Back before they started the chant
“the counter culture has been co-opted”
The Bagman was a real person
who lived on the street and showed up
bag and bags in hand who became
a figure drawing in my notebook
standing in a brown paper sack
emblazoned with a sign
“this is my side of the water”
Boston (of course) not Cambridge
(although it was on Cambridge Street)
right by the Charles River Basin
we would all gather to make a scene
in the night with Vietnam almost ending
but Cambodian Genocide to come
Afghanistan Mujihideen to come
Operation Condor to come
first 9/11 Chilean C.I.A. coups just happened
Iran-contra to come
Grenada, Panama, and Gulf War I to come
sanctions and bombing of Iraq to come
long Forever and Forever War to come
which has brought us around
to the Bagman’s Bagman
paying off the porn star and playmate
with help from the National Inquirer
as the Bagman of all Bagmen
(and various members of his family)
rake in the loot as U. S. policy changes
to benefit the donors of such largesse …

Bagman, Bagman rides through his course
In his gulf cart he has need of no horse
Bagman, Bagman has his own Bagman
He is the Bagman of all bagmen.


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.