what is
but a defense mechanism
to protect our selves when we feel
so vulnerable we don’t know what else to do;
modesty is not the virtue of the current age where
there are only winners and losers, oh ask, the superhero
in his army surplus swirling blanket cape what happens to

Tell the prisoners who were killed
by fungal spores in the soil of their jail.
They tried to do the right thing.
He tried to do the right thing.
The inner way, the spirit of the flesh, is the heart of the bone
that can only be moved by the muscle closest to marrow.

This is the only way we can move
and everything else is is a misdirected lie
so it takes a whole lifetime to find out what everyone
used to know always: we’re the electric pinball puppets
shocked from womb to tomb, we lay there twitching in fluorescent

The 60’s was the tsunami passing over the open sea
raising us for an unprecedented outlook far ahead
while the 80’s were the slough of the wave blinding us
but now the incoming flood has sucked the beach dry
and the rumbling, breaking super wave is either built up
by the long, slow grade of denial in an electric age or
completely head on into the deep wells of tribal eons.


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.