Jacobus Van Looy Haarlem, Holland

You are waiting to jostle shoulders
just over the bridge of the old canal
Jans Weg becomes Jans Straat and
you can feel the gravity of de Grote Kerk.
In it the wraiths of calligraphic script
will lead me to remember your names.

How many generations have walked,
run and pedaled, pushed and pulled,
these same driven stone steps. How
can you know you’ve come to find more
than you ever imagined to be? That you
are passing what tomorrow always has been
and yet still seeks to be? Your namesake is
waiting in the old men’s alms house,
a memorial in the master’s museum,
where you were an orphan
when it was an orphanage.

I, too, have paid my dues to the poor house,
have leaned close to sad stories, cried out
for Mom who is gone and will not come back,
no, never, as never as all that is done, done, done.

Yet there on your post card the arrow points down
to your flat green land, flowers, plants and trees everywhere,
under the wide full moon of your parks, a face
and a long eared critter cradled in your great bright
circumference looping from the soft azure curve of sky.

I will find a bit of you at 40 Jan Straat that pops up
out of the North Archive from the municipal record book.
I’ll find a bit more when I look at your painting
Summer Beauty, where half the landscape , the whole fore ground
are these blue, blue, blue burst of blooms, oh, must be the very ones
Mom and I loved to love together, together again.


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.