The Buddha Laughs & Other Poems

by Matthew James Friday

The Buddha Laughs

My childhood laughing back at me

on a restaurant menu in Yuxhei Park, Guangzhou.

Bidai, Xiào Fó, the Laughing Buddha, rolling

around the menu with his cloth sack

full of sudden memories: my mother’s

tiny Chinese Buddha that now lives

in the garden, silting with slug juice,

ice crystals and calcification but still laughing.

I remember wondering why he’s so fat

and yet found everything funny.  Fat Buddha,

Pàng Fó, this future Buddha whispering

destiny to me in my parents’ back-garden

in the England of my past, now laughing

at our recognition through smoggy air.


The Luck of Waves

To hold in your huge Ape hand

a perfectly evolved little reptile baby

flippers clapping with excitement,

wanting to be released into gulping.

To place it down backwards in the sand

and watch it instinctively turn, spurn

the sand in tiny flipper spadesful

and surge with minuscule muscles into

the Java surf, into its chances.  To watch

the one my wife was cheering on,

turn suddenly right, head straight

for where we saw a huge monitor lizard

lolloping into the water. No amount

of screams can turn it away, just

the luck of waves and random currents.


Editor’s Note on The Buddha Laughs & Other Poems:

The Buddha Laughs & Other Poems is not Matthew James Friday’s first work to appear in Eastlit. His previous published pieces are:

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