They’ve been renovating the locked psychiatric unit on which I work for months.
We’ve entered the last phase which has finally forced us out of our little nursing station nest.
Now without a place left to hide I find a two year old check that needs to be taken to payroll
to be redeemed and have to walk a long last mile to the new doors so far away down the hall.
After being thus stripped of cocoon I go to my volunteer gig at St. Francis House only
to discover they’ve moved the art room there to the 5th floor where the homeless shelter
used to be before its funding was cancelled. Bombs are going off in Iraq, but America
hardly seems as if it’s very peaceful. Still somehow I meet with two of my homeless poets
who, however, cannot sit together as one bummed cigarettes from the other but then didn’t
know his benefactor when his check finally came in. After they both gave me a poem, though,
I walked the cigarette dispenser down to Western Union ( so he wouldn’t get waylaid by the
Vandals or Visigoths on the way) and after he got the wired money his mother (finally) sent
I parted from him and said, “Pax Vobiscum”. “What’s it mean,” he said, “something in Latin?”
                                           “Peace be with you,” I said.


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.