Here amid them selves
we should not be afraid of polite applause
but rather honor hard work and painful process
of uncovering and exposing
exquisite vulnerability and rapacious beauty.

We have all stood up here for the first time
not sure if we’re saying foolish things
or that they could be better said.

This is the nature of the process
and to the extent that any of us
can ever fully realize it,
ever hope to bring it
never ourselves to completion,
it is only by the grace of kind audiences
willing to wade through the dross
in order that the artist, the poet
may disinter what there is to know
of the truth from the depths
from our oh, too odious selves.

As the world grows so tiny
and we meet ever more intimately
a magic space such as this
is surely precious opportunity
and attentive manners
the stuff of compassion.


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.