The sleeping guy only seems to sleep
but it takes a while for us to realize
he’s the one making these horrible
sounds groan moans that just erupt
as if from heart attack or the worst
case heartburn known so that words
are coming out laced with bad swears
and curses and getting steadily more
scarier almost then those dread groan
moans so angry this conversation we
hear with only one apparent participant
and the train has stopped and just sits
there the longest time with doors open
so some leave until finally the train re-
sumes service to next station where gets
on another talking to himself (although
maybe we can’t see the phone in his ear)
but he sure is mad at himself (he drinks
and smokes) he admits he’s a dumb ass
hole but somehow the first dialogue with
someone not apparent to the rest of us is
quieted by him almost to deliberately defy
our expectation that their two not immed-
iately apparent worlds and world view will
collide but instead that guy of the swears
arguing with a judge not corporally present
gets up, moves away in disgust at the gall
of the interloper and in process shows his
plastic bottle of bourbon and soon quietly
almost secret leaves the train he had so, so
extensively just a little while back occupied.


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.