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Amsterdam.

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I started work on this back at the end of August and took my time finishing it. It’s directly inspired by my times in, and experiences of Amsterdam. It is a city I've fallen in love with; to me it is a perfect example of everything that mankind is. It is beautiful and artistic, it’s ordered in design yet multi-layered and complex in execution and it has this dark, sensual underside that both fuels and compliments all of the above while encapsulating that destructive, addictive side of human nature. Everything about the city makes you feel in touch with being alive. It’s inspiring. It’s all the excesses and deficiencies of humanity, and how those two opposites can create and sustain each other. I’ve tried to capture that.

Amsterdam

The air, warm with the scent of midsummer

Clung softly to the skin, like clean silk sheets;

While couples dined and talked under cover

And a man, while smoking, argued his receipts,

The sun hung low and set the scene with red

Between the renaissance shadows of old

Buildings that made up the town’s streets, and spread

Like a bloodied flood that glistened gold;

Illuminating bands of coiling smoke

That revealed themselves from the cigarettes,

Tracing the flow of gossipers spoken

In hushed tones with waving hands, of regrets,

Born the evening before, among others,

When they said they did this or did not that

And had said some-thing but meant another;

The usual evening exchange; tit-for-tat –

It all gently merged to a smooth buzz

Which pervaded but did not overwhelm

The calm scene in that relaxed city square

Where I reclined with friends without a care

While the night-time crept up upon the day

In its shawl of crimson and mottled ochre,

And waiters served customers an array

Of spirits to whet the glut of the poker –

Players who staked their night beside a young pair

Of hearts not yet ravaged by dint of man;

Who dined with guiltless smiles without a care

For the poor girl perched upon a divan

Behind a curtained window, readying

Herself for another night of blank work,

Some smokers emerged and clung, steadying,

To black burnished bollards amid the murk

Of hours spent dazed, puffing on scented leaves

That hung about their collars and red eyes

Which, dilated by dark, hid beneath sleeves

That sought to shield them from the glimmering sky;

Now mellowing to a regal purple,

Crystallised diamonds gleaming above

Our first drinks of the night, three cheap beers apiece

As dinner was served with wine of cerise

Candles flickered with the conversation;

Each word a breath of life into the night –

Made exquisite by inebriation;

Darker and still, each light shining brighter,

The melody of the voices weaving

As chords over the beating of the crowd

Drifting before me, barely perceiving

The dealers touting their choice wears aloud;

Cocaine if you wish for a certain thrill,

Or Ecstasy perhaps for your pleasure,

A taster of each with the best of will

For any customer with the treasure

To pay for a gram – they sold nothing less,

But ignored they were, as I watched it all,

Fresh-lit spliff in hand, and wine the excess

That marked this city, for we were enthralled

By the dazzling shadows from which emerged

A sullen man, with a darkened aspect

Browsing the windows – that market of sex,

F’faceless body that recalled his ex

And they danced, those girls, as we deigned to stroll

Along the crystal-black backs of the snaking

Canals; Hades' portrait of the city’s soul –

Buildings shattering with the breaking

Shards of light distorted by the chaos,

Of the arching waters run-through with faces

That curled and inverted, painted across

Innocent waters, that bore no traces

Of mankind’s delights, so often called sins,

Denied the beauty found in exp

ression,

Instead left to fester beneath the skins

Where beauty gives way to dark obsession;

The air was now closer, still without cold,

Made immediate by the pulse of life

As we came, all befuddled, to behold

A small boat moored alone, so with a knife

The rope was undone, we clambered aboard

And from the water we laughed and were free;

Serenity came close, and took my mind,

The exquisite city hummed on behind


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1 Comment

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This is incredible stuff! I was in Amsterdam in October and have fallen in love with it just as much as you seem to have. Reading this brought it all back, and more.

"

It all gently merged to a smooth buzz

Which pervaded but did not overwhelm

The calm scene in that relaxed city square"

That summed it up for me! Really enjoyed this, thanks

:)

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