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. We break his poetry down into eight types of categories here. All of James’ poetry can be found in his many books.  You’ll find snippets and whole Broughton poems on our BIG JOY Pinterest page.

In addition to what’s below, we put lots of James’ poems on our blog.  

Or search our site for “poetry” “poem” or “poems.”

Sample and Savor some of Broughton’s celebrated poems

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, it¹s 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.

Shaman Psalm [excerpt]

Come forth unabashed

Come out unbuttoned

Bury belligerence

Resurrect frolic

Only through body can

you clasp the divine

Only through body can

you dance with the god

In every man’s hand

the gift of compassion

In every man’s hand

the beloved connection

Trust one another

or drown

High Kukus

I have no desire to move about,

said the Tree,

I’m very attached to my roots

They keep cutting me off,

said the Whisker,

but that will never stop me.

Anyway you look at it,

said the Camera,

this is the way it is.

There’s nothing I like better,

said the Sun,

than throwing some light on the subject.

That’s just your opinion,

said the Pterodactyl,

I think I’m gorgeous.

Always Ever and Only

When the right thing comes along from two directions

and runs into itself in some improbable place

the collision can shatter mere dreams of affection

with the head-on reality of a bangup embrace.

Love is the always that life is made of

Love is the always hope of love

Though fancy may toy with a reckless pursuit

of dazzling encounters in faraway weather

there is no delight elsewhere that can substitute

for the everyday squeeze of here and together.

Love is the ever that life is made of

Love is the ever home of love

From summer to summer with kingsize caress

renewals grow sweeter than beds of whipped cream

so reaffirm firmly what began with a Yes

and praise the right thing that improved on the dream.

Love is the only that life is made of

Love is the only cure for love.

This Is It

This is It

and I am It

and You are It

and so is That

and He is It

and She is It

and It is It

and That is That

O it is This

and it is Thus

and it is Them

and it is Us

and it is Now

and Here It is

and Here We are

so This is It

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.


I took a sharp look

I took a long prowl

I questioned the serpent

I questioned the owl

I called up the mayor

I called on the sage

I tried reading Proust

I tried life on the stage

I went into therapy

I went out for sports

I suffered every ailment

from sniffles to warts

I went to the dogs

I went to the Pope

I climbed Annapurna

I fasted on dope

I dug up the desert

I delved in the sea

But nowhere I looked

could I recognize me

So eventually I

had to give up my plan

of escape to Siam

and accept myself here

just as I am

But it wasn’t easy

Thinking about Death

How often do you think about Death?

Death thinks about you all the time

Death is fatally in love with you and me

and his lust is known to be relentless

Life is an equally persistent lover

He was desiring each of us before we were born

I try to remain faithful to him but I know

the relationship can’t go on forever

Life relishes my body heat my heartbeating

my blood my semen even my steamy notions

Death cherishes what is cool and mysterious in me

all that is shadowy and perverse like him

I like to think of Death awaiting our rendezvous

in a candlelit corner of an intimate café

where he will regale me with scandalous tales

of misbehavior in other worlds

Yet in the end it is Life that wears us out

At that crosswalk what will the traffic bear?

Shouldn’t we think about Death more often?

Death is thinking about us all the time

I Heard in the Shell

I heard in the shell

all the hymns of hell,

I heard all the angels crying,

I heard the earth

in pangs of birth

and all the galaxies dying.

I heard in the shell

the resounding well

of all humanity’s voices,

I heard every shout

of laughter and doubt

in the crashing war of choices.

I heard in the shell

the throb of each cell

from flower and rock and feather.

But loudest of all

rang the quiet call

of Yes and No singing together.

Dance of the Godbody

I saw the Rhythm of the World rise out of the sea

I saw the waves roll back the sands overturn

the breathing of the tides become a swimmer dancing

I saw the Godbody come ashore at the western sea

I had gone to the ocean in despair of the earth

despairing of the men who rule and set the rules

men afraid to trust afraid to caress

but quick to abuse condemn and slaughter

Then I saw the Swimming Dancer hurdle up the beach

rippling the world in the wind of his motion

The cliff the tree the cloud the mountain

everything pulsed with the flow of his running

As I ran to catch up with him

I bumped headon into a giggling multitude

clods drones stumbling generations

all humanity fidgeting blindly in his train

On your toes! he cried Keep in step with the cosmos!

You are all performers in the ballet of everything

and I am your choreographer for whatever move happens

I am everyone’s dancing master till the end of tempo!

When he had vanished into the weather of the world

I knew then and forever how hubbubs can harmonize

At the edge of the world I met the Invisible Maestro

and the music of his dance keeps singing in my days

Once Upon

In the arms of the lover I

lie in eternity

clutching the secret of holy excess

Joy in the here is

my chief engineer

over and unto and once upon Yes

Joy in the here is the

nature of nature

touching the habit of daily caress

In the arms of the lover I

leap in eternity

over and onto and once again Yes