Once there was a hundred year war punctuating the end of a dark age
and a black death of plague in the people. Now after two great world wars
and a half century of mutually assured destruction there is another plague
and we tremble at the brush of the rain forest virus.

Once kings and their birthing nation states devoured feudal lords
and the prince of peace watched the holy empire collapse at his feet.
Now the power of imperial nation states fades under the ravishment
of the caress of the hands of banks soft shuffling money to credit.

Once science collected in an objective observer created reality from germs
of ancient wisdom reclaimed from a lost past and needled from tradition.
Angels that spiraled in multitudes on a pinhead became men with wings
while demons infested the forest glades and danced devilish revelry
under each lone tree with the poor, female, and other. Now as we rub shoulders
with ancient religions and the words and ways of native peoples angels are seen
again and the Goddess reappears just as science resembles primordial myth.
The Pharisees of the current age century keep their books and exact the law combined
in a movement lost in the fundamentals kicking against the ghost of modernity.
The conservators of legal theft and penury fill prisons with the addicted victims
of the internationally protected drug trade and sentence the poor, female
and mentally other to the ghettos and shelters and streets.

Once a machine made the word interchangeably available to anyone
who could decipher print and fossil fuel ripped from the womb of Momma Earth
powered an age where imagination became concrete fact. Now the resources so long
squandered on armies, navies, and air forces, the engines of war are finally available
to harness the sun to the intangible traces of an electric world.

Once there was a great renaissance, lofty cathedral of art and literature
while the demonized lay in prison waiting for the confrontation
with the Malleus Maleficarum. Now whole un-deployed classes wait for policy
from corporate towers to determine their fate while we, we wait for our renaissance.


James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.