Monthly Archives: March 2001

THE SHEEP OF HOLLAND

THE SHEEP OF HOLLAND

Sheep soft on the soft wet grass
between our house and the old windmill

Sheep running in the distance
a long row of cotton candy
pulled by an invisible string

March lambs gambolling
on the sides and tops of dikes

The black cloud of hoof and mouth
gathering over England
strikes as we leave

Watching the news in Atlanta
my farmer fear pulls me back

Memory revises

I stand in the bare fields
look at the bare dikes

Taste the burning wool

IN HAARLAM

IN HAARLAM

In Haarlam
ten streets converge
on the huge Grote Markt

A church with a 130 foot high tower
one of the finest organs in the world
pipes as long as thirty three feet

Played by Handel and by Mozart too
resting place of Hals and de Key

But its always been a market square
old guild houses and fine shops
carved stone in a dozen colours
centuries and centuries old

In the corner, red and white
and as plastic as tomorrow
the twin dikes of McDonalds

HEROES OF HOLLAND

HEROES OF HOLLAND

“Heroic, Resolute, Compassionate”
After the second world war
added by Queen Wilhelmina to
Amsterdam’s coat of arms

History and one look at their faces
would clearly show
it could have been there
for the whole country and much sooner

Opening the dikes to drown the armies
holding Haarlem against the Spanish
surviving the slaughter of the innocents
“February Strike” against the Nazis

The armies may have been defeated
the people never

POETRY AT BERGEN

POETRY AT BERGEN

If Austin is the Athens of America
Bergen is the Austin of Holland

Sunday afternoon
reading in seven languages

Feeling the difference

Harsh precision of the Dutch
If you could understand the language
you would understand the poem

Russian

The power of
a shot of cold vodka
and survival on the steppes

Afrikaans

Dutch rubbed smooth
by the soft hills of Africa

Latin

Still the mother of language
singing through her children

Spanish

Music of Lorca
moving your body as you listen

French

Dark musings of Rimbaud
a shrug in every verb

English

The fish does not see water
but there was food everywhere

ANNA PAULOWNA

ANNA PAULOWNA

Dorsey likes that a town
is named for a woman
and the pretty doors on the houses

We stop at a garage for directions
I think this okay in a town
named for a woman

The men with little English explain
that we have to go back, cross the tracks
go to the dike and turn right again
and the toilet is in the back shop

There are
Audis and Volkswagens up on hoists
the bathroom is clean, the tools are clean
the cars are clean, the floors are clean

If the dike breaks
and rolls across this town

Anna will be proud to know
there will be no oil slick on it’s surface
as it rolls across the fields

CRATER

CRATER

Giant bowl below sea level
the whole world runs in over the edges

Tulips from Asia Minor by way of Austria
in the fifteenth century

Satisfactie van Amsterdam in 1566
“no one should be persecuted for his faith”

Jews pour in from Spain and Portugal
Huguenots from France, English Protestants
Germans from the Thirty Years War

Diamond cutters pour in from Belgium
Diamonds tumble in from everywhere

Ships are sent around the horn
trade brings back the world

This week in one small town
voices dialogue from five continents
energies seen and unseen come together
are stirred by large and small spoons

Everyone dips their cup into the cauldron
goes home with more