“I must have been delirious for I even sought
          amusement in speculating on the relative velocity
          of their several descents toward the foam below.”
              from Poe’s “Descent into the Maelstrom”

Sisyphean feet spinning in place over the sandy strand of beach
long row of heel prints to waves lapping gently at the Earth’s edge
with the moon rising high above where dark sea meets clear sky
and strides in sand are steps in time and the net of oceanic plenty

Boosted from the ground to shoulder with down to go up flex knee
and heave ho, heave ho there it goes down the heave ho heave way
Heave Hooo, heave hooo, heave ho, heave hooo, goes the slim shell
that skitters on Sisyphean oars that churn oval of motion on satin

Waters waiting for fingers in fiber to feel the form that encircles life
a weight whose centrifugal spin spreads on this still water meniscus
as craft dances on the gentle surge tidal swell lifting the unconcerned
which thru the day becomes unknown a reverse push of shifting feet

And the twirling fisherman’s flung net and the sun arching out of sea
until over the land and caught between contours of coast constricted
tortured even begins to spin, spin, spin the way so deep down within
this nothing that has us in spite of our self around and around we go

Pulled inexorably in and then down into the Covid apocalypse vision
of a failed global village unable to feed children much less raise one
then when in that very last moment before it’s too late each ethnic and
racial current is revealed by the vortex we see what was always apparent

When everything was always getting better don’t steal innocent hope
they’re always on your side it’s just that, that’s not on the agenda
all hands on deck fall into the spin we’re in it right up to the deck
our bodies know the way to swim we float with perfect balance on

The bridge that becomes razor thin between bouncing boulders clap
thru the narrow shoulders invisible walls lead to no exit at center
where only table rasa offers escape such hard earned grasp of trope
only Pandemic vision stops the trip as finally we just release control.


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.