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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?


Happy Mother’s Day!

May 10, 2009

I was only six at the time, but I thought my Mom would love freshly cooked scrambled eggs on the morning of Mother’s Day. After all, I’d seen her crack the eggs, drop them in the pan, flip them around a bit and –presto!– enjoy a plateful of warm and delicious scrambled eggs. What I didn’t remember, however, was to butter the pan.

Mom couldn’t stop laughing as she scraped the pan full of off-yellow, nearly plastic and crusty eggs into the trash can. Why? That’s good eatin’!

“I wanted to cook breakfast for you like in Noozles!” I kept insisting through her laughter.

Yes, Noozles. It was one of my favorite shows as a kid. The show was about a young girl with a stuffed koala bear that came to life. Can you believe they had a young girl cooking breakfast by herself in a children’s program? I blamed the T.V. for my overcooked eggs, and I still do dammit.

My mother simply laughed. She didn’t scold me for trying to cook on my own like I thought she would. This is just one of the many ways that my Mom has shown me love, and it is one of many treasured memories!

I don’t need to mention the cave full of bats at Luray Caverns in Virgina, or going to see Yes and Brian Wilson. I don’t need to mention waking up Christmas morning and finding the perfect Bass Guitar sitting under the Christmas tree. These fun and funny moments all add up, but they don’t need to be said.

What does need to be mentioned is that she is a mom to me 24×7. The same kid that burned scrambled eggs and suffocated joy with angst all throughout my teenage years. How did you put up with me, and how did you laugh your way through the tough stuff? You’ve taught, and still teach me so much. Thank you for raising me, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

My Demetri

May 6, 2009

I’ve been in the process of writing a book, but it may be a total plagiarism of Dostoevsky. Well, maybe it’s not exactly like Dostoevsky, but hopefully I’ve made the allusion pretty clear with a character named Demetri who shares similarly rapturous mood swings as the other Demetri. However, as this work develops I am finding that my Demetri is becoming more and more autonomous of myself and the characters that influence him.

My Demetri is a character who wakes up one morning with a head full of dreams. As he wanders through his empty house he is suddenly surprised by joy. Here is an excerpt from the first chapter (a work in progress):

Conversations with Demetri (Working Title)

He palmed his mobile phone as it vibrated, signaling the hour that life was set to begin. He hit the snooze button three or four times with quickness, subconsciously knowing –to the moment—when the phone would writhe again in his alert, but disinterested, hand. There were few moments that carried so much peace for Demetri as the moments directly proceeding his offsetting the alarm. Seconds later he would fall into a deep and dreamless sleep, as if following a pulsing rhythm of waking and unconsciousness. The sleep brought satisfaction to Demetri, the same satisfaction, he imagined, that one would experience in perfect isolation. Waking, however, brought with consciousness a rising sense of reality, a clarity that –though temporary—seemed another world he knew deeply, briefly, but experienced regularly enough to call the strange place “a separate home.”

Three steps to the stove, two steps to the refrigerator, two steps back to the oak cabinet to retrieve his tall white mug. As he handled the stained mug Demetri suddenly remembered that he had dreamed of a Samovar. He imagined the brown-stained mug to be an extension of his hand, no less valuable than any other appendage. As he slowly poured the just-below-boiling water over the black tea he watched with increasing interest as the dark corrupting rust leaked from the bag into the innocent water. Demetri let the bag sit in the hot stained water longer than usual, so he added some extra milk to mellow the bitter drink.

He stopped in the vestibule and stared at the empty dog food bowl –he looked at the fresh bag of kibble, and without notice his heart broke. He lost control, let his sanity rush into a type of euphoria that danced recklessly with both tears and laughter. He began to weep in mad ecstasy. Laughing and wiping tears from his eyes, he felt so full that he could not help spilling over for the slightest of reasons.

“There is mercy in the world.” he thought rapturously, still wiping the tears away from his scrunched eyes. He grabbed at his chest as if hoping his ribs would expand, just to contain his very self…

Demetri is a rare breed, someone so full of joy and yet categorized as “mad” even by himself! He is pressed on by an invisible urge, something that pulls him towards other souls in search of an “I Thou” relationship.

Sometimes I feel like Demetri, and other times I feel entirely disbelieving and fearful. I am creating my Demetri because I want to get to know him better. I want to converse with him and be surprised. Let me know what you think of this character: is he too unrealistic? Does he intrigue or alienate you?

It is fascinating to watch my Demetri become a newer, freer Demetri.

Contemplating Rebirth

May 6, 2009

[EDIT: This poem just kind of came to me one day. It’s shorter than my average works, and there’s an odd picture that goes along with it. I was inspired by checking out some paintings from a Santa Fe artist, but my attempts to track down who it was have been fruitless. Anyways, enjoy the poem!]

Contemplating Rebirth with Image

Contemplating Rebirth with Image

Contemplating Rebirth

All you Santa Fe painters who catch the sun and moon in shock,

come to New Jersey and paint blue upon blue upon blue;

Spare the embryo so he may swim another day,

for he kicks but is not eager.

You will soon catch more than satellites,

and a child will be born.

Trap me here between your 80s love and shoulder pads;

explain to me the heavens with your words of

Rusty-golden amber sands and luminescent emerald cactus

under a haunted-heavy sapphire sky

and set your son free.

Out here in the desert

I will soon be born

of color and the stars.

An Excerpt from My Memoir: The Center of the Universe

December 21, 2008

The Center of the Universe: A Memoir of Change by Nick Drapeau

Introduction: Grandfather, have you ever known conclusions?

My Grandfather’s wife, maiden of mystery, will paint and never really finish.

Oh, this breast to the left. Yes, yes that’s the one. It needs a brake light. The brake light needs to be wired behind the painting. It needs to blink. She needs to look away. Everything needs to be naked.

She didn’t actually say this. Grandma never talked about her paintings. Partly, I’m sure, because I knew better than to ask her. She carried a sword constantly unsheathed inside her heart. Despite what you may think about carrying such a dangerous weapon like that around in so vulnerable a place, I must say you don’t know my Grandmother. If you speak, speak carefully and with purpose. Exist or be cut to shreds.

Oh this painting is just so… great! Let me take a picture of it on my cell phone.

Coming and going. Talking of Michelangelo. Grandma’s sword will be yielded in an artist’s rage. The superficial stubble on the face of beauty will be cut off. Removed. Made pure.

There is a grace to her fury. A weakness to her power. She is perfect for my Grandfather.

Her paintings are always in process. Stacks upon stacks rest with each other in the corner of her studio; some wrapped in paper, others exposed. I asked her if I could have one someday.

No, no, no. Not yet. They aren’t finished.

But Grandma, since I was little I would flip through these paintings, giggling at the naked ones, fearing the pig mask sculptures. How can you say they’re not finished?

I paint something, and then put it away for five years. After that I’ll take the painting out again and work on it. Once I’m done, I’ll put it away for another few years.

I couldn’t ask her. No, I let it stop right there. I couldn’t say, Have you ever finished a painting? For surely that would bring out the sword. No, instead I must feel what this means. To always be in process.

To have no conclusions.

I think the reason why I’ve started writing this sloppy work is because I feel like there is one coming. And it scares the hell out of me.

Creative Commons License
The Center of the Universe: A Memoir of Change by Nick Drapeau is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at


December 21, 2008

So, I found this awesome website called “Remix My Lit”. The community shares their works with other artists to be edited, reworked, and/or totally changed. Check out what they’re doing here:

I kind of like that idea, so feel free to share, and remix my lit too, under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Share, Remix, Attribute!
Share, Remix, Attribute!

(Image taken from CreativeCommons.Org)