Every time I would order
my fried felafel dinner
(and cranberry juice)
after Labyrinth Workshop
my magic number
(like when they sent me to Okinawa,
the Ryukyu Islands and the 999 Signal Co.)
9.99 would come up on the cash register
at the little Egyptian restaurant with its Middle-eastern fare
next door to the Cathedral’s neo-classical façade
where brother Bill Barnum wrote so many poems
about the black poppy seeds on his bagels
that fell on the faux marble black table top
that they changed the name of the place to the Black Seed
(later I found out that the owner liked Bill and missed him when he left)
right here at the heart of the City of God
the house of light on the slope of the breast
of the hill with water on all sides.
Black Seed, in deed.


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.