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Long overdue, Bud Backen’s The Paul Bunyan Ballroom is, by its very nature, as BIG as a ballroom. It feels as if one’s mind is dancing the tango or an old French waltz, reading/hearing these poems. His careful use of language & line-breaks & an internal rhyme & rhythm create a pronounced musicality inside the inside (etymology: mythology) of this book, with subtle humor, comic/tragic situational realities, with surprising, honest imagery, & a down-to-earth perspective (which may be extraterrestrial).

      Ron Androla, author of Confluence

Weight 5 oz

Read excerpts

the soldier sky
marching across the moon
silent trumpets blaring inside the cloudbanks
like bombs bursting on the south ridge
destroying every town & family
w/a brutal fist of wind
meanwhile the mercury stars high above
sugared the fog blowing beneath a great
gray whale of darkness moving like a
stealthy black wildcat
rumbling like a menacing army running
straight towards the heart of town
nothing that fast takes long to pass
I watched it all from a lawn chair
seemed it rolled out of the west
but another wind squared it
lengthwise like a dead end cross
& a dark & dangerous jesus


a phosphorous wind

white w/mist & thick
like smoky fire
a road flows west &
south again after it
crosses train tracks
follows the rainy river
to maddog flats

wasn’t this time of year
closer to spring with
yellow blossoms on
almost everything
else it was white
the only other color

nanette miller said
she set her barn ablaze
but everyone knew
she didn’t that barn
still stands today
if you want to go look

it was lies like that set her
apart from other gals
why I married her & we
drove clear to the columbia
heights exit before i realized
we forgot the dog


was on highway 169 at the
junction of county 14
saturday nights they had a
local hootenanny featuring
all the yocals that came in
from the farms & townships
surrounding the entire limp
lake area plus the next county
south heard about it & there
was always their jugband
showing up
the paul bunyan ballroom
burned down in ’92 after a
lightning storm ignited the
power pole behind the barn
& the whole place went up
anyway that’s where I met
ramona one night outside
smokin’ she wasn’t married
but about to & I had a hint
it wouldn’t matter if she did
or didn’t but found out later
she did

About the Author

Bud Backen lives alone, low-income & healthy. Works hard doing menial cleaning at a local bakery. Writes for fun & otherwise likes to walk & sometimes wishes he had someone to talk to. But not often since he has little to talk about that isn’t abstract & confusing to anyone w/real sense.

Copyright © 2017 Bud Backen

Cover photograph from the collection of Lauren Leja

ISBN 978-0-9991882-6-2

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

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