Oh, I sang along, rolled in the aisles by Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright
a line going through my abdomen I dangled, Jesus, Jesus Christ, KEY-RIST
there must a been a hundreds of poets
There should have been a covenant: restless psychosis, heads bandaged wigs,
disparate dipsomania, poor souls in hairy jerkins, severely serious pulled back hair,
nose picking neuroses, hypochondria hacking, all the various and most of the sundry,
writing dis-eases, teeter-totter eyes, a bright hole of the moon madness, fears of each
                                                                                                                  and every other.
I went outside shy to smoke my joint. This guy came up to me and said, “Black, black
I thought, black the blackest thing, I thought 3 gay one of them plays a banjo, I thought
open a coffee house by a navy base with all those sailors, I thought, black.” I said
“Is that black, man?” He said, “Black, black, Black Panthers, black man. Do you have a
commitment?” I said, “Do you want me to get a gun, man?” He said, “You can’t get me
that easy.” I said, “Do you want me to get a gun, man?” He said, “Oh, would you?”
I said, “I ain’t ready for that.” And he hang around and we smoked my joint with
Visions of John Hancock burying Bon-twits and the buildings angle dragons in the mist
swirling together edges of mirror coming together this guy under a hood so delicate
this child’s face come peering out at me “the rain has brought the angels down”
I say, “you think so, man,” he says, “no, you don’t, in Spain they say that when they’re
really cursing.” I say, “far out!” He says, “no, it’s nothing, it doesn’t matter, nothing
matters.” “Say I’m really glad to know that. Really, thanks,” I say. He sprints away
as Allen Ginsberg comes out surrounded, if only we each there that night could all
do the same we could all poetry, we could out do Amway, poetry all over the nation
poets pyramided supporting each other chain mail geometric every burgh blossoming forth
some local madness, God, it could become an institution, only I wanted to get down on the
killing room floor, I wanted to be washed in the blood, I wanted, you know, to know the world
right there in the tree of the world, strip my bones, hammer my head, I wanted to be
that Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright in the forest of that night, that animal my ancestor knew it to be,
knew how to be whenever they didn’t even want to be, just be without even contemplating
my bones, dead, on the subway, another, yet another subway poem, confession and exorcism.


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.