Where, oh, where is John the Baptist
now that we really need him, oh him
in lame stream time of pussy-foot mendacity?
We stand frozen on the ebb less shore
and look for the water no longer there.
Only the effluent issues from a tiny pipe
and the buoyant power of the salty dying
Dead Sea becomes more and more dense
but nowhere is the fierce growling countenance
of the hairy jerkin in leather loin cloth
to call us to the One who will save us.
No we stand on the bank(s) before the last place
where the holy stream disappears forever
and all we can see is the same old church
where they say he once called upon us
to sink to the cleansing depth only to rise
to a new life in an entirely new world.
He is not there even as She is everywhere.
The Black Virgin, Madonna, is in her place
in the new chapel of the prayer of St. John,
the mythological, and the spiral of the sea
worm snail is stain glass so far within
and pediment sculpture so high without
way up there where we long again to go
but cannot, cannot until the decapitated man
somehow, some way reclaims the pure waters
of his signal ministry to prepare the way
for all of us so desperately alone waiting
to notice we are the One we’ve been waiting for.
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.
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