Nathan Beck – By the Canal at Night

Nathan Beck
By the Canal at Night

In their forum the ducks like senators
Fear neither frost nor the future
But footsteps

Shortening on their turf
Trigger the rabble to exile themselves
From their precipice

Into the ink and in song
They’re gone
With tail-feathered salutes

And old parliamentarian chatter of me
Like a dog
Intent on their scattering

Mark Fiddes – Office Landscape with Chair

Mark Fiddes
Office Landscape with Chair

‘Wait, I’ll print it out for you.’
Her hand darts across Van Gogh’s cornfield face
which is her mouse-mat glancing back every day
a little nervously, asking what she had for lunch,
telling her to go and dance in the rye if she can
still recall how to play outside the bedroom,
wondering if she’d like her own portrait painted
sitting on the stern ergonomic chair in the corner
below the poster that yells YOU DON’T HAVE
TO BE MAD TO WORK HERE BUT IT HELPS!

He suggests she switch off the fluorescent light
because she will see more and further that way:
she may have missed the stars in the photocopier,
blossoms in the in-tray, the jasmine and crickets
drifting through the air-con, the crows nesting
in the waste bin, the haystack in the shredder,
and a window spinning with dusty olive trees.
She double-clicks his rough beard with her mouse.
A grassy rain falls like kisses from the sprinklers
as she types her resignation for the hundredth time.

Siobhán Flynn – Kindness to Crows

Siobhán Flynn
Kindness to crows

       In memoriam John Downs

I keep seeing them here;
painted ones in the turbulent sky
of Vincent’s last painting,
plastic ones with synthetic feathers
for sale in the film museum
and real ones
attempting a murder in the Vondelpark,
Hitchcockian on branches
or on the railings waiting for you.

It’s all about the parakeets, you say,
no one thinks of the crows
,
but, hoping for one to light
on your hand and eat from your fingers,
you bring them dog biscuits
whenever you are well enough to cross the city.

We talk to a man on the tram,
who went to Ireland once.
When you get off
with your stick and your dog
he asks if you are blind.
which makes you laugh when I tell you,
and made me smile as I watched you,
fearless and determined,
topsy-turvy through the traffic.

Anju Kanwar – Wax Man

Anju Kanwar
Wax Man

Fat pigeons congregate early in anticipation like tourists in
transit looking for adventure and blue skies. Before that sunlit
square, a flash mob drew me towards the morning shade of a
cold plate glass front where a sliver of white lay crumpled
under a striped awning. Legs drooping, attenuated angry birds
in flightless mode, fingers feathering raw over a placard airfoil,
his gaunt face hung over that paper board cliff seeking god.

Who knew dreams can languish in cotton-wool spots in the
bluest of eyes?

Unveiled words blazed from mordant wick, patterning flames
breathing dragons about some bubbling hot wax tallow-melting
out of the museum. Grand masters all around were studying to
mould: heads twisted, hands braced, a shower of coins littering
the pavement with kindness and fear.

Thirty years gone, in some early morning December chill,
sunshine feels like a knife cutting. Those eyes slit open, silent
witness in the broken honeyed cast of a man marked by scars
we usually hide.

Sandhya Krishnakumar – Walking along Westerdok

Sandhya Krishnakumar
Walking along Westerdok

I see you,
Pink and yellow flowers on the sidewalk,
The shimmering gold in the IJ,
Red amaryllis fallen on the cycle track,
And a little further away,
A baby shoe – single, black.

I see you,
Solitary tree clad in fall colours,
Impatient for summer to end,
While all around you
Are trees in their brightest green,
The seize-the-moment army.

I see you,
Man on the bench,
Huddled in your sleeping bag,
Living beneath the stars,
Serenaded by birdsong
And whizzing cars.

I see you,
Lady in red jacket,
With a ready smile when our eyes meet,
While our feet pass each other,
Unsure whether to stop and greet
The stranger we see daily on the street.

Friends of the morning,
Where did you come from?
Where are you going?
What is your story?
I don’t know, yet.
But I am thankful
That you are in mine.

James H. Schneider – Rembrandt’s Dog

James H. Schneider
Rembrandt’s Dog
(on an etching in the Rijksmuseum)

In the etching Rembrandt made from
his own painting, ‘The Good Samaritan’,
a servant supports the bandaged victim on
a horse, while his rescuer pays the innkeeper
for the man’s care. A fellow in a cap watches
from a window, but the stout woman bending
over a well minds her own business. A dog
squats in the foreground, doing what dogs do.

It seems Rembrandt made the etching
for himself — the painting has no dog
in it. If there were, can’t you just see
a plump merchant in black silk, wearing
a wide-brimmed feathered hat, spluttering,
Why should I pay good guilders for
a work with such a filthy detail?
What does this young artist mean?

Could it be that in real life you may
regret helping others? That they might
pester you for more handouts? The burgher,
puffing on his pipe, might well ponder this.
Or could being kind to someone in need be
as natural as a man looking out a window,
as common as a woman drawing water,
as ordinary as a dog easing itself?

Meryl Stratford – October, in Amsterdam

Meryl Stratford
October, in Amsterdam

We wake up in Amsterdam.
It’s 1973.
We’ve sailed through so many time zones—
I don’t know what time it is in Buffalo,
Bermuda, the Azores, or Dover.
It’s almost noon in Amsterdam.
Last night we walked the red light district,
saw women perched like wares in windows.
We are broke.
You’re sulking in your bunk
or tinkering with something down below
while I’m out dodging bicycles,
crossing bridges, getting lost on my way
to the Van Gogh Museum.
You sulk, and so many years later
I still wonder why.
You never saw the Sunflowers.
You will never see this poem.

David Subacchi – Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum

David Subacchi
Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum

Everything is included in this exhibition
From the honest self-portraits to the famous groupings,
Assembled men of ‘The Night Watch’ look out solemnly,
‘Syndics of the Drapers Guild’ disguise irritation
At our intrusion into their private proceedings
And the proud father of ‘The Jewish Bride’ nods calmly,
As we pause briefly to admire on our procession.

‘Once you leave the Rembrandt section you cannot return’
A whispering gallery assistant announces
When we look over our shoulders hesitatingly
Anxious not to leave any sketch or painting unseen
‘There are works by many other Dutch artists here too’
Scolds a security guard as we descend the stairs
Towards the exit, Amsterdam waiting patiently.

Margaret DeRitter – Dateline Kalamazoo

Margaret DeRitter
Dateline Kalamazoo

For eighty-six years the Gazette stood granite-solid
at Burdick and Lovell. Now it’s moving to a storefront
on the mall. Seventy journalists are down to nine,
though some may be rehired by a renamed,
revamped company that gives out news for free.

A new press pumped out its first edition
just eight years ago, rollers whirring,
paper spinning, folders folding, clips grabbing
each section, winders whipping pages
onto giant spools that would later unwind
them into News and Sports before they flew
out the door to pickups, vans and beat-up old cars.

We were an army then — carriers, accountants,
sales crew, artists, designers, editors, reporters,
the lady on the phone with a real live voice.
We called the new section Today, with no clue
about tomorrow. We even threw a party
with tours and punch and praises for the pretty
clock tower high above the press.

One day we surrounded our three-story beast
by the hundreds, climbing its metal stairs
like kids up a slide, lining its skinny catwalks,
jostling for spots amid paper and ink.
We were Newspaper of the Year.
The photo looked like a celebration
but layoffs crouched in the corner.

Consolidation with Grand Rapids had already
begun: accounting first, then ad creation,
classifieds, copy editing, printing. The paper rolls off
another press now, at midnight, sixty miles away,
the promise of a high-speed German machine
never to be realized in this city of The Promise.
Its hulking silhouette lies still behind glass.

HGTV – James Broschart

James Broschart
HGTV

Watching well into the night again
to see if the couple who clearly
do not understand one another
will finally make up their minds
and decide to either love it or list it,
whether they will muster up the courage
to pick the fixer-upper or the budget-buster,
or will remain, still miserable, in their
current house, obviously not a home.

I’ll take the rental on the top floor in Paris
in spite of the steps and the small closets,
or the two-bedroom on the beach in Costa Rica
with the view of ocean breakers that never quits.
So what if the kitchen lacks a dishwasher,
and the toilet flushes only with the aid of a bucket.
Forward my mail to Greenland, where I’ll claim
that house perched high on a rock
they say is too small for two.