At the beginning of the year just after my birthday
I felt it coming on a tickle in the throat
a cough that couldn’t clear the airway
a shiver in the back of knee

I kept trying to stay on task, accomplish routine
until in the middle of Monday Lunch it hit
I’d had it, said goodbye, just made it home

I climbed into bed and lay there sweating chills
I couldn’t get warm enough sweating with fever
I shook all the way down to my bowels

For five days I didn’t eat until emptied out
I figured if this was the flu time to get up
I went out to Saturday Peace Vigil made a labyrinth

That was all I could do I could hardly speak
I ended up sitting down legs gone before end
I wanted to stand for peace I had to sit down

I got some toast down after that my G.I. tract moved
I slowly got back on my feet and moved around
I even went out again back downtown

I had a doctor’s appointment for a physical
I had lost over ten pounds and was so lean
I felt like a slim version of former self

I reported to the doctor the illness I had had
I said it wasn’t the flu I just knew
it wasn’t the flu when everyone was saying

That was like the flu was coming but don’t worry
it’s only going to be like the flu don’t panic
and then we couldn’t get together at all

I was back at home waiting with a nose full
it took me hours every morning to clear it out
and just going down the stairs and back was too much
way too much


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.