Cologne (Cathedral) had the bone of St. Alban
to send back to them there not far from where
my ancestors leased land from Henry VIII that
once belonged to the abbey of Bishop and monks
now multicultural Watford of immigrant Islam
and otherwise now including many Poles and
(and now Ukrainians) this time when we final-
ly ride the bus to St. Alban’s Cathedral sitting
way up on a hill above creek where legendarily
the martyr died in such a hurry to get to his own
execution he waded thru the water which parted
so that he could walk over the Thames dry in a
profound state of pure joy such that his execut-
ioner chose to have his head cut off rather than to
strike off St. Alban’s who when later we arrive in
Basel Switzerland has been there, too, way far up
the Rhine River from Cologne (where they had his
bone) and indeed our hostel where they give us the
corner room with mill stream just below sliding by
its delightful moving lisping waters sound of living
Earth and sure enough there is a St. Alban’s Society
there and and above sits a guard tower on the Rhine
another lordly hand I think for sure taxing the trade
on that swift river where I still see bulky middle-age
men allowing themselves to slip the bank to be swept
downstream in the current just like St Alban crossing
the Thames dry only for his bone to end up in Cologne
and, oh, a hostel that takes elders in Basel, Switzerland
(where my great uncle Freddy moved after he married
in America my aunt Bertha who came to visit the year
I entered a new school still recovering from fall off the
old monkey bars that made each daily stressor into tears).


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.