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Still Flow of Amsterdam

May 12, 2009

I was sitting outside this morning, trying to do some warm-up writing before I got into my main focus. My roommate asked me –or did I offer?– to write a poem for his wedding, and that is what I was trying to do, but writing poetry on command always leaves me dissatisfied.

My head was filled with flowery, pointless verse. Horrid stuff, riddled with cliches. Why does that have to be the type of verse that I identify with weddings?

They’re also reading a beautiful poem by Pablo Neruda. To write a love poem, I suppose, you must love deeply.

This is NOT the wedding poem, just an unexpected guest. A wedding crasher, if you will.

As “Still Flow of Amsterdam” took shape I felt nearly passive. The contrasting imagery felt completely organic to me. I drew from an experience I had during a six hour layover in Amsterdam. The piece is largely impressionistic, which I felt was appropriate for a poem having to do with Amsterdam.

Anyway, here is the poem. Let me know what you think. Critique is welcome!

Still Flow of Amsterdam

Searching for shelter in Amsterdam, in side streets –bricks and canals. Caught under a sun a sky a cloud.

A Sun—

In truth I know the populist song of brick

Tinking hammers and the velcro rip of mortar—

Metal against rock (silicon, calcium, iron)

The river is not far away, and motorboats

tread idle, as men load their empty crates below

the bridge.

And am I so concerned with specificity?

Or like Qohelet do I speak more

to the deeper dirt of earth?

A Sky—

Verily I say I know you well –from mulled

Wine and broken Dutch.

I gain a glimpse into worlds below and above

Two contrary states of Man:

Buyer  |  Seller

Outsider |  Insider

And an infinite cosmic contrast shapes

this Split Pea Soup and Ham Bone.

A Cloud—

The chill of shadows send shivers up the street;

A monster claws at loose threads, trailing

from the alleyway. Follow him—follow the beast

into a colder earth.

Her heat is merely friction

The devoured are aflame

and though her furious climax is always


She is cold, colder and digested

by the beast— Amen.

Come inside, relax, forget the death

of things and be glad,

for it is not only water that flows

and fire alone does not consume.

I am still experimenting with the best way to publish poetry with WordPress, any suggestions?

I am wondering about the ending. Is the speaker clear to you? I feel like I may need to add another voice here, apart from the host beckoning the traveler inside. That would probably mean another stanza. What do you think?

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