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:
- Silk Lesson in Cambodia & Other Poems appeared in Eastlit March 2016.