Tuesday, 3 March 2015


“Home is where the heart is.” - Pliny theElder

Poetry Jam today has set the theme of “Local” as inspiration for all participants in its poetry challenge. The instructions are: “Give us a feel of what makes your town or city special - it could be a person, a local character, a place off the beaten path that few know about or a food that you can only find - maybe even a celebration that only happens locally.”

Oddly enough, this immediately brought to my mind a distant place, which once upon a time I considered as “local” when I lived there alone for a few months. It was Amsterdam, where I went on sabbatical, many years ago. Yes, it was quite special and yes, I met a host of interesting work colleagues and made a few friends, however, it was also a bit of a hard time for me as my beloved was far away from me, on the other side of the world. Pliny said, “Home is where the heart is”, and though I made a new home for myself in Holland, my real home was back in Australia, where my beloved was. So “local” was a questionable concept in my predicament then…

Amsterdam IV

In the yellow streets of Amsterdam
So early in the morning, that night still darkens the sky;
When the thin houses loom high over the canals
And the water flows so slowly that it mirrors
The yellow lights unblemishingly,
I walk the cold streets, going home at last
After a long night’s pretence at carousal.

I know that I will call you as soon as I get home
To share my night with you, to tell you yet again
How much I miss you, how much I wish you were here with me.

In the cobblestoned, jaundiced streets of Amsterdam
Early in the morning when night lingers on;
When the revellers go to their beds, staggering and tripping
And the air echoes now and then with a rowdy laugh, an off key song;
When the young men boisterously call out as they piss in the dark corners,
I walk home insulating myself from the drunken merrymakers
Walking quickly straight ahead, past the cheap whores in a line.

I know that I shall sleep alone again tonight,
After drinking of your soft voice across the thousands of miles,
I will dream of our frustrated embraces for one more night.

In the empty streets of old Amsterdam
Early in the morning when only I walk in the lonely alleys;
When even the air is asleep, and the wind dares not to blow,
When alleycats have found a snug, warm corner
Where they can dream of nimble mice and careless birds,
I walk the narrow streets, going home at last
After a long night’s torture without you by my side.

I know that I will count the hours once more tonight
To see if they are any less than last time I counted, discovering yet again
How slowly time passes until I can spend the night in your arms.


  1. I walk the narrow streets - This says so much, our minds, our hearts, our imaginations, all need to be explored and sometimes they are too narrow. Well captured and great pictures of life.

  2. that gloomy mood of the speaker is well reflected in the visage of the town and....

  3. just another alley cat on the way home...in among the night life of the town...
    it can feel such a lonely place at times....especially when you are missing that special someone...

  4. Such a melancholy poem, Nicholas. It is also beautiful and you paint a wonderful picture of early morning/late night Amsterdam, which despite its attractions has no interest for you as your special someone is far away...

  5. such a gentle and pretty ending

  6. Amsterdam is in my list! Hope to visit its "cobblestoned streets" soon :)

  7. You have captured so well the many denizens of the night, from revelers to stray cats. I can feel the missing of the loved one on that solitary walk. A very evocative write!

  8. An original take on the prompt--just where is local when one's heart is elsewhere? I knew the old Amsterdam where we lived near there, but I never walked the streets early in the morning. There is indeed something very special about Amsterdam.

  9. I like the contrasts in the stanzas, Nick....some describing what is going on in Amsterdam & others which talk about the missing. I think travels can often be this way...a traveler is torn between where they are and where someone they love is. I have been to Amsterdam, so I could picture well what you described...

  10. I too like the form of your poem, Nick. I have found that discovering places you like while missing the one you love spoils some of the fun. I spent some time in Amsterdam fifteen years ago or so and loved it.

  11. Lovely poetry ~~ I also enjoy Amsterdam!

  12. Beautiful love poem with a very palpable atmosphere of missing your beloved far away.

  13. Nicholas,

    I felt as though I was walking along the canal sides in Amsterdam, where I have walked a few times, but with my husband. I was also thinking of my daughter when she lived in Karlsruhe, Germany as a student teacher. Her experiences impacted on me, as she suffered some instances of being followed and and stalked. It tainted our memories of what was otherwise, quite a nice city. The same is true of Strasbourg, France. Same issue with an intruder to her apartment..In the end, being alone in these cities is not a pleasant situation, once you are not observing it as a tourist!


  14. missing the one you love, is a tremendous burden on the soul, those cobblestones you trudge getting home to loneliness; captures the path you are on, away from your loved one; a very nice poem; i love the two phases of introspection, and description

    much love...