Labyrinth: The 14th Annual Memorial for Those Who Died
Homeless on the Streets and in the Shelters
of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
(just after the invasion of Iraq in 2003)
Here we are again at the center of the Labyrinth
of old cow path Boston near the fountain on the Common
whose bright green Spring May grass
floats cardboard tombstones
and each one bears at least one name
and this year for the first time many have more than one name
and a cut flower
and flags that fly on little sticks for the veterans.
There are almost too many to count especially
as seen from the distant golden state house dome.
Tell the native people who built the fish weir they found
on the other end of the Common about home sweet home.
We are all homeless Americans.
Great changes happen when the sky cries.
Brother Blue is really a doctor indeed a great healer.
Every word becomes a poem.
Fifteen years ago I scribed the names of the dead
on white crosses with black paint with a square brush,
and with a handful of disgruntled shelter workers pounded them
as stakes of protest into this earth at the heart of the city.
Long ago they said the Labyrinth was the symbol of the city maze
with a half man-half beast Minotaur monster at its center waiting
to devour the innocent children of the countryside in great bite,
but the Native Americans always knew it was really the Earth Mother.
Now we gather for the 14th Annual Service for Those Who Died w/o a Home
and even the microphone and podium go silent in the falling tears.
Fifteen years ago there were about 60 names I painted on those crosses.
Last year there were more than 180 names.
This year there are 229.
Perhaps, this city Labyrinth is an engine of death?
Who is the Minotaur monster?
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.