I become so obsessed with this ancient symbol
of don’t tread on me snake eating its own tail
that I took on the task of creating a labyrinth
design to evoke this image that I associate with

Our own crumbling empire collapsing bridges,
crashing fiery trains, and, of course those cars
just like always out of control if only to cloud
our long days with exhaust and waking us all

Up at all hours of day and night so ubiquitous
we can’t get away from them even in subways
we know they’re still up there as we breathe the
fumes and wonder if they won’t just now crash

Through the tunnel wall or come bombing down
those station stairs to get us before we can arrive
at Common or only some small safe place on the
sidewalk or alley alcove, some fleeting safe place
                           never ever never
                              (eating itself)


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.