James' Creations

James Broughton believed in a life of “adventure not predicament.”

For him, this meant a constant stream of fantastical creations, tackling the beautiful and the ugly with a lyrical tongue, often in cheek. With 23 books and 23 films, he has a broad range of work that tittilates any mind.



The blank page charmed James Broughton. He loved to see what words looked like as he wrote them, their delicious shapes filling the page, sounds echoing in word song. He wrote in journals daily – and also wrote on many small slips of paper. He wrote caring cards to friends constantly. In a lifetime that spanned 86 years, James wore many hats, but “poet” was the one he was always comfortable in. He wrote and rewrote. Always improving and following his motto: Simplify, Clarify, Vivify. He produced 23 eminently readable books of poetry and prose – each unique. His poetry ranges from the silly and whimsical to the philosophical and profound. Throw in erotic, and spiritual and you’ve begun to cover the wide range of Broughton’s work.


Packing up for Paradise

(1997) Santa Barbara, CA & Ann Arbor, MI: Black Sparrow Press


Graffitti for the John’s of Heaven

(1982) Mill Valley, CA: Syzygy Press


Androgyne Journal

(1977) Oakland, CA: Scrimshaw Press



(1983) Mill Valley, CA: Syzygy Press


Making Light of It

(1977) San Francisco: City Lights Books



(1988) San Francisco: Pennywhistle Press


Coming Unbuttoned

(1993) San Francisco: City Lights Press


Special Deliveries

(1990) Seattle, WA: Broken Moon Press


When James Broughton was 30, he frequently contemplated suicide. Then James began making films and thoughts of his own extinction disappeared for good. That was the 1940’s and cinema was still a young medium. Today, James Broughton is often called the “father of West Coast experimental film.” James made 23 deeply personal, poetic, soulful films ranging from 3 to 45 minutes in length. These films set a standard for cinematic expression, combining mythological imagery, experimental visions, path-breaking nudity and humorous life lessons.



James Broughton was a poet in the tradition of Rumi, Hafiz, William Blake, Walt Whitman, and other ecstatic, Divine Trickster poets who trick, tempt, tease, and seduce us into a direct, playful, and wondrous relationship with life, God, nature, and each other. He read incessantly. Among the influences he listed: “folk songs, rhyming games, early Elizabethan lyricists, Walt Whitman, e.e. cummings, Wallace Stevens, Hopkins, Morgenstein…. Yes, Dylan Thomas too, and Edith Sitwell. And Auden.” Among the poetic concepts he played with: High Kukus (aphoristic storytelling haiku), Godbody (the divine body), and the Divine Androgyne. His poetry ranges from silly, philosophical, to erotic, and spiritual.

Here are a few examples of his poetry. All of James’ poetry can be found in his many books, listed above.

Big Joy Kyrie

Big Joy have mercy upon us

Deliver us from dread

from fret funk and glum

scowl sneer and fidget

Big Joy have pity upon us

Deliver us from droop

from flinch fuss and squirm

sham shame and dither

Big Joy    shed grace upon us

Deliver us from daunt

from whine whimper and pout

chafe vex and blooper

O Big Joy    rescue us from the

petty the inane the vacuous the mediocre

and the triumphantly stupid

Song of the Bed

O everything important in life

occurs upon a bed.

It’s where you cry when you are born

and where you lie when dead.

You spend a third of your life in bed

with sickness, sex and sleeping.

You can have a good laugh with your love in bed

though it’s also used for weeping.

In a bed the most fantastic things

are hoped for and conceived.

It’s where you dream, it’s where you scheme,

and where you are deceived.

It’s where on earth you come to birth

and most of childhood spend.

It’s where you come and where you don’t

and where you come to an end.

This Is It #2

This is It

This is really It.

This is all there is.

And it’s perfect as It is.

There is nowhere to go

but Here.

There is nothing here

but Now.

There is nothing now

but This.

And this is It.

This is really It.

This is all there is.

And It’s perfect as It is.