On Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, I’m translating, typing
into google a whole chapter of my great grandfather’s
cousin’s autobiography in which he first person narrates
of going with his Groomoe my triple great-grandmother
to a carnival circus tent performance with a pias, a clown
and a Haarlem Meisje-girl riding a paard, a horse and there
the ring master with a white top hat and a whip and then
a juggler with balls 2,3,4,5,6 and then knives and torches
become acrobats standing in tower on each other’s shoulders
so after the show she asks him how he likes it and he replies
“het is niet zoo plezerig als visschen, it is not so pleasant
as fishing and I’ve been fishing, too, for submerged fishes
in this decades long quest to find the truth in those long lists
of names and dates if you can find them bare genealogies
bones of name and time to calculate and history correlate
even as the united snakes as a country everywhere stumbles
over the glossed over contradictions of its racist reductions
practiced to perfection over many centuries and Mardi Gras
has become Lent while in the Netherlands Lent(e) is the Spring
that must still be there waiting to appear in pandemic time
of loss and sorrow when Lent just went on and on for a year
and yes, ya niet zoo plezerig als visschen hauling in the line.


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.