Saturday in CinCity


by David Budbill

You can see him in the village almost anytime.
He's always on the street.
At noon he ambles down to Jerry's
in case a trucker who's stopped by for lunch
might feel like buying him a sandwich.
Don't misunderstand, Ben's not starving;
he's there each noon because he's sociable,
not because he's hungry.
He is a friend to everyone except the haughty.

There are at least half a dozen families in the village
who make sure he always has enough to eat
and there are places
where he's welcome to come in and spend the night.

Ben is a cynic in the Greek and philosophic sense,
one who gives his life to simplicity
seeking only the necessities
so he can spend his days
in the presence of his dreams.

Ben is a vision of another way,
the vessel in this place for
ancient Christian mystic, Buddhist recluse, Taoist hermit.
Chuang Tzu, The Abbot Moses, Meister Eckhart,
Khamtul Rimpoche, Thomas Merton—
all these and all the others live in Ben, because

in America only a dog
can spend his days
on the street or by the river
in quiet contemplation
and be fed.


  1. That was a surprise ending! I was caught off guard. Love that!

  2. Wonderful, the ending caught me too.

  3. Such a sad comment on America in those final lines, but I suspect very true.

    Where is the photo from ??? The texture in the wall is beautiful, and the identity of man and dog intriguing...

  4. Owen--I'm not sure where the photo was taken; found it on Google and thought it a good fit for the poem. I agree, it's a nice composition with the texture of the walls and the vertical stripes of the gentleman's shirt against the lines of the scene. Somebody's very clever, or lucky:>)

  5. Bittersweet. I guess I know where I'm headed, seeing as how I'm devolving into a dog and think a contemplative life might be a worthy pursuit.


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