone Waves declares himself

in the person of

Ink Stone-Wander

he hikes to a mysterious place

vast and deep.--



Somehow alive

Nothing holds still



“Just enough form to feel it…”

“The mountains in Stone-Wave’s paintings have the seeing feel of this dragon…

The mountains!

“In and out of view

among rock and water

cloud and mist.”

David Hinton, pages, 13-15.

Note to self: Maybe take Lao Tzu on Methuselah Hike today.

Karen’s up. Show’s me

her drawing of Juniper trees

with berries. I step out

of the mothership

cut her sprigs

bringing in

a forest of berries.

“I haven’t had enough courage

to do that,” she says.

“It’s good for that tree.”

She shows me another drawing,

“Doesn’t that look like

a cabin in the woods?

That’s the outhouse.”


From here, back to Tim, Change in route, change in direction, how love confronts illusions and more drives through fire. jb. Morning of 3 May 2022, Sea Side, Oregon.






A special look, spiky dead tops--

bare wood, limbs, trunk

distorted, polished limbs

with exposed roots. Lateral

movement and erosion.

Youngsters don’t live as long

as the ancients, their softer wood,

insects and invasions.

Steep slops, exposed dry soil,

alkaling, magestic and weathered.

Trail guides, xeroxed sheets

for a buck in the box.

The essential poem,

Look for all things purple

in a feminine world.

This baby on the trail,

old as I am, steep

brown hillside, this

morning light,

on twisted trunk stops

me on trail, sunshine

on trees, breeze and shade,

cool, brisk. Carrying

video camera in hand now,

can’t help myself!

Alkaline dolomite soil,

grow without competition

time to brink out the Tao--

How you compose yourself

in front of a tree? This tree!

Before you go any further,

a reminder, these are

the oldest trees in the world,

you don’t have to outgrow

your attraction

to the polished trunk, Don’t dismiss

any shades of color/texture--

Keep letting their story talk,

Water and bench at Number 5

Lao Tzu, My notes at bottom

of Hinton’s Preface years ago,

One’s own mortality a kind

of forever. Here, ernestness

of way, ancestor after ancestor

beyond wave after wave

of man, these mountains

put La Tzu in pack, or keep

him out, it does not matter,

your first half-mile, the poem

is being, is written for you,

exist, but you’re not here,

remember what the Rangers

said, Oldest ancestors

aren’t the prettiest. Of course

Jesus walks this trail, young,

don’t be stupid, numbers

repeat themselves in a way

that helps you to see.

Roots collect water

like a pipeline—Look

at trail guide if you question

your belief in trees

as ancestors, photosynthesis

and wonder. These aren’t gateways--

at the bench, sit and take

some water, a couple

bites from your peanut

butter jam sandwich.

You’ll want to call it Monkey Mind,

Trailwalker, and where is this

besides astonishment.

Thank you again, Mary Oliver,

#8, Vance this pic at Sign 8

is for you, your photo

framed Sand Ridge for-

ever in every place, your

color on my indelible wall,

and John Muir, he never

got to see these wonders,

and Thoreau, all the poets

singing for us, their lateral

roots, deep too,

in their reaching.

Camp #6

Jim Bodeen

Bristle Cone Pine Campground







This document is for my son, Tim Bodeen,

ski tuner, boot fitter, who points my way

in the eastern sierras. He is a guide. Further,

names appearing here, or in the document itself,

began arriving during a walking of the trail.

As they began to show themselves I heard/saw

them first as nostalgia spirits, then as muses

participating in the walk as they brought

clarity and inspiration. This, too, inaccurate.

They are prophets all.

Vance, Barry, Marty, Kevin, Karen, Krista, Leah,

Chuck, Bill Ransom, Don King, wes hanson,

Navajo Blessingway Singer frank mitchell, cindy yurth, lloyd draper,

grandchildren, grandma and grandpa, david hinton,

vonnie, craig, tyler, brian, lee bassett, terry, jane, michael,

blue begonia women poets, rob & jackie, ron marshall,

jim & erica, Pastor ron moen, harald & ethel

--That we may laugh and fight and sing

And of our transience here make offering

Edwin Arlington Robinson

--Sunlight, rain, snow, air. Indeed, as we now know,

earth is made of heaven’s scattering of stardust.

Existence, A Story, David Hinton

This twisted light, this walking with the ancients.

Older than Methuselah. This man against the sky.

Out of order. This drive into silence.

Edwin Arlington Robinson and Lao Tzu.

Inyo National Forest, Out of Bishop,

168 East, Twelve miles to the turnoff,

then another dozen miles to Grand View Park,

where we are now. I say to Karen,

Thanks for this, writing these fragments,

If you think your horn is going to be heard…

or you can see around corners at 10,000 feet elevation.

Schulman Grove. Schulman, who takes core samples

of these oldest living trees, dead of a heart attack

at 49. Robinson, great modern American poet,

surprising me with this appearance

taking first steps. Steady tone-poet walking

into a new century. Walk turning time.

Remember what the Ranger said,

The oldest trees aren’t the prettiest.

This twisted light. Shaped by weather,

man-like storm being. My people named

by gratitude’s necessity. Karen studies cones in camp.

Developing cones, deep purple, absorbing

sun-heat. Two years maturing to brown,

getting their names from these cones, scales

tipped, claw-like, bristling. Needles an inch

long, in packets of five tufts. Trees store

the history of the weather. A climate changing.

Stop writing anytime you think you can.

Walking at dusk with the oldest trees in the world.

Caught off guard walking with the camera.

The prayer-talk, the after-walk. White Mountains

dolomite-laden. Stopping here: companions

in trees and people, this sun-gold trunk, these elder silver backs,

This blessingway of grace, Hozho beauty.

Trust the camera to find, walker, you with only

eyes. Beauty way, blessingway. But beautiful, Art Pepper.

Don’t pretend your eyes can see. You’re blessed

and the Ranger is wrong. Elder-time beauty,

elders in their strange indifference.

There is no way to select beauty, one from another.

Be careful, boots. OK, this is the Gateway,

Post 14—here’ through 18—the ancients,

1957, Edmund Schulman, searching climate records

in tree rings, discovers one’s age at 4,600 years.

I should take off my boots. I’m standing on sacred ground.

John Muir never saw these trees. And Thoreau.

Gary Snyder never left a footprint.

I’ve not encountered another soul on this hike

other than Karen and spirit companions. This tree, died

back, and alive, through an alternate route.

Tree planters at Empty Bowl. Mary Oliver

giving us the word: astonishment, counter-acting

Monkey-Mind. My son walking me into the Sierras,

me not knowing where I am, Son of the Mountain,

you’re a Tufa stone from Mono Lake

with Mark Twain, Strange stones,

beauty above, beauty below, beauty all around

burning sage, cedar smoke smudge gateway

into Sierras, left turn into Bristle Cones,

petroglyphs, where is he going, Mr. Robertson?

David Hinton, grandchildren, mom and Dad,

any who I’ve walked trails with, Grandma and Grandpa,

why it all comes out on this trail, in these coiled

roots, twisting, resisting, sun photographer.

Not leaving out Christians. Jesus in this poem

from the beginning, the Hebrew Bible, the Tao,

Look at the nearby tree with partially exposed branches

a half-way point turn, mom and dad, Karen,

Discovery Trail herself. Reading my own

history in these trees, walking and weeping.

Love you so much, daughters of mine, those

who’ve touched our lives among the wild trees,

lonely one, Father Stanley Marrow,

Bultmann and the demytholoogization of Christ.

Tree before Christ, this partially exposed trunk,

with just some bark remaining.

Oder trees beginning to run out of nutrients

dieback allows them—these...harsh conditions, oh my,

look, those brown cones on this steep hillside.

And did you get what you wanted from this life, Ray Carver.

These ecotones, this edge of habitat,

wave after wave mist and smoke, smoke,

the fires, too, ever closer, This brought camera

in case there was anybody found

that one might want to listen to. Bristle Cone Pines,

White Mountain Stardust Monks. Root walkers.

Walkers in the zone of individual difference,

this, too, is the story of a house of trees

in stony soil. Flammonde doesn’t know

where he came from, and he’s in a house on fire.

As far as this, and more, cresting the hill

with questions that won’t say no,

As if he were the last god going home.

These images stuck early, blessed and blessing,

walking with friends into wild practice

who would, and will, show themselves against

horizon after horizon in tear-stained beauty,

sometimes with Robinson’s question,

Where is he going, This man against the sky?

Jim Bodeen

Bristle Cone Pine Forest—Yakima,

22 August 2021–23 October 2022


Just before 8 pm

Karen hands me my mouth guard

(I asked for it)

I put it in my mouth.

Karen has done most of the housework in the cabin. I’m grateful for this. She read #29 from LaoTzu. Hmmm, she said finishing. What did you respond to? The last lines:

And so the stage steers clear of extremes

clear of extravagance,

clear of exhaltation.

When I told her what I responded to she says, Well, that doesn’t work anyway. We’ve tried too many times to make a difference. Karen-sage. Me-fool. Oh, extravagant one. OK, but Karen is the sage. Granted. But I also respond to this line, one that we didn’t talk about.

“All beneath heaven is a sacred vessel.”

So many things – nearly everything is already forgotten in the notebook, already left out of the poem.

Our daughter Krista was tested for Covid-19 today. She has been exposed. She feels like she has the flu. Remembering Blessingway. Let me remember, and practice.

Karen and I. We have driven to the big trees. The wild ones. And now, we’ve walked among the old ones.



Do you know how to make a peaceful road?

Joy Harjo

This is the third time on this road.

First time to make it. I place

a period between two words.

Exile. Memory.

And after walking among sacred trees,

read: And then what,

you with your words

in the enemy’s language.

For days I’ve been breathing ash

from burned trees set by my use

of fossil fuels in the vehicle

that made it possible

to walk among you.

I have twisted the meaning

of Joy Harjo’s poem

and lost a book on peace-making

where I stopped by buy fuel.

Walking through the oldest

living trees in the world.

I said aloud the names of every ancestor

I could remember and name

who put a book in my hand or gave me

direction by showing me how to love.

So many gateways opened in trees.

I called for the camera to help me see.

Three times the camera turned me

in circles, exposing me to beauty.

Before, behind, above and below.

I would not have known.

I am sleeping in a space ship

with rubber wheels never before

put on the road, their grip

and traction already

tested ad approved for highway roads.

I step outside in a juniper forest

and look at stars in Star River:

the Big Dipper, childhood familiar

North Star, including my searching connection

to all those close, and smoke.


Our last act this morning before leaving Grandview Bristle Cone Pine Camp, was to stand outside

the Mothership, Karen and I, and read Joy Harjo’s poem, Bless This Land. It’s a call and response poem, and this is how we read it—priest/poet/chorus, and we traded roles at Karen’s suggestion in the middle. It looks like this, then. “Bless this land from the top of its head to the bottom of its feet.” The blessing line, no punctuation. From the arctic old white head to the brown feet of tropical rain. This second line, the response line, in italics.

And one more example:

“Bless the two legs and two feet of this land, for the sacred always walks beside the profane in this land.”

Italics: These words walk the backbone of this land, massaging the tissue around the cord of life, which is the tree of life, upon which this land stands.


Finishing Mothership Log #14, Karen hands me her notes. Notes she made for me. Notes she

hates making. “I’m not, I don’t take dictation,” she says. “But that’s all I do,” I say, “write down what I’m given, it’s a noble vocation,” I say.


Tamarack Fire. I thought that it was the fire that stopped us. “Blowing dust. Use caution.”

We are escaping the Calder Fire, and now, the Dixie Fire is next.

Leaving Lemon Valley gas station. (Check charge for gas. $75.00 dollars).

Your road 395 may be affected by Antelope Fire.

At the start of the 20th Century, Owens Lake in Southern California was one of the largest inland bodies of water in the United States. By the mid-1920s it was gone, drained to provide water to a mushrooming Los Angeles.” Nov 12, 2018, Internet.

Lake Lazarus. The strange rebirth of a California ecosystem.

When and why did Owens Lake erupt?

Owens Lake, Ca. Dust billows of the dried bed of Owens Lake in Inyo County, California in March, 2010. The lake dried after water diversion from City of Los Angeles, and became largest source of PM10 pollution in the U.S. Online 29 Oct. 2017.


Passing fire trucks now. “Fire equipment ahead.” Use Caution. Trip mileage 1,892 leaving Hallelujah Junction. After stopping for lunch.

Passing fire trucks, a military convoy.

Passing three more fire trucks now, all headed South as we head North. 7 more trucks.

That little white church the fire went around. Surrounded by burned trees.

Dixie fire right up to both sides of road, right at the shoulders. Driving through last week’s fire.

Honey Lake. “Ill write it down and you can look it up.” Hat Creek for Hanlen. Cataloging creek names. Tim fixes the clock. Stopped in Klamath for DQ. On to Big Pines in Crescent, Oregon.

Rain Violent, and an email from Phoebe Bosche, publisher of Raven Chronicles, my review on Ann Spiers’ and Bolinas Frank’s book, Rain Violent has just been published online. Rain Violent, one of the books we’re carrying in the Mothership. We’re in the eastern Sierras when Phoebe’s email comes in.

No concepts here, no writing about weather. We’re in it. We were in it when we left home. Rain Violent, we’re part of what we’re traveling with, we’re part of the smoke.

The cover with the weather symbols. Cover on this book. White paint over black. Brush marks. Hand-drawn font. Human-steady. Fingerprint with its own DNA, Bolinas Frank, the calligrapher. On the kitchen table in the cabin with coffee stains over the white cover, over the white circles. Coffee stains from my spills. My prints. Where this happened, more than once. Most likely, I don’t know. The book before me. The poems inside me. Ann Spiers’ poems. Bolinas Frank’s symbols. I finished my review, submitted it, with Ann’s proofreading, days before we depart. The poems, back again. Again and again.

Rain Violent right. Violent. Get that here driving through smoke, fires out there in the haze, in the smoke. You can’t see the fire, but it’s already turned you around. Rain violent during a drought. This one’s not going to get you wet. These titles: Rain Slight, Rain Continuous, Rain Slight, Rain Heavy, Drizzle Thick, Drizzle Continuous, Drizzle Thick Freezing. One after another like that. An onslaught of violence. Drought and more drought. Drought and wind. Seasonal drought, yearly drought. A decade of drought. Arriving like that, rain continuous. Weather you don’t understand and don’t know.

Don’t know except you do. Drizzle Thick. Drizzle Thick Freezing. Language of all before your North Dakota eyes. Your North Dakota ears heard it, heard and overheard. Weather talk. Men and women both. Where’s the rain? This drought can’t last. But this is different. This weather here, Shakespearean.

No exaggeration here, farm boy. This one’s a big storm, homie. Those missiles undergrounds, resting in all that seeping water, all that money rusting.

These are Ann Spiers’ poems. Listen again: Mirage, Visibility Reduced by Smoke, Dust Devil, Dust Raised by Wind, Dust Storm Severe. Let’s look at these poems. Look at them here, before the clouds and sky. Before these: Clouds Forming, Sky Unchanged, Clouds Dissolving. Let’s look at the first ones. Mirage and visibility and dust. Those first. What you’re driving through. Like the Schneider Springs Fire. Wasn’t that the one in Yakima? Your town? Didn’t you drive through your own smoke leaving town?

D. H. Lawrence and American Literature among the poets after his classic study. All those writers blowing smoke. And Whitman.

Desert rain, violent rain, American poets and sand dollars from an ocean get-away. Ann Spiers lives on the other side of the mountains from us. The wet side, coastal side of the state. We’re separated by mountains but not dualities. Rain violent unites us, wet and dry. I take another look at her poems hunkering inside the poems beneath stark titles and bad weather. This poet, and suggesting her representation of other poets—she’s having a pretty good time. “We infect you,” she writes. Doesn’t she love that! We are contagion before the plague. We. Swarming us. We won’t be tracked as we ride,

and ride they will, these poets.

Rain continuous goes beyond Seattle’s weather. We’re the rain, she seems to say. Rain gear is our uniform. She knows Wallingford riding with the bicycles. “Some of us go naked, ...through the market.

Everyone wears shower caps..” Tourists visiting Seattle ride through Wallingford—with its public art amid its peculiar and proud behavior, in joy, reckless and proud—from inside tour buses. These poems are familiar with the mountains, they take their children on trails.

Bear spray might not be the same joke here as they are in the Sierras, but they’re familiar with bears, and tell bear stories, name the bears adjacent to the strip mall. Once you feed them, these poems know, the bears are no longer wild. Beauty everywhere, apples wrapped in gauze, worldly poems have empathy with migrant workers and Joshua Trees. One can bet that children of this poet, these poets, climb those grand rocks at Joshua Tree knowing what ropes are for.

Credibility is gained from venturing out, going off-trail. Melting snow to drink, the poem descends:

Yes, our breath formed small clouds; yes,

glaciers opened for us, crevasses moaning.

Ah, the poets. Singing Woody Guthrie loud, echoing L. Cohen again. Did they take one of the cities? And how? One knows, reading these poems, these poets know their Cohen: “We are ugly but we have the music.” But beautiful.

How poets talk in the wilderness, together, with each other. That’s how these poems sound, familiar, intimate. Campfire talk.



Passing fire trucks now. “Fire equipment ahead.” Use Caution. Trip mileage 1,892 leaving Halleluiah Junction. After stopping for lunch.

Passing fire trucks, a military convoy.

Passing three more fire trucks now, all headed South as we head North. 7 more trucks.

That little white church the fire went around. Surrounded by burned trees.

Dixie fire right up to both sides of road, right at the shoulders. Driving through last week’s fire.

Honey Lake. “Ill write it down and you can look it up.” Hat Creek for Hanlen. Cataloging creek names. Tim fixes the clock. Stopped in Klamath for DQ. On to Big Pines in Crescent, Oregon.

Mothership Log 24 August 2021-- There are entries before and after what is included here, that need to be revisited. Jb 31 March 2022

Here’s one:




So the children will know where

their grandparents are buried.

Driving into Chinle we follow

a local red pickup, whose riders show us

how to slow for caution. Crystal

clear guidance allowing

no dark opening.

Being and beauty’s highway.

Beauty in margins, margins

sharing road’s shoulders

with all those wild flowers.

Called by Navajo Blessingway Singer,

Frank Mitchell.

Setting up the morning at midnight,

notebook cruising, unguarded words wheeling.

The past week in wind,

seeming different, new and old,

like Karen’s breathing,

her breath as she sleeps,

her gift to me at night, waking.

How shall we know our grandparents?

Mothership a zendo dream machine.

Karen’s breath over time, a lifetime,

heavenly beautiful, belonging.

Old wagon out front.

Grandpa hauled freight like Frank Mitchell.

These childhood red wheels.

Beauty above, beauty below, circling.

Jim Bodeen

Chinle, Arizona

9 September 2021





--for Cindy Yurth and Lloyd Draper and Karen Bodeen

I. ...the Holy People, the invisible beings…

Frank Mitchell, Navajo Blessingway Singer

After thinking I’d lost this notebook

and after the morning we’ve had

in the notebook while at breakfast

with Cindy and Lloyd, Cindy,

reporter for Navajo Times, Lloyd,

Navajo veteran, Canyon-

orchardist grandfather, eating

blue corn pancakes, talking Mothership

Joy Harjo, before taking roses

to grave site of Rose and Frank Mitchell,

Old Chinle Cemetery, Karen saying,

I’m looking for a cross, There it is. Returning

to the Mothership, retracing her steps,

Karen leaves me to walk the perimeter,

writing down names, dates, proverbs

carved in granite. Children’s toys can

be picked up easiest, dust-walking

among trucks, tiny swings, so un-

like teddy bears fur-ground crushed

and rolled over by visiting cars, here,

at the Navajo Cemetery, the old site,

powder-dry soil, pick-up rolled known-

impression ed by painters and printers.

A kind of embossing, or watermark

soil-ground or on fine papers

made of cotton for rare books.

II. I smudge my ears so that I will listen carefully to others,

learn from what they say, and become someone

they want to talk to.

Paiute Smudge Prayer, Pyramid Lake

I walk the perimeters of this cemetery,

why I came, without apology,

asking forgiveness. Blossom

beauty present Blessingway. Already

lunchtime, it took me three

years to get here, through Cañon de Chelly

Monument before that, too, where

Karen buys children’s books for our daughters’

kindergarten students, finding Raven,

Navajo hogans. I find Tall Woman,

Life story of Rose Mitchell, Frank’s wife,

Sovereignty of Food, listened into existence

with fierce devotion by Charlotte Frisbie,

recorder-anthropologist emeritus, mission-

restorer, a-mission-in-her-being. And now,

her books among us. Enshrined and humbling.

Her attention through scholarship, love-

practice, and to us, email. It’s lunch time.

(Charlotte Frisbie also restored

Our Lady of Fatima.) Cindy has called

orchardist Lloyd Draper to have lunch

with us. Lloyd, 61, needing a kidney dialysis

Lloyd’s grandfather planted

the 100-year orchard after

scorched earth campaign. My grandfather

came back and planted trees. That’s why

they’re 100 years old. I was trying to see

what it must have been like for him. He

likes to read, wanted to be a writer--

not one of those who lays on the bed

and has white people write it for him,

a vet, his father a vet, (the two of us,

sharing a year in Viet Nam). I’ll

send you books, Lloyd. We order

from the Navajo Menu. I have

Lamb sandwich, Karen, a side

of Fry Bread. When I call the chile

on Cindy’s, California, she says,

Don’t say that around here.

She’s studying Diné,

has a piece in the anthology,

Wet, how she and her husband bought

a piece of land with too much water

in a dry time drought.

It’s after one pm and hot at the Mission,

smoke from ribs on grill reaches us first,

then a voice calls out, Ya-ta-he.

We’re looking for the priest with the keys.

III. ...concerning the fast-paced hard soft beat employed in the hand game

is that its cadence is against the heart’s rhythm. This counter-palpitation

creates psychological excitement, confusing the guesser and adding

to the emotion..Judy Trejo, Liner notes from CD Stick Game Songs of the Paiute.

It’s Father P.J. from the Philippines.

50, he wanted to go on a mission.

All the work inside the chapel is Frisbie’s.

I photograph the Four Sacred Mountains,

and three of the Stations of the Cross--

and corn, standing alone on this wall.

Lovely in subdued light. At lunch

I ask what a chapter house is. How

Navajo govern themselves. 110

chapter houses in Navajo Nation.

Meet once a month. Everyone votes.

Real democracy. Cindy’s attended

all 110 Chapters. Somewhere in here,

Karen driving, I’ve misplaced this

notebook. I don’t implode. Father P.J.

opens the church and mission, searching

for it. We return to the restaurant,

ask at counter, half dozen waitresses

comb the restaurant. In and out

of the cabin, in and out

of what’s in and out. I no longer

distinguish. This notebook covers

one week of timelessness. Seven

days of images, videos, being itself.

Do we—do I dare trust where

I’ve been—to see, hear, feel?

I say yes to all that’s uncertain,

to all we’ll never know. Who

can be more vulnerable? Crowded homes

increase during this plague. Reading

Frank Mitchell’s Blessingway

in the restaurant, first to myself,

Well, my Holy Beings, I don’t claim

to know everything...Am I blasphemous?

talking of Hozho. One is thinking about it,

one is thinking about it, faith is to be

the main beam...It is a sacred house

that I have come to, now I have come to

the house of the Earth...the beauty,

and I am not passive reading Blessingway.

IV. ...Sunlight, rain snow, air. Indeed, as we now know, earth is made

of heaven’s scattering of stardust, and will again become heaven when

our sun explodes into a nebula that engulfs, earth, turning it into stardust.

David Hinton, Existence, A Story

We drive to Antelope Point

where I find the notebook

while in altered reality. I walk

the cairns to Lookout.

Karen buys jewelry from Elaine

from the back of a pickup.

The notebook has new value.

Get it home, get your story.

Get it home, I write in the notebook.

Cndy wants a poem for her interview.

A poem to accompany the Blessingway

Singer’s song. Mr. Frank Mitchell. So

that I might better understand, Hozhó,

heart of Navajo religion. I spend

the afternoon cobbling lines

from notebooks, internalized images

of Blessingway. How can one say

but worn-new, exhausted of previous

under-standing, by the people

of the gift exchange, the give-away

of it all. Give away of all, and all

beneath Heaven is love.

Jim Bodeen

Chinle, Arizona—Yakima, Washington—Seaside, Oregon

9 September 2021–5 May 2022


Blessingway Notebook from September 10, 2021

10 September 2021


Day 26

Chinle, AZ


to begin this day.

It’s not today, yes?

Not yet. No.

It’s close, but no,

not yet

Not midnight


It is now,

now it is,

It is today now

It is, but

it’s still early,

early and dark

it’s not yet

time to get up

it’s notebook


But what to do

That’s just the thing

Don’t know

what to do

or how to be

I might get up

if just to pee


To practice properly


Art of Peace

Calm, cleanse, say thanks

to all, returning

to source

not malice

no selfish desires


0430 hours

10 September 2021

Chinle, AZ


Turn out the light

or open the book

turn out the light

close the eyes

rest in what happens next


0630 Hours

Up with coffee

all of yesterday

coming forth

Scoured walls

Notebook looking everywhere

Giving thanks, being grateful

Smudge prayer enters my head

coming in like smoke

looking at a pile of books on the table

Tall Woman

Navajo Blessingway Singer

Navajo Blessingway Singer Revised

with new essays by Frisbee

Two Mothership Logs besides this one

a ton of books in the mothership

and a ton of money spent

bringing them forth

Karen with earings of painted

kernels of corn

Have I gotten down on my knees?

Have I gotten down on my knees in this life?

If I have been sufficiently humble

balanced in my search

I will have been grateful

in a healthy way

If I have scoured the rock walls

for evidence of your beauty way

ancient ones

I learned this practice

from my mother

Lucille Viola Everson Bodeen

She taught me.

She gave what’s been brought forth here.

One who scours rock walls for the beautyway.

From the beginning of time

to the oldest tees in the world


to the community cemetery

in Chinle, Arizona

and the gravesite of Tall Woman

and Blessingway Singer

walking with Karen,

my mother who insisted

on washing kitchen floors

on her knees

I have been a keeper of floors

a vacuum er of rugs

I have looked into the corners of things

I’m talking about my soul

I have been at the Lord’s work.

It doesn’t matter what you call it.

Jesus doesn’t mind.

Ya’’ ahh Teh.

Hello in there


Hello, John Prine, Hello, Bette Midler

Take a break, now

Go make that second cup of coffee

Good morning, Karen Benson Bodeen


I open:

Tall Woman: The Life Story of Rose Mitchell, A Navajo Woman, c. 1874-1977.

Charlotte Frisbie, editor, and, I’ll say, [adding to what’s not in the Notebook, Listener and companion to Rose Mitchell. jb. 1 December 2022.]

“...born in 1874, six years after the Navajos returned from incarceration at Fort Sumner (1863-68), and who lived for ‘102 plus’ years, reaching the People’s goal of death from old age in 1977.”

“ is being published to fulfill a promise made to her in 1963.”

Rose & Frank, 12 children, 7 of whom survived them.

Charlotte Frisbie’s

Frisbie’s intro to Tall Woman


“Maybe I’m thinking about it.”

Rose Mitchell

to Charlotte Frisbie—her 4th request.

“Doogie” made tapes.

Tall Woman’s children in 1995 wanted the book done--

“...just like you did Dad’s.”

“Why would you put our voices and your in with hers?” “It’s her story keeping everyone else out.”

Man Who Shouts—Tall Woman’s father.


Mexican Water. Code Talker. Highway 191 N.


Mexican Water. Code Talker. Highway 191 N.


Leaving Navajo Country

this morning, a cultural ending

of the journey. A good drive.

Drove about 250 miles

after Moab, it’s river running

ATVs, where we are now,

KOA in Green River

Watermelon days

We bought one

Black Diamond Seedless

Green River KOA 3:30 pm

Karen’s up on the bed legs over pillow

Her legs swelling. I give her 2 IBU profins

Air conditioning on in the cabin.

I’ve got a cup of Italian Roast Starbucks

Instant, camp chair, legs up on picnic table

We just came from

John Wesley Powell Museum

across the street. Closed it.

We had one hour.

Powell's voyages

from Green to Colorado River.

Two on the Colorado. I didn’t know

about the museum curating—of Powell--

More time as a professor

than anything. Took his wife

with him into battles in Civil War,

on boats in rivers. I’m guessing

he needed her.

At Green River, now,

98 degrees. In liminal space.

63 degrees in Yakima, raining.

I don’t know about smoke.

Parts of me wants to be reading

about Tall Woman, Rose Mitchell.

Was it just yesterday morning

We we putting roses on her grave

in Chinle?

Dinner in the mothership

from Chinle Catholic yesterday.

Ribs, beans, banana pudding.

Karen didn’t eat banana pudding

and then Green River Watermelon

Did I say that? Just repeat myself.


Karen and I sit outside with ice cream

Lawn chairs. Lee of Mothership

Sun on the other side.


“When I first met Tall Woman she was 89 and, as she said, ‘in early old age.’”

Charlotte J. Frisbie’s Tall Woman, Intro: xxii


Back to the Life Story of Rose Mitchell, A Navajo Woman.

Jish : “Participant observations mean you’ ‘fit in,’ help out, do...”I learned to herd, shear, and butcher

sheep…” and modre xxv

Her role as the ‘ person who kept everything together, Tall woman tells Franks she’s learning things about him she never knew.




        --for Tim Bodeen

Ten days on skis by December One.

Deep mountain skills combine

with mature practice making

Eastern Sierra powder cloud beauty

possible. Creating his own

mountain vision wonder,

what I said to your mother last night.

Bai Hao Oolong leaves broken

from a brick after morning walk

on icy streets through housing

construction zone, remembering

your call from the gondola last night

as it takes you from the mountain

down into the village and home.

It’s 20 degrees in Yakima

and fingers still cold on tea cup.

Listening to Gary Snyder talk

about the wild in Colorado

ten years ago through hearing aids.

Snyder examining roots of the wild,

threading carefully from wild nights

to orderly process, how survival

can function on its own, natural.

His talk 123 minutes, length

of this walk, 3 ½ miles, the same

number of minutes. How to make

a life, what you’re doing, rare air

and altitude adjustment. These lines

fix themselves to inside tracks,

trails walked by you and Snyder,

Tim Bodeen, Gary Snyder, John Muir.

You put your mother on the John Muir Trail,

and took your father to Mono Pass.

World Cup on tv. Camaroon versus Brazil,

fire on. This Sierra book in the mail,

another look at you on your mountain.

Love, Dad

2 December 2022

Jim Bodeen

9 January 2023

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