“I must have been delirious for I even sought amusement in
          speculating on the relative velocity of their several descents
          toward the foam below.”
              from Edgar Allen Poe’s A Descent into the Maelstrom

          It was this amusement born of his rational detachment as a
          spectator of his own situation that gave him the thread
          which led him out of theLabyrinth.
              from Marshall McLuhan’s Intro. to The Mechanical Bride

Sisyphean feet that spin in place over this shaggy strand of beach
leave long row of heel prints to waves lapping gently at Earth’s edge

With the moon rising high above where dark sea meets clear sky and
strides in sand are steps in time within this net of oceanic abundance

That’s boosted from ground to shoulder with a down to go up flex of
and the heave ho, heave ho there it goes down the heave ho, heave way

Heave ho, heave hooo, heave ho, heave hooo goes the slim shell skitter
on stygian oars that churn another oval of motion on these satin waters

Waiting for fingers in fiber to feel the form that encircles our struggling
a weight whose centrifugal spin spreads over the waters shining

As the craft dances on gentle surge tidal swell lifting high the
which through the day becomes the unknown a reverse push of shifting

And the airborne fisherman’s net and the brilliant sun arching out of sea
and over the land and still caught in between contours of coast

Tortured even as it begins to spin, spin, spin all the way so deep goes
this no thing that so has us in spite of our self around and around we
          must go

Pulled inexorably in and then down, down into the Covid apocalypse
of failed global village never even tried unable to feed much less raise a

Then when in that very last moment before it’s too late each racial and
current is revealed by the vortex so we finally see what was always so

When everything had to always be getting better and how dare you steal
from innocents always on your side except it’s never anywhere on the

And all hands on deck fall into the whirl and we’re all left in it up to our
our bodies know the way to swim and we float with perfect balance and
          right on

To the bridge that becomes the razor edge between the bouncing
          right boulders clap
through the narrow shoulders invisible walls that lead to no exit at the           very center

Where only tabla rasa offers a chance so hard earned this grasp of the
          lost trope
and pandemic vision ends this bad trip as we finally release all illusion
          of control.


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.