Haiku in Amsterdam

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Contributor: Glenn Allan Lyvers

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Between the Boathouse and Anne
Frank’s, I read a favorite Haiku
over and again, until the words
have no meaning. I listen
to the sounds. I hear the poem
as though told by strangers,
and when I stop to think it
through, the Haiku, about birds
riding southern autumn winds,
is like sipping a dry familiar wine,
over and again, its insistent
finish lingering on the palate—
the way bells resonate long after
they are struck by the hammers of monks.

In the Van Gogh Museum, I whisper
the haiku to the Starry Night,
and the stars become birds pressed
into swirling winds, and I become
the face of the North Wind, blowing
with puckered lips. When I whisper
to Sunflowers, its seeds become blown-
birds slowly exploding into a paper-sky—
a smearing yellow-orange blur
suspended in the creamy air—oddly
possessing some intangible meaning
greater than the words themselves.

And long after I leave, Amsterdam,
the haiku will remain on the wind.
It will be twirled by working windmills.
It will be the unseen passenger on trains
passing through blooming tulips fields.
It will be remembered by the red-light-
district-whore I bedded. It will undulate
forever with her pale body. It will be eaten
by café diners, and scrolled on bathroom walls
by mindless travelers who believe
they thought of it first.

And when I return, someday, to Amsterdam,
I will draw it from the river. I will roll it around
in my chops. I will chew on it, like a perfect fig,
eaten over and again, until it is consecrated
on my tongue—until it transfigures, forever
dissolving like a wafer in my mouth,
something placed there by a poet-priest
—a man immortalized by a tiny haiku.

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Glenn Lyvers is a poet and author living in Virginia Beach, VA. Lyvers is currently the editor of Poetry Quarterly and several lessor known journals.


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