translating Jacobus Van Looy’s book
(my great-grandfather’s orphaned cousin)
lightning bolts of concentrated focus
a long chapter going on about how Jacobus
made a song for his boss’s sister’s wedding
then he in the next chapter goes home to his sister
and hears her singing to her daughter, his niece
a song about a sailor maid who goes to sea to climb
the mast and tie up the sails as the sister dresses the baby
and ties the laces of her shoes as Hendrik, her husband
comes by to say the entire family that is Jacobus,
his Grootmeder-grandmother and his two sisters
are a singing family and I remember oogenblikkelijk
instantaneous the family reunion in 2008 in Braddock
Pennsylvania where my grandfather and his two brothers
first came to the U.S. and how the Van Looys who ended up
in New Jersey came with their own songbook, the Van Looy Song Book
they called it all folk songs from the late 1950’s early 1960’s
just like I loved so much in my own tween-age years
boy, do we need Joan Baez
splitting flash brain


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.