Today's poetry for today's world

David Budbill


Copper Canyon Press published David Budbill’s Happy Life, in August 2011.  It was on the poetry.org best seller list for 28 weeks.  Exterminating Angel Press published his newest book, Park Songs: a Poem/Play, in September 2012.  His latest play, A Song for My Father, received two separate productions in 2010.  Garrison Keillor reads frequently from David's poems on NPR's The Writer's Almanac.  David lives in the southwest corner of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. His website is at www.davidbudbill.com.






Click on the cover to buy Park Songs.








                                                                                               for William Parker




At The Painting Center on Green Street surrounded by Ying Li’s paintings,

oil and acrylic on canvas, of rivers and mountains and sky, fields in the distance

and apple trees—all only vaguely there in these thickly painted, abstract and

intense, splashes of color exploding off the canvas, emotion laden strokes

of the brush growing out of her life with Chinese calligraphy—all here on these

canvases, this so-called Western, so-called European art.




The New Chao Chow Restaurant on Mott a block above Canal:

Water Cress in Bean Curd sauce

Steamed Whole Founder smothered in shredded scallions and ginger

Seafood Hot Pot


And for desert a turn around the corner to the Italian bakery on Mulberry,

the one right next to The Luna. Then out again and walkin', eatin’ cannolis

on Canal Street headed for the Q train.




On the balcony overlooking the Rotunda at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

a display of pottery showing how the ancient Chinese and Persian Empires

(Iran and Iraq) influenced each other, how Buddhist, Taoist, and Muslim potters

traded back and forth ideas for glazes, colors, designs, shapes for their vessels—

all this back and forth on The Silk Road and Steppe Routes thousands of years ago.

Who told us Europe discovered the world?




155th Street and Frederick Douglas Boulevard, Charles’s Southern Cooking:

            Collard Greens

            Fried Chicken

            Spare Ribs in Barbecue Sauce

            Collard Greens

            Macaroni and Cheese

            Chicken in Barbecue Sauce

            Collard Greens

Corn Bread

            Collard Greens

and your choice of Lemonade or sweet Iced Tea.




There are shards of 12th Century Chinese celadon pottery on the beaches of

east Africa. The Chinese were there with whole armies and horses, gobs

of stuff centuries before the European colonizers ever dreamed of going there. 

Who told us Europe discovered the world?




Polyglot          Gumbo          Masala          Stew    

Hybrids          Bastards         Mutts          All of us.

All sloshed together.         Ain’t it grand?




And here I am this old white guy all decked out in my

yellow, orange, red, black, blue and white dashiki

and my blue and gold African mirror hat playing

Japanese bamboo flute and ropes of bells from India

and a gong from Tibet, with these far-out, crazy

jazz musicians what come in how many different

shades of flesh and nationality, and me right here

on the Lower East Side in New York City reading my

cracker, woodchuck, honky, ofay, green mountain,

ersatz, Chinese, wilderness poetry.




first published in Happy Life, Copper Canyon Press, 2011





Click on the cover to buy Happy Life.









we are

bones and ash,

the roots of weeds

poking through

our skulls.



simple clothes,

empty mind,

full stomach,

alive, aware,

right here,

right now.


Drunk on music,

who needs wine?


Come on,


let's go dancing

while we still

got feet.




first published in While We've Still Got Feet, Copper Canyon Press, 2005



Click on the cover to buy While We've Still Got Feet.                      








Han-shan, that great and crazy, wonder-filled

Chinese poet of a thousand years ago, said:


We're just like bugs in a bowl.  All day

going around never leaving their bowl.


I say:  That's right!  Every day climbing up

the steep sides, sliding back. 


Over and over again.  Around and around.

Up and back down.


Sit in the bottom of the bowl, head in your hands,

cry, moan, feel sorry for your self.


Or.  Look around.  See your fellow bugs.

Walk around.


Say, Hey, how you doin'?

Say, Nice bowl!




first published in Moment to Moment: Poems of a  Mountain Recluse,

Copper Canyon Press, 1999




Click on cover to buy Moment to Moment.




WRITER'S TIP: Don't think anything up, please!  Just listen to the voices calling to you

from inside and outside of yourself and write down what you hear.




Return to The Poets table of contents.