I’m sitting in what I call the Dayroom,
the large community space open area
where the T.V. and VCR live
as I talk to this young Boston College
graduate student who last night came on the unit
still raving, took off all his clothes
vibrated on the bed in grand mal seizure
yelped and screamed psychotic banshee
and had to be confronted at the door of his room
so he wouldn’t come out stark bark naked
before we finally restrained him on his bed.

Now he describes Wittgenstein and Heidegger
the Anglo American and Continental schools of philosophy
the positivist analytical and holistic wings
that human thought seems to have been
chopped in too two into
in the last modern century
and how he was trying to find a way
to heal that Grand Canyon rift
when he went bonkers psychedelic insane.

Then I go into the nurse’s station
and tear off yesterday’s page
of the Little Zen Calendar to discover:
“Most propositions and questions
to be found in philosophical words
are not false but nonsensical.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein.


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.