Now out on the ice collect the smashed groom firmly in hand and usher him to the waiting Blazer
before you drive the out-law-in-law Cleveland contingent back to the motel in Bellesville and then
return the twisty-turny S.W. Pennsylvania way through the first flakes of the blizzard of ’03 which
are already turning the roads to slippery roller coaster so that by next morning after a quick rest
in Brownsville only to wake and discover the storm going full blast, shovel the driveway and wake
the teen return driver and off through the growling growing blizzard to catch the train at Connellsville
except the alternator light goes on and we have to drive the last ten miles or so wondering if it will stall
but somehow manage to make it to the station just in time and catch the Capitol Limited 2 hours late
already chugging up one side and then down the other of the long pull over the continental divide
up the Youghiogheny to Cumberland and then to the Potomac with the snow falling and falling
a heavy lid on those ancient hills and mountains until we’re stuck in the yard at Washington, D.C.
by those huge drifts that have stopped all buses in the capitol but finally we make it through the yards
and wait with the seething pack to catch the last train north and beat the storm on up the coast to Boston
where when we get there the first flakes are just beginning to fall when we catch a taxi home to sleep
before work in the afternoon and wake to discover the blizzard has fully found us again and there’s no-
thing to do but go back out in it to work, I crunch across the icy Arboretum through those snow dunes
and then, of course, am mandated to work overtime when the night shift, poor Wole the Nigerian, who
knows nothing from snow, can’t make it in so I have to stay and come out in the morning and there it is
all that snow, snow, snow stacked so deep there’s again nothing to do but walk beside the road with cars
skittering by and then wade through the piles and over the Arboretum wall and then through more drifts
until thank God there comes a girl a with the Arboretum pick-up truck and plow who’s left a path most
of the way to the Forest Hills gate and down the ramp and into the station to stagger home, wade up our
Hill through the clinging white mass and tumble back in the door like an Eskimo under a pile of skins
in a world of snow and ice so still so dark so cold, cold, cold this war weary wintry blizzard world, this
storm we live with every day, this dysfunction at the eye of the new world order, this howling skid
of swirling, whirling world where I lay me down in my bed so tired my middle-age feels like I’m dead.


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. Today marks his one year anniversary as a poet columnist for Oddball Magazine.