Out the porch door window
the violent heart of America
bleeds into the pink sky.

I know these beating chambers
where a place becomes a way of life
called something else.

I’ve been through those close encounters,
been run down by the pack,
taken that pounding fall.

They found a gun on the path
on the other side of the lilacs
down the back side of the hill.

So I know what can happen
even as I continue to go around
as if things will stay as they have been.

Nothing is forever
but it’s harder for a rich man
to imagine change

Than for a poor man
to make it through another day
when anything might happen.


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.