We’ve never had a democracy, of course
or as Ben Franklin put it to us
“Madam you have a Republic
if you can keep it…”
but I’d settle for that right now
after two elections that looked more
like frauds and mountebanks
it’s amazing they can still look us in the eye
and manage to keep a straight face
as they speak to us through video-cams
and radio speakers and beaming satellites
capable of watching our every infrared movement
and those old time Southern relations of mine
seem to be looking down from the heights
of their exalted social, political, economic position,
the intermarried gentry of their plantation time
saying, “Well that’s just the way it’s always been,”
although somehow somewhere I’ve read
that even one of them turned traitor to privilege
and wrote a “deed of gift” and emancipated all his slaves
to give the lie to all those who said
that freedom was impossible
and that we all desire chains.

for Robert Carter III, grandson of Robert ‘King’ Carter,
who emancipated all his slaves with a “deed of gift”.


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.