It was one of those things you never knew why you did them but I sat down by Tex
even though I could see he was in his cups and thinking of my granddaughter and
that ‘there are rarely children here’ I ask if he has any kids to which he responds “one,
a daughter” and I ask if he’d like to see her and he says he wishes he could tell her
what she “comes from” and begins to tell the story of the classic Polish nurse that is
his grandmother in Warsaw in charge of the nursery for Polish children Himmler lusts
so for their lives he holds them back from the camps so he can kill them all at once
to impress Hitler while Tex’s mother’s mother, the classic Polish nurse is pushing back
Tex’s mother back and back as the American bombers are blasting Nazi Germany and
the Russian troops are pulverizing the Eastern Front and all the while the classic Polish
nurse is pushing and pushing Tex’s mother back and back and Himmler wants those
Polish babies but not as much as a classic Polish nurse who somehow in a way past any
understanding as planes blast and men pulverize got her and hers out alive so that now
Tex is sitting next to me the survivor of his own personal holocaust still solidly alive right
there amidst all threats, wars, dis-ease, death and destruction one side half paralyzed by
stroke hobbling like an injured beetle on 4 legged crutches great head, greater from many
falls through the human wreckage of the shelter system alcoholic as hell yet amazingly
still alive and somehow heavenly in the blue sky under the canopy of God where we sit.


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. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.