All day walking around in the cold
deliberately stepping into the paws of poverty
seeking out the most impoverished denizens
of the empire; there is no poor quite so poor
as the poor poor of a great even greatest imperial power.

Nothing is quite so very alone
as standing in doorway which goes
nowhere for you as all of them come
and go and the beggars are fighting
for their places by just being there
and just about everywhere this disparate
desperation struggling to maintain an edge
on the margin.

And those left with nothing but nothing
except their pathetic personal space
who might and sometimes actually do
say “this is an invasion of privacy”
are yet mostly actually grateful
painfully all too open to your entrance
and intrusion, your blockhead inter-relation
into the only thing they have left
themselves, who they are and where they are
and who they might still possibly become.


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. Van Looy leads the Labyrinth Creative Movement Workshop, which his Labyrinth titled poems are based on. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.