It didn’t have to be this way,
no, never had to be this way
when there’s too too many ways to be
just when we could of, would of, should of
but all the buts got in the too many ways
or was it just the way things always “are”
shoving its first born face into the cooperative
nature of that all-knowing (in an uncertain world)
faith of the long-suffering holy moly latter-day-saints
but over which, whichever which way went that-a-way
oh, how like a whichy-witchy woman the powers
that be and the powers that were so crazy
and the way man went way,way, way out
that a-way, somewhere, somehow home
we do know someway someday some
chance ray when you have to make
a choice even though no choice
is left and they have failed and
you have failed and there
should have been could
have been would have
been another way
another chance
another you
it didn’t have
to be this
way, no


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.